“Political leaders must be capable of generating policy ideas through negotiation and communicating them through their elected official”, Honourable Onofiok Luke, the Member representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/ Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency stated this when he delivered a paper on the topic “Strengthening Communication between Party Leadership and Legislative Caucuses” at a Benchmarking Workshop on Strengthening the Capacities of the Opposition in the Ugandan Parliament organized by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies(c), National Assembly, Abuja.
Hon. Luke, a member of the main opposition party in the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives, who was chosen by NILDS to deliver the paper, stressed the need for effective communication among the leadership of political parties, their elected officials and legislative caucuses in the Parliament.
He went further to call for uniformity in the goals and objectives of legislative caucuses and that of political parties as enshrined in their various manifestoes while emphasizing that strengthening communication between party leadership and legislative caucuses involves dialogue, negotiation, understanding and occurs in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
The legislator who is the immediate past Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, decried how the commonly held notion that “the party is supreme” has hampered effective communication between party leadership and legislative caucuses in some democracies in Africa and cautioned that without effective communication among these relevant stakeholders, the political party may fail to achieve its manifesto and set goals.
According to Hon. Luke, opposition parties in Parliament must at all times be united and be used as a vehicle to constructively challenge the model the majority party adopts to use in carrying out a particular national responsibility that does not represent what the opposition party feels is not in the best interest of the country.
He went further to say that Party Leadership should work to ensure that the goals and objectives of legislative caucuses of its members align with that of party’s manifestos.
He annotated the lecture with references to advanced democracies like United States and Britain and showed how strengthened communication between party leadership and legislative caucuses has yielded positive results. He further showed how lack of communication can be disastrous.
He also added that there are times the party leadership and its legislative caucuses may have to pursue a bipartisan approach to meet their objectives especially when such approach meets national interest.
In his closing remark, Hon. Luke recommended constant engagement of legislative Caucuses by the party leadership through retreats, workshops and seminars rather than waiting to engage over contentious issues or for an emergency situation. He suggested further that where national interest clashes with Party’s and Legislative caucuses’ interest, national interest should be allowed to prevail.