"This is politics of personal survival. Until the Nigerian people decide to say enough is enough, the political class will continue to ride roughshod over us. You can imagine the travesty on democracy by these no-gooders that continue to squander our patrimony," - Chief Emmanuel Edegabi(Legal Practitioner, Benin)
I knew it. I knew it was only about a matter of time, given our clear lack of vigilance, for our legislature to turn to a body of dictators. Some clearly thought that the return to democracy and the reinstatement of a legislative body (about the only missing element during military rule) guarantees democracy and freedom. Clearly, it doesn't. Since the dawn of the Roman Empire, when that farcical rule took the ageing Roman Republic hostage, democracy have always shown an uncanny ability to mutate into dictatorships if the people (for whom democracy should work ) are not vigilant. Indeed, in the words of Jefferson, "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance".
Vigilance may mean refusing to give in to fear and hysteria as the Italians did under Mussolini and the Germans under Hitler (yes, Hitler actually won an election). Other times, it is applying the power of the ballot box to control or force actions on the elected class: as the American electorate clearly during the latest mid-term elections; and which Nigerians have basically failed to do for twelve years. Now, we stand at the precipice, when legislative charlatans and thugs turn democracy on its head and "legislate a dictatorship" from the hollow chambers of the National Assembly!
They started the week with ridiculous jumbo packages for ex-dictators, usurpers and frankly speaking, criminals who should be in Kirikiri rather than be welcomed to the hollow chambers of the Council of State. The only past military head of states deserving of a pension is General Gowon & General Abubakar (and they should earn their military pension); and if the National Assembly is incapable of making that distinction between Statesmen and a criminals, then frankly something is wrong with their brains up there. Both IBB and Buhari should not only lose their state pensions but would be sentenced quickly and efficiently for treason in any reasonable country where the rule of law prevails.
The National Assembly members are no stranger to illegal jumbo pay packages, they live for it. Of course, the inauspicious time they are doing this latest pay award, when they've refused to give a =N=1000 (one thousand naira) increase in minimum wage makes it clear we have a tone dead leadership in place.
Now our august "National Assembly" members have taken their madness to higher levels. Now going through second reading in hollow chambers of the sovereign people of Nigeria is a bill that will effectively hand our democracy to our national legislators; most of whom were military collaborators starting with the current Senate President. Their proposed back door amendments to the Electoral Act contains such anti-democratic clauses that guarantee "right of first refusal" on party nomination for all legislators. Say what? Where in the world do these boys and girls get this from?
As if that was not insulting enough, the entire National Assembly seem bent on dictating internal party rules to political parties by constituting their national executive committee for them! Suddenly, the speaker of the House of Representatives becomes the true godfather of national politics with the numerical advantage of the lower body. What happened to freedom of association, and the right of persons to determine the rules that govern such associations and relationships?
Not only are these provisions selfish, undemocratic and deliberately unconstitutional, it amounts to fascism when the national legislature arrogate to themselves the power to dictate how we the people live our lives in private, as members of organizations called political parties! I am surprised we don't have serious lawyers in court ensuring this bill is dead on arrival. Where are the Ganis of this generation? Why have we been goaded to docility and deep slumber? Will it take legislation from the national assembly that turn each of us to their slaves to work for free on the national farm for us to wake up?
Fact is these legislators have no business amending anything; the constitution and the electoral act are truly fake. The entire enterprise of government is based on a military decree, and clearly the preamble of the constitution is pure fiction. What every progressive should be demanding is a complete rewrite of the nation's constitution. No half measures; no bandages. A constituent assembly to discuss the way forward which sidelines the current political class (especially PDP) is the only way towards a progressive future. Nigeria's future is being held hostage by criminals in politicians clothing!
The same week they got busy declaring jumbo salaries for their ex-god fathers, and made plans to assume god-father positions, the same body is causing the national economy to be crippled by a national strike. The minimum wage bill that was forwarded to them will not get any attention, to basically rubber stamp increase in minimum wage from paltry one hundred and thirteen dollars ($113) per month to yet so paltry one-hundred and twenty bucks ($120)! Of course, this did not stop the million dollars per annum award to ex-dictators! What a country right? We have ways to go.
The saddest measure of our democracy right now is the seeming docility of the Nigerian people. We have settled; we have settled for nonsense! The people of Nigeria are incapable of getting angry; the poor now hope somehow and some way they may benefit from the looting that goes on daily in our government houses. Government business is now an open looting business; everyone just seems to can't help stealing! What is wrong with us? Why are we sitting on our hands? What will it take to get us sufficiently angry?
May be the recent treatment meted out to the "father of modern Nigeria" is just what we need. One pummel, one blow at a timeâ€¦will do the magic. Will you do something about it, or watch how charlatans fritter away your future, your children's future, your grand-children's destiny? What will it take to take back Nigeria? What will it take?