What Doesn’t The National Assembly Understand By Change

National Assembly members

National Assembly members

FOR those who seek pleasure in others’ misfortune, watching Nigeria must be utterly bewitching. There are very few comparisons of a nation that seems endlessly fascinated with a journey for self- destruction.

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.

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  • leonardsonyekwere

    At this point the people care less what is happening to APC. What the people care about is what is happening to them. The people care about where their next meal is going to come from. They care about their safety and the safety of their property. The people want to know whether there is a government in place and as at the moment, it looks like there is none. The federal executive branch under President Muhammadu Buhari is not set to run yet and that is called vacuum of functional government. The Nigeria legislative branch is currently in disarray and the Judiciary is taking three years to conclude an election petition. Criminals are having a field day and by the time the government in-power realize the damage they are causing to themselves and Nigerians, it will be too late. Where is the Change?

  • Imea

    Did Kingsley or anybody y else for that matter honestly believe that change is possible in Nigeria when they voted. All I can say I s DREAM ON. A leopard does not change its spots. Even if Buhuri meant all he said, which is a different subject, he Was always going to work with other politicians who have arrive with their individual agenda. Perhaps people will soon appreciate why the previous presidents are perceived as having failed. The problem as they say is not in our stars, it is in ourselves.

  • Okey

    It is utterly shameful, to say least, that Nigerians will be heard making a preference for an immoral meeting summoned at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, falsely engaging President Buhari’s instance and name, for the imposition of one-man’s candidates on the nation’s highest legislative body, NASS, over a duly conducted leadership election on the floor of the Senate. Impugning a result that made for national inclusiveness whilst supporting a cabal for ethnic exclusion, by anybody making a pretence of love of Nigeria is most regrettable and certainly preposterous.

    Why must Ekweremadu’s emergence cause a stir ? Why must any one reject Ekweremadu’s emergence ? Right now, N401 Billion from the proceeds of oil embedded in the soil of the South-South and South-East has been shared by the 36 states, many of which belong to APC; Has any APC State Governor rejected his state’s share of that money because it came from zones that did not vote APC massively ? Before now, all the APC legislators have received their hotel and other take-off allowances from the same oil money from the South-South and South-East, I never saw any one of them reject his allowances because it came from the “wrong zones.”

    Now, the President duly issued a proclamation to bring into life the 8th National Assembly. In that issue, the President was certain; he said the 8th Assembly shall come into effect at 10:00 A.M. of June 9, this year of our Lord, 2015. And in line with that constitutional order, 57 Senators-elect dutifully, patriotically and constitutionally went to the Senate Chambers to be inaugurated and were, in deed, inaugurated. Thereafter, the Senate carried out its first legislative duty which was the election of the Senate President and his Deputy. That they did successfully and in fact, their President, Senator Saraki, enjoyed wider acceptance that he was elected unopposed. And that of his deputy keenly contested.

    Meanwhile, some other Senators unpatriotically ignored the President’s order of proclamation and went to the NICON hotel extension behind the ICC, just to wine and merry for having won election into the Senate. And by the time they sauntered back to the Senate, the law and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria have taken their due course. The wining and merrymaking Senators now say the hand of the clock should be shifted backwards to accommodate their giddy dream that 36 hours, instead of 24, make up a day. That cannot happen as it is a pure lie.

    APC should be full of gratitude to Senator David Mark for being himself – being and remaining gentlemanly in the circumstance. In fact, they should also thank Senator Saraki for standing up to defend APC’s interest at that crucial moment. Had Saraki not done what he did, one of those 49 PDP Senators dutifully present would have emerged the Senate President and no Jupiter will reverse it, since APC doesn’t have the 2/3 majority to upturn it. APC should be full of gratitude to Saraki and the Clerk of the National Assembly.

    What took place on June 9, 2015, was a national rebellion against one man’s imposition; a national rebellion against false-Change. That’s precisely why President Buhari never wasted any time in validating the National Assembly proceedings of June 9, 2015. That is as it should be. Also the British and the American governments have validated same by paying courtesy visits to the leadership of the National Assembly pronto. All the authorities – the President the British and American Govts – knew that what was to take place at the restaurant adjacent to the ICC was an imposition, NOT democratic.

    For the first time in the history of this nation, a Christian minority from the Inner North was able
    to squeeze his head up to become the No. 4 Citizen of our dear country. Also in an era where a Buhari was expected to punish the South East for not voting for him massively, the man decided to prove all of us wrong. What then is the unbearable headache ? The only convergence between the cabal impositionists and pseudo patriots and intellectuals is the discomfort that an Igboman – Ike Ekweremadu – emerged in an era where there is a “consensus” that Ndigbo be punished for voting Jonathan. But thank goodness, President Buhari is not comfortable with that “consensus” and has openly and clearly demonstrated he is not part of it. That’s why he wasted no time in welcoming the result of June 9, 2015 in the National Assembly. At least, the President has distanced himself from those who want to perpetuate tribal hate hiding behind a Buhari. Otherwise, how can any sane and just Nigerian rationalize why the self-styled owner of APC will insist that Femi Gbajabiala MUST become the House of Reps Leader even after Yoruba have become Vice President, Senate President and Deputy Speaker, respectively when other zones with equally competent legislators have not been considered ? What “democracy,” what “party discipline”, what CHANGE can that be ?

    Now the decision, in fact duty, whether to have a smooth, peaceful and enduring parliament in Nigeria or not lies with the anti-Ekweremadu, nay, anti-Igboman, elements in APC (party and NASS). Unless the whole essence of APC politics is “Power Grab and Igbo Exclusion,” they have a duty to concentrate on legislation as their duty and allow the Senate Leadership be. Matter of factly, APC does not have the 2/3 to effect a change of Ekweremadu or anything in the Senate. Any “We no go gree” in the Senate will only result in crisis, confusion and setback against the Buhari Govt and the entire nation. Because, PDP in the Senate will equally “No go gree.” APC operatives in and outside the Senate have a choice to make between guaranteeing a peaceful governance for Buhari and Nigeria or a crisis-ridden 4 years with nothing good to show for it.