On 28th June, 2015, less than a month after Buhari was sworn in as president and less than three weeks after the National Assembly was inaugurated, I wrote the following at the back page of my weekly Sunday Telegraph column. Now read on.
“THE POLITICAL RUMBLE IN THE LEGISLATIVE JUNGLE OF THE 8THNATIONAL ASSEMBLY (part 1)
The title of this piece is very apt. It is a nostalgic recall of the historic boxing tournament of October 30, 1974, in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), where at the 20th May Stadium, Champion Mohammed Ali (formerly Casius Clay), knocked out George Foreman (challenger), in the 8th round. This fight organised by then rookie, Don King, has been dubbed, arguably, the greatest sporting event of the 20th century, with a record attendance of 60, 000. They were not fighting the Vietnam War of 40 years earlier. It was about their pocket, the big purse. It was not in defence of the American flag. There had been spontaneous hunger and thirst to see Mohammed Ali fight again after he reclaimed his boxing license which had been seized from him in 1967, when he rejected fighting in the Vietnam War. Would he reclaim his belt? Could he make it?
Although Joe Frazier had beaten Ali in 1971, but Ali’s later 13 wins over others, including a rematch with Frazier, did not throw up the needed talisman to ignite world interest in this handsome “Louisville Lip”. Boxing is passion. It is money. It is life. It is an aphrodisiac, an intoxicating liquor.
At 32, Ali was not in his prime, Ali so book makers placed the now flat footed, more sluggish, but still loquacious and dancing Ali, at 40 = 1 odds. The fight, staged in Kinshasa, to burnish and bolster the diminishing image of Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (the name is a sentence!), did much to whitewash the despotic and tyrannical terror. After using the “rope-a-dope” style to suck up Foreman’s best punches, Ali, as he had done to Liston in their 1965 rematch, bounced out of the ropes, like a meteor, to deliver the lethal right blow that floored Foreman and made him see zillions of twinkling stars. Ali had rewritten boxing history. He was once more the idol of the world, a global citizen.
Our write up today is not about Ali, Frazier, boxing, Liston, Mobutu, or the “Rumble in the jungle” in Kinshasa. It is not about money or fame. It is about our bi-cameral National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives), where there has been a re-enactment of this epochal rumble in the jungle of Nigeria’s hallowed legislative Chambers.
Tuesday, June 9, 2015, witnessed an earth shaking rumble in the parliamentary jungle of Nigeria’s 8th National Assembly. Nigeria was kept in a state of suspended animation. There was tension, palpable tension. The rippling effects were later to snowball into fisticuffs and pugilism, the type that certainly made Ali and Foreman’s “Rumble in the jungle” pale to near historical insignificance. What went wrong? How did Nigeria find herself in this wanton exhibition of legislative rascality, adult delinquency and ominous signs of democratic hara-kiri?
The June 9 event in the National Assembly promptly instigated party realignment, demystified some towering APC tin gods, oxygenated an otherwise gasping and prostrates PDP that was already hemorrhaging within from self-inflicted wounds. The events altered the delicate political equation of the PDP and APC; and sent the right searing signals of the real “change” Nigerians expect from President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB)’s nascent government. This incident and subsequent developments constitute an acid test of the delicate tussle between party supremacy and legislative independence.
Baba Sala and his famous Alawada-keri-keri troupe would have been green with envy at the classical display of histrionics and melodramatics in the events that played out. The Kings danced naked in the village square. The “egugun” masquerades were publicly and unceremoniously derobed, while the so called doctrine of party supremacy which ought to really work better in a Parliamentary system, and not in a presidential system), was shredded in to tatters and smithereens, and shown for the myth which it really is.”
To be continued next week.
JACKBOOT DEMOCRACY VS GUNBOAT LOYALTY (part 2)
B. R. Ambedkar once opined that political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy. What does social democracy mean? It means a way of life which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life. On this note, we shall conclude our write-up on the above topic today.
Consequently, only seven members brazenly and shamelessly (aided by the Federal Police and DSS), attempted to impeach a sitting governor. Nigerians witnessed some desperations in the past in the illegal removal of some governors (using the jackboot and gunboat tactics). Such illegally impeached governors were Peter Obi (Anambra state, 2nd November, 2006); Joshua Dariye (Plateau state, 13th November, 2006); Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti state, 16th October, 2006); Rashidi Ladoja (Oyo state, 12th November, 2006); Diepreye Alamieyeseigha (Bayelsa state, 9th Decemeber, 2005); and Murtala Nyako (15th July, 2014). In most of these cases, the impeachment was reversed by courts of law that berated the government for committing constitutional aberrations.
How come a government that promised change from the old ways is now the one spearheading the most blatant forms of constitutional crisis, simply to enforce gunboat loyalty through jackboot democracy? How can a minority of seven members take steps that should be taken by at least 10 members? How can a minority of 7 be aided to terrorize a majority of 23?
Only last week, Police were deployed to the Ekiti State House of Assembly for what they termed “security reasons”. It was clear that the government was in a hurry to force out Governor Fayose even before the October handover to his successor in a hotly disputed and rigged election already the subject matter before the Election Petition tribunal. It took the Speaker, Hon Kola Oluwawole and the Clerk, Mr Tola Esan, to shout out that they never requested for Police to guide a House already on vacation, before the misguided action was aborted.
There are eight major steps in an impeachment proceeding, which involves the sitting Speaker, the Governor, the Chief Judge of the state, two-third majority members of the House, setting up an impeachment panel, right of reply by the governor, etc. The fact that the first foundational step of the giving of a constitutionally valid notice of impeachment by one-third of the members failed has already dealt a fatal blow on the satanic and luciferous shenanigans of an impeachment. The entire process is therefore aborted and was dead on arrival; as dead as dodo.
I hereby appeal, most earnestly, to President Muhammadu Buhari to save our hard-earned democracy from sliding into the abyss of extinction. Our democracy is dying by installment, on a daily basis. The international community must rise up to help Nigeria help herself. All lovers of democracy must speak up before it is too late. This government should stop dancing on the cold graves of men, women and children who were murdered in cold blood by marauding herdsmen, while the same government looked elsewhere.
A governor, who was praised to high heavens last week as a great performer and redeemer, has suddenly been found corrupt (with the decamping legislators), by the EFCC. Because he audaciously crossed carpet against all dangled sticks and carrots. Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso, who was canonized as a saintly statesman who helped to midwife the ruling party, suddenly lost his political address whose exit must be “celebrated”, all because he shocked the powers that be with his deft Machiavellian sophistry and political sagacity. Loyalty cannot be enforced with brute force, coercion, intimidation and harassment. Cherished freedoms of speech, movement have been guaranteed under sections 39, 40 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution.
Is Proverbs 24:21 being realized before our very eyes?: “My son, fear thou Jehovah and the King; and associate not with them that are given to change”. The End.
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“Intimidation, harassment and violence have no place in a democracy.” (Mo Ibrahim).
Nigerians, please continue to engage me in the national conversation, whilst awaiting explosive topic of Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb., Ph.D, LL.D.
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