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Columnists, Conversation of an Angryman

The House Of “Misrepresentatives.”

Posted: Nov 9, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


The Lower House of the National Assembly is set to commit two legislative blunders in the space of a fortnight. Already this House with baser instincts should remind most sane folks in midlife of “Koko Close” – the great sitcom set in a riotous neighborho2od with all sorts of pugnacious characters.

The first blunder was by default, the second one will be by design. The blunder by default was a fight in the hallowed chambers – an indication that members lack the ability to disagree without being disagreeable, and lack the knowledge that democracy is an appeal to reason, not a call to base instincts. Dishonor among horrible (sorry, honorable) members!

It was not the first time we had witnessed a fight in the hallowed chambers of the House of Representatives. It may not be the last; so long as many good men think politics is a dirty game, the dirty men will hold sway. So what do we have? Every time we cloth German shepherds in royal apparels, they go back to their snouts and prove that boys will be boys and dogs will always bite.

However, this in not a case of another hope betrayed, it is more a case of another folly exposed. Those who thought we had it right with the composition of the present House, and analyzed the calibre of men and women elected with pride, can have a cold bath and take some pain killers. Unlike the show of idiocy in the House, in action-packed Chinese films, the action does not often start in Act One, Scene One.

The worrisome aspect of this present House of Commotion is that the fight is coming too early. Such scenes in the House of “Misrepresentatives,” usually come much later after the inauguration of the House. “Coming at the onset is ominous of things to come,” says good, old Jumbo, my veteran soldier friend. “They are starting on a very sad foundation, even our village council has not fought in  the last two years and yet we have an idiot for a village head. These men are not fit to represent the village primary school.”

The fight script is another key area of concern for those who follow democratic trends. Majority of the All Progressives Congress (APC) members are at daggers drawn because they suspect that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara (APC) has more PDP sympathies than the APC considers appropriate. The fight is not over his intention but his circle of friends – the right of association was in the Constitution the last time I checked. Their opinion seems to be that failure is an orphan and PDP should be left to stew in her own shit – alone, rejected, a pariah.

This group of political philosophers is led by Mr Femi Gnanabiamila (the Socrates, Plato and Aristotle of these modern day sophists). You would have expected these members to show more restraint and not fight over perceived intentions. You would be wrong because like your mother told you, you should keep away from bad company and remind yourself daily of the ancient dictum, “show me your friend and I tell you who you are.” More so patience does not seem to be in great supply on the floor of the Honourable House. So if your friend is PDP, you are not APC enough.

Says Jumbo, “Where patriotism would caution, ‘Wait and see!’, partisanship would compel ‘Leap before you look!’ And partisanship would carry the day. The night of long knives and short-fuse emotions.”

It is a common part of the wisdom of the ancient that a house divided against itself cannot stand. So patriotic duty demands that such a house should be fixed up and the belligerent parties made to understand that national interest should take precedence over primordial sentiments and partisan feelings. President Mohammadu Buhari has elected to do this and has invited both factions of the acrimonious House to a meeting. That is where Buhari has it all wrong. They should be invited to a lecture and should be asked to come with their notebooks and pens.

Jumbo believes that using a cane would not be a bad idea. He says, “The Good Book says spare the rod and spoil the child.” When reminded that these were all grown up men and women, he retorted, “We are all the children of God. More so they acted like children and should be treated as such.”

An old soldier’s ridiculous perspective! My take is that this is going to be the second blunder which the House is committing by design. Of course Buhari has good intentions. But you cannot commend Buhari of good intentions without condemning the House of “Misrepresentatives” of rascality. A House which cannot solve its problems, cannot proffer any semblance of a solution to the myriad of our national problems. If the House cannot circumscribe its actions within the parameters of national interest in the instant case, they will not do so in other cases which would beg for their attention in the course of their four-year tenure.

Added to this worrisome mix is the gnawing feeling that the House is about to sacrifice Legislative independence, a fundamental principle of the checks and balances in a democracy, in this meeting. If this were a kind of litmus test of the quality of the House, then they have failed woefully and every right-thinking Nigerian should lose faith in the present composition of the House of Representatives. The loss of confidence in the House is a plus for the Senate, who the people now look up to shoulder the burdens of a shocked nation and make sure the labours of our heroes (and Jumbo counts himself among the heroes) are not in vain.

But all is not lost. The House recently inaugurated a Media Committee headed by the former Nigeria Union of Journalists Chairman, Sani Zoro, and charged it with the herculean task of re-engineering its image in the public space. First step should be for Zoro to convince Nigerians that what they saw in the House was not a fight, but a clip from the World Wrestling Federation. If he says it long enough, Nigerians will eventually believe him because Nigerians suffer from collective amnesia – that is why yesterday’s villains are today’s heroes.