For quite a while during the life of this present government, many Nigerianslooked forward with eagerness to the emergence of a strong political opposition to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Thus, the birth of the All Progressive Congress (APC) brightened the hopes of many citizens that better governance was on its way. The APC seems to have done fairlywell so far especially in bringing down the high degree of impunity of the ruling party. Their rather unpopular directive to their legislators to block the passage of the 2014 may have started, even if inadvertently, to refine our crude democracy – a good example being the end of the police control of Rivers State.
The vibrant coordination of APC’s publicity by the veteran Lai Mohammed was also quite exciting until a few days ago. Last week however, Lai killed the joy of some Nigerians including this writer when he suggested that some APC legislators who recently decamped were virtually purchased like goods. What has really distressed me is not just the purchase story but the claim by Lai Mohammed that PDP spent millions of dollars to buy the legislators. I do not accept the impression the suggestion appears to create that our legislators are expensive to get. The history of the behaviour of our legislators since 1999 does not lend credence to such undeserved evaluation.
A few examples would suffice.
On Thursday, October 04, 2012, Taraba State legislators were “summoned”from vacation to hurriedly impeach the then Deputy Governor of their State, Sani Abubakar Danladi for no just cause. What value would Lai Mohammed attach to the summons which swayed the legislators to act as they did? Much earlier, the former Deputy Governor, of Bauchi State, Garba Gadi was impeached in absentia while on annual vacation leave. In Niger State, the House of Assembly was persuaded by someone yet to be identified to replace its Speaker. The legislators said they removed the Speaker who hadbeen in office for barely 72 hours for non-performance.
The former deputy governor of Imo State, Mr Jude Agbaso was impeached by the State House of Assembly less than a year ago for an offence which EFCC investigators have since found to be a false alarm. In fact it was difficult to confirm if Agbaso’s impeachment was concluded before his successor was cleared by the legislators.
If Lai Mohammed can take pains to investigate what influenced Imo legislators to impeach an innocent deputy governor, he would be better positioned to appreciate the real value of a Nigerian legislator. If the Imo case is hard to handle, may be Lai can try to investigate what turned legislators in River State to jungle fighters as we saw on national television where one of them repeatedly banged a cudgel on the head of a colleague. So, today, I am pained by the allegation of APC’s Lai which could mislead posterity into thinking that to make a legislator in Nigeria accept to engage in some bizarre acts against his own will is a costly venture. The fact that the legislators involved in this case moved from APC does not give Lai the authority to exaggerate the amount involved. Suppose the legislators decamped under the promise of a future gift, then Lai may find out in due course that he merely jumped the gun. Besides, the movement of legislators to and from both parties has been reciprocal.
Again, I am upset because the huge amount which Lai publicized as purchase money for federal legislators has invariably diverted the attention of some of them from ‘quality’ work to probe panels. According to media reports, some legislators who felt they had been brought to public ridicule by the allegation are already asking that a panel be set up to unravel the veracity of Lai’s claim. This is with a view to restoring the appropriate regards Nigerians have had for their legislators. In retrospect, APC should not have raised the allegation at all. After all, we are yet to see the findings ofprevious similar panels. We sure have enough probes in all our arms of government. Enough is enough. The form of political opposition our nation needs now is not the pedestrian type that can at best lead to Pyrrhic victory, what we want is for opposition parties to canvass alternative policies to redress our stunted growth.
For us journalists, it is time to listen to the nation’s current leader of our profession- Labaran Maku that ‘allegation does not mean guilt’. For this reason, we should also accept his explanation that the 4 ministers that left office some four days back were not sacked; they were being released at their own request to face full-time politics. It is futile to continue to probe the departure of the ministers because minister Maku’s explanation has thrown light on the subject. We now know that others retained in the cabinet have no elective political ambition. This is good for the polity as it signifies the end to distractions to good governance at least for now. But because many citizens are not likely to believe that the minister of Aviation, StellaOduah who was fingered in some open corruption allegations was not sacked, a good reporter should now seek to identify her new political interest.
These are indeed political times. With the release of the 2015 election time table by INEC, the vagaries of political weather are climaxing. No wonder, our own edo brother, Mike Ogiadomhe erstwhile chief of staff resigned too. He had been deputy governor of our state years back and should be ripe now to contest the next governorship election. Unfortunately not many believe this because edo elections are not due until 2016. Could he have left for thatthis early bearing in mind that edo is not listed yet in the election time table?I am not indirectly asking for a probe because I do not wish to upset anyone as Lai Mohammed’s generous assessment of our law makers has involuntarily done to me in the last few days