Opinion… National Assembly: House of Lords and Clowns? 





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By Ayobami Akanji 

People must not do things for fun. We are not here for fun. There is no reference to fun in any act of Parliament – A.P. Herbert 

 

It started like a scene out of an action movie – the Climax. The scene where the “Boss” gathers all his proteges, revelling in their plenty ineffectiveness in their last attempt to finish the “Actor”. They rush out in Jeeps, strapped to the teeth waiting to meet death already prepared. The fight starts with them “beating” the actor and at times even forcing him to do their biddings, only for him to outsmart, outmuscle and “out-tact” them when things needed to get done. This best describes what comes out of the National Assembly lately.

However, the relationship between the Executive and Legislature embodies a central link in ensuring a smooth running of the federal government, and by extension consolidating the Nigerian democracy. 

They can either grant or refuse potential Presidentialauthorisations, and this enthrones a sign of a politically positive relationship. 

The National Assembly does this without much problems especially as seen in the past three and a half years when the leadership of the Legislature has been at odds with the political position of the President. Of course millions of Nigerians bore the consequence of these actions, like it is said – when two elephants fight the grass suffers. 

A cursory look at certain events will lend credence to this argument; the budget debacle took a toll on infrastructural development activities nationwide, almost dragging the country back to recession. The recent why “I Cut” the budget oozes of the covert shenanigans in holding the nation to a stand-still for the interest of a certain bloc – the intention of which is to switch the angst of the populace on the current administration. 

These ‘leaders’ would then be portrayed as owners of the economic wand to grow and make Nigeria great again; unknown to them the country is already on the path to the Next Level of economic inclusion and prosperity.    

Nigerians just witnessed the ugliest public display of crass opposition from members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when the President came to present the 2019 budget to a joint session, they behaved like children denied of candy. While the President was reeling out the achievements of his administration in the past three and a half years, there were boos and jeers from a section of the House. We applaud the President’s civility and respect for the leadership of both chambers. 

These recalcitrant lawmakers should understand that it’s permissible to dislike the person who is President, but you don’t denigrate the office of the President on the platter of opposition.     

However, whenever persons of leadership in the National Assembly has an issue with the law, the institution tends to be used against the Executive arm, and by extension, Nigerians. 

The other time, it was a worried leadership of the National Assembly that convened what it called “emergency executive session”. It was the first time since the inauguration of the 8th Senate that such a session held.  It is instructive that despite the atrocities committed on a daily basis in States like Taraba, Zamfara, Benue and Plateau, the National Assembly never thought of an “emergency executive session”. Ditto for the bad state of the economy then. Thank God the Executive weathered the storm; the insecurity has been largely contained and we are out of recession. 

It is also note worthy that no emergency session has been convened on corruption which is the very reason why Nigeria is where it is today. 

Billions of dollars vanished, growth has been stunted, huge funds traced to accounts of individuals yet no “emergency executive session”. 

According to the CBN, MTN, in cohorts with banks, unlawfully repatriated dividends worth $8bn between 2007 – 2015; the apex bank said it was illegal because there were problems with the certificate for capital importation (CCI). 

The action of members of the National Assembly can be likened to a child who was given a stick of biscuit by his dad. He becomes protective of this stick to the point of being enemies with the one that gave him the stick. He becomes irritated when anything he deems inimical to his biscuit appears and shows his irritation by crying his lungs out. It’s very easy to be enemies with the National Assembly if, like the child above, you threaten their “biscuit”.

Few months ago, members of a dreaded gang of sons of the devil who rained mayhem on the town of Offa were arrested. It was the best answer to questions of police’s efficiency. More than 30 people were killed. 22 suspects were arrested Prebendal interests were at their ululative best, screaming “media trial” and “witch hunt” from both sides of their mouth, despite the fact that the Senate President and Governor Ahmed of Kwara State didn’t outrightly deny knowing the devils. They chose to fight battles they single-handedly brought upon themselves with institutions of the State. They were the first to complain about how a member was bringing the House into disrepute just because he called for investigations into allegations of fraud against the Senate President; but they use this same Chamber to fight personal battles. They rule with severity, suspending anyone who dares to as little as raise a voice of opposition to their impunity. 

They should be called “House of summons” as anyone threatens their biscuit is “summoned to come explain”. They earn ridiculous allowances but have nothing to show for it. They criss-cross political geography, trying hard to sound pro-people, forgetting the nascent role they played in bringing us here. They’re a select group of “honorables” but with different corruption cases hanging around their necks. They like to flex power and pass votes of no confidence on a man who has spearheaded the arrests of daredevil criminals. Mirrors are good. Had they looked at their images, they would see the stark opposite of who is in the mirror. 

The National Assembly isn’t a blanket for buffoonery. There exists a small group of truthers who are committed to seeing the progress of the country. They have been intimidated, harassed, hounded and humiliated but still choose to trudge the path of justice. These ones have a special place in history. We don’t and won’t take their sacrifices for granted. They should keep the fire burning. Nigerians are solidly behind them.

The kid gloves are off, the current Commander-in-Chief is a battle-tested war General. He has led and fought wars, commanding men to victory. 

He has seen what is there to be seen. Tell me. What will the buzz of a bee do to the roar of a lion?

 

*Akanji, a political strategist, writes from Abuja. 

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