Leke Baiyewu, Abuja
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has said it is wrong for Nigerians to perceive the National Assembly as being “highly overpaid” for doing little.
He said the lack of trust in the lawmakers had made their critics not to see the enormous work they were doing for the country.
Buhari said this in Abuja on Wednesday when the House of Representatives launched The Green Chamber Magazine, a publication by the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs.
At the event were the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who represented the President; Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, representing President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; Governor of Katsina State and former Speaker of the House, Bello Masari; Governor of Imo State and former member of the Senate, Hope Uzodinma, among others.
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila; and Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, led principal officers and members to the event.
Buhari, speaking through Mohammed, said the parliamentarians did not share money without working.
He said, “Hitherto, the public perception of the National Assembly is that of a bicameral legislature where overly comfortable and highly-overpaid members merely stuff wads of currency notes into their pockets for little work done. This wrong perception has resulted partly from the lack of understanding of the enormous work of lawmakers, especially outside the glare of television cameras.
“But with a magazine that will be the authoritative source of anything that goes on in the House – motions being moved, bills being passed, national issues being discussed and constituency projects – the public will be better informed on the activities of the House, and this will in turn reflect in an improved public perception.
“In addition, it will help the House to tell its own story, rather than relying on others to take charge of their narrative. It is said that no one can tell your story better than you.”
A former Director of Kenya’s Anti-Corruption Commission and Director of the Kenya School of Laws, Prof. Plo Lumumba, who was a keynote speaker at the event, asked if the lawmakers were following the footsteps of Nigeria’s founding fathers who, he said, had a clear vision for the country.
He said, “I read your great founding leaders. I read the works of Nnamdi Azikiwe and I listened to him in those early days. He was as eloquent as he was passionate in telling Nigerians and Africans – because he was called the Zik of Africa – that leadership is about service. This magazine is an occasion for you to demonstrate to Africa that you are servant-leaders.
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“I did not only read about Nnamdi Azikiwe, I also read about Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in his younger days – eloquent and passionate about Nigeria. You may not have agreed with all that he said and did, but you cannot deny the fact, the clarity of vision and the need for marshalling the people as the only antidote to the problems that have afflicted Nigeria, and by extension Africa.
“Now that you have been given the honour and privilege of serving Nigeria, now that Nigerians and Africans refer to you as honourable members, the question is: are you honourable members or horrible members? The question as to whether you are honourable members is determined by the service that you render to the people.”
In his remarks, Gbajabiamila stated that Nigeria would not have returned to democracy without the role played by the press.
He said, “I can say with absolute confidence, that our democratic settlement could never have been achieved without the noble daring of the press. Those unsung heroes who understood the power of the written word and wielded it in passionate denunciation of the tyranny that sought to consume us all.”