Opposition members of parliament who are usually critical of the sitting governments can strive to be objective and balanced in their approach to Parliament business and politics rather than being sensational and confrontational.
The Leader of the House of Representatives in Nigeria, Femi Gbajabiamila in his address to visiting Ugandan Opposition MPs in Nigeria said that Opposition parties should also be in position to commend government when they are on the right path, but still rebuke them when on the wrong path.
“You must strive to be credible both in committees and in the plenary. The exercise of your role as Shadow Government should be done in a responsible manner, devoid of the need to be sensational or confrontational,” said Gbajabiamila.
This as he made a presentation on ‘Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of accountability committees at the start of a five-day workshop on Effective Opposition in Parliament for Uganda Opposition MPs, held at the Nigeria National Assembly in Abuja, on Monday, 18th Sept. 2017.
Gbajabiamila who was initially a Leader of the Opposition in the Nigerian Legislature however cautioned the Opposition Legislators to note the key difficulty faced in regards to supporting government positions on proposed laws, or in trying to work on a consensus on a government policy matter. He warned that important minority interests represented by the Opposition may feel aggrieved or neglected if consensus is easily reached.
“This could be a statesmanlike approach and in the national interest, but you face the possibility of negative perception of such stances by civil society and the citizenry which can be damaging to your status in the Opposition,” said Gbajabiamila.
The Leader of the Opposition in Uganda’s Parliament Winfred Kiiza, led the delegation of MPs for the benchmarking workshop organized by the National Institute for Legislative Studies.
The delegation includes: The Shadow Minister for Internal Affairs and Butambala MP Muwanga Kivumbi; the Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee and also Soroti Municipality MP Angeline Osegge; Kumi municipality MP who is an independent Silas Aogon, Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga, Rujumbura MP Fred Tumuheirwe and Oyam district MP Santa Alum.
The MPs serve on the accountability committees of Public Accounts, Commission, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) and Government Assurances and Implementation.
Quoting a USAID/DFID study report, Gbajabiamila, said that internal challenges faced by the accountability committees in Uganda meant that their high level of activity never leads to results in terms of tasking government to fully account for its management of public expenditure.
He said that challenges the Public Accounts Committee, Local Government Accounts and Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises faced included the slow consideration of Auditor General’s reports, the Production of reports by the accountability committees and the time allocated for debate and adoption of committee reports.
At the opening ceremony, the Shadow Minister of Internal Affairs, Muwanga Kivumbi, said that Parliament stands at a vantage position to formulate policies and programmes necessary to change the current position and direction of Africa.
Kivumbi said that several years after her Independence, Africa remained the darkest continent with several challenges, many of which faced the continent during the pre-independence years.
“In the coming years, Africa’s population of youth will be larger, all of them looking for jobs, services and a future. It is only Parliament that must come up with the necessary policies to cater for the needs of the youth,” said Kivumbi.
The workshop is intended to create a forum for Opposition MPs to discuss strategies that would facilitate unity and common sense of purpose and to discuss and design strategies for being an effective Opposition party.