In a sane society, there is a level below which no individual or group should be allowed to sink, hence we have rules for incapacitation and practices of charity and isolation for those who show trends that can hurt our humanity and indeed our sociality. Mercy is what is reserved for the weak and ill ones amongst us; castigation is what we save for our errant ones. When the offender is powerful due to status or capacity then the answer must include rebellion.
This body called the National Assembly made up of senators and representatives has clearly dived and gone beyond the minimum level of acceptability for a sane society and something must be done about it. My proposal is a moratorium that limits what they do to a few matters for a period that reflects what the country is going through and what is important for the country.
Urbane observers might, from the comfort of their functioning transparent and accountable democracy, consider this proposal radical. They would be wrong. A moratorium on Nigerian legislators is a matter of common sense nothing radical at all. Let us be clear, common sense here must be intended in the most common of ways and as intended by Thomas Paine and Giambattista Vico, no more no less.
A bit of context: Maybe it is just their luck or due to perception or real hard but simple facts but it appears this House has made headlines for mainly bad concerns. They started with a clumsy tussle for the position of leadership. They then went to propose an awkward bill perceived as aimed at gaging people on social media. In the middle of all that many legislators left their chambers and offices to go to court with their president. In fairness to them, the tradition of public officials leaving their office to keep the company of a colleague or leader in private trouble is quite a long and sad one, but that is not a justification.
Once back in their offices, what these legislators seem to be making headlines for includes allocating money for their own houses and cars. They even had the time to allocate a ridiculous amount of money for wardrobe allowance. Whilst at it, I propose we should sew each legislator uniforms with a budget equal to the amount of money allocated to each Youth Corper. After all, Corpers are in the national service too but unlike politicians they did not choose to serve.
In the last one-week alone, Nigerian legislators have made headlines about at their visas being revoked by another country on the charges of indecent behaviour (I wasn’t there, but I can assure you, rape here is an exaggerated expression typical of prosecutors). To end the week in style, these legislators decided to deliberate on means and ways to allocate to themselves life pension and immunity. Things can always get worse, so in the past few days, Nigerian legislators have spent time defending some of their own again from the accusation of forgery.
It appears Nigerian legislators come alive only when there is an issue that concerns their immediate constituency. Sadly, their understanding of constituency seems to be made up of their colleagues, leaders and maybe friends and family. These legislators appear so disconnected from the lives of the citizens they represent that I sometimes suspect autism.
In defending their turf and the privileges that come with all that, these legislators invoke noble principle such as the need to defend vital tenets of democracy like the separation of powers and fear of the executive dominating the legislative arm of government. Sadly some people follow these views and pronouncements blindly because they are more partisan than citizens and, abstractly because it appears politically appropriate.
Well I have some information for all of them: The autonomy and dignity of the legislative arm of government, like any other arm, descends from and lies within the ability and resolve of that arm to do its duty in the interest of the public it represents. For a legislative arm of government to be worthy of defence, it must be seen to be checking and balancing the Executive from abuse of power, misconduct in office, wastage and misappropriation of public funds and, indeed, policy issues.
Regardless of the CVs and all the goodwill they enjoy, the Buhari administration and a lot of those that work on its behalf are not a band of saints and highflyers. In just a year in office, too many things have happened under this administration that the National Assembly could have been vocal about.
They could have fought the Executive to a standstill on the issue of the CBN recruitment; they could have led the battle on the issue of the FIRS recruitment; they could have initiated proposals and activities on the economy and its direction. A lot of battles could have been waged on job loss, security, not to mention electricity and petrol. Instead of saying they want life pension like the Executive arm of government, they should propose the abolishment of life pension for all politicians.
This National Assembly has not been known for articulately fighting any of those issues or courses, so curtailing their freedom and privileges is not a loss for the general public they were elected to represent.
The need for the public, right now, is to survive in this harsh economy of low unstable income and high prices. So we should place a moratorium on this National Assembly limiting their interventions to only concerns that will affect the general public. Such matters should be restricted to only interests of infrastructure, health, jobs, agriculture and economy. There should be a total ban on discussions about anything that affects members of the National Assembly, as such.
Join me if you can @anthonykila to continue these conversations.