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The return of barbarians (4)

By Dougla Anele

As can be deduced from the foregoing, the executive at the centre led by President Muhammadu Buhari does not inspire. But what about the two chambers of the National Assembly where members of the ruling party form the majority? Are they better off? Now, I have already adumbrated that the federal legislature since the time Dr. Saraki was Senate President, failed in its responsibility of dealing with the President considering various constitutional breaches he committed since May 29, 2015. But the current National Assembly will be worse, given that Saraki’s successor, Ahmed Lawan, has publicly displayed hyperbolic admiration for Buhari while his deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege, enjoys genuflecting before the President. A clear indication that the current Senate would be subservient to Buhari is the “bow-and-go” Nollywood histrionics in full display during the ministerial screening. Similarly, Femi Gbajabiamila’s controversial emergence as Speaker of the House of Representatives has already compromised its independence: if the House tries to flex its legislative muscles with the Presidency, it would be just a simple matter of Buhari’s foot soldiers threateningly reminding the Speaker that “he who lives in a glass house should not throw stones.”  It is disheartening that federal legislators are still receiving outrageously huge emoluments and pecks of office when the economy is in serious trouble. As I write, the Senate leadership is preparing to buy Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for senators worth N50 million each, and the leadership of the House of Representatives will soon jump into the bandwagon of prodigal profligate spending. So, even on the not-too-difficult issue of bringing down the cost of running the National Assembly, barbarians that dominate APC have, not surprisingly, failed woefully.

The judiciary seems to be under the firm grip of barbarians as well. When operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) invaded the residences of Supreme Court justices some years ago under the guise of fighting corruption; when Justice Walter Onoghen, former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), was unceremoniously suspended from office without due process and replaced with a sharia-compliant CJN; and when the federal government serially disobeyed valid court orders, it became apparent that impunity, mediocrity and lawlessness, the hallmarks of barbarism, will eventually emasculate the justice system. To add insult to injury, we now have a Chief Justice who does not fully grasp the difference between legal technicalities and substantive justice, a topic an average undergraduate student of the University of Lagos who takes the Philosophy of Law course can easily handle.  While all this is going on, some well-known Senior Advocates of Nigeria and religious leaders who vociferously criticised Dr. Goodluck Jonathan at every opportunity are now deaf and dumb. They either pretend not to know what is happening and do not speak out against the current creeping authoritarianism or support the assault on the judiciary with acrobatic fallacious arguments. These conniving lily-livered hypocrites have betrayed those who hitherto looked up to them as principled men who are unafraid to speak truth to power. Presently, Nigeria does not have what might be called genuine voices of enlightened conscience like those of Dr. Tai Solarin, Gani Fawehinmi and Prof. Chinua Achebe who courageously told those in leadership positions what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. The ethical ecology is polluted by pretenders and moral chameleons who ingratiate themselves before leading politicians behind closed doors for pecuniary benefits, and utter platitudes in public from both sides of the mouth while pretending to look at issues from an objective legal point of view or moral high ground. Of course, the paradigm shift from truthfulness and courage to what is expedient and financially rewarding has become a categorical imperative for self-styled activists and “men and women of God.”

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Most times when I watch on television APC stalwarts, political appointees and supporters of the party defend the President even when he is clearly wrong or read what they wrote in newspapers explaining away egregious failures of this government, I have the unmistakable feeling that joining APC somehow blunts one’s critical intelligence and capacity for objectivity especially in matters of governance. In otherwords, supposedly intelligent educated Nigerians who profess one religion or another, due to sycophancy, feeble-mindedness or what they are getting from the bizarre system, defend the indefensible with half-truths, outright falsehoods, or obscurantist shibboleths. For instance, on the issue of the ministerial list containing names of individuals tainted with allegations of corruption, buharimaniacs claim it is the President’s prerogative to appoint whomsoever he pleases, as if the question of merit and morals are irrelevant or inconsequential in making such appointments. Some of Buhari’s cronies take sycophancy to absurd level by claiming that the ministers are competent people of integrity with track record of excellence in their previous positions. Anytime the President is validly accused of favouring the north at the expense of southerners, his factotums point to the fact that he has fulfilled the minimum requirement of appointing at least one minister from each state – people like Dr. Junaid Mohammed even make the outlandish claim that the south has had its turn in Buhari’s first term. Raise the issue of EFCC and other law enforcement agencies becoming an instrument used by APC government to intimidate the opposition, legislators and judicial officers who refuse to be loyal servants of Buhari, and you will be accused of supporting corruption and helping it to fight back. Complain about the increasing poverty, insecurity, unemployment, and hopelessness across the country, and you will be labelled by overpaid and overpampered media aides of the President as a wailing wailer who no longer enjoys “free money.” The shameful aspect of this is that many Nigerians barely managing to survive the present harsh existential conditions also join their oppressors in making excuses for Buhari. Thus, although in my opinion the ruling political elite is primarily responsible for our plight over the years, the masses also share some responsibility for the mess. Aside from gullibility and dormant critical acumen, Nigerians generally look at political issues from the prism of ethnicity and religion first before anything else. That is why majority of northerners are comfortable with Buhari’s performance thus far while the average Yoruba believes strongly that the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, is doing his job very well. For a critical mass of Ndigbo, this government is an unmitigated disaster. While conceding that ethnicity might be an ingredient in the Igbo negative appraisal of Buhari’s performance, every reasonable person will agree that his government has taken the country backwards in several areas and that he treats Igbo people like second-class citizens as he promised four years ago.

In conclusion, the re-election of President Buhari is in reality the return of virtually the same set of people with the same radioactive mindset and attitudes that brought the country to its knees have been recycled by the APC. It’s change slogan is on course, but in the wrong direction. Nigerians themselves are partly to blame for that: as a result of indolence and cowardice they have allowed a bunch of avaricious politicians to mess up everything and everyone who does not belong to their vicious circle. Since the masses are incapable of sustained non-violent civil disobedience to bring about real positive change in leadership, the only fake consolation available for them is the trite belief that “no condition is permanent” or the resort to the opium of religion. Concluded.

 

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