The 8th Senate House of Nigeria, headed by Dr Bukola Saraki, is becoming a place to dress down its invited guests. It is a slutt house, a one way traffic avenue, where you go and hold your head in your own hands at exit. The EFCC boss was there at least twice and turned down as many times as he was their guest. The custom boss was also invited severally, and when he eventually summoned enough courage to go in, he was given a thorough dress down. He was told that he had to be in school uniform and hence must go back. He was in a different school hitherto, with a different school uniform, but that didn’t matter to the Senate of Bukola Saraki. Go and come back in the current school uniform was all he got. The story is no longer news that, to avoid a disgrace from the Nigeria National Assembly when invited, one needs a court protection.
All the drama happened in the presence of all the Nigeria serving senators who still cared to attend Saraki ‘ s plenary. We doubt if there was always enough attendance to conduct normal business because of the nearly empty seats we see on the television. However no Senator attending ,had opposed Saraki’s voice vote so far to defend Magu or Ali, or others. If there were any, we would encourage them to be counted in order to change the history of the Senate unfolding.
An essential part of African inherent culture is to accord maximum respect to your invited guests, at least for honouring your invitations. You don’t humiliate your invited guests but entertaining them and providing them necessary comfort, security and respect. Failure to do so is not a slight on the affected guests but ignorance of the uncultured hosts. Next time no invited guest may honour your invitations. This is how we know Africans speaking in all forms.
For example, the anti-Magu hysteria was expected but not that it should have happened. The Nigeria Senate has been disconnected from the electorates almost from its inception. They seem lost on their self mission to show that they are Senators and not on what senators should know and act about. Senators no longer think that they would ever need our votes again. They think they don’t have to impress the electorates. Please you need to impress us excellently.
The media and civil society had been aware that the Senate president and the EFCC had some axe to grind between them. As professional politicians it was a meeting point to have resolved but our senators thought otherwise. On any average day nobody is above the law and everyone looks out for some favour every moment. In politics lobbying and horse trading are its hull marks. Magu’s confirmation letter was first read in the Senate on July 14, 2016 and it was on the day Senate was going on recess for the year. Nine months on the guy must be humiliated; whereas only the Nigeria Senators are unaware that EFCC has caused a Nigerian Senate president to be ducked. You can’t never change that history ever again. In a mature democracy, where some integrity still resides, such a Senate president would have resigned to live and fight another day. Please recall that “you slap me and I slap you back” has no value in any civilization. It is gross weakness. The custom boss’ case too is similar. Again only the Nigerian Senators are unaware that allegedly top politicians defraud the national treasuries and using fake documents for their frivolous and too frequent importation. As law makers you try to fault the custom boss on same offence practiced by its own officials, then the negotiations and mutual respect. Top class politicians like senators looking and acting revengeful connotes paradoxes. Whose interest are they serving or what’s their problem?
In time past, especially before this 8th Senate, it used to be a thing of delight to have the opportunity to be invited by a highly respected board like the National Assembly, be it the Senate. It called for sleepless nights in research and dressing up for a rear opportunity to address an august body like the Senate House. Today invitees are humiliated and abused while the status of the Senate House further collapsing thereby. A few invitees preferring to seek refuge in the courts. For how long shall we continue to look as the entire building collapses on its occupants?
Meanwhile the national assembly seems to have reduced it’s functionality to the online media and being on the news for the wrong reasons. News on forged certificates, fake custom papers, whether it is enough to have a name written in a university certificate to be called a graduate, etc. The focus has been projected to the wrong direction of ignorance rather than knowledge, fraudulent practices rather than nation building. Their whole focus is to take joy in being a Nigerian Senator and not what to do with it. It is embarrassing. In the market you suspect that the pants of a Nigerian Senator are smelling; and he begins to undress openly there, attempting to prove innocence? It is the highest hight of ignorance and elementary level of madness.
Therefore let there be light in the Nigeria National Assembly until the place becomes illuminated enough and where we all wish to be. Your guests must henceforth be accorded some decorum, be honoured and respected, even when for whatever genuine reasons their applications are to be turned down. People must have the feeling of a fair trial and be shown their weaknesses and strengths after an examination. In particular, it may well be that the people in Nigeria National Assembly are on their way home and out of public life for good . You still have no right to run down the collective image of the nation, a system you didn’t fight for but came about only accidentally.
Nigerian politicians ought to be reminded that their job had been cut out for them long ago. This should have been their constant focus and not the celebrating of more ignorance. At this juncture we think we need a reform that can prevent the possibility of tugs and politicians that have no connection with prevailing socioeconomic development getting elected. An electoral college, involving only selected voters, if optimally selected, might do the job. The reform may also include the abolition of the present expensive two parallel national assemblages to just a small house of representatives from the states on the basis of their populations. States with large populations will have more representatives but every state will be represented by between 2 and 5 elected officials for the new national single assembly. It seems that Nigeria does not appear ready and able to manage the one-man one-vote full blown democratic system without being abused and hijacked by the mafia, cabalism or individuals.
We cannot put it in writing how painful it is to recommend a political reform for the African communities that is different from the one – person one-vote system. But the one-person one-vote system has be abused and not working. Electorates registers are not updated periodically as expected, predatory methods are still the only ways, voter’s apathy is very high (less than 30% turn out). At the end those who are declared winners may just be people with 10% support of the entire population (less than 17 millions in a population of over 170 millions). A collegiate system, if properly defined, can prove less expensive and more effective in selecting political representatives in Nigeria and other politically violence prone environments.
Prof R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria