What Doesn’t The National Assembly Understand By Change
Each time the country is about to take a break and assess its progress or lack of it, the ever present dark forces that the country seem to have made a pact with pumps up their heads and drags it back onto the path of pain, anguish and suffering.
This provides a plausible explanation for the unpalatable happenings in the National Assembly (NASS) since June 9th, 2015. Will this nation not really be allowed a sustained period of relative socio-economic political progress?
On the 28th of March 2015, barely three months ago, millions of Nigerians trooped out to vote and chose a government in an election that was deemed reasonably free and transparent. The nation’s choice in that election was clear as candidate G.M Buhari got a ringing endorsement over the former ruling party. President Buhari rode to power on the crest of his well-publicised personal integrity and the allure of his CHANGE mantra.
It seems so sad that the word change is about to be rendered redundant before it has had the opportunity to enter into our political lexicon. What, I ask, is it that our elected members and other dark forces find so toxic in the word – CHANGE, despite its obvious politically seductive allure and potency in political engineering and re-engineering of societies? Furthermore, what is it that is missing in the word CHANGE that millions of ordinary Nigerians did not notice as candidate GMB successfully sold it to them? For some answers to these questions I have decided to seek help from the Oxford English dictionary for definition: CHANGE – make/become different; alter; move from one to another.
Using the Oxford English dictionary for the definition of CHANGE, I am convinced that between 28th March 2015 and now there is not nothing missing in the word, and that poor Nigerians perfectly understood the word and knew what GMB meant. President Buhari’s election by Nigerians was a clear illustration of their understanding of CHANGE, an eloquent expression of their desire to make/become different, alter and move from a country ravaged by senseless official stealing to one where the rule of law reigns and transgressors duly punished.
The change that was promised and Nigerians believed in are; an end to impunity, creating a society where honest workers get their wages paid promptly, where children learn to be decent citizens and not willing tools for election riggers, where institutions of the state are primed to efficiently carry out their constitutional duties and not used as tools for oppression, where money spent on oiling the mouths of elected politicians are not greater than the money spent on the nation’s infrastructure, where the sick gets cured, the security of lives and properties of the citizens are secured, all these and more are the changes that ordinary Nigerians ( umu ogbo onyi, talaka, talakawa) believed that candidate GMB promised.
Ironically, it seems that the only group struggling with the definition or conceptualisation of the word CHANGE is the so-called political class. The deeply disturbing rumblings in NASS since the 9th of June 2015 have shown that they are still not able to understand what Nigerians want and the current mood in the country. They still feel a sense of entitlement to what Nigeria has to offer. That is why very few individuals out of their selfishness are intent in taking the shine off the momentous event of 28th March 2015, and dampen the euphoria surrounding it before it reaches a crescendo.
Even if they are going to continue treating Nigerians contemptuously, the world’s congratulatory and goodwill messages the country has continued to receive since the election of President Buhari cannot simply be ignored. Or, will they? For the sake of Nigeria, I hope not.
The nation must resist these attempts to halt its recent desire for progress by maniacs’ obsessive quest for power for their self-aggrandisement.
There are not many under the illusion that the shenanigans in the National Assembly have anything to do with the struggle to alter for good the lives of Nigeria’s poor majority, because it hasn’t, but has very much to do about power and control, as confirmed by leaked and speculated reasons for the disagreements. If as suggested, the crisis in NASS resulted from an effort to prevent the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its administration from being dominated by an overbearing individual that would be a good course. But, the solution did not need to sit in immoral tactics. For a matter as important as electing a senate president, every opportunity should have been given to all senators available to attend and cast their votes. It should not have been done in a dubious manner.
Mr Bukola Saraki, having been elected the Senate President to the displeasure of a very significant section of his party, should have quickly, at least as it should be obvious to the public reached out and made peace with his party hierarchy and its aggrieved members. There is no evidence that he did so. Further, he ignored the letter written to express the party’s wishes on whom to make the other principal officers of the Senate. This passes for insubordination. The explanation that the letter reached him late is simply incredulous. If Mr Saraki and Mr Dogara in the Senate and House of Representatives respectively, were not intending to cause disaffection in their party, the presidency and the country at large, they should have abided with the request of APC in their Chairman’s letter. They failed to show any sign of magnanimity in victory. The biggest worry about Mr Saraki and his friends’ behaviour is where would it end? Are they on a mission?
If Mr Saraki & co are on a mission, it seems that it is not about CHANGE. Certainly, not in the manner Nigerians are expecting. In case NASS are in any doubt, Nigerians want a NASS and a presidency that will synchronise their actions to improve their general wellbeing from destitution. This is the people’s reasonable aspiration. It is the main reason for rejecting an avaricious party for a President with Spartan lifestyle and generally regarded as a believer in due process. If this crisis has been designed to distract President Buhari from recovering stolen money then it is hugely mistaken, because Nigerians in their millions would rally around him.
Perhaps, Nigerians should seize this moment to demonstrate their support for the president and their belief in CHANGE. Evidently, there are forces that are going to resist CHANGE and the president cannot fight them alone, despite the powers at his disposal.
All he needs to show is the commitment and determination to challenge and punish lawbreakers. Once he has done that he would require every Nigerian to play the role of active citizens, which are questioning, monitoring and challenging ill-gotten wealth and abuse of power. It includes questioning NASS members to justify why they should be paid when on self-imposed leave.
There is no reason why the Labour Unions, the Media, Civil Society groups, Students Bodies, Market leaders, Unemployed Youths should not demand a drastic reduction in salaries and other luxuries unnecessarily provided to NASS and governors at the expense of the great majority.
There is no acceptable reason for the Nigerian Senate President to have 40 expensive cars in his motorcade while the richest country in the World, United States of America allows its Senate president two. An end to avarice, executive lawlessness and incompetence are the CHANGES Nigerians want and must demand.
Ogbonda writes from London.