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The Narcissists in NASS

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The Narcissists in NASS

Parliament is supposed to be serious. It’s not a place for jingoistic cheering
– Jeremy Corbyn

Narcissism is a term originated from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.

Narcissism is also considered a social or cultural problem. It is one of the three dark triadic personality traits (the others being psychopathy and Machiavellianism.” It is a concept of excessive selfishness long recognised throughout history.

Anybody or group hooked in this attitude is said to be suffering from Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) which means there is a long-term pattern of abnormal behaviour characterized by exaggerated feeling of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding of others’ feelings. Please note that credit for the above explanations goes to Wikipedia.

But Mayo Clinic in U.S. defined Narcissistic personality disorder as a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest critics.

You may be wondering why I devoted this much space explaining this word; it is to properly railroad beloved readers into the issue for Musing this week. At inception following the June 9, 2015 rebellion at inauguration, the 8th National Assembly gave out an image of a body ready to defend and ensure the sanctity of the separation of powers and by extension the independence of the legislature.

As a result, when it became engrossed in various corruption charges including but not limited to budget padding, constituent project fraud among others, Nigerians still stuck with them believing that they were being vilified for fighting for their independence.

Political watchers had expressed worry that the legislature especially the Senate are made up of mostly former governors and former public office holders whose corruption record is not encouraging, but a cross section of Nigerians still thought they are being bashed for walking the route of principles.

The people’s feeling and sympathy for them stem from the known historical facts that the concept of separation of powers has helped greatly in limiting the possibility of arbitrary excesses by the government. Some Nigerians decided to look away and not count the potential minuses of the legislators because they were apprehensive that given the military background of President Muhammadu Buhari particularly his antecedents that he could go off the hook towards undemocratic ways if not held tightly with a strong and independent legislature.

But evolving events particularly as it relates to the ongoing amendment of the constitution reveals the self-centeredness of the members of this National Assembly that can no longer be ignored.

The outcome of the constitutional amendment bills passed last week clearly exposes them as people insensitive of the feelings of the people they represent and a people with a trait like the handsome narcissus, who was more concerned about his image. Without fear of contradictions members of the 8th National Assembly can be rightly accused of being narcissist.

For instance, the legislators want the constitution amended to grant them immunity, they want the constitution amended to enable them be part of the council of states, and they want the constitution amended so that they could go ahead and amend the constitution without the President etc. They indeed want all kinds of power for themselves and none for others.

They also want the constitution touched so that the anti-graft body’s influence and power could be weakened ostensibly removing the rug underneath the foot of Ibrahim Magu, the obvious current nemesis of the Nigeria Senate who is precariously sitting as the head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). This aspect of the bill was curiously passed without the usual public hearing possibly to escape dissenting views on it. In fact, what the legislators may have forgotten to ask was to be made automatic life members of the National Assembly.

Perhaps the height of the insensitivity exhibited by the 8th Parliament is in their vote against devolution of powers from federal to states and local government areas.

In this country today, even the deaf hears the roaring going on across the entire political space about restoring true federalism in the country. The noise has reached such a crescendo that even reactionaries are beginning to adjust their position on the restructuring of the country.

Never in the history of this country since the civil war has the unity been so threatened with total break-up of the country trending as an option. Non-aligned political watchers having examined the goings on in the land are almost unanimous that the most sensible option left to save the nation is to restructure. In fact, a professor of politics warned recently that Nigeria will die if it’s not restructured. But rather than queue into the vogue, into the intense and widely shared enthusiasm, members of the National Assembly decided instead to go against the popular will of the people.

The indignation that greeted their action especially the rejection of power devolution which means indirect rejection of true federalism perceptibly exposes the 8th NASS as selfish and politically ill equipped for the enormous challenges confronting the nation.

In any democratic setting like ours when a nation is confronted with huge challenges as we are at the moment people look up to the parliament for rescue. Not too long ago, in 2010, the 6th Senate under Senator David Mark had to rescue the country from major crisis through the now famous doctrine of necessity ditto, the 5th Senate under Senator Ken Nnamani that was on hand to halt the crusading inordinate ambition of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his third term madness.

Nigerians were expecting these lawmakers to properly gauge the political temperature of the country and come up with a fitting therapy but what did we see, a clearly detached parliament from the yearnings and desires of their people.

The feeble and obviously afterthought reason being offered by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on why the voting went against power devolution merely exposed the technical inefficiencies of the current lawmakers. According to him, the prevailing hate speech and bad blood amidst the populace influenced the voting.

Saraki’s theory presupposes that if hate speech is rampant in the society as a result of prevailing injustice arising from bad political structure, the way out is to retain the system that caused the problem abnitio. As a visionary presiding leader, should he have allowed the vote to take place knowing the mood was not ripe for rational voting?

After eloquent and timely debate few weeks back on the state of the nation after which they saw the need to accept and to deliberate on the 2014 Confab report, a sincere and pragmatic legislature knowing how extensive the confab report went in addressing issues of the nation, should not have begun constitutional amendment without first looking at the content of the report.

We are not oblivious of the fact that very few persons in this current parliament are experienced and patriotic and really understand what it’s to represent the people and make laws for good governance. Most of the politically illiterate members could not be convinced by the very few patriotic minds hence the bizarre voting that has now brought the already ragged image of the legislature to the floor. That constitutional amendment was the best opportunity ever for the 8th National Assembly to redeem its name but instead they dissipated it.

Perhaps there are two options left for them to reclaim their scruffy image, one, to quickly revisit the constitution amendment and take all necessary legislative steps to quicken the restructuring of the country or to pass a fresh bill to empower the constitution of National Conference to draft a fresh and people-oriented constitution for the country. Either of these two variables could make Nigerians see the lawmakers restore their image as the people’s parliament. And not prove Walter Bagehot right that “a parliament is nothing less than a big meeting of more or less idle people.” Nigerians are waiting and watching.

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