Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has criticized the high turnover of members and said it is not good for the nation’s democracy.
In a speech during the House Press Corps’ 2022 Press Week/Award Ceremony, Gbajabiamila accused state governors of seeking to control which candidates represent the various constituencies in the parliament.
The speaker, who was represented by Peter Akpatason, the Deputy House Leader, noted that the high turnover of lawmakers is a serious problem because it frequently deprives the nation of the services of the majority of its top lawmakers.
According to him, “When you talk about executive rascality, I don’t think a lot of people actually know, it is a very serious issue in this country. We have the situation in which governors want to do everything, want to take everything in this country but it not in the interest of Nigerian.
“It is not in the interest of democracy when a governor sits down and say XY must not come back, why? You are not looking at experience, competence, is not about inability to perform. The turn over of legislators is majorly due to the horde of the governors.
“The legislature as the bastion of democracy can do their job very well only when you have a stock of competent and experienced human beings. A federal turnover is a serious problem, serious in the sense that, the older the better, the more experienced the better legislature.
“The best legislators are legislators who have seen it from every angle but you cannot come in and do one term and say you have seen. How much have you seen actually? How much would you know in National Assembly in four years?”
The Director General, National Institute of Democratic Studies ( NILDS), Sulaiman Abubakar, while speaking as guest lecturer at the event, stated the high turnover of lawmakers was weakening the capacity of the Legislature as an institution of government.
Abubakar, who spoke on the theme “high turnover of lawmakers: impact and way forward”, canvased for an amendment of the constitution to raise the educational qualification for contesting election into the parliament, increase the tenure of lawmakers “or stem the incursion of the retired governors and other executives into eroding the independence of the legislature, “as a way of checking high turnover of lawmakers.
Earlier, in her welcome address, the chairman of the Press Corps, Ms Grace Ike, noted that with high number of lawmakers, stated that a vibrant legislature is critical to the country’s democracy.
However, Ike lamented that “we are set to witness the highest turnover of lawmakers in the 2023 election and this is a cause to worry about. Obviously, about 70- 80 per cent of lawmakers will not make it back to both the federal and state assemblies; which is quite worrisome and the adverse effect resulting to loss of institutional memories, experience and relegation of competency to the background among other issues.”