By Our Admin.
Following the recent publication of legislative Performance particularly in the area of bill sponsorship by a popular legislative accountability organization, Order Paper. Cross Riverians have continued to center public discuss around the rating of their legislators at both houses of the national assembly.
While there are excitement in some quarters, especially those whose legislators were rated to have sponsored higher bills, some sections of the state have expressed concerns over the credibility of the organization for rating their representative low.
Many believe that bill sponsorship is just one of the several legislative functions of a lawmaker. The performance of a legislator should go beyond mere bill sponsorship.
The Parchment spoke with the Publisher of Order Paper, Okey Epia on telephone.
According to him, the rating is one of the several efforts his organization is putting in place to reawaken citizen’s consciousness regarding the performance of their parliamentarians.
He said, while others are excited over the report, they may be shocked when the organization releases subsequent reports.
“Bill sponsorship and general lawmaking is not the only matrix for performance. There is also oversight function, there is representation and others. So sponsorship of bill is only one leg of several other legislative functions. Even after sponsorship, the other thing is the level of progress of your bill. You have to get them to pass through the six steps of law making right on to becoming a law” Okey said.
According to Order Paper, the midterm report of the 9th National Assembly showed that Senator Gershom Bassey, representing Cross River South had the highest number of sponsored bills, totaling 19. While Senators Steven Odey and Sandy Onor sponsored 4 bills each.
At the house of representatives, Hon. Legor Idagbo led with a total number of 7 bills, followed by Eta Mbora with 3 bills while Hon. Alex Egbonna had only 2 bills to his credit.
Hon. Jarigbe Agom and Mike Etaba had a bill each, while Hon. Daniel Asuquo, Essien Ayi and Chris Agibe recorded zero bill.
Does Number Of Bill Mean Effective Representation?
While it is agreed that bill sponsorship is only an aspect of legislative function. Many Cross Riverians believe that some of legislators who have been rated high in terms of bill sponsorship, have not effectively represented them.
Bassey Okon, an Indigen of Calabar has a different opinion. “Look at the Calabar – Itu road for instance, Sen. Gershom Bassey who has sponsored about 19 bills is also the chairman, senate committee on FERMA, a federal agency responsible for fixing bad spots on federal roads. Go and see what has become of the Calabar that links his own state with another. It is an embarrassment. That man has not shown effective representation in anyway despite the number of bills he has sponsored” Okon said.
According to Okey Epia “We will be able to come up with assessment of the legislators. We have what we call a productivity index that we will release after this. So let those who are excited now not be too excited, because when we are done with our next report, they may not be too happy again.
“ we will be coming to that in phases, while we know that there is no human effort without error, but so far no one, no lawmaker has been able to fault our report”
Asor Ojong, an Indigen of Bokil LGA said, “if you look at our own Senator Sandy Onor who has only 4 bills to himself. He has done far more than many others. He is helping to open up interior areas through good road network. Giving out scholarship to students among other things. For me that is more important than the number of bills sponsored” he said.
Mr Okey Epia has done extensive work around parliamentary issues. Accessing and reporting performances of federal lawmakers.
In 2019, responding to an invitation by the police, he was detained by security agents in the National Assembly after a former lawmaker, Tony Nwulu in a petition accused him of “peddling falsehood”. The Journalist was later released after a Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom threatened a legal action against the lawmaker.