Politician, businessman and author, Akin Alabi has explained why there are many empty seats during plenary at the House of Representatives.
The lawmaker representing Egbeda/Ona Ara Federal constituency in Oyo State explained that the reasons are not far fetched.
The first reason, he noted, is because there are more seats than the number of members – there are 360 members while the number of seats are almost double the number of members so if everyone seats, there would still be many empty seats.
The Nairabet initiator also explained that the joint session of the National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives), like during the president’s budget presentation is held on the floor of the House of Representatives hence all the Senators, Honourables, Service Chiefs, Presidential aides, ministers etc all seat.
Alabi stated that the next reason is that some members can be away for other legislative duties – oversight functions outside Abuja for example.
Committee meetings, he buttressed, can also account for some members’ absence.
“Normally, committee meetings do not clash with plenary so meetings are set for around 3pm. However, plenary stretches till about 4pm sometimes and members will go to their committee meetings. They’re that important,” Alabi further clarified.
Members also look at the order paper to see if they have a motion or bill they want to contribute to. If not, they go for their committee meetings. Debating on the floor of the House is a tiny part of the work of lawmakers – the real work is in the committees.
To compare the reasons with counterparts in the United States, Alabi said, “if you don’t have a Motion or Bill, to present or contribute to, your presence on the floor can be useless. Committee is where the work is.”
Akin Alabi however acknowledged that some members stay back for no just course but the real reasons are the ones stated above.