THE HOUSE Committee on Public Petitions has assured Nigerians of better days on its plan to respond speedily to public complaints.
Chairman, Committee on Public Petitions, Mike Etaba, said this at a Strategy and Capacity Building retreat in Abuja
The retreat was organised by Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), with support from European Union Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria Programme Phase II.
Etaba commended PLAC for the initiative, adding that the committee would do justice to Nigerians and make them understand how to resolve their complaints through the House of Representatives public petitions.
“If you have any issue in respect of any kind of what you might be going through, what you need to do is to put up a petition to the house via the member representing you or submit to the speakers office or my office.
“We will transmit it to the House to take it to the floor and now you don’t need money to fund your petition.”
Etaba said tha House Committee on Public Petitions was fully funded by the House of Representatives and the speaker was also working so hard to make sure that Nigerians got justice.
“The committee is the last hope for the common man because you don’t need to go to the committee with a dime; if you need a lawyer that will stand for you, we have pro bono lawyers.
“If you don’t have confidence in yourself, we will give you lawyers that will stand for you and defend your petition.
“So, Nigerians don’t need to be intimidated by any kind, you don’t need to go to the route of the court that will take you 10 to five years to resolve your matter.
“Come to the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions and get your matters resolved amicably without bias of any kind.”
Etaba said as part of the committee, the members had assumed a quasi judicial position aimed at carrying out investigations and dispute resolutions, hence ministers in the temple of justice.
He said that in recent times, the harsh economic situations, corruption, unemployment, unfair termination of employment and perceived injustice among others, had forced Nigerians to resort to self-help because of slow pace of justice administration.
“These are some of the problems our committee, using the quasi-judicial role and Public Complaints Commission, were created to address.
“Whether we have been performing these roles is a topic for another day. It is believed that this retreat will further equip us with strategies on how to do better as parliamentarians and ensure good governance,” he said
Executive Director PLAC, Clement Nwankwo, said the centre supported the Committee on Public Petitions to build its capacity to effectively deliver on the mandates.
Nwankwo said that the retreat did not just afford them the opportunity to share with the public, but also to work out a plan on how citizens with complaints, would be addressed.
“The retreat is to build the capacity of the committee to engage the public, take petitions from the public, and address them in terms of providing solutions and answers to their complaints.
On a regular basis, citizens have complaints; they cannot afford the cost of litigation in the courts, and the public petitions committees of the National Assembly, and the states have not been really open.
“We need to get the Public Petitions Committees of the National Assembly to take in citizens complaints and provide solutions to bridge their challenges in finding resources to go to court. ”
Nwankwo said that the retreat would help the committee to plan on how to engage with citizens, how to institute the process of receiving public complaints from the public and be able to provide solutions.
He said that this was because once citizens were unable to find the resources to go to court, then either they suffered in silence or they resorted to extra legal means to find those solutions. He said that the public petitions committees were, therefore, the bridge; so citizens should take advantage of their powers to find solutions to their problems. (NAN)