By Prof R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
The Nigeria Senate of our dream is a national assemblage of Nigerians, across the States, working solely as one Senate for the common interest of Nigeria and mankind. The Senate is to make Law, ensure that the law made meets it’s objectives, and also to monitor that other arms of government are obedient to the law, in letter and in spirit. At present the nation is being confronted by the material world senators, where each senator seems to say, “Here I am and here I have always been”; as though each has no origin. Senators are elected from different constituencies, from diverse political parties, backgrounds and interests, different educational and cultural orientations, but all should be constituting a single national Senate. Their diversities and inequalities ought to be constituting their strength, a measure of spectrum and spatial distribution of the nation. The purpose of this write up is in our doubt. The doubt is in different dimensions, including whether we should abandon the current exercise and starting all over, in constitution and selection, in representation and who can be representatives of their constituencies, etc.
Only the Nigeria geographical space itself has no origin. It always was and it is and will continue to be, even whilst some historians wrote in their books when they thought they found Nigeria and gave it a name. No, the land space called Nigeria has always been and will continue to be. Its boundaries may be expanded or strunk. However it’s peoples are going to continue to be dynamic and changing from one generation to another. The laws made to govern a set of people today may become obsolete for the next generation, hence the need for a standby law makers, regulators and monitoring. Nigeria, like other nations, will always consist of dynamic populations, evolving, changing and reshaping, but needing strong and very focused leadership at every turn. The dynamism of differences in faith and philosophy will have its place continually in a theatrical fashion.
The representatives must have their minimum qualifications and standards, in age, a minimum length of residency period in area they claim to want to represent, found sufficiently qualified in academic and character and able to win sufficient votes from targeted constituencies. At present it seems to be, almost anything goes, a cash and carry, a winner takes all affairs, and determined only amongst godfathers and their preferred choices. An intending contender has to pay so much to purchase the application form to compete, the application forms are kept with godfathers and where individuals should first go to, bowing and saying ungodly oath.
This is the truth of what our world is trying to tell us and which we should echo loud and clear. Whereas we believe that everyone must be constitutionally given equal access to eligibility, participation, representation, irrespective of socioeconomic background or link to the established godfathers. We must not be found expressing our representatives in a distorted way but in their own true essence, the essence of their capabilities fair representativeness of their people. Their godfathers is not the intended recipient of their focus and pursuit, but their people.
Of course we are expecting a time that is yet to come when the distortion shall vanish, when each senator shall declare, “My true essence and being is not me. It is my Nation, it’s people and my constituency.” Godfathers should find their primary interest in good representatives to mean “men and women of proven characters and track record of achievements in our society, for the specific assignment in question”. That time is yet to come and we are in great doubt if any senator in the present dispensing understands their roles in the national assembly sufficiently.
The several ongoing court cases, either involving members of the Senate and the courts, or members of past administrations and the courts, should be allowed to run their full course. They should rather be accorded accelerated hearing and fair judgement rather than allowing further dragging and more confusing into the already polarised and politically inflamed society. This brings together another different school of thought; of whether there is a government within the present President Buhari’s administration. Such a claim was rebuffed by media men of President Muhammadu Buhari administration but “government within a government” is not always known to the same administration. Hence the media men of President Buhari are not the right people to defend the administration on that subject matter but the “Court of Public Opinion” people.
Perhaps we need to define what a government within an existing government may look like, using the ongoing APC government of President Buhari. A government within a government may be such that, (1) Buhari himself or his agents may choose to act in some cases in proxy and using the fifth columnists. Their actions could be indirectly or directly supported by government and it’s agents, (2) Allies and top party agents of the President may arm and fuel arrests and court cases without prior permission from the president. These are usually so powerful and can take all the risk and carry along the presidency later, (3) The cabalism and party agents in APC may act using their loyalists, stooges and sycophants in the national assembly, judiciary, police and everywhere.
I think that the presidency has denied the existence of 1 and 2 above. I am not too sure that some people are not working underground for some of their undisclosed paymasters. Yet we need a national probe that is inclusive, exhausting, not respecting individuals in the society but fair, open and humane. We need to recover all stolen money and properties even when the times they spent wrongly representing couldn’t be recovered. We need to recover national lost image and integrity even whilst the bandits, who called themselves politicians, are still at large. We need to show other nations, especially destinations of stolen goods like America, Europe and now Dubai and others, that stolen goods they are keeping is a national curse for their economy; Nigerian children are dieing for lack of it. They may choose to keep the stolen goods and fail to return the mansions bought with illegal monies, but we are telling them that the consequences are curses for their own people and their economy. Meanwhile Nigeria government had to identify the stolen items, with or without a Senate it hasn’t got.
The Senate of our dream is people, policy and programme oriented. It is not the one with its members constantly giving the impression that the banks and godfathers that sponsored them need their money back, or they would continue to steal and refusing the change. We need a Senate in which members make their presence felt in their respective constituencies in terms of offices and local workers, not ones friendly with use of unprintable languages in addressing each other. We need a collection of educated Nigerians that know the job of legislation rather than those who think that they are in the battle field, fighting perceived enemies.
Hence those who intend to occupy elective posts in the future should be Nigeria’s friends today rather than militants and breakaway agitators. Leadership comes from track record and painstaking efforts, no longer fashionable through militancy or the barrel of guns. A Senate, consisting of doubtful characters, misplaced priorities and less civil members can easily be a misrepresentation.
Prof R. A. Ipinyomi firstname.lastname@example.org