Friday, 10 June 2011

The House Saga/ Nigeria And Her Democracy

The ongoing drama
surrounding the speakership
of the House of
Representatives has kept me
entertained since Monday.
First, we were told, shortly
after the April polls, that the
PDP leadership, including
President Jonathan, had
decreed that the new
Speaker must be from the
South-West while the Deputy
Speaker must be from the
Then we started to hear that
a bitter internal squabble
was raging within the PDP
because most of its House of
Reps members strongly
disagreed with this
emphasis on geographical
origins …and had made up
their minds to firmly reject
any attempts from Party
bosses to impose principal
officers on them.
Then we watched as 2
rebellious PDP candidates
from the “wrong” parts of
the country – Hon. Aminu
Waziri Tambuwal (North-
West) and Hon. Emeka
Ihedioha (South-East) -
insisted on throwing their
hats into the ring.
Then rumours abounded
that ex-President Babangida
and other Northern PDP
stalwarts had initiated this
insubordination and were
heavily backing Tambuwal
and Ihedioha behind the
scenes, to pay President
Jonathan back for preventing
the presidency from
reverting to the North after
Yar ’Adua’s premature death.
Then we saw the Tambuwal
and Ihedioha, dressed
uncharacteristically (allegedly
to disguise themselves in a
bid to evade arrest!), gleefully
frustrating their opponents
and delighting the majority
of their peers by emerging
Then President Jonathan did
the gentlemanly thing and
congratulated Tambuwal,
describing his triumph as
“ an affirmation of his
leadership qualities and
commitment to
strengthening Nigeria ’s
democratic institutions.”
Then the PDP’s National
Working Committee (NWC)
decided to be a bad loser
and declared, after an
emergency meeting on
Tuesday, that it wasn ’t going
to congratulate the new
Speaker or new Deputy
Speaker and wasn ’t going to
be manipulated into
abandoning its belief that
zoning is crucial.
Then we were told that
“ appropriate action” would
be taken against the rebels.
And since one NWC member
has described them as
“ errant children” who are
“on their own”, I’m
assuming that expulsion
from the PDP is a possibility.
The whole thing is a bit of a
farce. And I would have been
happier if Mr President had
openly distanced himself
from this shabby dispute
from Day One.
I am not opposed to zoning,
but I feel that it isn ’t
necessary to rigidly apply
zoning formulae within every
single context; and I really
can ’t see the sense in
carrying on as if zoning is
the end all and be all in this
day and age.
Will the South-West wither
away and die simply because
it has lost out on the
Speakership front? Obviously
not, given that the national
cake is big enough for
everyone and that Yorubas
can be compensated and
empowered in other ways.
Many things are far more
important than zoning, one
being the need for senior
politicians to mind their
business and quit being so
insufferably overbearing.
We are meant to be a
modern democracy, not
some primitive feudal
oligarchy; and we should all
be allowed to choose our
rulers and representatives.
National Assembly personnel
are adults and should be left
alone to select their Ogas or
Madames; and if most say
that they don ’t care where
the House Speaker or Deputy
come from, so be it. Respect
their wishes for Chrissakes!
The general public is
subjected to the same type
of bullying during the run-
ups to elections. Sundry
godfathers are always using
their financial muscle to rig
primaries in a bid to inflict
their unwanted relatives and
dubious cronies on us.
Sometimes they even resort
to violence. And the PDP is
not the only culprit. Similar
injustices occur in states that
are dominated by the ACN,
CPC et al.
Nigeria is full of governors,
legislators, council chairmen,
etc, who are deeply
unpopular because they are
stupid or backward or
thuggish or selfish or
dishonest…and completely
incapable of winning
elections fair and square.
And the reason we are in a
huge mess is that people
who are answerable to
mentors rather than to
voters rarely bother to serve
their constituencies
I am sick of being short-
changed by unscrupulous
power-brokers and their
awful sidekicks, many of
whom are either morally
bankrupt crooks who should
be in jail or chronic
inadequates who should be
restricted to junior jobs that
do not require any
intellectual inputs; and I ’m
very pleased with the House
of Reps Honourables who
put their feet down and said
“ no” to interference from
Don’t get too comfortable!
OK, so let me focus on the
other side of the coin and
say that some of the folks
who were sworn into the
House of Reps this week do
not deserve my applause and
aren’t entitled to complain
about the PDP leadership’s
attempts to impose a
Speaker on them because
they themselves were
imposed on various
The truth is that both the
House of Reps and Senate
are harbouring quite a few
people who did not actually
win the elections they claim
to have won and are being
legally challenged, as I write,
by the rivals and constituents
they cheated.
I’m willing to accept the
possibility that some of them
are innocent and are being
unfairly maligned by deluded
or malevolent adversaries.
But I know for a fact that
some of them are guilty as
charged…and have so much
concrete evidence against
them that they will lose when
their election tribunal cases
come up …unless everyone
who can influence the
outcome is bribed or killed.
Interestingly, some of these
dodgy characters have
sponsored newspaper
adverts in which God is
invoked as the architect of
their fraudulent success.
Do these shameless fakes not
realise that it is absolutely
blasphemous to ally the
Almighty ’s holy name to
conduct that was extremely
I was very irritated when
they arrived in Abuja last
weekend, accompanied by
vast entourages, to
arrogantly sit on seats that
they have no right to occupy.
One can only urge them not
to get too comfortable on
these seats because election
tribunal cases have to be
concluded within 180 days.
And – trust me! – some of
these imposed “winners”
will be unceremoniously
turfed out of the National
Assembly by Christmas.