Members of the National Assembly on Saturday said many Nigerians do not value the main duty of a legislator, which is to make laws.
The lawmakers spoke at Open Square, a townhall meeting monitored on Channels Television.
“Legislators are not judged by their performance as to how they advocate for their constituents,” Kogi senator, Smart Adeyemi said.
“They want to see you provide those things that are exclusively the responsibility of the executive. As a legislator, people assume that you should be able to construct roads for them, build houses.”
A member of the House of Representatives, Dachung Bagos, re-echoed Senator Adeyemi’s stance.
“What constituents usually want to see is that you bring infrastructure, you bring empowerment, you pay school fees, you pay hospital bills, and things that are directly beneficial to the constituents,” he said.
“But 70 percent of the role of a lawmaker, which is lawmaking – as long as it doesn’t translate to food on the table – the constituents don’t understand it.”
The wrong perception of the role of legislators may be linked to the kind of promises they make during election campaigns.
“You find yourself during campaigns actually making promises and unfortunately because politicians are looking for the votes, they say yes,” Rep. Bagos said. “The Nigerian political space has made politicians overpromise and when you overpromise, you find yourself not meeting up to the demands.
“There are things that you might even say during elections, and they will remind you; they will even play videotapes of the campaign.”
The lawmaker wants Nigerians to be fair to the National Assembly, saying its members have been living up to their responsibilities.
According to him, it will be unreasonable to expect lawmakers who are not up to 500 to solve the problem of a country with over 200 million people.
Bagos also believes the system of politics in Nigeria has worsened the situation, decrying the level of partisanship in the country.
He stated that this was one of the major factors why the National Assembly has failed in some aspects of its responsibilities, especially in holding the executive accountable.
“In fairness to Nigerians and in fairness to the true nature of what democracy needs to stand for, the Nigerian political space has caged democracy to the democracy of partisanship – you have to be a party man before you get something; to religious and ethnic democracy that you have to belong to a certain religious group to be able to get something for your people,” the lawmaker lamented.
“We have been able to make resolutions upon resolutions to the executive that do it this way, do it this way; with 200 million people, you don’t expect about 400 people to solve the problem … the National Assembly today cannot boldly say – because of politics of party, because of politics of ethnicity; that the executive has not done well.”