Desperate measures for desperate times -By Steve Nwosu

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Desperate measures for desperate times  -By Steve Nwosu


This running comic we have had in this country for 15 unbroken years, which we (for want of a better name) call democracy, has sure gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. So much so that what is now left is for policemen to storm the Green Chamber, take up the seats and handle the impeachment of Speaker Aminu Tambuwal themselves – since the legitimate lawmakers appear to be foot-dragging over the matter.

And while they are busy displaying brute power in Abuja and Ekiti, Kano is being blown to smithereens by Boko Haram, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have handed their fates over to local hunters, who guarantee them better safety than the army and police ever can. Nigerians resident in those areas now know they have to be very careful of what republic they swear allegiance to: Is it to the same old Nigeria that seems to have abandoned them or the new Sultanates being carved out of it by the insurgents?

I had promised myself that I would not spill any more ink on what transpired at the gate of the National Assembly complex penultimate Thursday. Having read several commentaries and concluded that there was nothing more to say, I had rested this article that I’d intended for last Wednesday.

But then, a reader called last weekend, complaining that my article on the development was not posted on The Sun’s website by the web administrator. You, therefore, imagine his shock when I told him I had actually not written – or rather, decided to rest the piece I wrote, not wanting to be accused of flogging a dead horse.

Worse still, in these precarious times, when we all need the reconfirmation of the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, to parade ourselves as anything, be it journalist, Speaker, Senate President or even president of the country, I did not want the IGP to declare me a non-journalist and order my arrest.

Yes, even if the entire country recognises Tambuwal as Speaker and Abba says he is not, then he is not. So, I don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of the IGP. For all you know, even if all of you out there agree that I’m a journalist and both my employers and my teachers at the University of Nigeria confirm it, I will still need the reconfirmation of the IGP to be so addressed. For if the IG says I’m no journalist, then I’m not one. Of course, he does not need to refer to any constitution or court. All those have their powers subsumed under the powers of the IGP. Or is that not why the order that Tambuwal’s security details be reinstated was disregarded? All correct, sir!

Back to our Honourable gangsters!… That was what came to my mind as I watched some members of the House of Representatives haul their overweight mass of protoplasm (apologies, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo) over the gate of the National Assembly complex a fortnight ago.

But, before I go far on this issue, however, let me put it on record that our Reps are not gender-friendly. Does it mean that there are no female lawmakers, supporting Aminu Tambuwal? Was there no female lawmaker locked out? Or did all the female lawmakers get in before the gates were closed? I kept watching the live coverage of the drama and, later, flipping through the pictures over and over again, in the vain hope of seeing one female lawmaker, scaling the fence. There was none. What a shame!

If I had seen such footage, I would have accurately determined whether the fence-scaling drama was premeditated or a spur-of-the-moment thing. How would I know? Simple! If she wore jeans trousers, I would have immediately known that she left home prepared. But if she wore a gown, skirt and blouse or, better still, tied wrapper, then I would know the thing was not planned.

And if I had seen any of them that way, I would probably have caught the next flight to Abuja. So that I can go and volunteer to either help push them (from behind) up the gate or be part of the ‘receiving team’ on the other side of the gate to help them down – from under, of course. Not minding if their wrapper or flare skirts obstructed my view. That is how much I love this country. It is the least I can do to serve my country. Just the same way the lawmakers and other political office holders are also serving us diligently.

But jokes apart, when did we degenerate to this new low? What more disrepute would these clowns bring on the hallowed chamber? At different times, they have engaged in a free for all, displaying their pugilism gifts. They have rent dresses off one another’s other’s backs and thrown Kungfu kicks. In another instance, and on live television, they almost stripped a female lawmaker from Delta naked. They have once stolen their symbol of office, the mace. At other times, they have deployed the mace as weapon – when they ran out of words with which to argue their case. With the mace, they have broken a few heads. And limbs too. Before our very eyes, they have brought dirty naira notes (with which, they claimed, a serving governor had tried to bribe them) and poured them right on the mace. Of course, they only told us about the few hundreds of thousands (chicken change, by their standards) they turned down; they never tell us anything about the other millions they regularly pocket.

So, as I watched the rather tragic drama that fateful morning, and seeing the glee with which even the policemen threw tear gas into the riotous mass of Reps and their aides, I immediately concluded we had descended to a new abyss. I almost felt like shooting somebody. And to make sure that the national insult sank in well into our bloodstream, the IGP, who sent out the policemen, would come on national television a few days later to say he is still investigating what happened. A statement we have come to accept as meaning; ‘we will not do anything about it’.

But then, after digesting all the bashing and castigation of the lawmakers and seeing the widespread condemnation of their public display of their fence-scaling talents, I have sat back to ask: What would I have done, if I was in their shoes?

Sincerely, I cannot vouch that I would not have joined in scaling the fence if I were an APC member of the House of Representatives locked out by the police in that Thursday show of shame. My reason? A drowning man would hang to any straw. You cannot beat a child and not expect it to cry.

Let me explain. Even if everyone is now burying his head in the sand and pretending that all was well, I must confess that what we saw at NASS gate that Thursday was the equal-and-opposite reaction engendered by the actions of a day or two earlier – including a curious meeting allegedly held in the Villa the night before. We would only be deceiving ourselves if we say we did not know that the buzz in town some 48 hours to that Thursday was that plans were on to impeach Tambuwal. The buzz was that much as the Presidency wanted the House to consider President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for renewal of the emergency regime in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, the Presidency goons wanted Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, a loyal PDP man, to chair the session and not a Tambuwal whom the Presidency no longer wants to recognise as Speaker, following his decampment to the APC. So, were members of the opposing camp supposed to lie back like sitting ducks and wait to be taken out? Haba! My people say it is only a tree that would hear you want to cut it down and refuse to move.

Now, knowing that more than just a few PDP Reps and anti-Tambuwal lawmakers had been allowed into the premises without much of a hassle and seeing that Tambuwal, who had recalled members from their recess would not be allowed to go in, the natural thing for any sensible lawmaker would be to get suspicious. When it dawned on them that the fenced-out lawmakers were mainly supporters of the embattled speaker, then it became even more suspicious.

From my poorly informed layman prism, I would suspect that those allowed access into the chambers already formed a quorum and probably had the two- thirds majority of that quorum needed to do a gunboat impeachment of Tambuwal. And there is nothing on ground to suggest this would not have been done.

The Presidency (and by extension, the PDP) threw the first punch by deploying policemen there to keep them out; it is only natural that those shut out (and by implication, the APC) take an immediate action at self-preservation before now going into the legality or otherwise of that action or seeking redress and/or protection from the law.

You can’t employ impunity and crude tactics to deal with somebody and then sit back to pontificate on how your victim disregarded due process in his response to your impunity or why he did not go to court to seek redress. Desperate times demand desperate measures.

If the Presidency tries to remove Tambuwal by subterfuge, it should expect Tambuwal and his supporters to employ whatever guerrilla tactics they can muster to defend themselves. That was what happened penultimate week.

Of course, this becomes even clearer when we recall what had happened in Ekiti a few days earlier. Some seven PDP lawmakers and three unknown lawmakers (like the Unknown Soldiers, who burnt down Fela’s Kalakuta Republik), with unusual police protection, clandestinely found their way into the state House of Assembly (which, ordinarily has more APC members than PDP) and impeached the Speaker, an APC member, and appointed a new one.

The power of the executive has since been thrown behind the new speaker, and the majority APC lawmakers are the ones now going to court and fighting from outside. A case of tenant, giving his landlord quit notice!

But I have refrained from commenting on the Ekiti issue because it was also a case of Gov. Ayo Fayose’s PDP, deploying a desperate measure to desperate times imposed on him by the recalcitrant APC.

I guess it was the seeming ‘success’ of that tactic at the state level that emboldened the Presidency to elevate it to national level.