Interviews, People, Politics

‘Part time legislative work will not augur well for our democracy’ – HON. OLUMUYIWA JIMOH

HON. Olumuyiwa Jimoh is the Deputy Majority Leader of Lagos House of Assembly. The honourable member who is representing Apapa Constituency II in the hallowed chamber said making legislators part-time workers will not help legislative work in the country.  He also made his opinion known on other issues.


We congratulate you on your election as Deputy Majority Leader of Lagos House of Assembly.

Thank you very much.

How does it make you feel?

I feel like any average person because it is an additional responsibility to my office as a honourable member representing Apapa Constituency II.  To now become a principal is a double responsibility for me.

Was it something you were expecting?

No, I was not expecting it but among my colleagues they felt I am competent to be so appointed.

Aside competence, what other things would you say informed your colleagues nominating you for the position?

I don’t know.  It is in their wisdom that they felt I should be among the principal officers of the 8th Assembly and I appreciate it. I thank all of them for giving me that singular prerogative.  Just like any other colleague they are also qualified to be in this position.

What exactly does the position of Deputy Majority Leader entail?

It entails the activities of the house vis-à-vis the business of the house.  In fact, the House Rules lie on the table of the Majority Leader and Deputy Majority Leader.  It includes House Orders, the procedural activities of the plenary sessions.  It is not limited to that.  The Deputy Leader is an automatic member of every committee of the House.  The Speaker can also give him any special committee to take over.  It is also the function of the Majority Leader to slit any bill whether private or public bill on the floor of the House.

How will you describe the experience in the last few months that you have been in the saddle as the Deputy Majority Leader?

It is about three months now.  We are in the process of producing a new House Rules (laws guiding procedures of members on the floor of the House), that will be better than that of United States of America.  Why I said so is that, we are incorporating rules and procedures of other countries into ours.

In what way do you think this 8th Assembly will be better than the 7th Assembly (2011-2015 session)?

In so many ways.  No doubt, the 7th Assembly did very well but with the new ideas we are injecting, we are going to perform better.  For example, health challenges of people from our constituencies that are usually brought to individual honourable members will now be channeled through the Assembly to some of the state government general hospitals.

There has been this debate about the remuneration of lawmakers particularly at the national level as being very high.  What is your take on this?

The lawmakers do not fix their remunerations. It is Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC), that fixes salaries of political office holders, non-pensionable staff, etc.  The agency can sit down and review it and pay us our money.  As I am talking to you, I have not received my salary for three months.  Let them pay us, so that we can do something with the money.

Two, instead of advocating for salary review of lawmakers, there are other leakages that government could block or reduce to the barest minimum.  The House too will be up and doing in this aspect as part of its oversight functions. I think that is the area we should focus on, not what we are being paid as salary.  There are a lot of rumours going on that are not based on facts.

For instance, I have just received my severance pay (for being a member of the 7th Assembly).  It is N4.12 million.  But what I read in the papers was N50 million.  Out of the N4.12 million, they deducted the money for my car.

So, those cars that were given to you members were not free?

It was not free.

So, how much was deducted?

No, that is not meant for public consumption.  A lot of things are out there in the public that are not correct.

You are talking for the state House of Assembly but this is not the same case with the National Assembly.

I am not in the National Assembly.  It is difficult for me to draw a tentative conclusion of what is happening there.  But I am aware that some of our new House of Representatives members are facing accommodation challenges.  They need to take loans from the banks.  When you pick up loan from the bank, the implication of that is that your account will be domiciled in such banks.  The moment the money comes in, they deduct it.  What you will have at the end of the day will be a token.  That is exactly what is happening.

As I said, left for me, we should concentrate on other wastages in government than salaries of legislators.

Do you also share in the opinion that legislative work should be made part time to reduce cost of governance?

Legislative work is actually more tasking than what most people think.  But it is difficult to argue in favour of full time work being a legislator myself.  Apart from plenary sessions, legislators have a lot of committee works to do that being a part time legislator would not be able to address.  Except we don’t want effective representation.  The moment you allow the legislators to do other things, then a lot of legislative work will suffer, particularly the committee and oversight functions.  But if part time legislators is what Nigerians want, so be it.

Where do we expect to see the Lagos House of Assembly at the end of session?

Some of us that are here either we came back for second term, third, fourth term or as the case may be will want our names not only to be written in gold but in diamond.  In the last Assembly, we rolled out 90 laws. In the 8th Assembly, we are hopeful that we will do more than that.  So, many committee works have been on.  This will test the quality of the legislative House.


–               TOLANI ABATTI

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