- Urges Journalists to Correct Misperception about NASS
By Christiana Ekpa
The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa yesterday assured that the 9th National Assembly will vehemently resist any policies and Bills from President Muhammadu Buhari that are against the overall interests of the Nigerians people and the nation.
This was just as the leader urged the Journalists covering National Assembly Complex to correct the misperception and misunderstanding about the Lawmakers sharing N110 billion, even as he said that, the Assembly needs to be presented in the best possible light.
Hon. Doguwa disclosed this when when he received members of the House of Representatives Press Corps in his office, led by its Chairman, Grace Ike.
The Majority Leader, who told the journalists that he is the eyes and ears of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Parliament, disclosed that, “we will not support the President in what does not tally with the interests of Nigerians.”
He disclosed that the Parliament is a separate arm of the government with its full independence, as anticipated by the law, but stressed that there are rooms for the executive and legislature to cooperate and work together in the general interests of Nigeria and Nigerians.
Doguwa therefore urged the people not to misunderstand the 9th National Assembly when they see how closely they will be working with the executive irrespective of their parties and political affiliations.
He noted that there were tendencies for the people to dismiss the legislative as rubber stamped when these collaboration is noticed, but assured that it will be in the best interests of the people and country.
Stressing that they would happily accept that tag if it is in the interests of the people, the Majority Leader said, “we will rubber stamp anything in the overall interests of the people.”
He assured that the era of face off between the executive and legislature was over, Doguwa averred that the two chambers of the National Assembly have resolved to work harmoniously with the executive to bring prosperity to the nation and its citizens.
He disclosed that one area in which the 9th Assembly is going to harmoniously resolve immediately, is the electoral Act to address the mirage of problems facing elections in the country.
He said that the House was still awaiting the legislative agenda of the Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, which is already receiving attention at the committee and would be rolled out as soon as work is completed on it.
The Majority Leader said that the legislative agenda intents to address critical issues of the state and give directions to the 9th House of Representatives.
He urged cooperation from the media to correct the wrong and negative perceptions by the public against the legislature, which he noted was presently a huge concern to the National Assembly.
He said “The 9th House of Representatives under the leadership of Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila is the one is out for a lot of reforms. The 9th Assembly is going to be productive not only in terms of our duties as legislators but it will be reproductive even terms of our relationship with agencies of government and other agencies of democratic institutions we are operating in this country. The press obviously is one.
“There is this very long standing problem we have about the institution of the National Assembly. This is one very wrong perception that we members or stakeholders in the institution can not clear it ourselves and we will expect that role to be played by you people (press). You are operating in between the public and various institutions of government and you are here. We also consider you ambassadors of this great institutions out there on the street.
“We urge you to always present the National Assembly in the best possible light. Where issues contain misunderstanding, misperception, ignorance and sometimes even blackmail, we expect the press to help us play this role by really putting everything in perspective. Sometimes we talk about issues of even our allowances and the budget we have here in the National Assembly. When you talk of N 110 billion budget for the National Assembly most Nigerians think this N 110 billion is to be shared among the 360 Members in the House and 109 in the Senate which actually is not the case.
“The way we operate our finances here is very much known to you and we hope you will make known even to members of the public. That would go a long way to disabuse blackmails and possible mischief among the Nigerian public.
“Democracy can only work when every component of the democratic system work in tandem with the other organs of government or other institutions of democracy. I look at the fourth estate of the realm, the press as an inseparable arm of government. When you have three arms of government, it is like you left out one significant arm of government that is charged with that moral responsibility to cooperate, synergize and work in tandem with the operations and policies of government so that at the end, government will succeed.
“So in my view, you have even a greater role to play because government is the business that is been done for the benefit of the people and when business is being done for the people and if they are not well informed, then we have a problem. The 9th Assembly have a lot to expect from you in terms of disabusing the minds of Nigerians to make sure that the perspective in which the National Assembly is put is always apt and appropriate because we can not go on the streets and speak for ourselves.
“Some other things that I will like to share with you is the commitment of the 9th National Assembly to the interest of the interest of the common man. I want to believe that by the way we have established the leadership of the 9th House of Representatives such kind of confidence between the legislature and executive is already there. So we have laid very promising background that in the end the two institutions of government which are very key to progress and development of the country will work harmoniously but when I said harmoniously I do not mean the usual rubber stamp people are talking about.
“Sometimes I believe that those who drafted the constitution, if you go through the constitution and the workings of the National Assembly and the executive arm of government, the moral intent was to make the National Assembly a rubber stamp. Rubber stamp in the sense that we rubber stamp when such things are in tandem with aspirations of the Nigerian people. I think that is what the rubber stamp does” he added.
In her remarks, the Chairman of House of Representatives Press Corps, Grace Ike, assured that journalists reporting the House would always work based on the tenets of journalism and be fair at all times to all people.
She urged the Majority leader to pursue and support programmes and policies that would help her members achieve the essence of representing their organizations in the House, provided it is not against national interests.
She requested him to ensure a good working environment for the journalists in the House and ensure their protection.