Friday 30 October 2009

Nigeria: Lawmakers deliberate on the completely absurd

Originally written for as Lawmakers deliberate on the completely absurd.

No respect for the lawmaker

Sometimes I wonder why deliberations between lawmakers never get accorded any recognition of sophistication, erudition or plain sense.

It somehow never even gets to the level of a marketplace brawl in the heat of the day, the brutish entertainment of professional wrestling seems to have more decorum and order in its proceedings and eventual result – it is no wonder people might better watch a wrestling match than politicians politicking and preening themselves in self-absorbed discourse under the pretense of being representatives of some constituency.

That is the worrisome aspect of this line of thought, the fact that lawmakers are not seen in any good light and they then have the power to enact laws and legislation that affects our lives and livelihoods, it goes without saying that we need a better class of person first then better levels of deliberation.

A topic ready for debate

I have been reading comments to a news story in the good fatherland of Nigeria where lawmakers have deliberated the absurd, it is incredible that we end up with such representatives; these people do seriously believe they have raised serious concerns and their deliberations rather than being ridiculous are legitimate discourse.

The nEXt online newspaper carried and article with the headline Lawmakers ask robbers to declare temporary ceasefire [1], a headline like that should garner enough curiosity and interest, it did mine.

Nigeria is currently hosting the Under-17 Football World Cup, a competition that was almost pulled last year because the government could not see its obligation to follow through a commitment to host, the self-same government that is seeking a permanent seat on the UN Security Council – such is the myopia that plagues our leadership.

Appealing to the patriotism of bandits

Ogun State has one of the venues, so the lawmakers met up and first lamented that a particular location – Isheri Bridge on the border of Lagos and Ogun States had become a den of bandits.

Anyone would think once a hotspot for crime has been identified, you empower, equip and instruct the law enforcement agencies to sort it out and have a report at some future date as to how it was done and what else they need to be more effective at crime-fighting.

These politicians had a different line of thinking that could only be expressed verbatim, “there is a need for the men of the underworld to suspend their operations in the interim, because of the on-going mundial.”

Yes, our lawmakers were asking armed robbers to have a ceasefire, they should suspend their criminal activities to bolster and participate in the window dressing rebranding of Nigeria as a peaceful, crimeless and safe country.

Indeed, it is good to appeal to everyone’s sense of patriotism at a time like this, but this takes the absurd to another level crass stupidity, you cannot imagine anything worse can come after that appeal.

At the mercy of criminals

Well, it got worse, because the lawmaker went on to say, “Then they can resume thereafter, because there is nowhere in the world where robbers and robberies could be stopped from their work.

One comment read, if this were a drama sketch, it would be unbelievable, the lines would be struck out, but this really happened, those words were spoken by an elected representative that had willfully suspended every iota of intellect.

In one sentence, they threw in the towel to crime, left us at the mercy of criminals and in that defeatist thinking equated robbery to some sort of gainful pursuit or employment.

Robbers and robberies do get stopped and many do end up being nabbed by the long arm of the law if law enforcement is given the tools, responsibility and confidence to do their job. However, this lawmaker and the chamber in which his remarks received shameless hearing and debate have undermined ever establishment and institution that might at one time have been able to combat this menace with all vigour and win.

So feeble, so delusional

To rub salt in insult into injury, he concluded his plea for support with, “If foreigners witness the robbers' attacks at this point, it would send a bad signal to other nations.” In my view, nothing could be worse than having this debate where the lawmakers have put us at the mercy and goodwill of men of the underworld and given the police no particular impetus to make order, safety and security prevail.

Then the Speaker of the House feebly suggested, “I want to use the opportunity to call on the police to intensify efforts in checkmating criminals. They should please not relent in the efforts.” How the police are expected to win the war on crime where the chess analogy leaves them so powerless as pawns and the armed robbers are all elevated to queens escapes me.

Much more hot air of words but no backbone or force of parliament to arrest an untenable situation; all this constituted a debate in a house of assembly.

Scanning through the comments left, it is clear that the Nigerian populace with an opinion are less than impressed by this and attribute this to the rot that has made politics an unpalatable mix of the nastiest people holding the reigns of power but completely clueless as to what being in power represents.

It is no wonder that they cannot even get a local government official to appear before them.

The danger is that this kind of deliberation is probably not an exception, but the norm in many other state assemblies, providing for chaos, drift and misgovernment – Nigerians need to talk about this kind of representation and deliberation, it should never become commonplace.


[1] | Lawmakers ask robbers to declare temporary ceasefire

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