April 26, 2018

Another day, Another scandal (2)



By Josef Omorotionmwan

IT might be difficult to convince people that God answers all prayers. He does so at His own time and in His own way. A man prays fervently and requests God to give him a car by Christmas. He does everything to fulfill his own side of the request. Christmas comes and goes but there is no car. The man is disappointed and he feels God has not answered his prayers. Not quite so.

God sees the end from the beginning. If God sees that by giving this beloved son a car at Christmas, he would drive himself to death, He would withhold the car. This is prayer answered because the man’s life is more precious than the gift of a car. The car may come 10 years later – at God’s appointed time.

Senate Chamber

We are also told that God uses the most foolish things to confound the wise. As living mortals, our legislators constantly pray to work in a safe and secured environment. Having put their safety and security in the hands of the Most High, they go to sleep and do nothing in furtherance of their desire. Some of those ugly incidents that occur at the National Assembly, NASS, Chambers once in a blue moon serve as reminders that they must take a step of faith and not just forget themselves in the process of working for the people.

In the Second Republic, there was unhindered access into, and free movement within, the premises of the Parliament Buildings at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos until that fateful day in 1982, when Hon. Sidi H. Ali (PRP/Danbatta Federal Constituency, Kano State) came into the chambers of the House of Representatives. He requested to be allowed to speak on a matter of urgent national importance, which Speaker Edwin Ume-ezeoke graciously granted.

At the middle of his presentation, he opened his leather bag and brought out a gun. He threw the gun on the table – directly in front of this writer, Clerk-At-Table then, saying; “Mr. Speaker, I have been complaining to you… I am now prepared to defend myself”. My heart sank into my boots. Gradually, I subconsciously began to sneak away from the position of the gun. I thought I was trying to hide under the Speaker’s table; but I later realised that I was even moving deeper into the danger-prone area.

Normalcy was soon restored to the House and sitting was adjourned for an hour. At the end of the day, Sidi Ali had earned himself a six-month suspension.
It took all this to remind the NASS of the need to protect itself. By the time they installed all the security gadgets and the metal detectors from across the world, entry into the NASS premises and chambers was simply reminiscent of the proverbial camel’s head passing through the eye of the needle.

Over three decades down the line, NASS needed to be reminded again that it had relaxed on its security. It did not matter a flip that we had a whole battalion of the Nigerian Army; a full Division of the Nigeria Police; or perhaps, that the DSS had moved its headquarters to the place. The penultimate Wednesday, some eight “bloody civilians” who were perhaps unarmed, moved into the Senate Chambers while it was in session, snatched the mace, innocuously regarded as the symbol of the authority of the Senate and made away with it. How was this possible? What was the motive behind the bravado-style invasion? These and more are questions that must be left to the appropriate quarters.

Our major stipulation here is that a Senate that cannot provide security for itself cannot also be expected to provide for the citizenry. Is there any doubt today that every Nigerian is an endangered species? Cast your mind back a little. If what we just saw was a Boko Haram invasion, they would have simply ground our Senators like a quid of tobacco.

Tongue must wag. All fingers are pointing in the direction of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC/Delta North). True, what happened in the Senate was a crime against the nation. It was treasonable. If the Senator is proven to be behind the show of shame, then, he deserves every punishment reserved for treasonable felons. He will now be eminently qualified for suspension from the Senate. But not before then!

From our distance, we see a dangerous trend developing in the Senate. We see a Saraki-led Senate that is becoming draconian and totally authoritarian. It is a Senate in which the expression of an opinion different from that of the leadership earns one a suspension.
In the particular case of Senator Omo-Agege, he saw in the proposed Senate amendment to the Electoral Law, some veiled anti-Buhari provisions, as many of us saw from the outside; and he spoke out.

When the leadership of the Senate felt aggrieved by his action, he swallowed his pride and apologised. Yet, he must proceed on suspension. What an aberration!
We abhor violence in settling issues. But there must be a way of checking the spate of illegal suspensions in the Senate. This Senate has lost the entire essence of representative democracy. Because of our burgeoning population, it is no longer possible for the entire one million people of Delta North to be in the Senate in Abuja, hence Omo-Agege was sent to represent them. When you suspended Omo-Agege, you suspended the one million citizens of Delta North and constructively shut them out of Project Nigeria.

Add to this, no Senator was elected Senate President from home. The situation there is one of primus-inter-pares. The Senate has no right to veto the collective choice of the electorate, thus denying them their representation!

In the circumstance, the resort to court, as Omo-Agega has done, remains the best option. Let no one listen to the twisted idea of leaving the legislature’s problems in the legislature. Clearly, that is not what the doctrine of Separation of Powers is all about. After all, when did the legislature cease from being part of society?