Five months after inauguration: Senators yet to set up constituency offices

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Five months after their inauguration, many senators have yet to establish constituency offices, investigations by The PUNCH have revealed.

It was gathered that  a lot of them visited their constituencies only  during festivals  when they stayed in their heavily guarded  mansions.

Few ones, who had established constituency offices, told The PUNCH the demands from their constituents included assistance for  payment of  hospital bills, school fees and  social functions.

Some residents, who spoke to The PUNCH, said gaining access to lawmakers, who came home during festivals, was tough.

Only one Katsina senator has constituency office

Out of the three senators representing Katsina State, only Ahmad Babba-Kaita (Katsina North) has a functional constituency office with 12 members of  staff  headed by Mallam Lawal Adamu. The office is located at the Kangiwa/Daura road in Daura.

Adamu, in an interview with The PUNCH,  said residents sought the senator’s assistance on  issues such as unemployment and empowerment.

He stated, “In most cases, I visit him in Abuja, especially when there are  urgent issues. For instance, I take forms and the curriculum vitae  of graduates looking for jobs to him in  Abuja.”

Efforts to reach both senators Kabir Bankia (Katsina Central)  and  Bello Mandiya (Katsina South) were abortive. Investigations in Katsina and Funtua, the headquarters of the two senatorial districts, showed that the two senators did not have constituency offices.

When a media aide to Bankia, Kabir Jirgi, was contacted on the phone, he promised to call back on Thursday. He had yet to call back. Senator Mandiya’s known phone number kept on ringing without response. Mandiya had yet to reply a text message sent to him as of 7pm on Sunday.

Amosun, Odebiyi yet to have constituency offices

In Ogun State, out of the three senators  representing the state, only Lekan Mustapha (Ogun East)   has a constituency office , which is located at the old Lagos road, Ijebu Ode.

In a telephone interview with The PUNCH, Mustapha said he had eight members of staff in the office and visited  there every weekend.

He said, “The  reality is that on the average, 25 to 35 people come around whenever I am within their reach. Most of their requests border on school fees, hospital bills, business and trade supports. On the average, I spend between N3m and N4m monthly.”

Senator Ibikunle Amosun has yet to get a constituency office. Attempts to get his reaction  failed as he did not reply to a message sent to his phone .

It was, however, gathered that Amosun met his loyalists in his mansion at the Government Reservation Area in Ibara, Abeokuta, whenever he was around .

Some people, who claimed to be  Amosun’s supporters, said they waited for their political leader at his residence every Friday.

A supporter of the ex-governor was seen at the senator’s residence on Friday. He confided in The PUNCH that he wanted to seek help for his daughter’s education.

I have not had access to Amosun – Supporter

Another supporter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she visited the house every week, but could not have access to Amosun. It was also gathered that some people observed their Jumat prayer at Amosun’s house on Fridays as part of efforts to meet him.

Lawmakers mustn’t abandon the electorate – Ex-CDHR president

But the immediate-past president of the Committee for the Defence of Humanr Rights, Mr Malachy Ugwummadu, said constituency offices for legislators were not a creation of any law but an age-long political practice designed to ensure greater access of the electorate to their elected officers.

He said, “There must be serious political actions of engagements instituted to ensure that elected officers don’t escape and abandon the electorate and that they do so at their own peril as recall processes under the constitution can be activated against them or they can be voted out in the next election circle.”

Constituency offices, essential in a democracy – Lawyers

Lawyers in separate interviews with The PUNCH, said it was important for lawmakers to have constituency offices.

 

PUNCH

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