The National Assembly on Saturday, April 30, 2022 has provided information on why many of its campaign promises during the electoral process remain unfulfilled.
The situation, according to the legislature, arose due to the misconception of the roles of the legislative arm of the government by Nigerians.
The lawmakers said their job was to make laws and not to usurp the functions of the President and governors by executing projects.
The lawmakers stated these during a Town Hall meeting between North Central legislators and their constituents titled, ‘Open Square’, organised by Daria Media in Abuja.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, representing Kogi West, said most of the promises by lawmakers during campaigns go unfulfilled due to the fact that they do not control resources.
According to him, Nigerians misunderstand the functions of legislators; lawmakers are elected as advocates of the people, including ensuring that the executive appreciates the needs of Nigerians.
He observed that legislators were meant to complement the functions of the executive and not to compete with them.
Adeyemi stated, “When you are campaigning, you are under serious pressure. The pressure of time convincing your electorate and the pressure of meeting other challenges associated with that campaign. So when the electorate is making a request, they hold the view that you will get it done. But again, one is not in the executive, so we cannot 100 per cent have the assurance that the resources or funding will be available. But you may believe that you will have the job done.
“There are communities I pledged to construct health centres for and there are also ones I pledged to construct their township roads but to my surprise my state government embarked on those projects, so I have to leave them. Legislators are to complement the functions of the executive and not compete with them.
“We cannot even compete with them because they have the resources. When you have a progressive government in place, there are things you will want to do as a legislator but the government will get it done even before you settle down.
“As a senator, my job is to make laws, my job is to look at where there is a lacuna in the system and also see that I speak the minds of the people and also advise and ensure the executive appreciates the needs of the people.
“There is a kind of misunderstanding of what a legislator is supposed to do. Nigerians tend to view lawmakers as having the same level of power and resources as state governors or local government chairmen. We don’t have the resources.
“We have been elected to be an advocate of the people. In that process, we are to make laws, look at where there are lacunas, and more important for me is to stand up and speak for the people irrespective of the political party, and I think this is what is lacking among our lawmakers.”
Agreeing with Adeyemi, another lawmaker, Dachung Bagos, representing Jos South/Jos East Federal Constituency of Plateau State in the House of Representatives, linked the menace of unfulfilled promises to the wrong perception held by the public about lawmakers and pressure from constituencies during campaigns.
He, however, blamed his colleagues for making unrealistic promises, adding that most of them did not understand what their office entailed.
“When we start having proper enlightenment and legislators start understanding the office they are contesting for, they will be able to give a fair judgement in terms of whatever promise they want to give”, he said.
The Founder of Plateau Youths G-17 Peace and Progress Forum, Dachung Bagos, added that the country’s economic situation had put a lot of pressure on politicians seeking office, adding that there were a lot of demands from the electorate.
He said, “The way forward is that citizens must understand the role of the legislature and the legislator must understand the office before campaigning.
“Ahead of the 2023 general elections, politicians who have now known the reality shouldn’t make bogus promises that he or she can’t fulfill. For instance, I tell my people what I can do and can’t do. Telling and putting the facts on the table will address the issue.”
Speaking further, a House of Representatives member, Mark Gbillah, representing Gwer East-Gwer West Constituency of Benue State said it was not out of place for lawmakers to make promises, especially on the execution of projects during campaigns.
He said the menace of unfulfilled promises was something that the executive did more, saying a lot of lawmakers understood their limitations.
Gbillah said, “It all depends on the individual. It is not a matter of all lawmakers. However, it is not out of place for a lawmaker to make certain promises because we handle appropriation. It is also our job to ensure that proper representation of our constituency is captured in the budget.
“Nigerians should be grateful that it is because of the intervention of National Assembly members that they even see any presence on ground.
“Some lawmakers might have made their promises because a lot of them, especially new ones, don’t know the nature of lawmaking. They might promise things they don’t know they can’t have access to do. But every seasoned legislator will only promise the things he knows are within his purview.
“For instance, there are limitations to the number of projects to be nominated by a legislator. So, a lot of lawmakers don’t know this before they come to the National Assembly. Also, a lot of them come in and realise that they can’t get the support of the executive.”