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Do we still need the National Assembly?

By Emmanuel Aziken

It was remarkable that after the first four Thai teenage boys were rescued from the cave that had trapped them for about 12 days last Sunday that President Muhammadu Buhari was among the first world leaders to laud the international collaboration that achieved the rescue.

The rescue effort, the Nigerian president said, was an inspiration for the international community that was bound to increase human bonding across national boundaries.

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“The way the international community responded with empathy and enthusiasm, is evidence that our common humanity is greater than our differences,” he was quoted as saying.

No matter how apt the president’s response was, it has attracted sharp reactions from some Nigerians who have drawn parallels between the Thai government’s response to the crisis and the seeming ineptitude or crass detachment of the Nigerian authorities to the many similar situations in the land.

Of course, there are many similarly despairing situations across the country that would have attracted the kind of compassion shown to the Thai government. From the story of the missing Chibok Girls through the reign of banditry in the Northwest to the lamentable case of the abandoned Dapchi school girl, Leah Sharibu, there are undoubtedly hundreds of such terrible scenarios around Nigeria.

That precarious situation was vividly illustrated on Thursday as the House of Representatives debated a motion arising from the killing of more than 30 persons by gunmen in Sokoto State last Monday.

The killing again reinforced the claim that virtually all parts of the country were now under one spectre of insecurity or the other.

It was instructive that the motion adopted by the House that day was said to have been the 80th of such in which the attention of the administration was drawn to the state of insecurity in the country.

One outstanding observation from that debate was the nonpartisan approach adopted by many of the members. With the exception of two members, the about 15 members who spoke discarded ethnic and political sentiments in bringing to the fore what they lamented as the critical situation the country was passing through.

Ms Nkiru Ukeje from Abia State was particularly forthright in her admonition as she tasked Speaker Yakubu Dogara to impress it on President Buhari that the country was in a state of war.

“And please don’t come back telling us to be patient,” she submitted in rebuff of Buhari’s recent supplications on the need for patience and prayers in tackling the crisis in the land.

Even countries passing through wars do not lose the kind of blood that has seemingly been poured out in recent years in Nigeria.

However, the admission by the legislators that they have so far pushed 80 resolutions pertaining to the insecurity in the land without positive response is undoubtedly bewildering. So, of what import is a House resolution one may then ask?

That the House has passed 80 resolutions on the state of insecurity in the land without any positive impact on the security situation could mean that the legislative branch has truly become inconsequential in the running of the country. It is a very worrisome situation that must worry every true democrat.

If the executive branch of government which has the functional role of executing the laws of the land as enunciated by the legislative branch of government becomes disdainful of the resolutions of the legislative branch it is a danger sign for the health of any democracy. Such disdain could not have been more properly contextualised than the snail speed investigation of the mace snatching incident in the Senate.

A book that this correspondent currently has his hands on “How Democracies Die” written by two Harvard University professors of government, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt narrates examples of how popular strongmen in several countries rode upon the indolence of the institutions and other branches of government to stamp out the electoral franchise of the general population. The legislative branch no matter how despised must be supported, its roar must bite for the collective good of the nation and its democracy.


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