A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Abia State, Dr. David Ogba Onuoha-Bourdex has accused lawmakers who recently defected from the party to the All Progressives Congress, APC, of betraying the members of their constituencies.
His position is coming at a time the leadership of the Senate is threatening to declare vacant the seat of any member who dumps the PDP for the APC.
In a press release made available to DailyPost in Enugu on Sunday, Onuoha-Bourdex expressed dismay that none of the legislators that have defected to parties outside the original platform upon which they were elected to the National or State Assembly held a constituency meeting to sample the opinion of their constituents before jumping ship.
He said the mass defection of elected representatives from one political party to another before the expiry of their mandates presents another painful challenge to Nigeria’s growing democracy, pointing out that this had also shown the wisdom of President Goodluck Jonathan in consenting to the national dialogue.
While pleading with members of the National Assembly to “deploy great tact and care in handling this unforeseen development”, Onuoha-Bourdex stressed that “at this point in time of our national development, national interest should override parochial concerns”.
He noted that after fourteen years of uninterrupted democratic governance in the country, more citizen enlightenment was needed to handle the challenges of accommodating diverse opinions, adding that legislators are better placed to offer this public education through constituency consultations and town hall meetings.
He emphasized that “our citizens need to be enlightened about the processes of legislation and governance so as to value the interaction they should have with their representatives; this way interactions between representatives and constituents should be comprehensive and consistent in fashioning out their real needs”.
On the attempts by party leaders to ensure that defecting legislators lose their seats, Onuoha-Bourdex contended that since political parties are assumed to have presented prospective policy programmes on which voters made their choices through votes, legislators that defect carries a moral burden.
“Instead of allowing the development to heat up our polity, the individual defectors should be allowed to carry the moral burden of betrayal of trust and disloyalty. I say this because in the voting process, the voters are generally assumed to be voting for the party whose programmes are closest to their own policy preferences and the representative who clearly embodies the party’s platform.
“Effective representation therefore is when voters’ expectations from the party and from its representatives, are matched with realization of the espoused policy programmes. This is evident when the party and the representatives promote the interests of the constituents in the legislative process, and also are available to provide assistance to the constituents, understand their concerns and represent their interests in the legislative process”, he stated.
The PDP chieftain, who is also a telecom expert, said it would amount to rewarding robbery for erstwhile opposition parties to enjoy majority gained through the back door by the defection of members from rival party instead of that majority being conferred by the masses via a general election.
“In a civilized democracy, violent takeovers should not be encouraged. By their position and status, legislators should be seen as honourable and decent gentlemen. Conspiracy and all forms of underhand dealing does not befit the stature of honourable law makers in a modern democracy”, he declared.
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