Of Jabs, Uppercuts, Kung Fu and Warring Reps

by Taju Tijani

Nigerian politics has entered into a bizarre world of notoriety. We were all treated to a free preview of a Nollywoodised cast of dozy, nasty, tacky and primitive brutes as they exhibited stoked up belligerence and ugly malevolence before a bemused viewing world. Political fisticuffs are not new. Italians, Russians, Ukrainians and Israelis are tacticians who settle scores with kung fu kicks, jabs and uppercuts on the floors of their deliberative democratic institutions. Even in the hallowed and cloistered portal of Westminster democracy, the British politicians have fallen short of their own orthodoxy of fair hearing when at times shoving and pushing of MPs are recorded for public consumption.

This is not to suggest that this near universal madness is acceptable and promotes political cohesion and peace in the world. This outrageous impropriety, this submission to feral meanness, this intolerable and monstrous display of lack of self control disappointed our high expectation from our politicians.

Politicians are meant to jaw jaw rather than war war. Issues are meant to be articulated and settled using intelligence, persuasion, respect for other opinions, compromise and sound self control. Politicians, regardless of the perfection halo we placed on their personal comportment are human, and as human, perfectly susceptible to all the mistakes, errors and foibles of Homo erectus. The fault probably lies in our genes!

Aside from the fact that in Nigeria, politicians entertained a deformed engagement of their publics, they are equally capable of humbug and all sorts of chicanery to cover their tracks. The kung fu furore in the House of Rep was between the forces of darkness against light, good against evil, sinners against saints and progressives against protective status quo. Perhaps it is perfectly fitting in this hysterical time to turn both houses into coliseum where the good guys fight against the bad guys especially when it was reported that his eminence Senator David Mark is reputed to be allocated the princely sum of N1billion naira. If ordinary hard working Nigerians could be enraged by Mark’s stinking excesses, one then expects Senators to throw kicks and wild punches sometimes soon to drive home the point that political greed is the bastion of the depraved.

The House of Rep crisis centred on allegation of greed and misappropriation of public money. Hon Speaker, Dimeji Bankole and many House members were accused of men with long throat. A Melaye had to emerge with patriotic zeal to fight the lechers.

Melaye, leading the opposition progressives and smelling blood had to prepare a comprehensive dossier of alleged misappropriation of N9billion allocated to the House in the 2008 and 2009 budgets and despatched it to the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mrs Farida Waziri. She made an unusual promise not to spare offenders from scrutiny, sack and prosecution. Bankole loyalists then issued terrifying edict proclaiming the opposition progressives as persona non grata in the House. The cast of the opposition progressives include Dino Melaye, West Idahosa, Independence Ogunewe, Solomon Awhinawi, Austen Nwachukwu, Abba Anas, Gbenga Oduwaiye, Kayode Amusan, Gbenga Onigbogi, Bitrus Kaze and Doris Uboh.

The show of lunacy then started when the House made a hounding move to raise a motion suspending the recalcitrant and unrepentant 11 opposition progressives. Jabs, hooks, uppercuts, kung fu kicks, slaps, head butting, clothes shredding, bone breaking and possibly stabbing became the only certainty in those mad, snarling hours. A political citadel meant for reasoned arguments was turned into a theatre of war. Crazed souls overpaid to jaw jaw on nothingness became shameless aggressors unmindful of the utter shame and disrepute brought on our nascent democracy. Journalists and cameramen assigned to cover the House were collateralised, brutalised, messed up and detained.

Such is the mockery of political transparency and financial probity that the brave whistleblowers were stifled, manhandled and battered by a vengeful lynch mob. While the graceless, ghastly, horrible and dreadful ‘war’ was going on, Hon Dimeji Bankole, the imperious martinet, rather than get an absorbent tissue paper to wipe off tears of contrition, watched the absurdity with strange fascination. What manner of leadership? A mere blend of informed and cultured tolerance would have contained the howling insanity of both the saints and sinners. Tolerance is the antidote of a shallow rush to violence.

Whatever moral or ethical deduction this appalling catastrophe and thoughtless action may have exerted, gagging Melaye and the rest of the whistleblowers with muscle and violence is sheer cowardice. In the minds of the enlightened majority, Melaye and his other progressives have the compensating distinction that they stand for truth, transparency and financial probity of public officers. Bankole should do the right thing. He should tender an apology to this nation and resign honourably. Further, mandatory psychiatric tests and psycho-dynamic counselling is recommended for our lawmakers to heal the scars and moral wounds inflicted on us and the integrity of our emerging democratic renewal.

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