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Senate, Magu and others

By Sunny Ikhioya

THERE  is no perfect democracy anywhere in the world. According to Plato the philosopher:”The society we have described can never grow into reality or see the light of day, and there will be no end to the troubles of States..” The Catholic encyclopedia (1911) quoting Aristotle the philosopher stated the following; “…that there is no ideal state, but that our knowledge of political organisation is to be acquired by studying and comparing different constitutions of States, that the best forms of government is that which best suits the character of the people…” It is because of such imperfections that we have somebody like Donald Trump, who successfully evaded paying tax for twenty years and defied all odds to become President of the United States of America.

Comptroller- General of Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), ; Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu

Democracy does not always produce the best leader but, the good thing about it is that it is a self corrective system. If the people are dissatisfied with the one that they have chosen, they have the opportunity to express their dissatisfaction by voting him out, that was the situation with Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

A  society gets the type or kind of leadership  it deserves. When credible candidates sit idle, to observe and refuse to be part of the process or are rejected by the people, incompetent people would take over and since they are legitimately voted to represent the people and the law recognises them as the people’s representatives, we must accord them due respect. Whether we like it or not, they are our elected representatives. They have the legitimate power to decide what they want for the people and we must grant them their dues.

In the United States of America, the last Senate refused to confirm the candidate President Barak Obama put forward for nomination into the Supreme Court and it stayed that way until Obama left. There was no staged demonstration or anything of sort against the Senators, even the present Senate of the US has not agreed to the candidate put forward by Donald Trump. Such is the power of the National Assembly, it is not a personal thing, it is the institution that is represented. When they speak, they do so on behalf of the people they represent. They are not accountable to the President or members of the executive branch of government. They are accountable only to the people they represent. If their decisions go right with the people, they succeed in remaining in the House and if their decisions are not in tandem with the wishes of the people, they are voted out through the ballot. That is why in the US, it has become very difficult for Donald Trump and his supporters to repeal the Obama care act, as even his own Republican party members voted against him. They voted against him because some people in the Republican constituencies still enjoy the benefits that the Obamacare provides and voting against the act will hurt them.

We must remove our minds from the impression that legislators must always support whatever the President presents to them because they are from the same party. Quoting Plato again, the Catholic encyclopedia (1911) states: “History has also confirmed that Political systems have a tendency towards dictatorship and self interest and those human instincts must be tempered with the truth…” It is not that what  the President says or do is right always. If our representatives say they do not agree with him, as in the case of Ibrahim Magu, Acting chairman  of the Economic and  Financial Crime Commission, EFCC,  so be it.

With politicians, we can make mistakes, as they  are of all shades and characters. Politicians have never been known for their piety and integrity. But the good thing is that, they do not operate in executive capacities. So, we can permit their shortcomings but when it comes to appointment s for top government positions, more stringent yardsticks must be used. The appointment of the Chairman of the EFCC is a serious business, there must be no room for excuses. The reason people are protesting against the rejection of Magu by the Senate is not genuine enough. Whether there is bias or not in the decision is not the point, the point is that a brother agency, the Directorate of State Security, DSS, has come up with damning report against Magu as the EFCC boss. The attention and anger, if  any, should be directed at the DSS for releasing such report and not the Senate.

Politicians, all over the world have not been known to score high marks in the morals score card but their decisions keep the nation going. Let us practice democracy the way it should. By this, I mean true separation of powers amongst the organs of government, where each body serves as check and balance.  We must allow the Magu matter to rest. If the Senate decides to confirm him, so shall be it. But, if they see reason to reject his confirmation, we must equally accept their decision. People must not cry wolf where there is none. Is there no other credible person for the President to present to the Senate? Surely there must be one out there, who is without blemish, who is above board and is free from all primordial sentiments. We must look for that one.

It is only institutions that can bring about permanent progressive change in Nigeria, not individuals, because the time of the individual is limited, either by circumstances or environment. When a good leader’s time is up, what happens to all of the good things he must have created? Lagos is moving ahead today because of the structures that have been institutionalised for continuity. We must build institutions and not individuals. Our democracy is still growing and as it develops the system will correct itself.


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