IHEDIOHA: TOWARDS EFFECTIVE LEGISLATIVE GOVERNANCE
Fundamentally, pursuit of positive national development, people's welfare and empowerment are at the centre of legislative governance. Accordingly, there is historical and intricate link involving the legislature, development and people. This primordial responsibility of the legislature towards providing the driving force for national development and people's empowerment was captured in Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended which empowers the legislature to make laws for the purpose of ensuring good governance.
Besides, it is for similar reason woven around development and people's right to decent living that the constitution also empowers the legislature to appropriate public funds. This is also evidenced in the power granted appropriate committees of the legislature to assess routinely the budgetary performance of the relevant ministries and government agencies which is code-named oversight function. This implies that besides appropriation and supervisory roles, the legislature significantly holds the executive accountable to the people and national development.
More so, the realization that a legislator is representative of the people, by virtue of holding people's mandate affirms the exigency of development and people being legislative imperative of any legislator. A compelling point here is that a legislator who fails to recognize the primacy of people and development and as such making the two concepts his legislative agenda has at best faltered as a legislator.
Essentially, a legislator must enlist some delicate balance by operating effectively both in the parliament and his constituency or Senatorial District for optimal result in this regard. The significance of this lies in the fact that for a legislator to strike enhanced parliamentary performance he must as matter of legislative importance touch base regularly with a view to having interface with his constituents. The essence principally is to provide his constituents an account of his stewardship and to find out the needs and aspirations of his people towards ensuring functional and effective legislative governance.
Incontrovertibly, the worth and relevance of a legislator are inexorably linked to the scope of his legislative governance. The concept of a legislative governance involves the extent to which a legislator is able to interface with his constituents and to pursue their development and empowerment needs. This makes the constituency projects which have been instituted as part of the national development framework a political and budgetary imperative.
In broad terms however, legislative governance involves how a legislator meets habitually with the people to explain to them how he is representing them in the parliament. It also connotes how well a legislator represents his people. This is measured in infrastructural projects provided, standard of living of the masses, job opportunities, access to skills acquisition programmes, provision of social services and so on.
Although some legislators are known to have been embarking on effective legislative governance, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, Deputy Speaker House of Representatives, who represents Aboh Mbaise / Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency in Imo State, provides a study in effective legislative governance. On Saturday, December 22, 2012 he held constituency briefing /town hall meeting in his Mbutu, Mbaise home which attracted a wide range of people from his constituency. Since his election into the House in 2003 he has made constituency briefing an annual but compulsory event.
The essence of the event is to inform and educate his constituents on what is going on in the National Assembly and to get feedback from them so as to enrich his legislative function.
Hon Ihedioha's regular interface with the people provides him deep insight into some key challenges of the people. Key among them include; growing level of youths and women unemployment in Imo State and the attendant security challenge; increasing level of poverty; infrastructural problem and so on. His awareness with the challenges has enabled him work out legislative framework on how to grapple with the issues.
Only last year he organized two skills acquisition programmes for over 1,500 youths and women in the 27 local councils, cutting across 305 wards in the state to reduce rate of unemployment, poverty and to create wealth. He ensured that they were trained in roots crop processing and various trades ranging from computer, generator repairs to barbing and architectural design. They were provided with tools, basic equipment and seed fund at the end of the programme for effective take-off. Interestingly he has bumped up skills acquisition programme into a regular exercise in the state.
Besides, his record of road infrastructure, electricity projects, education facilities, water projects, health facilities in Imo State in line with effective legislative governance is unassailable and demonstrable. He has also supported and empowered many Imo youths in various ways and ensured that they get employment at the federal level.
Drawing from the spectacle of Ihedioha, it is therefore inconvertible that effective legislative governance is the fulcrum of the legislature, providing genuine and profound bond between the people and a legislator. Any legislator who chooses to ignore it stands the risk of disconnecting from his people.
- Uganwa wrote in from Abuja