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Between the kettle and the pot

Happy birthday, Nigeria. Matured yet infantile, promising but still hopeless, inspiring though confounding, motivating and frustrating – all at once. At 56, you are greying…

Happy birthday, Nigeria. Matured yet infantile, promising but still hopeless, inspiring though confounding, motivating and frustrating – all at once. At 56, you are greying at the temples but have also become a poster boy for the statement that the wisdom of young Solomon has nothing to do with the longevity of Methuselah. A child of destiny, you may yet fulfil your purpose as leader of the Black race, and for this we are prepared to burn the midnight candle as loyal acolytes. God bless Nigeria!
As we mark Nigeria’s 56th birthday, we must examine how we got to where we are and how we could get to where we ought to be. Our past was more glorious than our present. Humanity ought to be advancing, not regressing. Leadership quality has been steadily nose-diving. A local government chairman in 1973 had a better sense of mission than a governor in 2016. A premier in 1962 was more visionary, less detribalised and less corrupt than all the governors put together in 2016.
Those who feel short-changed by the system and who fear that they may eventually have to hand over a dysfunctional state to their children have been calling for a retracing of steps to the erstwhile regional structure instead of the current unitary arrangement while those who are comfortable with the current federal structure want the picnic to continue as it is, unedited. And this chronicler wonders, for how long shall we pretend to run a federal taxi service with a Cadillac where Volkswagen or Peugeot could have done the same job at lesser cost?
Do we need a Senate and House of Representatives at the same time? Does legislation have to be bicameral? Why can’t we scrap the senate and leave the more representative House of Reps to handle legislation? Why haven’t we thought it fit to remove many crucial items from the exclusive legislative list so as to empower the states to achieve their potentials rather than looking up to an overburdened federal administration? Why can’t states generate their own power and run train services? Why would we federalise former regional assets such as universities, sports stadia, colleges of education, polytechnics and television stations only to run them down in the name of a federation? The hen has perched on the clothes line; a case of mutually assured instability.
In calling for the retention of only the House of Representatives, we are not unmindful of the fact that it has lately been exposed as a house of fraud and immoral deals. Every generation throws up its own heroes and traitors. The padding saga in which the former chairman of the Appropriation Committee indicted the Speaker and top members of the House is being swept under the carpet .
Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin representing Kiru-Bebeji Federal Constituency of Kano State has openly challenged the leadership of the House over the following allegations: That he, Jibrin, got N650 million as running cost in his position as Chairman of the Appropriation Committee; that Speaker Yakubu Dogara got N1.5 billion; that Deputy Speaker His Yusuf Lasun got N800 million; that House Majority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila got N1.2 billion; and that the Deputy Majority Leader Buba Jibrin got N1.2 billion.
He also alleges that House Whip Alhassan Ado Doguwa got N1.2 billion; that Deputy House Whip got N700 million; that House Minority Leader Leo Ogor got N1.2 billion; that Deputy Minority Leader Onyema got N800 million; that Minority Whip got N700 million; t and that Deputy Minority Whip got N700 million. Jibrin says he has documents to back his allegations.
But the House is not interested in cleaning its stables and members have lined up behind Speaker Dogara to suspend Jibrin from the chambers. Pot calling kettle black? Fellow Mortal, come to Abuja and see a chamber where corruption wears agbada, babanriga, isiagu – and even ties a flowing wrapper with a feather in its cap. Let no one rail against some concocted sectional agenda anymore. Corruption has been federalised and the closest symbol to you is your own elected legislator.
Jibrin, not a saint himself, has gone a step further to warn his colleagues that “If you have illegally taken or stolen any money meant for the running cost of your offices for your entire stay in the house, you should return the money within one week to the clerk of the national assembly and for the purpose of clarity, i am referring to about 10million Naira you collect from tax payers’ money monthly. the clerk will provide you with official account details, failure of which I will take necessary action to ensure that you return any money stolen and stand witness against you in case of prosecution….”
To date, the exact emoluments of legislators is shrouded in secrecy. If Nigerians know the extent of damage the legislators are doing to the national treasury, there’ll be a riot.
Jibrin’s lawyer, Femi Falana, while reacting to Jibrin’s suspension declared: “It is the height of contempt. It is a primitive resort to self-help by the House of Representatives. Since the matter is in court, the House deliberately breached its rule of not interfering with pending judicial proceedings. In his desperation to cover up the scandal the Speaker, Honourable Dogara, made himself the accuser, witness, prosecutor and judge at the same time and thereby breached the elementary rule of NEMO JUDEX IN CAUSA SUA (thou shall not be a judge in your own cause).”
N-i-g-e-r-i-a! You see what your children are making of your destiny? You see how we are living at the riverbank but have to wash our faces with spittle? You see how corruption has enlisted the support of House rules and the guns of state against whistle-blowers? You see how we have inverted the definitions to make repentant sinners look like traitors? You see how the grimier pot is demonising the grimy kettle?
Nigeria, on your 56th birthday, I hail thee!

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