When Senator Ken Nnamani was made the President of Nigeria’s Senate following the inglorious ditching of Mr. Adolphus Wabara by the same Aso Rock forces that unleashed him on the nation, I made the grave mistake of allowing myself the luxury of a brief illusion that somehow, Nigeria was inching towards the realization of what might slightly look like a National Assembly after all. But now, having been a keen observer of Senator Nnamani’s several months of attempting to pretend on the throne, I feel so bad that I was conned into such a disastrous optimism.
I must however blame the Right Hon. Sen. Adolph Wabara for providing the motivation for that flicker of hope. Till date, Wabara still enjoys the singular distinction of being the only man, perhaps, in this wide world who became Senate President long before he became a Senator. Indeed, the undeniable fact that his brief, disastrous stay in that office was solely dependent on his unquestioned loyalty to the retrogressive and unpatriotic forces that unleashed him on the nation was written all over him throughout those dark days he paraded himself as Senate President. Wabara’s crooked path to the Senate and its leadership was cleared with the unedifying ingenuity of that infamous, controversial judge, Mr. Justice Wilson “Hurricane” Egbo-Egbo (rtd.). Part of Aso Rock’s script to keep the Senate perpetually emasculated is to have as its head a man perennially weighed down by the guilt of an indecent past. So, each time he tried to show he was beginning to slightly understand the meaning of ‘independence’, he would quickly be hushed with a quick reminder that he did not win the senatorial election in Abia.
But Ken Nnamani came in with the refreshing impression that he had none of those moral disabilities with which Wabara was held on a leash by Aso Rock forces. At least, there were no loud whispers that he did not win his election in Enugu State. Again, and most importantly, it was widely reported in the media that President Olusegun Obasanjo was vehemently opposed to his candidature, that he preferred a certain fellow in the Senate, who also was the favourite of Gov Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State. For many Nigerians, that was the surest sign that the new Senate President could be trusted to place the well-being of the long-suffering and highly impoverished Nigerians over and above the usually narrow and self-serving interests of the soulless, callous regime in Abuja, which no longer pretends about the fact that it may have been juicily contracted to re-enslave Nigerians. But, most unfortunately, Mr. Nnamani has turned out a colossal disappointment.
I have always maintained that the performance of leaders in all nations need not be necessarily predicated on their speculated moral and ethical preferences. Oh, he is a good man, so he will rule the nation well. Ah, that one is a scoundrel, he’ll run the nation aground. Please, spare me all such crap! How long shall WE pursue this will-o’-the-wisp, especially, given the kind of totally degenerate political class that our nation is cursed with? Let’s be more practical for a change.
Now, I do not think that other nations whose rulers try to behave like human beings waited until they had elected angels into office before they began to get quality leadership. I may sometimes frown at Gen Obasanjo’s dictatorial tendencies, but I do not blame him for it. Indeed, it is clear to me that if by any stroke of misfortune today America suddenly finds itself with the kind of legislature which Nnamani and his brother Bello Masari heads in Nigeria, President George Bush will make the Obasanjo disaster and dictatorship here pale to total insignificance. Each time I look at Bush, the picture I see is that of a thorough-bred dictator held on a strong leash by a responsible Congress. What this means is that leaders can be compelled to rule responsibly if the countervailing institutions and relevant laws are strong enough to keep them within the bounds of reason, patriotism and decent conduct.
It becomes clear then that Obasanjo is able to ride rough-shod on hapless Nigerians and impoverish them as suites his fancy because, he is merrily aware that the principles of Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, which differentiates a democracy from a dictatorship do not make any meaning to the good-for-nothing and totally debased National Assembly headed by Nnamani. Indeed, Nnamani’s collaborative passivity as head of the National Assembly is helping to consolidate for Nigeria an army of disoriented and mis-directed lawmakers, who idle away at Abuja at huge expense to the nation, while the people whose well-being they are supposed to safeguard are grossly brutalized, impoverished and re-ensalved. As a consequence, Nigeria has become one huge personal fiefdom of an unchecked and unrestrained Emperor, who has since converted the National Assembly into an inconsequential, dispensable extension of his office!
Indeed, lawlessness is the most effective ingredient for breeding ravenous monsters for any nation. In the same vein, it will take a real miracle, which is very rare in Nigeria, to stop a president who is unchecked by any laws, and unrestrained by any Assembly, from quickly transforming into a free, all-devouring lion, let loose in the open, whose restrictive cage has since collapsed! Where laws work and countervailing systems are in tact, most people behave decently not because they have superior moral properties, but because, they are aware that the sharp fangs of the subsisting laws can cut really deep. And so, presidents also govern their countries responsibly because they are sufficiently aware that impeachment can be a lively outcome for doing otherwise, and that they have an Assembly of patriotic and decent-minded men and women whose dedication to their country’s well-being and better judgment on behalf of their people cannot be corrupted by bags of dirty naira notes. But in this regard, the National Assembly under Nnamani’s watch has failed woefully Nigeria. In fact, judging by the quality of the National Assembly Nigeria is cursed with, Obasanjo needs to be commended for not yet becoming an Idi Amin, because, from all available evidence, there is no Assembly with the will and patriotism to scuttle such an ambition.
It really beats me how Mr. Nnamani is able to lead with panache and fanfare a House that clearly believes in nothing, stands for nothing, seeks to change nothing, has no real goal that anyone can applaud, and wishes to leave behind no ennobling legacy. Daily this House labours so hard to vindicate its well-earned reputation as a congregation of light-minded characters whose main preoccupation in Abuja is to scramble over money like wanton street boys over balls of akra falling from the tray of an indiscreet hawker. If they still have some semblance of conscience at all, it has since been damaged and seared beyond recovery by their countless, self-debasing betrayal of the people’s trust in them. It is even amazing that they have now grown past being ashamed of the fiercest contempt with which Nigerians view them, as “distinguished” lawmakers, easily purchased soul and body by the lowest bidder.
I have once asked to know the option open to a hapless nation that has become so sick and tired of its Senate. Can’t we just wake up one morning and sack Nnamani and his rowdy mob in Abuja so it could become clear t
o us that we are yoked with a full-blown dictatorship? How long shall we cope with Nnamani’s scandalous perfunctoriness towards his duties as Senate President? In decent democracies, the Executive lives each day in great dread of the Legislative Assembly, but here, Nnamani’s House is peopled by light-minded characters who lack the capacity to appreciate the dignity and status of the position they occupy as Senators of the Federal Republic. These are mostly fellows, easily excited by such little things as a sumptuous lunch with the president, and they emerge each time from the feasting feeling so high that they forget their very important brief in Abuja. No doubt, there can be no better example of a prodigal House in hapless nation!
As an implacable Executive drives the nail hard on the on the populace, the unspoken question everywhere is: Where is Senator Ken Nnamani, the President of Nigeria’s Senate and leader of the National Assembly? Does he ever pause to ask himself the real reason why he is in Abuja? Has he ever told himself that his office demands more ennobling engagements than supervising the cutting of cakes at society weddings and chairing some multitudes of largely unedifying events? What is his response to the undisguised programme of perpetual impoverishment which the current government is executing with chilling dedication? What can Nnamani say is the achievement of the National Assembly under his watch? Where is Nigeria’s Senate President? Sorry, he is on a permanent leave.
Atiku’s Belated Truth.
A couple of weeks ago, in Lagos, Vice President Atiku Abubakar declared that Nigeria has “never produced good leaders.” There is nothing new about this loud statement of an over-recycled fact except that it came from the most unexpected quarters, and that, also, he omitted to add that the present government, which he is part and parcel of, has proved to be the worst ever. “The country has never produced good leaders…When a leader listens and he is committed, the rest will follow …When a country is blessed with abundant human resources, but still wobbles, it is clear that it has not had good leadership,” Atiku declared in Lagos. Well, what else can I add? Whatever his intentions and motivations (which I do not presume to know), Atiku’s self-indictment is most welcome. All I can say is: Over to you, General.