Assembly of Boxers and Wrestlers -By Denja Yaqub

Filed under: National Issues |
Denja Yaqub

Denja Yaqub


The outcome of the last general elections at all levels in Nigeria was a clear indication that Nigerians were done with the old order and were eager to have a change that will move the country to greater heights. To be able to flush out the Peoples’ Democratic Party, which had been in power for sixteen years (with a boast to retain power for sixty years despite its profligacy of unimaginable quantum) took the significant alignment of politicians from across four political parties and an extraction of the PDP. It was a monumental dislodgement of the umbrella of corruption, impunity and bad governance from power at the federal level and in twenty two of the thirty six states of the feeble federation.

The coalition All Progressives Congress (APC) wouldn’t have succeeded in the elections but for the choice of Muhammadu Buhari as its candidate. Buhari is possibly the only clean former Nigerian leader, garbed in the popular toga of an intolerant disposition to corruption and corrupt practices, and who was disciplined enough to lead our country out of the pervasive moral decadence that the public service and citizens have been stepped in.

For decades, not just under PDP, Nigeria has slided into abysmal collapse, with poverty, unemployment and malfunctioning infrastructure being the hallmark, while the only sub-system perfectly working has been corruption – a “government” of its own, which has been ruling the country and has led it to near total ruin. The popular quest for the end of the throne of corruption and all round impunity was what manifested in the results of the 2015 elections.

However, as early as almost four weeks into the “new beginning”, it became obvious that we are still held hostage by the old order as the old opposition – now the new government – does not seem to know to what use its victory should be deployed, as it has consistently displayed infantile political antics that has so far undermined our collective interests and yearn for good governance. The events at the National Assembly since its inauguration has compromised the decency of a team of lawmakers Nigerians thought would facilitate the change that delivers good governance.

If our current politicians are truly aware of the depth of the crisis our country has been plunged into and the desire to pull us out of the doldrum, what should have kickstarted a government that had “change” as its campaign slogan would not be the consistent brawls that has taken the place of progressive deliberations at the National Assembly and the lamentations of the presidency.

The obvious internal contestations within the APC, not just its leadership, points to the coalition as one that had no common goals beyond contesting elections. This is more factual of the renegades of the PDP, who christened themselves New PDP (nPDP) before migrating out of the dilapidated umbrella to team up with the ACN, ANPP, CPC and an extraction of APGA to form the APC. They possibly left the PDP because they couldn’t contend with the overwhelming weight of influence some of its leaders have on who becomes what. Of course other parties, including the ones that collapsed into what is now APC, didn’t have as much of big power-brokers and the PDP extracts knew how to reduce them to Lilliputians.

However, the leadership of the APC, some of them with good backgrounds in pro-democracy struggles but clearly lacking in democratic credentials, are full of the anti-democratic illusion that they could dictate who occupies what office, even when the constitution spelt out democratic options in this regard. It is, for instance, undemocratic for any party, especially a party that rode on the pedestal of the promise of change, to insist on dictating who leads the National Assembly. That was part of the impunity of the past – a past the APC promised to change. And perhaps, the party leaders have their candidates, but if an election held and choices other than theirs were made by vote, a true democrat should simply accept defeat and return to further permutations. We don’t need the headache that the crisis at the National Assembly has unleashed on us all, which has become an excuse for our country to be subjected to sole administratorship, with the unnecessary delay in constituting a government that promised to change our collective misfortunes and re-position our country respectably within the global community, which still considers us trapped in impunity and the lack of patriotic leadership.

It is disturbing that more than a month after assuming office, President Buhari is yet to form a government. A country of nearly 170 million people, with problems almost equal to the population; a country that almost collapsed cannot afford a sole administrator to manage its affairs, even for one day. We need a government, and a man who won the presidency at the fourth attempt at elections should have an idea of what he wanted power for, especially when the majority of the electorate were united on why they voted for him. We needed change and we still believe that change can be delivered with President Buhari on the driver’s seat.

Lamentations are not attributes of a good leader. We as citizens have lamented enough and the March 28, 2015 election gave us an opportunity to stop lamenting as the majority voted for a person we believed had all the will, the capabilities and wisdom to turn our collective lamentations to harvests of collective joy, and a liberation of sorts. The new administration has done well in putting terrorists, who thought Nigeria is a comfort zone for them, on the run; though they still pound some parts of the North-East, but this is limited to their known areas of combat. The military has obviously woken up from a sluggish past.

President Buhari’s emergence has psychologically renewed hope in every Nigerian that a better future beckons and this can only be sustained if the new administration acts faster than it has done at all levels. It is doubtful if the administration can fix Nigeria without probing the past.

Our past is too messy and the mess will be difficult to clear without interrogating the how, why, who and what drifted us towards the abyss. No one will doubt the emptiness of our collective treasury, but we won’t be patient with lamentations. Those who emptied the treasury should be seen off to jail after appropriate trials in court and their loots returned to the federation account for infrastructural development and job creation.

As hopeful as most Nigerians are, the new administration’s success depends largely on the National Assembly. The body language of the institution and its leaders portends danger for the success of any patriotic government with genuine intentions to reclaim our collective dignity, resources and future from the ineptitude of past administrations that have led us so close to a dead end. The boxing and wrestling episodes at the National Assembly, as well as the desire of the distinguished Senators and Honourable members to ignore our economic crisis, opting instead, to make wardrobe and other allowances their prime concern, is not just unpatriotic but absolutely irresponsible and against the purpose of any serious government or political party that made change a campaign slogan.

Yaqub is an Assistant Secretary at the headquarters of Nigeria Labour Congress, Abuja.