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Opinion - March 18, 2024

Lawmakers as Nigeria’s greatest albatross


By Ibrahim Apekhade Yusuf

If I’m President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for just one day, you bet I’ll sign an Executive Order to send these present crop of legislators both at the upper and lower chambers to an indefinite suspension.

I’m writing this piece seething with rage and hurting for the most part knowing full well that the lawmakers who are supposed to protect the interest of the larger majority of the populace are ironically the same people dealing out doses of suffering on the already impoverished and long-suffering masses.

As I watched the proceedings at the hotly debated session during the Senate plenary on Tuesday, when they sat in judgment against the lawmaker representing Bauchi Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Abdul Ningi, who had accused the Senate of padding the budget with an extra N3.7 billion to the initial budget during an interview with BBC Hausa last week, the only conclusion I reached in my mind is that these guys, I mean all of them don’t deserve to hold court even for a minute at the hallowed red chamber for the mere fact that they are feathering their own nest and not there to represent the rest of us on this other side of the divide.

In fact, they all should be out there cooling their heels and ‘doing time’ as the Americans would say, at the various correctional centres spread across the country for looting our collective patrimony, and appropriating our shared prosperity all to themselves.

If there’s anytime these legislooters ought to show more empathy and fellow- feeling it should be now given the parlous state of the economy occasioned by severe hardship, hyperinflation, and near collapse of governance.

But the reverse is clearly the case. In place of men of conscience, we have instead men who are controlled by the god of Mormon and are ready to sacrifice just about anything in order to get their hands on the filthy lucre!

We have in the National Assembly men and women who are rent-seekers, bribery-and-corruption-ridden 10-20 percenters! Phew! The mere thought of profiling these thieving gangs makes me wanna puke!

Unfortunately, just as it is at the federal level so it is at the subnational levels, where lawmakers hold the chief executives of the states to ransom at will.

Just the other day, I was at a closed door meeting with one of the political gladiators in the country where he revealed that one of the governors in the Southwest told some of his closed confidantes of how top ranking members of the State House of Assembly openly demanded as bribe, at least 50 percent of the 2024 budget sum before onward submission for the governor to apply his assent.

The governor in question, tongue-in-cheek, ran to the presidency to lodge a complain. I didn’t get the opportunity to ask if the governor succeeded in enlisting the help of Mr. President or he cave in to their demand.

That’s how bad things are in 21st century Nigeria where monkey (the rest of us) dey work but baboon (legislooters) dey chop, as the saying goes.

I decided to give this short anecdotal accounts to help drive home the point about the state of affairs in a country where the populace are under the vice grip of a tiny cabal feeding fat and literally living off the rest of us.

Sorry I digressed. Back to the Senate plenary. As much as Senator Ningi deserved to be penalised for his divisive politics, it doesn’t remove entirely the underlying truth about the shenanigans of the lawmakers who are as corrupt as they come.

The outburst by the federal lawmaker representing Cross River North , Senator Jarigbe Agom-Jarigbe, on the floor of the Senate same time they were making a scapegoat of Ningi was just as scandalous and nerve-wracking indeed.

Agom-Jarigbe had revealed to the utmost disbelief of all present that some senior senators received the total of N500 million each from the 2024 budget just to look the other way.

“If we want to go into this issue, all of us are culpable. Some senators here, so called senior senators got N500 million each. I am a ranking senator. I didn’t get. Did I go to the press? We don’t have to go into those issues,” said a visibly angry Agom-Jarigbe.

Apparently miffed by the lawmaker’s sheer audacity, the Senate president, Godswill Akpabio, had the senator’s mic muted amid his speech.

But unfortunately for Akpabio, the genii had already left the bottle before he covered the lid.

The truth has a life of its own and cannot be imprisoned for so long a time. The word is out already that under an Akpabio-led Senate expectations about transparency, equity, fairness and justice is a tall order.

Pray, who will rescue the lawmakers from themselves? Or more appropriately, who will rescue the long-suffering masses from the vice grips of these legislooters?

The answer I daresay, is in the womb of time!

Yusuf, Media Practitioner

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