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LEGISLATIVE DIVIDENDS: A WAKE UP CALL TO THE ELECTORATE

By ETETE ENIDENEZE
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One major benefit of democracy is existence of constitutionally recognized parliament, where the views and wishes of the people from different ethnic and political divides are presented and distilled, so that their aspirations can be realized.

Indeed the legislature is the engine room of public policy formulations and decision making in every democracy. It is the market place of demands from various senatorial districts and federal constituencies, which are sieved and good ones accepted. Such acceptance is based on strength of arguments and political maneuverings by the legislators, sponsors and supporters.

The results thereof are for benefit s of the entire country or sectional interest of a group, for instance, the constituents and pressure groups that pushed for their interest.

It is in this vein, that lobbying and political scheming are the hallmarks of parliamentary politics and effective representation of the electorate.

Against this background, it is important for citizens to participate fully in the electoral processes that accord politicians the opportunity to serve as representatives of the people, at the National Assembly, where wise constituencies and senatorial districts send in their best persons.

The call is imperative, especially now that the stage is set for fresh politicking, ahead of the 2015, legislative general elections. Indeed, the next round of opportunities to vote for representatives into both chambers of the National Assembly, will afford a good chance for the electorate to exercise their franchise and vote for the real lawmakers of their choice. More so the call is further premised on the principles of free and fair elections.

As attested to by recent governorship elections in some states, the electorate have become more conscious of their civic responsibility to vote for candidates that can deliver on campaign promises. This trend is contrary to what obtained in the past eras whereby inept and selfish persons hijacked the people's mandate.

Going by the renewed awareness in other states, Bayelsa State which deserves even the best representation at the National Assembly, giving its peculiar need for speedy development and creation of opportunities for its people needs to wiser in electing representatives unto the National Assembly.

The creation of the State has created a vista of opportunities for the people, notably to have representations at the National Assembly, but the people's access to their representatives and to the goodies of democracy are still miles far away.

A school of thought will contend that the dividends derived so far are marvelous, considering the achievements in some aspects. However, others assert that there has been lack of vibrant and quality representation of the people, especially in terms of collective and fruitful efforts to achieve laudable progress.

This trend many Bayelsans believe has adversely affected effective projection of the wishes and demands of the people in order to achieve their developmental demands, from the centre, where their crude oil and gas oils the economy.

It is also attested to by inadequate lobbying to make federal ministries and parastatals to include the peoples' projects in their budgetary votes, as representatives from other states do.

At best what goes to the people is Oshiomole's now popular concept of stomach infrastructure, dished out mostly when our legislators are home and the people gather around their houses, instead of constituency offices. Till date Bayelsans are yet to see functional senatorial and constituency offices in their constituencies. All that is known about the whooping constituency funds are pittances for scholarships and ridiculous starter packs to empower the people, who finally do not get empowered.

Even our ministerial, slot occupied by an occupant with dual state indigenship is yet to yield the much needed impact on Bayelsa State and Epie/Atissa people in particular.

A strong, capable selfless and united team of senators, representatives and a minister who is nostalgic is a therefore one sure way to addressing the problems, as well as complement the development efforts down home in Bayelsa State.

Added to these is the most potent solution of our people rising up to the occasion to decide their fate and realize their aspirations in the Nigerian polity by participating fully and wisely in the next elections. They need to vote into the National Assembly, those who will really be there for the common good of the people.

This is the time to change the ugly status quo, not when the opportunity has gone, else we may not have dividends of democracy.

BY ETETE ENIDENEZE, ARPA, AIMIM, GNIPR, MEDIA AND PUBLIC RELATIONS PRACTITIONER