This body called the National Assembly made up of senators and
representatives has clearly dived and gone beyond the minimum level
of acceptability for a sane society and something must be done about
it. My proposal is a moratorium that limits what they do to a few
matters for a period that reflects what the country is going through
and what is important for the country.
Urbane observers might, from the comfort of their functioning
transparent and accountable democracy, consider this proposal
radical. They would be wrong. A moratorium on Nigerian legislators
is a matter of common sense nothing radical at all. Let us be clear,
common sense here must be intended in the most common of ways and as
intended by Thomas Paine and
no more no less.
A bit of context: Maybe it is just their luck or due to perception
or real hard but simple facts but it appears this House has made
headlines for mainly bad concerns. They started with a clumsy tussle
for the position of leadership. They then went to propose an awkward
bill perceived as aimed at gaging people on social media. In the
middle of all that many legislators left their chambers and offices
to go to court with their president. In fairness to them, the
tradition of public officials leaving their office to keep the
company of a colleague or leader in private trouble is quite a long
and sad one, but that is not a justification.
Once back in their offices, what these legislators seem to be making
headlines for includes allocating money for their own houses and
cars. They even had the time to allocate a ridiculous amount of
money for wardrobe allowance. Whilst at it, I propose we should sew
each legislator uniforms with a budget equal to the amount of money
allocated to each Youth Corper. After all, Corpers are in the
national service too but unlike politicians they did not choose to
In the last one-week alone, Nigerian legislators have made headlines
about at their visas being revoked by another country on the charges
of indecent behaviour (I wasn’t there, but I can assure you, rape
here is an exaggerated expression typical of prosecutors). To end
the week in style, these legislators decided to deliberate on means
and ways to allocate to themselves life pension and immunity. Things
can always get worse, so in the past few days, Nigerian legislators
have spent time defending some of their own again from the
accusation of forgery.
It appears Nigerian legislators come alive only when there is an
issue that concerns their immediate constituency. Sadly, their
understanding of constituency seems to be made up of their
colleagues, leaders and maybe friends and family. These legislators
appear so disconnected from the lives of the citizens they represent
that I sometimes suspect autism.
In defending their turf and the privileges that come with all that,
these legislators invoke noble principle such as the need to defend
vital tenets of democracy like the separation of powers and fear of
the executive dominating the legislative arm of government. Sadly
some people follow these views and pronouncements blindly because
they are more partisan than citizens and, abstractly because it
appears politically appropriate.
Well I have some information for all of them: The autonomy and
dignity of the legislative arm of government, like any other arm,
descends from and lies within the ability and resolve of that arm to
do its duty in the interest of the public it represents. For a
legislative arm of government to be worthy of defence, it must be
seen to be checking and balancing the Executive from abuse of power,
misconduct in office, wastage and misappropriation of public funds
and, indeed, policy issues.
Regardless of the CVs and all the goodwill they enjoy, the Buhari
administration and a lot of those that work on its behalf are not a
band of saints and highflyers. In just a year in office, too many
things have happened under this administration that the National
Assembly could have been vocal about.
They could have fought the Executive to a standstill on the issue of
the CBN recruitment; they could have led the battle on the issue of
the FIRS recruitment; they could have initiated proposals and
activities on the economy and its direction. A lot of battles could
have been waged on job loss, security, not to mention electricity
and petrol. Instead of saying they want life pension like the
Executive arm of government, they should propose the abolishment of
life pension for all politicians.
This National Assembly has not been known for articulately fighting
any of those issues or courses, so curtailing their freedom and
privileges is not a loss for the general public they were elected to
The need for the public, right now, is to survive
in this harsh economy of low unstable income and high prices. So we
should place a moratorium on this National Assembly limiting their
interventions to only concerns that will affect the general public.
Such matters should be restricted to only interests of
infrastructure, health, jobs, agriculture and economy. There should
be a total ban on discussions about anything that affects members of
the National Assembly, as such.