Reps cry out over pressure from constituents

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Benjamin Kalu

The House of Representatives on Tuesday lamented that members of the National Assembly were facing severe pressure from constituents which was leading them to an untimely death.

Official spokesperson of the House and chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, stated this while addressing journalists at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.

No fewer than eight members of the 9th National Assembly, comprising five senators and three members of the House of Representatives, have died since inauguration in June 2019.

The deceased lawmakers in the Senate include Adebayo Osinowo (Lagos East), Benjamin Uwajumogu (Imo North), Ignatius Longjan (Plateau South), and Rose Oko (Cross River North). Those in the House are Prestige Ossy (Abia), Jaafaru Illiyasu (Niger) and Mohammed Faggen-Gawo (Jigawa).

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Kalu told journalists that most of the lawmakers were living with heart-related ailments and organ failures caused by stress from their constituents who make demands that are not within the purview of the legislature but the executive.

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“This is one of the poorest parliaments. You don’t see them live in luxury. So, compromised in what sense? These guys are suffering. They are under stress. That is why most of the sickness they are passing through is a heart attack or organ failure due to pressure from their constituents. That is the truth which must be told. Whether you want to understand it or not, let the press know this,” Kalu said.

“The pressure from constituents is killing members of the National Assembly. The pressure is too much. People are receiving a lot of pressure on issues that do not concern them. The pressure coming from our constituents is way out of the scope. Those who are not supposed to build roads are asked to build roads. Those who are not supposed to build hospitals are asked to build hospitals.

“So, most members of the National Assembly are under great pressure and the resources to meet these expectations from the public are not there. People don’t want to hear the truth, but I will tell you the truth that members of the parliament are under pressure. I don’t care how you go and report it. This is the truth and you can report it whatever way you want to report it.

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“I am telling you that members of the National Assembly don’t have the kind of money you think they have and the pain they are passing through is affecting them. That is one of the things that have made the negative image of the House,” he said.

Kalu said the House will prioritise constitutional amendment, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the Electoral Act in the 2021 legislative year, assuring that the parliament is determined to ensure that all the interventions that will drive the dividends of democracy will not be hindered.

“The PIB had gotten to a stage where Nigerians believe it is impossible for them to get that piece of legislation. But we have the political will and the leadership is determined to ensure that the PIB becomes a reality.

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“The process of working on the information gathered during the public hearing will start this weekend. Some members from the House and the Senate have been selected to work on that piece of legislation hoping that our target will be achieved.

“You are aware that Covid-19 slowed the activities of the House and the things we were supposed to achieve within one month, we spend three months on that because we spread what we were supposed to do across several months. Be patient with us and I can assure you that every report that is laid before the House will receive the attention it deserves.

“Our job is to lay the reports, make recommendations, take resolutions and pass it to the Executive. Some of the reports before the House has been attended to, while others have not been attended to because of Covid-19,” he said.

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