POLITICAL METABOLISM: When legislators beg
On February 1, 2012 · In Politics

By EMMANUEL AZIKEN

NOW if anyone needs a reminder of the problems that have stymied the nation’s development he or she, only need seek an interaction with the House of Representatives Committee on Power.

It is the same Committee on Power which four years ago took the country on a jolly ride in an elusive investigation of the supposed malfeasances in the implementation of the independent power project. The committee then under the leadership of Rep. Ndudi Elumelu at the end of its gallivanting did not just waste our time and money, but also set the nation’s power plans backwards by many years.

Now under the leadership of another dynamic chairman in the person of Rep. Rep Patrick Ikhariale (PDP, Edo Central), the rectitude of the committee and its leadership came to the fore when  it engaged the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on the seeming rudeness of the commission in refusing employment to persons sent to the commission by the House members.

“Two to three years ago, we sent a list of our candidates for employment to the commission but as I speak today, some of them have died. You didn’t give them the job and that is one of the problem(s) we have in the power sector,” the Chairman of the committee, Rep Ikhariale was quoted by a national daily as saying during an oversight visit to the commission in Abuja.

It would seem puzzling to any one on how the problems of the power sector in the country could be related to the refusal or inability of the energy regulatory commission to employ the nominees of the House members into the commission.

But then it is not totally perplexing, given that the powers of appropriation are in the control of the House members who have the power to do and undo in the matter of funding. Could it be that the refusal to employ the nominees of the House members forced the House to cut short the budget for the NERC and thereby stifling the nation’s quest for sufficient power? Could it?

The House committee chairman was further quoted to have said: “I would say that you should take this into consideration as you prepare your zonal offices for takeoff. The zonal office would make you have better presence and felt nationwide.”

“NERC has not been fair to us. We deserve to know the full knowledge of your actions, inactions and even intentions so that we are well prepared to defend your positions when the need arises in the house. As the committee on power and as representatives of the people, we receive complaints often and we can only respond appropriately when we are well grounded in your activities,” Ikhariale said.

As almost generally acknowledged by everyone, helping constituents and supporters to secure appointments is like an obligation to many Nigerian lawmakers. However, that obligation should not be seen to be done at the expense of the collective good or be pursued in a brusque manner the way that the members of the House Committee on Power seems to have done.

If refusing employment to the favoured candidates of legislators is one of the problems militating against the performance of the power sector then the exact nexus of the capacity of the legislators’ nominees to the in the operation of the sector needs to be further clarified.

Such imprudent gestures do not do the standing of the legislature good. It debases the authority of the legislature and it is no wonder that oversight visits by National Assembly members are generally seen as a means of extortion.

Given the integrity the chairman of the NERC Dr. Sam Amadi came with to the job I only wonder how he would have responded to the lawmakers. One of the most respected members of the civil right society before his appointment as NERC boss, I could imagine the scorn with which Dr. Amadi of old would have responded.

Well, if Dr. Amadi has not changed I believe he would have diplomatically told Ikhariale and his entourage that he appreciates the seriousness with which they, (legislators) have been doing their job in crafting laws and policies for the commission and would have told them to continue in that very duty!

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