Lobby: Between Nigeria and Britain

by Segun Akinyode

It is a well-documented or should I say a well-mouthed aphorism that our socialization process, growth pattern, and other developmental shapers have a way of shaping the quality of our qualification of issues, reaction to concepts, and our interpretation of intimate developments that have far-reaching implications on our well being.

The word lobby for instance is a notion commonly used among politicians or in political discourses. I think it is used to describe a situation where either the executive or the legislative arm of government has to impress each other on either the desirability of the passage of a motion or the need to sign a bill into law.

The process of actualizing lobby is conditioned by various local peculiarities in such a way that those of us who are not members of the legislative or the executive arm of government, are oftentimes confounded into wondering whether what we see or hear perpetrated all in the name of lobby is actually political persuasion, outright sellout or subtle political insensitivity.

The other day, the Nigerian upper and lower legislative arms, in order to get the executive approve the fat salaries and allowances they appropriated for themselves, resorted to lobbying the executive.

One would have expected that both actors (the legislators and the executive) allow simple logic and sound rationalization based on superior logic inform their arguments and subsequent decision on both sides.

But what did we hear the press discussing the course of the ‘honourables’ actualizing what is supposed to be a refined art of political persuasion?

The legislators had to blackmail the executive. What sort of blackmail you are wont to ask? The legislators vowed that the second reading of a bill from the executive seeking to review the salaries and allowances of civil servants, and the funding of BPE, Basic Primary Education Scheme of the administration would be discontinue indefinitely.

What made the political intrigue very touching and pathetic was that, it came at a time when it was discovered that senior officers in the civil service who had put in fifteen years and above were receiving less than the monthly salary of a senator’s housemaid; UNICEF had just declared that the country needed to expand her infrastructure for primary education, if she was not risking the future of 10 million Nigerian kids.

The expectation of the populace was that the legislators would consider the two national issues involved in the bill more important than their pay, since what they were receiving then was fat enough. But that was not to be cause, as soon as the leadership of both houses sensed that the executive was jostling to halve their jumbo pay, they hurriedly organized a joint session on a hot Sunday afternoon, and in the absence of the mace (I was told that the Sergeant- at-arms refused to release the instrument of authority to the legislators) voted against further consideration of the bill on salary review and the funding of the Basic Primary Education Scheme, thereby throwing the future of 10 million kids to the winds, and pulverized the happiness of more than 50,000 dedicated workers.

The president, in a swift reaction, directed the Inspector General of Police to prevent the legislators who were already in the national assembly complex to leave while their in-coming colleagues should be prevented from venturing into the complex. The IGP ordered his henchmen to carry out the directive with immediate effect

Interestingly, very interestingly, this bickering occurred in a West African country. The Iron Lady of Britain, Mrs. M Thatcher, sought and obtained, on a Sunday afternoon, the necessary parliamentarian muzzle to deal with Argentina’s insurgence in Faukland Island.

Now, the British parliament saw the rationale for allowing the political leadership deal with a national sore which, if allowed to fester uncontrollably, could contaminate and inhibit the developmental signposts of the British nation

So with minimal persuasion and lobby, the prerogative to act and react was released to the appropriate political authorities.

So, while some bipedals hid under the cover of Sunday to activate the machinery of destructive tendencies, other human beings openly, and under the openness of Sunday, put in motion, the mechanism capable of protecting the national interest.

‘Who said human beings are not interesting species?’ my friend asked.

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