Perception or reality? The Poor Image Of The Kaduna State House of Assembly - FOW 24 NEWS

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Perception or reality? The Poor Image Of The Kaduna State House of Assembly

If the members of the Kadu­na State House of Assembly and indeed members of the National Assembly and mem­bers of the other State Houses of Assembly read the Global Parliamentary Report, they will be comforted that they are not alone, in the “hatred “ of legisla­tors...
Because the poor percep­tion in which they are held, is a worldwide problem that is not limited to Nigeria. Their other is the increases in the number of parliaments globally, an indi­cation that parliaments are after all indispensable.
And so, the legislature must remain relevant and engage the people, from the serious to the outlandish. The Global Parliamentary Report (GPR), in the “Changing Nature of Parliamentary Representation”, argues “that parliaments must stay closely attuned to public needs and expectations and en­sure that sustained and strategic efforts are made to meet them if they are to help address the very low-levels of trust they current­ly hold”.
According to a joint Report by the Inter - Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the United Nations Development Pro­gramme (UNDP), “parliaments are today facing greater public scrutiny and pressure than ever before with fundamental ques­tions on their ability to hold governments to account, but they have never been more es­sential to the political life of a country”.
Studies by Christian Aid, fur­ther supports the conclusions that the IPU and the UNDP that accountability, transpar­ency, durability of projects, and resource management, are high on the expectations of the peo­ple. According to Abdelwahad Radi, President of the IPU, “it is clear that casting a ballot every few years is no longer enough for an electorate. They want more democratic engagement between them and the political institution they elects.”
But the stark reality is that such understanding can never be reached, because while leg­islators rate legislation as their most important job, a good number of the public, see solv­ing their personal problems as the main job of the legislators. For instance, how would a leg­islator react to pressure from a constituent who will only be satisfied, if the member insults the governor or the president? Though the legislator will be a hero, but he definitely won’t be in any position to attract pro­jects to his area. He won’t be ef­fective, but he would have made the day of his constituents.
Those who believe that the Kaduna State House of Assem­bly and most especially, the National Assembly, are “use­less” institutions that can be done away with, will be hugely surprised that while admittedly there is waning support for par­liaments in both the established and newer democracies, with the trust levels for countries like Lithuania, the Arab world, East Asia and the United States, at below 10 percent, the only region with a comparatively high level of trust according to the IPU report, is Sub-Saharan Africa, with 56% level of trust across the continent. So the re­ality doesn’t really match the perception.
The Kaduna State House of As­sembly, has been tagged a rub­ber stamp, a lap dog of the Ex­ecutive, led by Governor Nasir el-Rufai. That el- Rufai wouldn’t even get the level of subservi­ence from his wives, like he gets from the House. But is this a perception problem or the real­ity? Is the problem politics? The indications that it’s all calculated politics is there, because while these same opponents of the Kaduna State House of Assem­bly, see absolutely nothing good about the House, they will be up in arms against National Assem­bly members for daring to ques­tion the President Muhammadu Buhari, the same questions they think the members of the State House of Assembly should ask and with vehemence.
The allegation that the Kaduna State House of Assembly is a lap dog has been consistent. Since 1999, no Assembly has escaped that charge. The only time the House receives kudos is when it threatens impeachment or re­jects public office nominees.
The question is: Why have voters continued electing those they turn around to describe as “spineless”, and incapable of holding the Executive accounta­ble? The surprise is that some of those who are strident in their condemnation of the House as “no good”, see absolutely noth­ing wrong in a Senator from the State, sleeping more than he has spoken in the Red Chamber.
If the Kaduna State House of Assembly is indeed in the pock­et of the Governor like the op­ponents of the House allege, the Bill for a Law to substitute the Kaduna State Religious Preach­ing Law, 1984” (Regulation of Religious Preaching (Amend­ment) Act, would have long been passed into law.
The bill is intended to replace or substitute the 1984 Edict, which the then Military Gover­nor of Kaduna State, Air-Com­modore Usman Muazu, had promulgated on 17th July, 1984 in reaction to the Maitatsine ri­ots in some parts of Northern Nigeria. The Edict provided for the mandatory licensing of preachers and restricted the playing of religious cassettes to homes, banned the use of abu­sive language against any per­son or religious organization or religious leader. Col. Abubakar Umar, after the religious riots of 1987, amended the Edict. Option of fine was expunged and terms of imprisonment upon conviction increased to five years. Col. Hamid Ali, also effected an amendment to the Edict. While the previous governor’s all got away with amending the Edict in the man­ner they liked, the only civilian administration to attempt an overhaul remains unsuccessful - the beauty of democracy.
The Fifth Kaduna State House of Assembly has passed a Total of 19 Bills that are crucial to the states socio-economic devel­opment, promotion of Social Justice since June 2015. There are also the Kaduna State Pen­sion Reform Law of 2016, the Kaduna State Tax Codification and Consolidation Law of 2016, the Kaduna State Agricultural Development Agency Law, the Kaduna State Public Procure­ment Law, the Law to provide for the Control and Manage­ment of Public Finances of Kaduna State, the Law for the Development and Regulation of Water Sector, A Law to Es­tablish Kaduna Investment Pro­motion Agency (KADIPA) and other Matters, the Law to estab­lish Kaduna Facility Manage­ment Agency (KADFAMA) and other Matters therewith, the Law to Establish Kaduna Geo­graphic Information Services (KADGIS) and other Related Matters therewith , the Law to establish Kaduna State Pri­mary Healthcare Development Agency 2015,Law on Substance Abuse and Treatment and the Law Establishing Kaduna State Traffic and Environmental Law Enforcement Agency (KASTE­LEA) and several others, in­cluding the Appropriations Acts of 2016 and 2017.
Kaduna State House of As­sembly in terms of the quality of legislation's and responsiveness, deserves a pass mark. The Fis­cal Responsibility Plan (Fiscal Framework for Sub- National Governments in Nigeria) that the Federal Government put in place to help enhance Fiscal prudence and Public Expendi­ture, is still a tall order for many states, but Kaduna State has largely met all the 22 Action Plan, whose strategic objectives include improving the internal­ly generated revenue of states, so as to reduce dependence on the Federal Government. This led to increased revenue- from about 600 million naira month­ly to about 1.7 billion naira. It has also reduced its wage bill through the bio-metric capture of civil servants. The House of Assembly definitely played its role in ensuring these outcomes.
The 23 Local Governments had for instance defended their budget, so all the House needed was to approve the disburse­ment. Same with the N4 bil­lion UBEC counterpart funding which had been captured in the 2017 Appropriation Act. If Ka­duna State hadn’t paid its share, UBEC wouldn’t have released the N4 billion. And how would the State Government had paid if, if it wasn’t budgeted?
But a section of the media reported that “Kaduna State House of Assembly within min­utes, passed an executive bill sent by the state government and this made the House appear incompetent. Only last week the Senate had to take urgent action to stop the expulsion of Nige­ria from the EGMONT Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Nigeria has been temporarily suspended, due to the absence of a legal framework that guar­antees the independence of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit. The media in reporting it, refused to put it in perspective, it painted a picture of a reckless legislature, when in fact they had to work extra hours to save the country.
Another area that Nigerians have problem with the National Assembly and the various States Houses of Assembly, is in their funding. But Nigerians must realize that democracy is very expensive. The United States Congress has a budget of $5.2 billion which can fund the en­tire Nigerian budget.
For instance some fierce crit­ics of the House, will do a somersault and hail the House as “the best ever”, if it decides to announce impeachment pro­ceedings against Governor el-Rufai. But these shouldn’t be the yardstick in measuring perfor­mance. Certain things will con­tinue to hunt the Kaduna State House of Assembly: one is the impeachment of Balaraba Musa; the other is its poor handling of the Sharia Bill which led to riots.
Perception or reality? The Poor Image Of The Kaduna State House of Assembly Reviewed by FOW 24 News on August 31, 2017 Rating: 5 If the members of the Kadu­na State House of Assembly and indeed members of the National Assembly and mem­bers of the other State Houses...

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