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Wanted in Nigeria: More development, less politics

By Tonnie Iredia

It is now certain that Nigerian politicians gain immensely from unending political crisis; hence they generate one crisis after the other now and again. Anyone who doubts this should take a cursory look at the posture of legislators in Bauchi state. Since May 29, this year, when a new government was installed in the state till today, Bauchi state is yet to attain a conducive environment for governance. Political tension in the state was caused by the way the house of assembly was inaugurated.  There was indeed outcry across the nation about the return of the old order by which a minority group is usually assisted to have its way against the majority. This happened both in Bauchi and Edo states. But no one had faith in the decision of the National Assembly to resolve the issues at stake because we all know the federal legislators are part of the politics of the crisis. Meanwhile, no one was bothered about the fact that the crisis was depriving both states of the much-needed good governance at this critical era of development when our entire nation is suffering huge infrastructural challenges.

A few days ago, the media reported the unexpected that Bauchi legislators had resolved their grievances and that majority members who had stayed away from office had been sworn in. Although it was a difficult story to believe, we were also not unaware that buying over any Nigerian legislator whatsoever is one of the easiest things in the country. Many Nigerians must have tried to believe the story, more so as the swearing-in ceremony was televised. Indeed, there were calls from different groups on the aggrieved legislators in Edo to follow the footsteps of their Bauchi colleagues to enable the affected states embrace the era designated for development but which they were supplanting with politics.

Analysts who were still in doubt about the strange peace in Bauchi were still investigating how much settled the issue when news broke again that the same Bauchi lawmakers had made a U-turn denouncing the truce. Could it be that they were able to get a bigger motivator who is against the truce?  If so, is the new motivating figure huge enough to make it easy to return the old one or are the lawmakers planning to hold on to both as is the character of the average Nigerian politician? No matter how this question is answered, it is clear that Bauchi legislators like many of their colleagues across the nation are pawns in Nigeria’s political scenario. They can hardly outlive it.

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Their counterparts in the Kogi state house of assembly are busy right now playing their usual game of being used by one interest group against another as governorship elections in the state draw near. The contending parties are the governor and his deputy. The House has already swung into action and shortly, the nation will hear that the deputy governor has been impeached.  Whereas allegations against him are supposedly many, such perceived wrongdoings would never have seen the light of day if only the deputy governor had continued to play the fool. For daring to raise any issue about his governor, he will go the same way other deputies fell in the past in states such as Imo, Enugu etc. Nigerians will never hear anything about the grievances of the deputy governor. Kogi people will never know for instance what happened to the N53.8 billion funds the state received from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) between 2016 and 2018. The deputy governor wasted his energy-producing documentary evidence that Kogi State received a total of N104. 239 billion within the said three-year period and that only N50.455 billion reached the Joint Account Allocation Committee for sharing between the state government and the local councils. This leaves an unaccounted shortfall of N53.783 billion. This loss to the people of Kogi state may never matter. What would matter is who can better motivate the lawmakers establishing clearly that Nigerian politicians are unfair to our country.

At the federal level, we all saw how politicians were unanimous in eulogizing the attributes of Senator Ahmed Lawan during the campaign for election to the seat of senate president. Apart from the massive support of the ruling party, many senators claimed they were supporting Lawan because of his virtues and quantum of experience in lawmaking. From when the new senate committees were unveiled till today, a new song is being quietly composed behind closed doors against the same Lawan by what looks like an insatiable political group. The calm situation we have now is because the senate is on recess which seems to suggest that many legislators worked for Lawan only for material gains. We will not be surprised to find several allegations flying against him in the public domain when the senate reconvenes. Already, there are some senators who have complained to whoever cares to hear about their failure to get lucrative committees reportedly promised them before the election. If we follow the teachings of history, it will not be difficult to define a senate lucrative committee as one which empowers its members to extort funds internally and during oversight functions. Considering that the nation has not been able to bring down the bogus take-home pay of the average legislator, it seems obvious that the Nigerian nation can hardly ever get out of the political exploitation of lawmakers

This is likely to continue if all that happens in the nation is politics; yet no nation develops simply because its politicians are omnipresent. Politicians are not farmers who feed us, they are not doctors who manage our health problems. Indeed, with their egocentric, materialistic and unpatriotic stance, they cannot help the growth of the nation. What they have succeeded in doing over the years is to exploit ethnic and religious sentiments which divide the masses. There are Nigerian politicians who would educate their followers on the need for the North and the South not to unite by showing that each group should be allowed to abide by its religious culture, as if there is a particular religion which is against development. If anyone is pointing at Islam, let him tell us the religion of Dubai which is now the fastest growing Science and ICT hub in the world with the enviable mark of singlehandedly launching 2 satellites into Space.

Civil society groups must wake up now and mobilize our people to stop the massive political exploitation of our nation by the political class. What we need is not insurrection but public enlightenment to create awareness among the masses of their rights. We want governance not political rascality about proclamation and inauguration of legislative houses; we do not want the diversion of the executive from developmental projects just as we abhor the congestion of our courts with unnecessary political matters at the expense of real disputes. What we want is development.

 

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