When will we initiate institutional growth? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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When will we initiate institutional growth?

Posted: Apr 30, 2015 at 1:57 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Nnedi Ogaziechi


The elections have come and gone but there is still some unease with the citizens. People are still sleeping with one eye open literarily. The people are not too sure of what to expect. The reasons are not far-fetched. The familiar post-election possessive air of victory is all around us.

At the federal level, the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that would form the next government at the centre seems too overwhelmed by the magnitude of the ‘powerful’ positions at its disposal that the different regions in the country with strong APC presence are falling over themselves for the leadership of the National Assembly seats.

At the state levels, both the PDP and APC states are presently ‘sharing’ the posts for the leadership of the State Assemblies. In a system where state governors literarily run the affairs of the legislature in a flawed sense of ‘executive/legislative harmony’, the legislative arm of our governments is literarily subsumed under the overbearing influence of the executive.

The political philosophers like the great Montesquieu that fashioned the democratic system into the Executive, Legislative and Judicial arms as  means of balancing the power bases in democratic governments reasoned that, ‘…Constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go’.

So at the state levels, there have been some legislative inertia as the ‘supposedly’ richer arm (read the executive) often politically ‘intimidates’ the state legislature. It is obvious that once the legislature can ‘cooperate’ with the executive, all would be well – politically that is.

In viable democracies, the legislature has three major functions: that of lobbyists for their constituencies, performing oversight functions on the executive to enhance governance and making laws for the smooth running of the country.

Assuming those in the executive and legislative arms have very clear understanding of their roles, we as a citizens would have been beneficiaries. However, the country seems to boast of only ‘strong’ individuals who prefer ‘weak ‘systems so that their huge egos would continue to be massaged. What vanity!

With the elections won and lost, it is pathetic that the things that have been hugging the headlines are not closed door meetings about how to get the best brains to contribute their quota in a growing economy like ours at all tiers of government. In contrast, we have individuals, groups, regional groups and even some professional bodies falling over themselves to pay ‘obeisance’ to elected individuals.

Sadly though, those elected at all levels have done nothing to discourage such inanities. So much has been heard about the struggle for legislative posts at the National Assembly from the regions that support the APC.

We are even hearing arguments from legislators from the North East who are claiming they deserve the position of the Senate President and or the House Speaker because they gave more votes to the Presidential candidate of the APC. This gets most people asking what really the value of any vote is. Should positions be allocated based purely on number votes?

What happens to people who could not vote because they did not collect their permanent voters’ cards, what of those not of voting age, what of those whose intention to vote was scuttled by logistical nightmares traceable to either the electoral umpire, INEC or their staff?

The great scramble for positions in any democracy is not an anomaly, what is however is the fact that in our clime, positions of authority imbues those involved with larger than life pedestal that is more often than not mismanaged.

When President Obama visited Africa in his first term, he encouraged the continent’s leadership to build strong institutions for a more rapid and sustainable development process.

President Obama should know. He is coming from a clime where the race for the White House or into any of the states as a governor or even the legislative arm is not seen as a ‘do-or-die’ affair that enthrones some pseudo monarchical overlords that see themselves as above the institutions that produced them in the first place.

As important as the Legislative arm is to any democracy, many analysts expect that the posts for the highest law making organ in the country should be about the best individuals that can serve the growing democracy that is being nurtured. For the avoidance of doubt, this column is not ignorant of the lobbying and legitimate horse trading that goes with democracies.

However, what we are seeing at the moment is very disturbing. Competence, pedigree, cerebral capacity and patriotic zeal should be the topics as the ‘sharing and zoning’ formulas are being bandied. The country today more than ever needs people that have the capacity and zeal to develop our institutions and not people who are in it merely for the ego trips.

We want federal and state legislatures that would while not antagonistic of the executive arm be firm enough to carry out the oversight functions that have been very bane of our democracy.

While more often than not, the Presidents and Governors are blamed for poor governance, most people that they appoint into positions do not really work hard enough to improve the socio-economic status of the people. More often than not, it is not unconnected with the negligence often displayed by the legislative arm at handling the oversight functions.

Nigerians are tired of being taken along the same tortuous route of the ‘learning curve’. The people demand the move by those concerned to try and strengthen or build institutions that definitely would stand when the human mortality beckons on those who revel in being strong political players. The builders often live forever.


The legacy of abuse 

One ignoble outcome of the type of campaigns that preceded the past election is the resort by the youth in the orthodox and social media to abandon all the noble values of courtesy, respect and civility in the way they address others and their peers.

The world is watching in dismay as opposing parties use unprintable language repeatedly to address opponents and each other. The sad part is that those under whose ‘authority’ or ‘approval’ these youths seem to be working do not seem to be in any hurry to call their wards to order.

It is pathetic to see the length most of these youths can go with obvious disrespectful and foul languages. This is definitely an ill wind that blows no one any good. The country is better with young people whose core values are displayed in all areas of life, politics inclusive.

One only hopes those refusing to tame the ‘tigers’ would not be consumed by the ‘out of control’ tigers in the near future.


Espying with Nnedi Ogaziechi, nnedis@yahoo.com