By Tonnie Iredia
It is easy to find evidence on a daily basis that some Nigerians are bent on undoing the nation. With the revelation last week by Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), that the agitations for secession are being funded by looters, no other group is more responsible for our dilemma than our wealthy political class.
Thus, the recent caution by the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo to governors not to play politics with Nigeria’s unity and survival is instructive. He indeed took time to appeal to the governors to speak more forcefully against divisive speeches and promote the nation’s democracy. We must all join Osinbajo to counsel our politicians to learn to be more responsible because we know that they are behind every divisive issue that tends to heat up the polity.
If the truth must be told, we all know that the only thing that has refused to grow in Nigeria is politics; thus every other thing is being adversely affected by the nature and posture of our politicians. When ordinary politicians engage in mischief, one can say they are idle or in search of relevance but the game is more irritating when it is elected politicians that use their privileged positions to push others and the entire nation down.
The other week, a disturbance in Kogi state instigated for and against Governor Bello and Senator Dino Melaye led to loss of lives and property. Neither of the two political war lords lost his relations in the crises. Those who died were the poor. The bone of contention was an attempt to recall Senator Melaye from the senate. It is difficult to see how the recall will help Kogi’s development. What was Dino to do for his area in the senate that he has not done?
Of course, there are many people who donot admire Dino’s exuberance, but using scarce state resources to organize his recall is dangerous. The Governor may shout himself hoarse in denial but Nigerians know that the massive mobilization of voters in Kogi West that we saw on television can only be procured by a government. We saw it before when an unregistered Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) under government cover destabilized the conduct of the June 12 1993 election.
We also saw it during the 2million-man march of the Abacha administration and many other occasions of procured demonstrations in the recent past. They are all inimical to societal development because the contending parties will seek all kinds of means to hurt each other which would in turn hurt the state and the common man.
Tension in some other states ought to be similarly deprecated. We are impressed with Governors Ayo Fayose and Nyesom Wike of Ekiti and Rivers States respectively for holding the beacon of the minority to put the federal government on its toe. That is how far we can go in praising them. The other aspect of their posture by which they seek to not only keep the federal government on its toe but to cut off the toe cannot be supported.
We have not been to Port Harcourt for awhile but those who have say some work has been done there. If so, Wike must concentrate on that and stop his unending war with the central government and Rotimi Amaechi his predecessor.
The way he has continued to buy costly media space to run down Amaechi is unnecessary. Electioneering having ended, the time for campaigning to prove to be better than others is over. Watching Wike running down Amaechi and the latter threatening to expose the governor’s wife do not show political maturity. It is instead mere recrimination. Amaechi would be better known as the Minister of Transportation that completed our rail system that can boost economic recovery rather than what he wants to tell us about Wike.
In Ekiti, someone needs to also tell Governor Fayose that his stomach infrastructure policy alone is enough legacy and contribution to the growth of democracy in Nigeria where many state governments hardly care about the down trodden. Unfortunately, his constant vituperations on the federal government can derogate substantially from his achievements.
Each time the governor is on television, the expectation that the opportunity would feature abuses and allegations is always met. Those who think the posture is in order because Fayose was elected on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are wrong because there are other PDP governors who recognize that opposition politics is not the ideal role of a governor.
The Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa belongs to the same PDP, yet his diction is always temperate and reconciliatory making even his opponents admire him. The same is true of some other PDP governors
Moves and counter moves in several political circles are similarly hurtful. If our political class can grow-up many of Nigeria’s minefields would cease. As some analysts stated last week, Senate President Bukola Saraki won his Code of Conduct case because what he was tried for was different from what angered those who engineered the trial. That is what happens whenever issues are politicized. The case of the suspended secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal is another example.
If the senate was diligent enough to investigate the famous grass cutter saga and had sent its findings under confidential cover to the President, Lawal would have left much earlier. But the tendency to play politics with every subject saw several gaps in the investigation along with a publicised call for the removal of the SGF which converted an ordinary case of impropriety to crises between the legislature and the executive.
Perhaps the most irritating politicisation is what happens yearly to the nation’s budget. We have heard from legal luminaries that the law empowers the legislature to alter and add to provisions in the budget, but no one has told us how to stop legislators from unreasonably diverting funds to projects where they have personal interest.
Due to politicisation, our National Assembly is forcing the federal budget to accommodate items such as boreholes in their villages which ordinarily fall within a state budget. Those who argue that the executive can ignore such irrational additions are unaware that refusal to implement a budget is an impeachable offence.