Of Nigeria's Confused Senators
I have always been a supporter of Nigerians with the notion that the only way to bring sanity into the legislative arm of the country is by witling down the privileges arrogated to that arm of government. To me, these are supposed lawmakers who, rather than face the business of lawmaking, wastes time on frivolities and often time, goes into frenzies of money chasing and rabid innuendoes.
The obnoxious laws which riddle our constitution, many of which are deliberate and selfish makings of past military dictators and fascist leaders, meant nothing to them. Their utmost concern is to merely warm the seats, mouthing balderdash and at the end suck us dry through their fat salaries and flabby allowances. I am a die-hard supporter of those with the impression that legislative functions in the country should be on part time basis, just as it is being done in other serious climes where respect for human dignity is sacrosanct just as commitment to service is foremost.
However, the infusions of some fresh blood into the system in recent time upturned my earlier assumptions. But feelers from the hallowed chambers are that all is not yet well within. Each time I read news concerning our lawmakers, I am more often than not, confused as well as disappointed in the affairs of this geographical contraption, called Nigeria. Majority of our lawmakers, particularly, our senators are glorified jesters. They enjoy so much at our expense and as such act as if they don’t belong here. They flaunt their affluence so recklessly without recourse to the dying masses, most of whom kept sleepless nights on them to ensure the mandate that brought them to power, even though stolen in most cases, is delivered to them.
To my chagrin, when some of these lawmakers speak in their so-called hallowed chambers, you wonder if they are part of the country. Few months after attaining their seats, they forget their past and behave absolutely out of tune with realities on ground in a country whose integrity, they swore to uphold. By their utterances, they display the highest degree of ignorance.
Without shame, they advertise their uninformed positions on national issues with impunity. And rather than seeing themselves as shapers of an already rubbished entity, they carry their party differences into the hallowed chamber. As it were, nothing good is seen in any move made by oppositions in the house. They only act as one indivisible house when motions that will further enrich their pockets are at stake. Sadly, the few of them that wants to stand by the people are shouted down when issues that will not bring money into their pockets are mentioned. Uninformed and apparently empty, they shun out warped ideas in their myopic attempt to proffer solutions to the myriad of problems besetting the nation.
Only recently, propelled by the level of trust I reposed in some of the egg heads just entering the legislative arm, I purged myself of the earlier bad impression and brought myself to watch one of the senate proceedings transmitted on a national television. The idea was to do a new assessment of an upper house that I have earlier given up hope on.
What I met was a long drawn discussion on child labour and trafficking. The debate was to me, more of a comedy by a retinue of actors in a rehearsal. They argued back and forth in support of a bill to prescribe death sentence for anybody caught engaging in the act. To majority of our senators, killing such offenders is only way to stem the rising scourge in an age where countries across the world are expunging death penalties from their constitutions. I shed tears for my country as I watch lawmakers took their turn to advertise their ignorance just as they were insulting our collective dignity and psyche. My hope came alive again when a young senator rose to change the direction of argument. He made his colleagues to realize that rather than dissipating energy on human trafficking and child labour, the senate should focus on combating the rising level of unemployment in the country, which according to him was the bane of the scourge under debate. But he was shouted down massively under a flimsy pretence that he was talking outside the matter under debate. He had to succumb to the desperate kicks and bites from his fellow senators who were so averse to a statement he made to the effect that: “we are here earning fat salaries and are therefore not in tune with the realities on the streets.”
After the bill was transferred to a committee that will seat on it, a burning senator, Babafemi Ojudu, from Ekiti Central Constituency, from whose countenance you will see was not in favour of the way the unemployment issue was shoddily thwarted, rose with a new proposal. He called for a bill to make it mandatory for government to declare a state of emergency on unemployment, since the upper house would not see any link between it and child labour and trafficking.
When he came with this idea, I was thrilled. But the joy was finally slaughtered as senators rose against his move with a thunderous “NO” in opposition to his request. The position of the opposition to this lofty humane request was sealed by leader of the senate, David Mark who said “there can be no country without unemployment problem.”
There and then I drew a mark that Mark is not in tune with what is happening in the country he is currently contemplating to lead come 2015. And this is a man who is expected to know where the shoe pinches because has been close to power even before some of us were born. But this is if he ever cared for whatever becomes of you and me. He should read the lips of Nigerians. He should take some time out and walk the streets where those that are real Nigerians dwell. I mean those who can dare the devils; those who can stick out their necks in time of troubles; those who are living their lives in pain and bitterness; the hewers of woods, fetchers of water and the lots that owns the wealth which a few of them are lavishing to our faces. He leads a senate that lives in glass houses, yet, fond of throwing stones.
May God save Nigeria!
Written by Gboyega Adeoye, a media consultant in Abuja.