The Oasis Reporters
June 5, 2018
The Nigerian president signed the Not-Too-Young-To-Run bill. Those who own that one know themselves. But I thank God that we have never needed a Not-Too-Young-To-Comment bill.
So I need no legal or presidential approval, on grounds of age so to say, to comment on the goings-on in our country. And unlike the not-too-young-to-run, no one needs any financial muscle before they can comment. With a smart phone which can last two years or more, a SIM card since year 2005 and a monthly data subscription as low as #1000, anyone can comment. And in fact, most of the times, no kobo is needed. With free Facebook and a battery that is not yet empty, you will post your comment on Facebook without stress.
The only danger is that there is also no need for a Not-Too-Young-To-Land-In-Cell bill for anyone to land in jail. But then, we are all done for, should we allow ourselves to be cowed by the imminent possibility of apprehension and transmission to a prison cell.
Permit me, ladies and gentlemen, to begin like a drunkard. The Senate President, Bukola Saraki is a career criminal. He should go and answer for his crimes. Buhari is fighting corruption and crimes. Saraki is the enemy of the change agenda of Mr. President. Saraki is the problem of this administration. The National Assembly is populated by crooks…
Now permit me also to recover from excess gin and be sober. May the souls of the dead in the Offa bank robbery find repose, Amen.
These are the people we stand with, not Saraki, not the police. This camp exactly is where we belong— the unprotected species in this earth of men. Our brothers and sisters have been sent out of the world by gun-wielding non-state criminals and state-funded criminals alike, hooligans in uniform who take delight in opening fire on defenceless human beings. We have said in several places that our country belongs to those who have guns. And many times those who have the large means are in constant battle and competition to control the biggest guns.
The biggest guns are what English people call the Police and the Military. To have them is to have control of resources and wealth. The competition for these guns is what scientists call politics. Philosophers use the word ‘politics’ to refer to the place and condition of the common people in this battle over guns and resources. And the condition is nothing different from that of the grass where two elephants fight. Presently, ordinary Nigerians are the grass; Buhari and his political contenders are the elephants.
There is no space to repeat what most people know and have said— the fact that there is a long-standing political feud between Buhari and Saraki, ever since the Kwara politician outsmarted the lot of them into the position of the Senate President in 2015. But this is not all that needs to be known about this fact. Very important is that this feud has derailed the government of Nigeria from the tract of leadership, so much so that one finds it hard to say Nigeria has a government in the present time. At best, we have an Abuja branch of the entertainment industry which specializes in tragicomedy. One moment you see what is going on in this theatre called Nigeria, you weep and sorrow; and just at the moment when you want to make plans to run away, you remember the cracking laughter that the buffoonery and farce of the nation gives to your ribs; then you stay back.
Ladies and gentlemen, scores of souls were murdered in a dastardly criminal act in Offa, Kwara state. Suspects were arrested and they confessed to this crime of armed-robbery and murder. This is a grave enough development. But instead of dealing with these separate crimes and getting justice for our country, the Nigerian police only went ahead to spark a political imbroglio based on statements that the criminal gang know the Senate President and that the Senate President gave them vehicle and funding in the spirit of patronage of political thuggery. This kind of statement deserves being investigated.
However, very intelligent people know that even where these implications are compelling, the politics of the present time and the position of the Senate President makes the issue a very sensitive one, which would meet up with political huddles, and that this would not be helpful in dealing with the already established crimes of those arrested for the Offa act.
But unfortunately, the police went announcing the summons of the Senate President in connection with armed-robbery before TV cameras.
To achieve what?
In this manner, the police put aside the very act of crime against the common people and our country and enlarged their battle against the President of Senate. This very act is not in the interest of Nigeria for two reasons.
First, the police summons is not in the interest of Nigeria because it pushed aside the main issue of crime against the people for the sake of the battle against a political contender. Considering the political mix-up that would greet such an offensive against Saraki and the difficulty it would meet up with, which is evident in the retraction of the summons in less than 24 hours, a very sound police would have opted to deal with the established crimes and wait till the time that it would be less difficult to arrest Saraki if such a step is made necessary by investigation and compelling evidence. This is when he is out of office as the head of the National Assembly.
The government of Buhari has been hiding behind the smoke screen of the fight against corruption to bring our major political institution, the National Assembly into disrepute and destroy it. The administration has treated the Senate with utmost disdain by its officials not honouring the invitation of the Senate and the President breaching the requirement of law that mandates him to seek approval before spending certain public fund. This is the second and important way in which the police summons was not in the interest of Nigeria. Very well-meaning educated people know that the National Assembly is a major institution of the state, and as such, disrepute of the President of the Senate, disregard for the National Assembly, and the general disregard for the rule of law holds a dismal future for our polity and puts our country in a bad light across the world. Alleging the Senate President of a hand in armed robbery is not different from alleging the President of Nigeria of a hand in armed robbery. If the latter holds too badly, the former holds no less badly.
But the foregoing, this government seems not to know, being enrapt in the fight to retain Aso Rock. Either the knowledge so much eludes them or basic political understanding is missing on these statesmen. Their interests are so amplified beyond their horizons that they have no grip of the concept of the ‘reason of state’, though they always invoke ‘the best interest of our nation’ by rote.
But this tragicomedy industry is not to blame. It gets its legitimacy from those people who suddenly conferred integrity and messiahship on the incumbent shortly before the 2015 elections; who have always believed that Buhari is the only person who loves Nigeria and has the political will to deliver the nation, and have seen every other person as an enemy of Buhari and Nigeria. These people are those who think that oh, the National Assembly is the enemy of the Change agenda and should be scrapped. So, Buhari can always key into this delusion of a cross-section of masses, act a god, fight anybody and destroy any institution in the name of fighting for the restoration of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, recent developments such as the one under discussion show that the problem with this administration and with Nigeria is selfish individual interest. The Police has, by the fact of recklessly and maliciously bringing Saraki into this armed robbery saga, scuttled the process of justice that should benefit the nation and advanced only the interest of the Aso-Rock mafia.
Let us note that the feel-like-god attitude of the President is delusional. No president has the power to sanitize the legislature. The legislature is an arm of government like the executive and the judiciary. The President may try to sanitize the judiciary. The judiciary is appointed, the legislature is elected. The business of sanitizing the legislature belongs to the electorate—the people in the constituencies. As a matter of fact, the kind of people we have in the National Assembly is partly a representation of what we are and partly the character of the people with influence in the political parties. We can’t allow wrong people to be voted by few people because we didn’t go out and vote in Assembly elections, and then expect honourable behaviour on the floor of the House.
That is delusional. If we do not grow our democracy by growing ourselves in learning and intelligent participation, our parliament will always be a cesspit. Those who want Buhari to give them a good legislature are the babies in learning. What any president can do is fight political vendetta across the borders of the legislature and destroy the institution. We think Buhari has been doing this quite perfectly.