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My attention has been drawn to a statement by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, to the effect that appraising the performance of legislators based on bills sponsored is an “unhealthy practice and should not be encouraged.”

It is quite unfortunate that the speaker of the Federal House of Representatives will condemn the media for evaluating lawmakers’ performance on the basis of their lawmaking capacity.

Whereas it is true that multiple indicators can be applied in evaluating a legislator’s performance, any legitimate performance evaluation of a legislator must however be primarily premised on one or more of the three core functions of a legislator: law making, representation of constituents; and oversight of the executive branch.

This is why it is rather shocking and disturbing that the speaker who is in a vantage position to know better, will condemn the media for using the ability of lawmakers to make law as a criterion to evaluate their legislative performance and effectiveness. Pray, if lawmaking is not a legitimate criterion for the media to adopt in assessing legislative performance, then what is?

Lawmaking, particularly high impact lawmaking, is not only the apex function or duty of a legislator, it is also easily the most measurable and accurate means of holding legislators accountable. Indeed, it is equally the most objective indicator to apply in measuring legislative performance and effectiveness.

Using lawmaking as a means of evaluating lawmakers’ performance is an age- old practice that is widely applied by civil society and media organizations in advanced democracies globally. To now characterize this approach as “uninspired journalism that reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the legislative function and the role of members….” is, to say the least, curious, patronizing, political and stands logic on its head.

At a time like this in our country’s history when the National Assembly has failed in enacting high impact legislation that empowers and gives voice to citizens, it is sad to see the speaker of the Federal House of Representatives speaking tongue in cheek. The incumbent government, in which the speaker occupies the number four position, has oddly distinguished itself in its intolerance of criticisms, free speech and a free press. This is yet another clear case of this government’s haste to intimidate and silence the media at every turn.

I use this medium to strongly commend and encourage OrderPaper Nigeria for the important job of spearheading the Performance Appraisals of the ninth National Assembly as has been widely embraced and amplified by other media organizations across the country.

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