OrderPaperToday – Respected media guru and former presidential spokesperson, Dr. Reuben Abati has slammed the Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, for criticizing media reportage of performance appraisals of members of the National Assembly.
Mr. Gbajabiamila, in an address to his colleagues at the resumption of plenary after a two months recess on Wednesday, described the reporting of performance of legislators based on bills sponsorship as “uninspiring journalism” that “should not be encouraged.”
While disagreeing with the use of bills sponsorship as a metric of measuring performance as popularized by OrderPaper Nigeria in its signature Midterm NASS Report Card series that have been amplified by several national and local media organizations, the speaker said: “Legislators also honour their mandate when through meticulous oversight of public spending and incisive questioning of public officials, they ensure that government resources are efficiently utilised to meet governing objectives.”
According to him, “reducing the sum of a legislator’s contributions to the number of Bills sponsored is uninspired journalism that reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the legislative function and the role of members in ensuring that parliament delivers on its objectives to the Nigerian people. It is an unhealthy practice, and it should not be encouraged.”
In his reaction to Mr. Gbajabiamila’s criticism, Dr. Abati and his co-presenters at the Arise TV Morning Show on Thursday, flayed the speaker for the media offensive.
On the performance metrics, the former presidential spokesman stressed that “bill sponsorship and quality of contribution is one of the cardinal ways of measuring the performance of lawmakers as same is being done in other parts of the world”.
He equally emphasized that as the lawmakers have resumed from the nine weeks recess, they should focus major issues of public concern, while maintaining that;” Nigerians cannot continue to afford having national assembly where lawmaker will be sleeping”.
Tundun Abiola, one of the presenters on the show posited that “nothing is wrong with performance and the metrics of bills sponsored by the lawmakers,” stressing that efficiency in oversight is also a way to equally measure the performance of lawmakers.
She opined that “lawmakers should always bear in mind that they are public servants”
In his own view, Oseni Rufai, another presenter on the show expressed concern and displeasure on why the lawmakers could find it comfortable with a nine weeks holiday not minding the urgent need to address the security situation in the country.
He said the politicians only become media friendly during electioneering campaign and stressed that media remains the fourth estate of the realm that works for a better nation.