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DRAMA OF PUBLIC HEARING

Article By: folajimi
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Tags: Politics


THE TALE OF A RECURRING PUBLIC HEARING IN NIGERIA.


Submitted:May 3, 2008    Reads: 44    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


THE DRAMA OF PUBLIC HEARING E-mail MUCH entertainment is coming from the public hearings that show case the various shenanigans of the immediate past government. The puerility of the conductors of these affairs and their shallow understanding of the matters at hands have reduced serious engagements that should improve the handling of pubic affairs to display of television patriotism to court public affection.

There would be more public hearings because the law provides for them. Another reason they would be in high demand is that free hours of display on global television (the signals get abroad) could be the best way to see one's importance.

The success of the concluded hearings will spawn public hearings across the country. Let us not forget that Committees of State Houses of Assembly have the same powers as those of the National Assembly, in relation to their States.

They draw the powers from Section 128 of the Constitution.
We accept that these hearings are important, if they are properly conducted. They are strong indications of a certain hollowness in critical areas of our democracy.

More importantly, they knock the unwillingness of the National Assembly to use its powers to ensure that the Executive deploys national resources for the benefit of the majority of Nigerians who want to see changes in how governments run.

Once the needs of the National Assembly are met, it looks away while the Executive embarks on a passionate rampage, if not misuse of national resources, in the appropriation of powers that the Constitution did not award it.

All these are corrupt practices in their extreme. This fact should not be lost on anyone. The current hearings create the impression that the infractions were without the knowledge of the National Assembly. If the National Assembly did not know, it is a worse offence than the well-advertised executive excessiveness.
Public hearings are constitutional. Sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution give the National Assembly sweeping powers to investigate the affairs of the Executive, or any matter on which it can legislate.

The National Assembly is meant to take these exercises serious. They should be used to gain insights into compliance, or lack of it. They should strengthen the democratic process, by ensuring that separation of powers works, and that all parties respect the appropriate checks it provides.

To attain these noble ideals, the various Committees of the National Assembly need to engage experts in the fields they are investigating. Thievery, fraud, forgery and violation of the Constitution have attained the status of professions. Their practitioners invest massively in measures that would abbreviate the chances of their acts being uncovered. National Assembly Committees are up against professional who have colleagues in the political class, including others in the ministries and government agencies, the main sources of the abuses.

What expertise do these Committees have to detect forged documents? What if the respondents turn in doctored documents, or refuse to produce ones that the Committees do not know about their existence? What really are the objectives of the hearings?

The Committees must spell out the objectives and expend their resources to get information, documents and other materials they would require for successful conduct of these exercises. They require experts in the relevant areas, who are compliant with the most modern information technology communication methods that are used to execute these crimes.

Unless they are properly conducted and their findings reflected in meaningful policies for the improvement of the Nigerian condition, public hearings are in serious danger of declining to irrelevance once the public is tired of the theatre or finds something more interesting to watch.





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