8Th Assembly: Now We Are Wiser | Independent Newspapers Limited
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8Th Assembly: Now We Are Wiser

Posted: Jul 9, 2015 at 3:42 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Since the conclusion of the March/April general elections, the country has switched from watching the flamboyance and exaggerated promises of ‘Change’ and ‘Transformation/Continuity to the theatre of the absurd that the National Assembly has been turned into by politicians.

With the emergence of the opposition All Progressive Congress Party (APC) as the new government at the center, the struggle and horse trading for the leadership of the National Assembly have thrown some spanner into the wheel of governance and the economic loses and pessimism  that has come with this are all too obvious to see.

Never in the recent political history of this country has the politics of who occupies what position in the National assembly been as contentious and acrimonious as what has been playing out at the National Assembly in recent times.

In the past, the ruling political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)  got away with their intra party squabbles by clothing such politically disruptive incidents with the cloak of ‘family affair’ but never bordered to assuage in any way the impact such incidents had on the economy and people of Nigeria.

It is sad that in 2015 the APC seems to be up in arms against its own members as there have been mock elections, shadow elections, alleged letters from the party or even the Party Chairman and instructions from party leadership. The song and dance about party supremacy are all aimed at influencing who emerges in the leadership of both the Upper and Lower chambers of the National Assembly.

The simple questions the people want answers to are, did the APC field incompetent people for the just concluded elections? Do the APC and its leadership know much about democratic tenets and principles? What does the leadership stand to lose or gain by the ‘choices’ they are making?

Answers to the above questions might never come. They would never come because in Nigeria, political power and democracy are not about the people. The people are relevant as ‘rubber stamps’ to mandates that politicians either earn or ‘purchase’ in many ways.

When it is convenient, our politicians draw analogies with other democracies. The question is, how many of our political party leaderships in all the parties can claim to know or even to have spoken to the party leaders of the Tory, Liberal Democrats parties in the UK or the Republican or Democratic parties in the United States?

The often-seamless transfer of power from one political party to the other in other countries often appears very impossible down here. Those are systems that are in place for the good and smooth running of government for the benefit all the people.

It is sad that professional ‘politicians’ in this clime seemingly ‘own’ democratic vehicles (political parties) that transport candidates to political destinations. The idea of lack of internal party democracies and fraudulent general elections are all the fruits of the wrong interpretation of party leaderships in Nigeria.

For the type of turbulence that we are again experiencing in the nation’s legislative arm to even happen should worry sane and apolitical Nigerians. It is now about forty days post inauguration of both the executive and legislative arms of government both at the centre and in the states.

Instead of settling down to face the very enormous governance issues across the states, state governors have literarily relocated to Abuja. Half the time they are negotiating for bail outs to enable them pay salaries. The other half of the time is now spent ‘appealing’ to the legislative arm to accede to the ‘supremacy’ of the APC as a party. The global community must be wondering how productive those in leadership positions in this country can get.

In all these, the politicians might be in very big delusion if they assume that all the people can be deceived all the time. The people are reading through all these shenanigans going on and are realizing now more than ever before that there is no altruism in the average action of most of the politicians in this country.

When they mount podiums and blab about their ‘messianic’ intentions, they are nothing but politics of self-interest. The needs of the people often come a very distant second and in most cases only become relevant a year or less before the next election.

Let the truth be told, if we have a hypothetical situation where the National Assembly elections were to have been held before the general elections, it would have been more peaceful than what we have now because there would have been no ‘baked’ cake in sight.

Today, with a new government that is just settling into action, the leadership and some members of the same APC party are more interested in what favours them than working for the people of Nigeria.

In very feebly defensive manner, there are excuses of ‘committee’ works and committee sharing going on as we await the July 23rd resumption of plenary. The question is, can the core legislative duties of Oversight, lobbying (for constituencies) and law making in this 8th Assembly ever be done with full allegiance to the oaths they individually took on their days of inauguration?

No matter how negotiations and horse trading eventually pan out, the 8th Assembly and all the negativity that culminated in chair-throwing and cloth-tearing at the House of Representatives over the struggle for leadership positions in the house has given the Nigerian people some food for thought.

The people are realizing that the ‘redemptive’ songs often heard during campaigns by politicians are not always as soothing as their actions when they access power. It is also true that self-aggrandizement and preservation come first in their list of priorities.

Bottom line, the National Assembly power struggle is not always about the people.  It is about juicy committees (whatever that means), it is about whose nominations as ministers would be confirmed or not, it is about influence peddling and not about competence and qualifications.

In all these chaos, the dawn of July 23rd would define how the people would rate the 8th assembly. The people are wiser now and given their experiences would keenly be watching whose interests the lawmakers would be serving. The people would want to see a legislature that has a full and clear grasp of what that arm of government means in a democracy.

For those who revel in their ignorance, this is the time to update their knowledge, engage the services of sound and cerebral legislative aides that can help them do a much better job in serving the people of Nigeria. The people are much wiser now and are ready to wield the democratic stick.