Political representation in a liberal democracy such as Nigeria is a straight forward concept: every four years at the national level there is an election where citizens from a defined geographical area, be it at the local or state level, chose from a range of candidates to represent them.
Agreed that both theoretically and in practice, it is more complicated but the achievements of Hon. Abdullahi Ibrahim Halims in so short a time at the House of Representatives have made the argument more complicated. While representative democracy is poetically defined as a government of the people, for the people and by the people, Halims is the embodiment of what the people’s representative should be.
These complications we talk about actually relate to the actors rather than the institutions. Halims sees representation as a set of procedures or rules that selects people to formulate or legislate in the public interest in an accountable way: and that is what he is doing in the house.
Halims is one reps who believes that representation is basically the accountable aggregation of interests and that basic interest is that of the people. The constitution and standing orders of the house of representatives as it stands today cirumscribe the functions and powers of the legislature and the actors within it.
The recent motion introduced and read in the house by Halims on the urgent need by the federal government to resume the completion of the Bagana/ Guto bridge that links Kogi State to Nasarawa State which was unanimously approved and supported by the whole house is typically Halims in action. The expectations and duties of Halims as the representative of the Ankpa/ Omala/ Olamaboro people are extensive, encompassing several roles that is full time job in itself. Upon election to the house, Halims developed approaches to his job that serves wide varieties of roles and responsibilities for his people. Many of his motions are developmental-oriented. He sees constituency projects as a quick avenue to attract federal projects like the approved road construction link to his constituency. If not for this motion and projects, majority of federal constituencies would not have projects due to the lopsided nature of projects that gets itself into the budget. Constituency projects are not peculiar to Nigeria alone and Halims is an avid supporter of this concept and he believes it should be supported rather than scrapped.
He believes constituency projects in Nigeria should be institutionalized because they are working for his people. Thus, he is a strong advocate for an institutional framework for the implementation of the constituency projects just like in Kenya.
It is instructive to note by way of educating the general public that Halims only supports the idea that house members only identify the needs of his constituents and recommends same to the executive during budgeting. The proposed road by motion approved for his constituents is not going to be handled by Halims but by contractors assigned and approved by the federal execute council.
Though many Nigerians do not understand the work of the legislature as their impact are not mainly direct, but since Halims joined the class of elected Nigerian about a year and half ago to provide quality representation that would enhance the economic and social life of his people, many would attest that his impacts have been direct. Halims has become phenomenal and made it a duty to sponsor bills and motions, quality motions for that matter. Motions that have impacted his people’s quality of life. This latest motion sponsored by him on the completion of the Bagana/ Guto bridge project will, when completed, provide positive impact on his constituents and indeed other Nigerians. Halims is one among the very few lawmakers who shaped the eighth National Assembly.
Musa Musawa, Abuja