By Gift Chapi Odekina
The House of Representatives on Friday said that it was prepared to enforce its code of conduct among members to ensure good conduct of lawmakers and improve the image of the parliament.
Chairman of the House committee on ethics and privileges, Hon. Kolawale Lawal (APC, Ogun) disclosed this at a workshop organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in conjunction with MacArthur Foundation for members of the committee in Abuja with the theme “Strengthening legislative accountabilityand anti-corruption mechanisms in Nigeria”.
Speaking in his opening remarks, Lawal said “This training will no doubt enable both the members of the committee and indeed the entire members of the House of Representatives to internalise the
global best practices on code of ethics in public service.
“It will strengthen the capability of the members of the committee to enforce the committee’s jurisdictional poners as stipulated in section-Vlll (a) of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives.
“Also, it would reinforce legislative accountability mechanisms, more so, equip us to be advocates and vanguards of the fight
against corruption in our legislative functions as well as in the entire public life of the citizens of our country, Nigeria.
“Consequently, erase the negative public image of the legislature and that of our country in the international community as well as accelerate the development of our dear country Nigeria,” he said.
In his welcome address, the executive director, CISLAC, Mr Auwal Musa Ibrahim (Rafsanjani) said that it was the desire of the organisation for all legislators to adhere to the Code of Conduct.
He said the CISLAC was ready to collaborate with the members of the committee on ethics and privileges in the house to close up every gap and ensure strict implementation of the code of conduct.
According to him, the work of the ethics and privileges committee is not popular among members of the house describing the committee as “the police of members”.
Musa said that the functions of the committee is very important to expelling corruption from the legislature, urging support of stakeholders for the committee.
In his remarks, Mr Oladayo Olaide, the Deputy Director, MacArthur Foundation Nigeria Office, identified corruption as the biggest challenge confronting the nation.
Olaide said that until corruption is addressed, the effect of the huge sum money invested in various sectors of the economy will not be felt.
He described corruption as an existential threat, charging the lawmakers to activate Administration of Criminal Justice Act to defeat it.
The deputy director said that the Federal Audit Bill, Whistle Blowers Bill, Electoral Amendment Bill, and Proceed of Crime Bill aimed ensuring intergirty in governance pending at the parliament should be given speedy attention.
Olaide said that the demands of Nigerian youth to end police brutality which escalated into demands for good governance was a reflection of the desired exemplary leadership.
He charged the committee to ensure the implementation of Code of Conduct which is imbedded in the Standing Rules of the house.
While presenting a paper at the event, the chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Prof. Isa Mohammed said that there is currently a great distrust between the leaders and the led.
He said policies put in place to make life better for the society are faced by the challenges of corruption inspire of instruments put in place to tackle corruption in the country.
Mohammed said it is dishonorable for public officers not to perform his duties for the good of all or to expect gifts in return for doing his job.
According to him, the fear of God or the fear of the law is what ensures things are done right but here, we do things with impunity.
Mohammed said that if all Nigerians can just do things right, corruption would be addressed corruption in the country once and for all.
Also, speaking on the topic, “The Director General, Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, Prof. Muhammed Ladan said that the Code of Conduct is already embedded in Standing Rules of the House.
He charged the committee on ethics to make principal officers of the house, champions of the committee to make them buy into the committee’s agenda.
According to Ladan, once that is done, the leadership will not shield anybody found in breach of the Code of Conduct by the committee.
He said that the duty of the committee is embedded in sections 23 and 15 of the Constitution, urging them to utilise the powers.
Ladan commended the lower chambers for its proactiveness over the years saying that the parliament remains the most important arm of government in a democratic society.