President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has on Saturday July 3, 2021, expressed concern over what he called ‘false narratives against serving federal lawmakers in the country’.
The Senator representing Yobe North expressed his dissaffection while presenting his key note address at the ongoing Conference of Presiding Officers of the Nigerian Legislature.
Senator Lawan claimed Nigerians are always anxious to pick negative and false narratives about the conduct and performance of the National Assembly without making conscious efforts to verify the news items.
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He particularly accused the elite of deliberately promoting false narratives against lawmakers even when they have the capacity to fact check.
The Senate President cited the recent misrepresentation over the annual budget for the rehabilitation of national assembly complex.
Senator Lawan said it was wrong and unfair to promote the budget estimate as N37billion as against N9.2billion.
He equally expressed dissapointment over media report that the fund had been allegedly embezzled when it was actually domiciled in the Federal Capital Territory budget.
He said: “This is one demonstration and testimony of misperception of the legislature. As I speak, this is still going through the procurement process.
“But you know what, when there was leakage, some of these critics and haters and traducers of the National Assembly said the National Assembly had spent the money.
They have finished the rehabilitation. Look at what is happening. They didn’t even care to find out what really happened. So they went to town.
“Without this legislature, there is no democracy. The National Assembly and legislature across the country are people’s institutions. Not members of the National Assembly’s institution or State Assembly members’ institution. Its the public. It’s the people.
So, I will always advise that members of the public, especially those minority who have access to media should please help our democracy prosper. Tell the true story. Inform correctly. Publicise rightly. We welcome criticisms.”
Senator Lawan further argued that ordinary Nigerians share the impression that lawmakers live fat on public purse.
“Everything is about the legislator. This is the role that the legislator performs informally because these are not supposed to be our roles but we do them so well and more than anybody else. I believe it’s something that we have to live with but it’s something that we need to continue to enlighten the people.
“There are many Nigerians who are honest but they are misled into believing that the National Assembly, for example, every month the National Assembly members are given N150 million. A Senator take N300 million.
“Those of us in the legislature have this misfortune of been misunderstood, misrepresented but for the sake of our people, we must continue to bear everything and anything anybody will say.
“As we all know, the legislature in constitutional democracy ensures the survival of democracy by fulfilling the responsibilities of representation, lawmaking and oversight.
“The legislature has been alive to these onerous responsibilities in spite of the enormous challenges confronting it particularly at the state level.”
The theme of the ongoing Conference is Public perception of the role of Legislature: Post Legislative Scrutiny and Independence of the Legislature.