Senators of Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) decided to play politics October 29 with the confirmation of one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial nominees, and fell flat on their faces. In full public glare. Like some tantrum-throwing toddlers who could not have their way, they decided to walk out on discussions about the eligibility of Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi’s as a federal minister. And now that that huge joke is over, can these senators get back to the serious business at hand – that of serving the electorate?
If these senators had for a moment believed during the grandstanding that Nigerians were fooled by the real reason behind their hold-out on Amaechi’s confirmation, then they must be grossly mistaken. And the joke is on them. As a matter of fact, they were worsted by the entire episode. Like General Charles de Gaulle once said: “I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left politicians.” I couldn’t agree more.
The premise on which they staged the walk-out was as hollow as some of the puerile line of questioning during the almost laughable screening exercise of the ministerial nominees. The quality of discussions that have emanated so far from both chambers of the National Assembly have been so pedestrian that I have had to cringe on a number of occasions, and worry for our beloved Nigeria. My concerns have been doubly compounded when I think that the halls of Nigeria’s parliament are today littered with thieving former office holders and political harlots – a trend I believe must be bucked if the country is to truly return to the path that leads to true greatness. To put it in unmistakable terms, the caliber of representation at the legislative realm still leaves a lot to be desired.
The reason for this state-of-affair is not far-fetched. Nigeria is still a society where “cash-and-carry” politics still holds sway, and where every lever of government has become almost endemically compromised. If truth be told, we will all agree that quite a number of those who are today saddled with the task of making the laws that will govern us, lack the moral imperative for such a lofty assignment. However, Nigerians cannot but make do with what they have at the moment in terms of representation until the voting cycle comes around again. Having said that, it does not surprise any diligent observer of current affairs in Nigeria that these law-makers had to spend weeks bickering over Rotimi Amaechi’s confirmation when there is job to be done. And urgently too.
Wouldn’t it be great for a change, to see our law-makers ditch trivialities, personality wars and one-upmanship? And channel their energies towards providing deliverables for their constituents? In Nigeria of today, will there not be a sense of great relief all around when legislators and other elected officials show up at their wards or constituencies not only when it is time to “buy” votes? Will it not be a new era in our history and a thing of the past when we can talk of legislators who now represent towns and villages with motorable roads or other means of public transportation? Shall our history not be re-written when a legislator can sleep easy because the people he represents have to access to clean water rather than quench their thirst from dirty, mosquito-infested watering holes? And to have citizens who are not dying from preventable diseases? Will it not be a better society where our youths who rather than stare hopelessly into an uncertain future (or opt for a life of crime) have a reason to look forward to a productive tomorrow because our elected officials are performing to their optimum?
Can these legislators, by their lifestyles, lead in such a manner as to reassure those they represent that they do not have to see them only on the pages of newspapers and on television spewing out utter nonsense? Is it not time to usher in an era when the legislator works to have the constituents enjoy the same level of security as he does? And, is it not time in Nigeria to enjoy an atmosphere where elected officials show up at the village square without the usual army of security details and over-zealous personal assistants and aides? How many of our legislators of today will not find it beneath them to share a round of beer (and whatever other things they drink) with members of the community which they represent without all the stuffiness of officialdom?
It will be a new day in the life of our nation when legislators will put up a fight just to make laws that provide their constituents with access to affordable means of transportation rather than live in usually well-appointed houses with grounds that are customarily littered with a collection of brand new automobiles – the best that money can buy – and surrounded by state-of-the art security gadgets which are powered by high-voltage electric generators while others pine away in interminable darkness. That day will be the day, when our elected officials, especially law makers will go to lengths to source for funds to set up quality schools, hospitals, public parks, after-school programmes, gyms, sport centres, feeding centres for the less privileged amongst us, and cooperatives for small-scale farmers and traders in their various constituencies. That will be the day when no child will be denied access to education simply because his or her parent could not afford it.
That will be the day.
I know that some skeptics will be quick to dismiss the foregoing as unattainable and utopian. Not so. It can be done. It’s been done in a number of other countries. All it takes is a few good men in the elected cadre, with the vision, will and gumption to serve. Not the “what-is-there-for-me” bunch, who sad to say, populate our public life today. However, the good news is that Nigeria is blessed with such men and women. As of now, the odds are still stacked against them. But, as we grow our inchoate democracy, we need laws in the books that will create the right political environment that will give birth to true servant leaders, and that will conversely make public service unsavory to those who aspire to these positions for pecuniary reasons.
In closing, the way the senators handled the Amaechi confirmation showed them up as fickle, dishonest and veritable time wasters. They seem to care more about protecting their group and personal interests while hiding under the constitution. Not the interest of the electorate. Nigerians deserve better.
Rotimi Amaechi is now a minister by the grace of the senate majority. That is the nature of politics.
Now, let’s get over it! There is work to be done.
That is my story. And I stand by it.
Charles Anyiam is Editor-In-Chief, The African Times-USA.
Views expressed in articles published are strictly for information dissemnation not necessarily the opinion of blog author. Materials and other news items on this Blog, can be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part provided that appropriate credit is given to the original sources.