Speakers Endangered

Speakers Endangered

NIGER State set a record last month when its State House of Assembly had third speaker in one week! The most important work of the House seemed to be the replacement of speakers.

Some critics  wondered how Honourable Mohammed Lokogoma grabbed the floor under “a matter of national importance,” and moments after was moving a motion for the speaker’s impeachment.

The legislator was in order. Under Section 92 (c), Lokogoma did not need a reason to move against the speaker. The Section states, that his leadership expires “if he is removed from office by a resolution of House of Assembly by the votes of not less than two-third majority of the members of the House”.

Legislators exploring this loose provision change their leadership at the slightest disagreement. The most frequent reason for change of leadership is a speaker’s failure “to carry others along”, an expression for the House leader not spreading the largesse from his office around the membership.

The issue of members’ welfare is usually an excuse to change leadership. The amount of resources speakers control and the powers they wield have put their positions  at stake. The constitutional provision that places speakers among successors to governors, even if briefly, make their positions more attractive. A speaker is not an ordinary legislator, his political path can lead to heights that his colleagues only suddenly realise.

On the other side, governors want to control speakers. The oversight functions of legislative  houses and the independence they require can make the difference in the administration of a State. Most speakers keep their position at the pleasure of governors who want to be fully in-charge.

Blames for most of the maladministration in the country go to the legislatures that have failed to perform their functions of making laws for the good of their States. Houses do nothing when the executives loot state  resources. Are they not really part of the mist that descends on state accounts?

The rumpus in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, where members have elected a new speaker, is only one in the series of alignments that point to the concerns of politicians about their future. As the puzzle of the 2015 elections falls into place, more of these disruptions, which represent politics of self-preservation, will continue all over the country.

Politicians are simply looking after themselves and making others think there is any reason to take them serious. What will a new speaker do?

After 13 years of civil rule, politicians should start investing in the security and welfare of the people, which the Constitution holds as the essence of governments. For now, their interest in the people is disappointing.

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