Abayomi G. Omotayo

Good news: a typical Nigerian is a smart person. Quick witted. Warri or no Warri, Nigerians ‘no dey carry last’ we are always at the forefront.  The bad news? This assertion is only on paper, as a Nigerian reading this, your nationalistic tendency can make you dispute my submission as vehemently as you like but facts don’t lie. If we are as great and smart as we like to deceive ourselves to be, then why are we mediocre nationally and internationally too? We are a country of 180 million people and amazingly just 469 members of the National Assembly are holding us to ransom. I must give kudos to them because this feat of outsmarting us all is no mean feat at all. I am officially recommending to my fellow Nigerians that as a matter of urgency we should critically study the modus operandi of this gang and begin to model our lives according to that pattern and I guarantee you that the result will be amazing particularly in 2019.

Beginning with the Senate, I shall now examine the 8th National Assembly and point out the things that have made them outsmart us all. The Senate has 109 members. APC has 60 members while PDP has 49 members. Please note that these figures are pre-defection figures. A typical Nigerian politician is fickle in terms of principle therefore arbitrary defections, usually to the ruling party are a norm in this clime. The senate has been embroiled in series of crises from the onset. For example, the emergence of Bukola Saraki factionalized the members, the same way Nigerians are factionalized along ethnic and political lines. For the senators, these factions are just a fa├žade, they are united in purpose and topping that list is holding us to ransom while milking our commonwealth dry.

As seemingly factionalized as they were, each time Saraki appeared at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the red chamber empties itself into the CCT venue to show solidarity. Recently, the same leadership was enmeshed in a scandal involving the purchase of a bullet proof Range Rover SUV, who it was bought for and the documentation is still shrouded in mystery as the purse of the National Assembly. Our ‘ajekun iya’ Senator Dino Melaye was recently put on edge when Sahara Reporters reported that he did not graduate from ABU, a claim which the Vice Chancellor has now debunked. Senator Ali Ndume who raised a petition against these two has now been suspended by the senate. Why? (forget that official reason that he did not follow due process in filing the petition) Because regardless of factions and political differences, these senators will close gap to ensure that they do not become vulnerable. They know that if they allow the searchlight beamed on any of their colleagues to consume him, that same light might be beamed on any and all of them as well. The smart thing to do therefore is to collectively shield themselves from any onslaught, personal and political differences regardless.

Now to the House of Representatives. Pre-defection figures show that APC has 225 members, PDP has 125 members and Others have 10 members. As a fallout of the leadership tussle, it appeared that there was no love lost between Femi Gbajabiamila and Speaker Dogara’s camp but as soon as ‘trouble maker’ Hon. Jibrin started singing regarding the padded budget, all the reps closed gap knowing fully well that it would affect them all. This trouble maker was sanctioned. Suspended for one legislative year.

Special recognition to both chambers especially the Senate for safeguarding the secrecy of the finances of the National Assembly with all zest and vigor. We elect this gang and they spend our money as they dim. To add insult to injury, they insist that they will not give us an account or make us privy to how they dispense our commonwealth. We have not been able to do anything about this, life goes on like all is well and yet we say we are normal.

As Nigerians, we can learn valuable lessons from this very smart gang.

United we stand and divided we fall. Come 2019, let us be united, regardless of political affiliations, do not vote for any party that fields a mediocre candidate. In fact, right from the primaries let us raise our voices loud and clear that we do not want dimwits to emerge as flag bearers at all levels. This will make the politicians and the party chieftains sit up. We can do this only if we are united.

Enough of taking sides with the actors in the Senate because they only take sides with themselves. Look at issues objectively. For example, is there a need for that luxury car at a time when the nation is grappling with recession? Can we call for a more comprehensive probe to unearth the dirt in the importation process? How was it possible to clear a car at that level with fake customs paper? These are the issues we should focus on but unfortunately we are taking sides. Let us take sides with Nigeria only. On Senator Dino’s case, he has been cleared by ABU but what of the misrepresentations he gave regarding his qualifications at Harvard and LSE? These are things that would cause a recall in a saner clime.

180 million is greater than 469 anytime any day as long as we are not viewing these numbers through the lens of the Nigeria Governors Forum 2013 set that would have us believe that 16 is greater than 19 therefore the day we decide to put a stop to the comedy at the National Assembly is the day that comedy will stop. A former Prime Minister in Iceland was forced to resign over Panama papers because the people’s will were stronger. They simply occupied his office unabatedly. Here, we hear of scandals running into billions and we just shrug it off. I ask again, are we normal?

If we vigorously, tenaciously and yet peacefully #OccupyNASS, I am sure that #OpenNASS will be achieved instantly. I am not talking about social media dirty lame noises especially twitter activism by some self-titled, shift-loyalty-as-convenient overlord or money hungry civil societies and celebrities taking this cause up, I am talking about all of us and every one of us who truly believes that this 8th National Assembly is holding us to ransom.

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