•President: lawmakers seen as getting huge pay for doing little
President Muhammadu Buhari has said Nigerians perceive Federal lawmakers as collecting a lot of money for which they do little or no work.
He said this perception emanated from the lack of understanding of the job the legislators do for the nation.
The President spoke yesterday in Abuja at the unveiling the Green Chambermagazine, published by the House of Representatives.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan also decried the lack of trust between elected representatives and their electors.
Represented by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, President Buhari said: “Public perception of the National Assembly is that of a bicameral legislature where overly comfortable and highly-overpaid members merely stuff wads of currency notes into their pockets for little work done.
“This wrong perception has resulted partly from the lack of understanding of the enormous work of lawmakers, especially outside the glare of television cameras.”
The President described the unveiling as a trail blazer for the House.
He said it should help in bridging the information gap between the House and the public.
According to him, prior to the birth of the magazine, information about the activities of the House of Representatives, including sponsored motions, bills’ passage and committees’ assignments was obtained mostly from what was reported in the media.
President Buhari noted that in some cases, such information was distorted, leading to poor perception of the lawmakers and their job.
The President hoped the Green Chambermagazine would correct any distortion and become the authoritative voice of the House.
He stressed that access to correct information on the activities of the House would not only burnish the image of the lawmakers but also illuminate the good job the members do, including the rigours of perusing the contents of Bills before their passage as well as committee duties.
“But with a magazine that will be the authoritative source of anything that goes on in the House – motions being moved, bills being passed, national issues being discussed and constituency projects – the public will be better informed on the activities of the House, and this will in turn reflect in an improved public perception…”
Lawan, who was represented by his deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege, decried the lack of trust between the legislature and the public.
He said such lack of trust was affecting development in the country.
“Over the years, we have seen great political discourse about the relationship between voters and parliamentarians. The Nigerian people have coercive doubt about how the National Assembly works.
“In the Ninth Assembly, which wants to achieve great results in governance, the severe erosion of trust in government has no doubt become a very big problem. It does appear that the lack of trust in governance is now becoming an obstacle to development.
“In other to move this country forward, and take the bold decision to solve the socio-economic problems facing our country and win back the trust of the electorate, we need cooperation from people of different political, ethnic and religious persuasions.
“To do that, we have to restore our faith in our democracy, and the best way to do this is to become more transparent with the Nigerian people. We need to create sources of information, dialogue, peaceful interactive debate, citizen participation and genuine participation in legislative work,” Lawan said.
Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari, who was chairman of the occasion, said in politics, perception requires serious consideration.
Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu said there were several misconceptions about the operations, duties and achievements of the National Assembly.