Michael Oluwagbemi II
May 14, 2005
Events of the past weeks in our country Nigeria have just been a little bit but comical. First we heard the hues and cries over the mystery constitution, next Marwa is being disallowed from exercising his constitutionally guaranteed and God given rights to aspire to a political office if he so desires, and now this new wave of commotion on a Presidential library – in God we trust oh!
However, three events stand out as it makes one wonder which manner of country we live in. The recent acrimony going on between the executive and legislature is nothing short but laughable. First we had a senator, of all people, accusing a minister (imagine, minister again!) of corruption and vice versa. The funny part of the equation is that if there is any group of political office holders that have been compromised, suspected, indicted, caught and dismissed in the act of stealing it would be our ministers and senators! So who are we to believe? However, knowing the spate of witch-hunting that would follow baba’s indictment of some dishonorable senators, I am won’t to believe the minister. Olowoporoku or whatever the name he goes by, is acting as accuser, jury and prisoner in his case- descending to lows in calling the minister names, he finally gave up and said he truly was angling for contracts! Nigeria we hail thee! However, this India situation should be looked into, if Nigeria can produce and supply, why give it to foreign companies- we need some kind of patriot act to sort this kind of situation out, and the senator might help instead of harassing Mr. Minister.
Another brewing incident, in the stormy executive-legislative relationship is the impeachment debacle hanging over Aso Rock in the lower house. As a Nigerian used to the rascally and childishness of Naaba House of representatives, it is absolutely normal; In fact, in the United States and other advanced democracies, lower house are known to be rebels and uncontrollable, so it is democracy at best. However, to use the threat of impeachment to thwart the progress of government is unacceptable, may be it is time we the citizens start preparing to recall all these boys from Abuja- enough is enough!
Looking closely at the situation however, some of the allegations contained in that impeachment notice are absolutely plausible. For God sake, who gave the executive the power to manipulate, and fix budget numbers? The explanation from the finance minister is unacceptable; the reason why the framers of the constitution gave the power of the purse to the legislators is because they are representatives of the people, and know what their different locales need; we don’t need anyone in Abuja like unelected civil servants and politicians setting priorities for our localities and white elephant project that would never get completed. The power to include key budgetary priorities in budget to benefit your constituents (called pork in America) is the greatest power any legislator. Legislative powers to approve budgets and to make such reflect the will of their constituents should not be undermined. It amounts to undermining our democracy if the situation stands as it is. If the executive is interested in maintaining certain fiscal balance, then the legislature should be involved in the process of crafting and designing a budget or the budget as it is normally obtained in the United States Congress would be dead on arrival (DOA), and happy would the citizens be! It would be advisable that the President immediately liaise with the National Assembly to rectify the situation and accept that he is wrong; contrary to the insinuations of some of his aides, the budget is not an advice, it is the law of the land, and should be obeyed to the letter. Failure to do so is clearly an impeachable offence.
Last but not the least, the most ridiculous thing happening right now is the war between Lagos State and the Federal Government. It is unimaginable, why the President would continue to allow his minister to insult the great governor of Lagos State. Perhaps the best administered state in Nigeria today, the state does not deserve the crass arrogance being displayed by the minister of works, and the minister should accept for once that he lost the election to Bola Tinubu. If he is interested in running, he should wait till 2007 and it is already well known that he cannot win. The local government fund should also be released forthwith, the business of local government creation and administration is for the state, and so did the Supreme Court said. Lagos state should not be made to pay the price for a lazy and obnoxious legislature that cannot amend the relevant sections of the constitution to allow for a smooth creation and envisaged by the flawed 1999 constitution. At this point, one would advice the Asiwaju to proceed to the Supreme Court to once again obtain an order of mandamus on the National Assembly to compel them to do their work- they are busy stealing instead of working! The executive should also be dragged there, to explain why the funds have not been released; enough is enough of this rascality!
Nigeria is making progress no doubt; the world is seeing us through a different mirror and all citizens are indeed grateful to the few good men -especially, the justices at the Supreme Court. This weekend, they again were on the side of state rights! Perhaps, unlike no other courts in the country these wise men and now a woman, have proven that good and just men occupy our highest court. They are the court of state rights in a federated union; they have been calling the head masterly Abuja to order, limiting their interference in states ability to administer their domain, resources and security. Now finally we know that as Chief Security Officers in their states, the ultimate control over the police as it relates to a state, lies with the governor and rightly so. Again, the haters of a federated union, with well trained state security apparatus have lost to those who seek an equitable, just and federated union of Nigerian states that is positioned to exploit the God given talents and resources with which she has been bestowed. Nigeria we hail thee!
A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.
-Barry Goldwater (US Presidential Candidate/Senator)