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where our laws are made

By Bisi Lawrence
There should be a law against any form of physical argument or contention within the walls of the hallowed chambers where the laws of this nation are made. We should no longer tolerate or accommodate such reprehensible behaviour as recently wantonly displayed among citizens who smugly answer to the name of “honourable” people.

They are not. Only convention continues to demand that we should so address them, men and shameless women all.
The first of these regrettable incidents in our history occurred in the West Regional House of Assembly during the First Republic, and led to the declaration of a state of emergency in the Western Region. The Premier and his government were replaced by an ad hoc, or interim, administration to hold the fort until the next election.

However, events overtook that election itself, and the entire country subsequently slid down the road into national unrest. One would have thought that the politicians, who are fortunate enough to be elected into positions of responsibility to represent the wishes of their people, would have learnt a useful lesson from the events of that dark period in our history. But, unfortunately, this awful pastime has, so to say, become a seasonal event.

Two aspects of these horrendous carryings-on leave me furious, and they have to do with the reactions they arouse. First is the attitude of the parliamentarians themselves to these mindless disturbances any time they occur in the chambers.

These vain individuals throw out their chests and square their shoulders and behave as though they had performed some heroic feat. They know there would be no reprisal. In fact, it is clear that these actions of bare-faced parliamentary hooliganism are usually premeditated, and programmed to a fine point for good effect.

For instance, in the last episode, some of the rampaging members of the House had armed themselves with whistles to further add a riotous flavour to their disgusting display of open self-humiliation. Of course, they were assured of subsequent impunity. That stinks.

In the same vein, Nigerians merely throw up their hands and express a mild disgust at the most, or they shrug their shoulders and carry on with massive unconcern. That sucks.

Even one of the men who have conducted themselves as being truly honourable, stated that the latest rowdy episode in the House of Representatives was nothing to worry about since it happens all over the world.

To say the least, that is -weak. Theft occurs all over the world, but I doubt that the gentleman would therefore throw his windows open for midnight ,visitors. Another almost waved it all off as another of those “unfortunate” things which should be consigned to security officers as mere allegations. In the mean time, she opined, it is unconstitutional to suspend eleven members of the House. She had probably been reading the Constitution of the Federal Republic of  Nigeria from right to left.

We do not support or condone the misappropriation of funds by any official placed in a position of trust. But we maintain that the temple of legislation should suffer no desecration in the attempt to bring the ,miscreants to book. There are laid-down procedures that ought to be respected at all times, and they have been found adequate and effective in practice.

We should no longer allow ruffians and thugs to conduct our process of law-making by their own deplorable standards. A law must be made!

let there be NEPA

It would appear that an improved power supply is here to stay. In the Amukoko area of  Lagos where I reside, ‘we now have NEPA (or PHCN, if you please) for no less than seventy per cent of the day – on a good day. In the not-too-distant past, we seldom had it at all, except when it was close to billing time. This was around the third week of the month.

Then, there would suddenly be a regular delivery of electric power. It always caught us by surprise because we-would have settled down to our normal regime of three hours of privately generated power in the morning and four in the evening.

That was enough to cover our needs before going to work, and also for getting set for the night. We normally waived the luxury of sleeping under the fan because it was said to be dangerous to leave the generator working through the night. Another reason for that, of course, was the cost. It cost no less than fifteen thousand naira a month even without any recourse to the overnight use of the fan and, remember, that was -without the pumped-up bill -which would still make its prompt appearance later. Somehow we paid that bill, placated as we were, by the few days of comfort that preceded it.

And no sooner we paid it than our agony was renewed by the withdrawal of the power supply, and the presence of  NEPA went back to the frequency of angels’ visits.

But since President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan gave a pledge to improve the situation, the supply has gradually become somewhat stable. Of course, it is not yet at the optimum level, but the delivery is quite tolerable. We even have enough to operate the fan for a cool night’s rest. All we have to do now is to relax and enjoy the trip. But it is somewhat difficult to do that.

We remember bow President Olusegun Obasanjo had once made the same promise of improving the “power sector”, as President Jonathan recently did, and made the late Uncle Bola Ige, a gentleman of crystal integrity, the Minister in charge as a token of  his sincerity. And, indeed, it worked like a charm… for a while. There was uninterrupted power supply for some four days throughout the length and breadth of the country.

And then, BLAM! We were back in the twilight between total black-out and epileptic power supply once again. Bola Ige was moved away from the pains of a situation which defied all remedy, and shoved into the groove of his proper profession as the Attorney-General of the Federation, to keep his rendezvous with fate. God rest him.

And so we continued to wallow in the mud of our insufficiency, while a shamefully deprived populace could only bewail their predicament. The blame game was vigorously played into injury time; the dealers in generators  were in the front-line of rebuke. It was alleged that the boom in their business was promoted by the poor power supply which, with the collision of NEPA officials, they strove to sustain by diverse means.

The dealers kept mum as they crept on padded heels all the way to the bank. But the NEPA people too fired back, complaining about unpaid bills, a widespread criminal damage of their equipment and insufficient allocation of funds to replace vital machinery in order to improve services.

That brought up an enquiry into what had been happening to the funds that had already been provided. Well, those who were appointed to conduct the enquiry soon began to face an enquiry into their own enquiry. And we were still sleeping through the night painfully without a fan, until this lucky gentleman from Bayelsa, who has taken up residence in Aso Rock, intervened.

If the boon of this improved electricity supply should continue and remain stable, Goodluck Jonathan would have brought untold good fortune to the lives of Nigerians in a practical and unprecedented manner. And that, without a doubt, would tend to increase the stridency of the clamour for him to run for the presidency next year. But with due respect, coupled ‘with a deep sense of appreciation for his sterling achievements, and all, we would still maintain that he can do better than listen to that at this time.

so long, long world cup

The FIFA World Cup drags on for another week. For most of the participating countries that have dropped by the wayside through the long, long finals, the thrill is gone. For many other countries, the routine of the humdrum of daily existence which it helped to relieve, has re-asserted its central position. The cares of modern life are overwhelming.

The mundial is too long.

The competition is truly unique as the first to be held on African soil. But that hardly improved the lot of the African nations. Only Ghana was among the last eight to represent the rest of us. Nigeria did not do better than it deserved.

There was a hue and cry for the dissolution of the Nigeria Football Federation/Association. I wonder if that is now shelved with the withdrawal of Nigeria from international football for the next two years. What would be happening during that period? Cameroun did that in the eighties for three years and came back ‘smokin”’. It might be useful to find out how they did it.

In any case, only an organization, elected or appointed, under FIFA’s approval can take a decision about a national team’s participation, or non-participation, in any competition over any period. That is “old hat”.

The officiating in South Africa was, in several cases, simply atrocious. Goals were allowed over and above the off-side rule, -while genuine goals were disallowed. Foul play lost its definition in the interpretation of some wild rulings. All this has led to more demands for the introduction of technological assistance where applicable. But Sepp Blatter, the universal Czar of soccer disagrees, upholding the conservative traditions of  his office.

What is profoundly galling, however, is the relegation of African referees to near oblivion. On the basis of the general standards that -we saw on the field of play in South Africa, we would proudly declare that our referees can hold their own among the best. It is part of the psychology of the interactional politics at play in world sports.

It is a subject that we would have loved to dilate upon, but  we don’t do sports here any more. Anyway, we shall in stead be doing a bit of Black history from next week (D.V.)


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