FOR A STABLE NINTH HOUSE OF REPS

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Danladi Ibrahim argues that the house needs quality leadership for good governance

From the reports of the local and international observers about the conduct of the various levels of elections held across the country this year, it is reasonably safe to conclude that Nigeria’s democratic process is fast evolving into maturity. This is notwithstanding the sparse irregularities and violence recorded in some parts of the country. After all, as a former British Prime Minister, Mr. Winston Churchill once said: “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise”. Throughout history, democracy has been an evolution; and this is precisely what it has been in our country. Once we draw lessons from the noted irregularities, it is certain that we shall improve upon the current experience in future elections, thereby making incremental progress in our electoral system.

Now, our focus is shifting towards the inauguration of the various elected representatives, including the Ninth National Assembly. It is imperative for us to reflect deeply on the quality of the leadership to emerge for our parliament, which is the bastion of democracy. Our experience since 1999 has shown that much of the reasons for the slow progress recorded in our governance process lie in the failure of our legislators to live up to their duties of promoting good governance. Much of what citizens remember our fifth, sixth, seventh, and to some extent even the current eighth Assemblies for are chaos, political bluffing, and of course, corruption which is particularly epitomised in budget padding.

Being the institution that has the highest number of elected officials out of the three arms of government, much higher responsibility for entrenchment of good governance rests on the National Assembly, most especially in its oversight on the executive arm. In the performance of their pivotal roles of legislation and oversight, legislators, in noble climes, actively engage in the development of laws, policies and practices that promote democracy and good governance. However, for the most part in Nigeria since 1999, majority of our parliamentarians have been preoccupied with squirming over hand-outs from heads of ministries, departments and agencies, if they are not scheming to entrench some vested interests in and outside the political circles.

The experience of the last 20 years of this Fourth Republic has shown that much of the failure of performance by either of the two chambers are directly related to the personality, character, as well as style of leadership of the two chambers – Senate and House of Representatives. And though the senate is entrusted with certain peculiar responsibilities such as ratification of appointment of ministers and other chief executives, many Nigerians have often placed higher trust and confidence in the ability of members of the House of Representatives to provide quality representation for their constituents. From our experience, the lower chamber has been much more vibrant in terms legislative activities. And this informs my greater interest in who emerges as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Undoubtedly, the current holder of the position, Mr. Yakubu Dogara has ensured relative stability of the House.

For the ninth House of Reps, therefore, it also requires as a leader a person who has not only an enviable profile, but also excellent record of performance. These two assets are all embedded in the current Deputy Leader of the House, Ahmed Idris Wase, commonly referred to by his colleagues as Wase. A very loyal member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon. Ahmed Idris who represents the people of Wase Federal Constituency of Plateau State, is, aside his wonderful profile in public service, also a person with a very healthy ego. This is another necessary ingredient for the stability of such an omnibus chamber that is often an assemblage of young, rambunctious people from across Nigeria. Though a minority Muslim from the predominantly Christian populated Plateau, the name Maje as he is fondly called back home, rings a bell all across the state due to his liberal, temperate and humanitarian character.

Beyond his native Plateau State, Hon. Wase’s excellent record of service in his three terms in the House of Reps (from 2007 to date) speaks loud for him. As a member of different standing committees in the sixth, seventh and the current eighth House such as emergency and disasters, environment, capital market, as well as federal character, which he had the privilege of chairing twice, Wase’s robust contributions accelerated the passage of numerous executive bills such as the Companies & Allied Matters Act (Amendment) Bill 2018, and the Deep Offshore and Inland Basins Production Sharing Contract (Amendment) Bill 2018. Some of his sterling qualities apparently endeared him to his colleagues, resulting in his elevation to the position of deputy leader of the house after the demise of Hon. Umar Buba Jibril, early last year

With the groundswell of expectation that the ruling APC, in crafting its power sharing formula for the next dispensation, will zero in on the North Central geopolitical zone to produce the next speaker of the House of Representatives, therefore, new and retuning members of the House must shine their eyes by choosing the right person that will not only unify the house, but also be gritty and ensure its stability. That person, I dare say, is Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase.

Ibrahim wrote Lokogoma, Abuja

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Being the institution that has the highest number of elected officials out of the three arms of government, much higher responsibility for entrenchment of good governance rests on the National Assembly, most especially in its oversight on the executive arm