The invasion of the Senate by thugs is wrong, shameful and reprehensible
Although majority of Nigerians have always viewed the National Assembly and its members in less-than-flattering terms, the sordid drama last Wednesday in the Senate–when some hoodlums sneaked in through a glass barricade to steal the mace in broad daylight–represents a new low. The hoodlums, alleged to have been procured by a suspended senator, not only took away the legislative symbol of authority without which no legitimate plenary can hold (although it was found several kilometres away under a bridge the next day), they also caused a serious security breach that should not escape the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Whatever we may say about the National Assembly, where there are all sorts of characters, nobody should condone the brigandage on the Senate floor which raises several pertinent questions. One, every member of the National Assembly has at least a policeman on guard duty and the premises also has several security personnel, including men of the Directorate of State Services (DSS). Yet, five unarmed men entered the Senate chambers and carried away the mace in broad daylight. Who allowed these hoodlums to park their vehicle conspicuously at the Senate foyer? Who authorised the opening of the security gate at the back of the assembly complex which leads directly to the Villa (and always manned by DSS operatives) for the hoodlums to escape with the mace?
These are some of the serious questions for which answers must be provided for Nigerians to know what actually happened and why. Meanwhile, if the statement by the Senate following the incident is correct, and there is no reason to doubt it, we find it difficult to comprehend why a senator would take the law into his own hands in such an irresponsible manner. What motivated his action and are there other forces behind him? Why is he being treated with kid gloves by the authorities?
However, while we must condemn a situation where a senator would behave like a political tout, we must also note the manner in which the Senate as an institution is violating the rights of its members thus becoming more like an assemblage of mobsters than people invested with the powers to make laws for the good governance of the country. In case they are not aware, suspending members whenever they air views that go against the grain does violence to the image of the National Assembly. What is more worrisome is that at practically all levels in our country today, there seems to be a misconception about what governance is all about.
The tragedy of that misconception could be seen in the score cards of many of the office holders either within the executive or legislature who celebrate the building of perimeter walls around government structures, distribution of foodstuff during festivities and donation of vehicles to traditional rulers as landmark achievements. They are of course oblivious of the fact that good governance is that which is focused on the people, their safety and welfare as well as the optimal allocation of scarce resources and the effective implementation of policies for service delivery.
While the authorities must get to the root of what happened on the Senate floor last week, apprehend and punish the culprits while working to ensure it does not happen again, it is also our hope that the current politics of acrimony between the legislature and the executive will give way to common sense so that both can work together to give the economy a direction. The 2018 appropriation bill has been with the National Assembly since last November and none of the two arms seems to be in a hurry to get it passed. Yet, as we keep saying on this page, the message such tardiness sends is that people in positions of authority in our country do not exude as much care and attention as is required on matters of urgent national importance.
On the whole, the implications of the show of shame at the Senate are more far reaching. It diminishes the integrity of the legislature. It further reduces the cohesion of the National Assembly and renders the principle of separation of powers lame as an incoherent and trivialised legislature cannot make credible laws for the governance of a decent society.
The implications of the show of shame at the Senate are more far reaching. It diminishes the integrity of the legislature. It further reduces the cohesion of the National Assembly and renders the principle of separation of powers lame as an incoherent and trivialised legislature cannot make credible laws for the governance of a decent society