By Eddie Mbadiwe
Of recent, the Nigeria political space has been heating up. A lot of this has ricocheted around the goings-on in the National Assembly but more especially the Senate vis-a-vis appointments and confirmations of Presidential nominees. This is after due screening as required by constitution. Confirmation is a very important function of the Senate. Questions have been raised and there have been torrents of cross-fire between the Senate and the Presidency.
For a long time, the Nigerian public looked on the National Assembly through skewed lenses as an extension of the Presidency. It will not be wrong to say that legislators had a low public acceptance quotient. A lot of disdain, odium and sometimes opprobrium was flung at legislators in what sometimes is misplaced aggression.
It is essential to put in place proper mechanism to enable the public understand the workings of parliament. Robust public discourse and engagement are desiderata.
It is against this background that the recent vibrations which unfortunately have descended to vituperations are healthy for our democracy. People with contrary views see them as destabilizing but that is the beauty of democracy. Democracy must be resilient enough to encourage and withstand any amount of jaw-jawing. These teething problems which will eventually stabilize are necessary components of growth and Nigeria will be better for it. You must overcome the rough and tumble of youth to make a mark in the adult world.
Accusations about fake certificates, purchase of armoured vehicles, hearings and suspensions of Senators are all part of this turbulent mix. Serious newspapers are making a bomb financially with their juicy reporting and interviews.
Nigerians have for a long time been lethargic, docile and passive but it looks as if some have now woken up to this fact that freedom of information Act also operates here. The National Assembly enacted it so let’s use it.
It is not guesswork that a number of people in positions of authority got there with fake or as former President Olusegun Obasanjo would put it certificates with K-leg.
Will it be too expensive for INEC to set up a small certificate verification unit? Verification is just a phone call away and all the wahala will end. People who claim phantom unearned degrees are bad masquerades and must not be allowed in the public square. Either they do not have or cannot show their classmates. Integrity has to be the cornerstone on which we build this nation or genuine development will continue to elude us.
There is suffering in the land- no doubt about that but it is not all doom and gloom. There are a number of positive developments as well. For the first time since independence, a Minister has put his job on the line against re-opening of Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja. This is exemplary, refreshing and an elixir. It is a breath of fresh air and Minister, Sirika must be commended.
In a system where the two main political parties are suffering from various degrees of paralysis, Governors, Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and Emir Sanusi of Kano are necessary growth ingredients of our democracy.
It is sad that some of our friends and former colleagues in academia with bright ideas are too chicken-hearted to put them forth in public discourse for national growth. As long as these ideas are neatly tucked away in University closets so long will they not contribute to salvaging Nigeria.
Nyesom Wike is on record to have invited EFCC to probe his counterpart of Benue state for embezzling billions of Paris bail-out funds. Hey what has become of Governors forum which Nigerians see as a platform to sand-paper and cover-up bad governance and malfeasance.
The Governors forum for selfish reasons killed local government autonomy which the 6th and 7th National Assemblies passed. Until the local governments get direct allocation from the Federal budget, all talk of rural development will continue to be bunkum.
The fact that Governor of Adamawa was jailed (and a Prisoner’s bail needs explanation) should be an ‘’ aide memoire’’ to our emperor governors and also remind them that when immunity and impunity end, public accountability will step in.
These are indeed interesting times and they are also times that try men’s souls. Finally, the chickens are coming home to roost all in Nigeria’s national interest.
Dr. Mbadiwe writes from Lagos.