Thursday, January 29, 2009

Character of The Nigerian State Apparatus.

As a Political Analyst, the god of Nigeria's destiny will never pardon me if I keep suppressing this feelings in me. I have been watching over the years with keen interest, the nature and character of Nigerian parliamentarians and Executives. Nothing has changed in this country. We are only waiting for God to answer our prayers and change the politically immature and democratically backward Nigeria. The "Executhieves" and "legislathieves" of this country are not ready to promote the interests of our people but rather continue to advance their egocentric and avaricious interests to the chronical detriment of the grossly indigent masses in this country.

The custodians of our laws have debased and raped our mandate. They have committed a progressive range of unpardonable blasphemies against justice, equity, and good conscience. Nigerian lawmakers have converted our democratic symbols into instruments for the worship of avarice. They have borne the people’s pain lightly, as their comprehensive looting of the national wealth has really essayed to crush the masses further into the mires and quicksands of poverty and chill penury. Their abandonment of their democratically assigned role has reconverted Nigeria into a civilian dictatorship where executive recklessness is law.

Words are notoriously inadequate to convey or project the depth of decadence that our legislative and executive symbols have undergone at the hands of these “honourable” men of easy virtue. The fact remains that our watchdog has convoked a meal off the bone we collectively hung on its neck for safekeeping. The mouse we depended on for the security of our collective pieces of fish, has devoured not only the fish, but has also irredeemably corroded our trust in his goodwill.

Those who claim to fight for or represent the people in Nigeria have turned around to feed on the people. No good legislation has ever arisen from them to stem the tide of turbulent poverty sweeping the people away into a very deep sea of frustration. The price of the basic food staples is astronomically exorbitant. The price of fuel is beyond the reach of an average Nigerian. There exist gross and pervasive insecurity of lives and property across the length and breadth of the country. Fake drugs and fake food products despite the excellent battles of Dora Akunyili are ravaging thousands of Nigerian families. The roads are festivals of potholes as thousands of innocent Nigerians are condemned to untimely death yearly consequent upon these stretches generously strewn with gaping potholes. The hospitals, having lost every pretence of being mere consulting clinics are now where people go to die or where dead Nigerian are dumped. Little wonder the mortuaries and the obituary sections of our media are now the great money-spinners in an economy that is on its way to hell.

The Nigeria Policy makers stands by in timorous inaction while all these forces conspire to deny Nigerians a life worth living; a life that should be the glory of God because Man should be fully alive.

Let's make reference to Julius Caesar. Caesar was a great Roman. Most of the Nigerian legislators in question are the worst dregs of convoluted avarice and indefatigable selfishness. Caesar made Rome great. These debauched Nigerians stole, and are still stealing Nigeria blind. Caesar made every Roman citizen proud of his heritage. These Nigerians have battered Nigeria's image to the extent that defies every attempt at rehabilitation.

Let me go a bit into the history of the parliament. At the birth of democracy, parliaments or House of laws, arose as the hallowed sanctuaries representative of the people's mandate. In these sacred halls, the people's mandate is deployed to craft legislations that are naturally meant to conduce the peace, order and good government of the people. Since lawmaking issues from the cores of nature; and since God is the great lawmaker, whenever man steps to act in his stead, that action becomes a sacred function and the place where the action takes place, a sacred precinct. this is the metaphysical base that makes the parliament a sacred sanctuary of the people's will. The founding Fathers of the United States of America were intuitively at home with, and ever aware of the sacredness of their mandate and function, as bearers of the collective aspirations of the people. And to emblazon this for eternal reference and remembrance for themselves and their posterity, they wrote it down in the grundnorm of their unity, prefacing it with this hallowed words: "WE THE PEOPLE, in order to form a more PERFECT UNION; establish JUSTICE, INSURE DOMESTIC TRANQUILITY, provide for the common defense, PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE,and SECURE THE BLESSINGS OF LIBERTY TO OURSELVES AND OUR POSTERITY, do ordain and establish this Constitution..."
This few words beautifully articulate their awe before such onerous and sacred task. Every word employed in the quote above have something ethereal and metaphysical about it.

That is the glory, majesty and beauty of the legislature. It is a house built for good sense, a citadel of service, the soul of government and the engine of democracy. A parliament or legislature according to John Pym, "is that to the Commonwealth which the soul is to the body". And for him, "It behoves us therefore to keep the facility of that soul from distemper. This is the spirit that holds and obtains in Houses of legislature, in the course of democratic evolution. The legislature under whatever name has in history midwifed men of great intellect, incorruptible moral convictions, and impeccable integrity. A roll of honour for great men of learning and character that have graced the glorious halls of various parliaments across the world would see men like Demosthenes in Greece, and Cicero of Rome. These two ancient greats may be centuries away in our memories, but other more contemporary examples like Patrick Henry, Daniel Webster, Winston Churchill, Edmund Burke and Benjamin Disraeli, equally recommend themselves to our admiration.

But all these lofty values came to Nigeria and were crucified. Turbulent questions have continually plagued my digestion in relation to the kind of rot that has continually bedevilled the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as their equivalents at the state and local government levels in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Hence the question: Are these Houses peopled by Simpletons, social vandals,and avaricious plunderers? Or is it a theatre of the absurd, wherever shade of laughable and questionable character pitches a tent? If these hypothetical quizzes that I have trembled to ventilate are not objective, could anyone then tell me what men like Arthur Nzeribe where doing in the Senate? What business do people like him have in the holy precincts of laws? What are other national criminals, whose notorious reputation stink to high heavens doing in these places? Casting a retrospective look at the past political scenario in this country, I am yet to fathom how a man who won an election (or selection rather) on a stolen mandate could rise to become a Senate President, simply because the former President Obasanjo needed a rubber stamp. I am yet to understand what other men whose academic qualifications were obtained on borrowed intelligence are doing there too. Let me tell you the political truth: When a criminal becomes a lawmaker, it would be unforgivable foolishness to expect the canonization of virtue. The least we can expect are legal approvals to state plunder. Under regimes as this, crime is on its way to securing a legislative fiat. Once this enthroned as an unwritten policy of state, crime will automatically lose its reprehensible recompense and metamorphose into a cottage industry.

The myopia and poverty of ideas dominating our decision making bodies in Nigeria are simply attributable to the fact that as the sun was setting for the military government in Nigeria, a network of crooked variables were busy rigging themselves into positions from where they could impose questionable characters to represent their avaricious blueprints on the pretext of representing the people. It is only in the Nigerian House of simpletons that millions of naira was scandalously mapped out for furniture allowance, which fell under the very first major preoccupation of the National Assembly of a country where over 85% of the people are summaries of poverty. Here, the legislators embarked on a looting spree of the national treasury under the smokescreens of furniture allowance. The convulsively ugly nature of the amount mapped to that effect juxtaposed with the chill penury afflicting the Nigerian masses then, portrayed these lawmakers as scandalous vampires and mean spirited parasites out to suck Nigeria and Nigerians to death.

It is only in Nigeria that a Speaker of the House of Representative forged academic qualifications and nobody found out until he became a Speaker. And instead of going to jail for his crimes, he was so hastily granted a state pardon, which was simply a product of political harlotry that is the norm in Nigeria. This gross violator of the sacrosanctity of the second estate of our realm, instead of losing his head to a political guillotine, to appease the gods of Nigeria’s destiny, benefitted from a politically porous pardon that mocked justice and ripped equity asunder. This is strictly a contravention of the principles of the rule of law. By that singular act, our policy makers have made criminals to understand that the higher and more connected you are, the easier it is for you to escape the wrathful recompense of the law. All these happened in a country where the majority of our youths who out of hunger and frustration induced by excruciating social realities that reduced their horizons of opportunity, were forced into petty stealing to forestall hunger and its unpleasant consequences, are rotting in jail, endlessly awaiting trial.

Such legal mutilations in the case of Salisu Buhari, who seemed to have a history of forgery, constitutes not only a mockery of justice, but unwittingly prepared the ground for the emergence of brazen crooks like Chris Ubah, who would roundly insult democracy and its sacred institutions by committing the treasonable felony of kidnapping a sitting governor, and get away with it; lending credence to Herman Melville’s observation that “Sin that pays its way can travel freely, and without passports; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers”.

It is only in Nigeria that a Speaker of the House could spend 19 million naira for a two day Salah celebration, when his salary for one year is not up to that amount and moreso, when the people whose mandate he stole, cannot put two decent sqaure meals on their table or afford some pieces of meat for their own salah celebration. Is it not only in Nigeria that a man accused of murder could contest an election from prison and win a senatorial seat to that effect? Is it not only in Nigeria that the welfare of the masses takes the back seats of irrelevance in the legislature as personal interests of the Legislators takes the front seat? Nigeria, which is the 6th largest crude oil exporter in the world, cannot afford her citizens some basic prime motor spirit for their cars and kerosene for their cooking, while the legislators look in myopia. the excruciating and strangulating economic burden that this places on the people is not even of concern to these legislators; hence no laws or legislation have emanated from them to address this issue of perennial and vital concern to the well-being of Nigerians. This is to tell Nigerians that these people have formed a new core group of scavenging elites, whose primary industry is to band together in defense of their common avaricious interests, which is simply a lavatorial assault on the mandate of those who they claim to represent. It is in this spirit that the House of Reprsentatives during the certificate forgery saga of Salisu Buhari, rose up on Wednesday, the 14th of July, 1999, to give Buhari a standing ovation, after his wooden denials of the allegations against him. The Legislators violated logic and reason, which requires the accused to tender evidence in his defense. Buhari did no such thing before this harrowed legislators, who as a criminal gang would, were hell-bent on protecting one of their own, and shielding him from the exposure, which may signal the knell that summons each of them to equal exposure as well.

I have resisted the temptation to state that Nigerian legislature at all levels has been desecrated. It has been turned into a distribution agency, where unfortunate characters sleep through legislative sessions and are only awake in the backrooms where deals on contracts are cut. One then begins to wonder, whether the people would for all intents and purposes, elect contractors to go and represent their interests at the National level. The stench of corruption coming from those chambers at Abuja is really insulting to any civilized mind. These people are simply not accountable to anybody. All they care for is their own share of the national cake. Once the presidency refuses to come up with the right amount of lubricants, namely money, with which to grease their greedy fingers, then impeachment threats threaten to overawe our airwaves. The worst of this happened under Obasanjo's regime. The legislators used to flash the humbling papers of impeachment before Obasanjo for him to go about sending them their part of the booty with immediate effect. Once this side of the deal is settled, Obasanjo could go on committing his unpardonable crimes against democracy, and urinating on our hallowed values, none of them cares. They have been bridled with the filthy lucre of corruption. Their watchdog and checkmating roles having been compromised by their greed and dishonour are jettisoned. Nigeria could go to hell or become Obasanjo's toilet, nobody cares.

The annoying aspect of these is that we never begged any of them to represent us. All of them presented themselves and begged us to allow them represent our aspirations at the House of Democracy. So many of them whom we rejected by our popular votes, stole our mandate by re-engineering the election results in collusion with INEC and the PDP rigging machine; one of the best and largest rigging machines in Africa. They do not represent us without pay. All of them are paid to do that job. Yet, there is nothing to justify their salaries and jumbo allowances, which is seriously taking some unprecedented toll on Nigerians. They enjoy a kind of sickening sybaritic lifestyle, which bellies and insults the predicament of the common Nigerians in the streets. They live in opulent quarters and flambouyant neighbourhoods, which seems to insulate them from the fact that so many Nigerians are tenants compelled by unpleasant economic circumstances to reside under bridges in Lagos; in dehumanizing slums like Ajegunle; in the streets, like the retired soldiers that ply their poverty, sleeping in front of the Defence Headquarters in Abuja; and in the major markets, bus terminals and major street intersections daily advertizing their poverty and disabilities to gain the sympathetic crumbs of generous passers-by for their daily bread. Their paradisiacal living environment immunizes their consideration to the fact that many Nigerians are victims of the arbitrary rent regimes of shylock landlords. To this end, they have not crafted any comprehensively pragmatic legislation that will enable Nigerians to have decent shelter over their heads, at an affordable price. All they do is to acquire choice buildings, lands and property for themselves, while these poor Nigerians are pushed further down the miry pits of depondency.

Our "honourable" lawmakers ride in pleasure cars with tinted glasses, which equally blind them from seeing the naked plight of these hapless Nigerians, whom their legislative greed is helping to push further down the poverty slope. Where the roads are impassable, they employ the services of government funded Jeeps. This has further inoculated them against any resolve to craft a comprehensive transportation policy or law that would see to the development of a broad network of transportation possibilities, like railways, inland waterway system, airports and good well maintained roads network. Nigeria has the resources, what we lack in this country is the visionary leadership and initiative, which unfortunately we are paying these imcompetent men for. I have come to believe that public-spirited initiative, like love, is a stranger in the house of avarice. I have equally come to concur with Milton Berlie that "You can lead a man to congress, but you can't make him think".

If these men consult their brains at all, they would have asked themselves, what they have been able to do to rescue the Nigerian economy from its unhealthy overdependence on oil and its consequent status as a monoproduct economy. This is a pertinent question, in an age when countries like Germany is investing 550 million Euros, in the search for alternative sources of energy so as to reduce their dependence on oil as well as reduce the environmental hazards posed by fossil fuel. They should have asked themselves what they have done as an Agricultural policy to put cheap, affordable and healthy food on the tables of Nigerians, and create jobs for our teeming army of unemployed youths. They should equally have asked themselves what policies they have adopted to make Nigerian education more functional as to generate self-employment capabilities in our graduates. None of these questions seem to be a consuming passion for these men. Their only passion is the next sitting allowance and search for contracts that would turn them into millionaires overnight. The trend today is that anyone who gets into the House immediately buys a new house and starts the building of three more simultaneously. It seems that there is a river of money flowing through our National and State Houses of Assembly. Little wonder, the contenders are so very willing and ready to kill to attain a senatorial and House of representatatives seat.

At the state level, the assemblies have abandoned their watchdog positions to become the rubber stamp of incompetent state governors as well as the vendetta machines of irked State Chief Executives. We can recount the impeachment saga across the country's legislatures and their local government counterparts. Let's cast a retrospective look at how the former governor of Abia State, mr. Orji Uzor Kalu pursued his Deputy, Mr. Chima Nwafor, with all the boiling, corrosive and murderous venom of an enraged god. He used the State legislature as his vendetta machine in this regard. I would not want to recount the Federally supported attempt to unconstitutionally remove Ngige from office and the inglorious role played by the Anambra State House of Assembly in the Ngige-gate scandal.

Taking this detour is to enable me ask the most fundamental questions as it applies to the Nigerian Situation. What has these legislators done to help Nigerians and Nigeria out of its present socio-political, ethno-religious and economic quagmire? Nigeria is still marooned on the sandbanks of rot at all levels, and I am yet to see the creation of the relevant laws and relevant structures by the legislature to lead the assault on the forces that are militating against our rise to prominence. What legislation has our National Assembly or their state and local government area counterparts passed aimed at eviscerating unemployment and creating jobs for our teeming youthful population? What have they done to the appaling healthcare delivery system in Nigeria? What about our social hygiene which corruption has laid prostrate? Not that they have not done anything concrete in this regard, they seem to be the worst examples of what their Anti-corruption Act is made to fight. The Nigerian situation challenges anybody to point out to one, useful, pragmatic legislation that has issued from our legislature. What value has the Nigerian Tax Payers derived from the billions of their naira, recurrently being spent on the wages and upkeep of these dysfunctional bunch of corrupt, indolent and plundering legislators? None. Many of these legislators only know the boundaries of their constituencies on paper. Many of them spend precious legislative hours sleeping through the proceedings. Many of them are very busy amassing fleets of pleasure cars, acquiring and changing our young University girls as daily mistresses without conjugal rights or portfolio, to satisfy their lascivious appetites and lewd sexual insecurities. Others are now land prospectors, acquiring choice landed properties in the choice neighbourhoods of our major cities. Today, to be an "honourable" member of any House translates to rotten flambouyance and insulting affluence, all to intimidate those whose servants they ought to be in the first place.

This harrowing incompetence and dysfunctional inaction summarized in our legislators apart from constituting an insult to the lofty principles of democratic governance, seems to consolidate the politically pessimistic views of Gore Vidal when he defined politics as made up of two words: "Poli", which is Greek word for "Many", and "tics", which are blood sucking insects. Our legislature seems to be the playground of many blood sucking socio-political "insects". That is the only reason, that the country they have been piloting is bringing the rear in the world poverty index.

I think that these men should be told in no clear terms that Nigerians have had enough of their tomfoolery. Their unprincipled vacillations and political directionlessness is really compromising our welfare and that of our posterity. The legislature is a house of laws and not a den of debauched thieves. Politics should be about ethics. Hiding under the slogan that politics is a dirty game to perpetrate their avaricious regimes is a tendency which is unacceptable in the score of manners. Politics is only dirty for a man whose vision and prefabricated prejudice is gravitated by corruption. Politics is a human act. And all human acts are inspired by ethical considerations for them to be worth the while. Aristotle, one of the greatest Philosophers of all times was well aware of the fact that politics and ethics are inseparable Siamese twins. One dies the death of debauchery when divorced from the other. He sought no better platform than his Nicomachean Ethics to announce to the world that Man is a political animal. To this end, our legislators should better sit up and be alive to their responsibilities or take an honourable bow out of the scene by handing in their resignations.

Politics should have some philosophy, and should not be abandoned to the whims and caprices of avaricious and egocentric hedonism. Plato essayed in his "REPUBLIC" to bridge any conceptual chasm between politics and philosophy. Paraphrasing these thoughts many centuries later, Abraham Lincoln opined that those who desire to rule men must arm themselves with the power that wisdom and knowledge gives. Philosophers should become Kings or Kings become Philosophers. This Platonic insight has not lost its touch in our world today. The Nigerian legislators should either get wedded to justice and selflessness which are the fundamental basics of ethics, which impregnates every responsible politiking or they should get out of there. The Nigerian people remain the ultimate sovereign and repositories of power. Our House of Parliament should suffer no more desecrations at the hands of misfits and inglorious men. It should prove itself to be above a mere conglomeration of simpletons out to satisfy their yawning and unquenchable greed. We really need a new direction. I pray that God should see us through.