POLITICAL METABOLISM: LAWMAKERS' GREEK GIFTS
By EMMANUEL AZIKEN
I remember with irony when just before the last general elections a ranking Senator in the immediate past Senate organized a constituency outreach for the purpose of giving out some handouts to his constituents. Among the conspicuous gifts on offer at that occasion were about 200 of the popular generators we have now come to label 'I big pass my neighbor.'
Off course, the generators and other gifts were essentially for selected party agents and officials who were then being positioned for the frontal roles they were expected to play in the election that was then at hand.
The irony on me on that occasion which I conveyed to the organizers was that the Senator's donation of generators to constituents meant the Senator with his frontal role in government did not believe the media hype before the elections that there was going to be a significant improvement of power supply.
'If the Senator believed in the government's assertion then there would have been no need for the distribution of generators,' I muttered.
Of course, I am yet to meet a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives that does not have a scholarship scheme for supposed indigents in his or her constituency.
Many of them have indeed extended their supposedly philanthropic gestures into other community development schemes including provision of boreholes, construction of school classroom blocks, distribution of scholarship grants and like the Senator above, even to the generation of power supply.
When such handouts are given out it is usually in the glare of massive publicity attended by the media.
The purpose of such philanthropic gestures in many cases, especially for professional politicians, is self-serving. The cost of drawing attention to the hand-outs almost always dwarfs the cost of the gifts being presented.
For the uninformed lawmaker's constituents, such handouts may demonstrate the effective representation of the lawmaker in the National Assembly. For them, representation is conveyed by what they get from the lawmaker and not in terms of his actions in the legislature.
While I am not averse to philanthropy given the often misconstrued biblical injunction that for 'whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,' I am, however, incensed with the bridled deceit that is depicted by the so called philanthropy.
A legislator's duty is to make laws for the good governance of the land.
Section 4 (2) of the Constitution states that 'The National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation.'
In many cases the legislators who provide such charity claim to be covering up the deficiency in the services of the Federal Government.
The effort of the legislators in covering up or making up for the failure of the Federal Government to provide good governance in the provision of roads, security, electricity, education and other spheres of is, however, a conspiracy against the people.
The legislators were elected to provide the legislative framework for good governance. They have rather abandoned that mandate and become subservient accessories in the corridors of power. Why for example, have the legislators not exerted their powers to ensure that capital budgets are implemented to the letter?
The budget once it is passed is supposed to be a law as it is an Act of the National Assembly.
They have, however, looked else where and sometimes compromised themselves as government budget for the provision of good roads, electricity and security are breached by the executive branch.
The provision of tokens in the form of scholarships or boreholes through funds often obtained by the legislators through extra-legal means does not cover up for the deficiency in quality representation that we would ordinarily have gotten from the faithful implementation of budgets.
They are Greek gifts.