The recent supplementary budget sent to the National Assembly which was passed within the twinkling of an eye has generated a lot of noise. The noise is not out of place. The breakdown of the budget shows it lacks human face. As if it was deliberately drawn up to spite the masses and smite their nose. One would expect the legislative arm of government to subject the supplementary budget to rigorous debate in order to sieve it and put a human face on it. But it was passed with a speed of lightning. I am not surprised and no one should be surprised. When the executive arm of government determines the “who is who” in the legislative arm, democracy, in that context, is dead. With the fusion of these two “important” arms of government which importace lies only in its separation and independence of other arms, we can conclude that our democracy is dead. Democracy is dead in Nigeria. Let’s call Nigeria’s democracy a “dead democracy” if we do not want to call it autocracy.
A longtime senator, Ali Ndume, realized this earlier. In his attempt to preserve some vestiges of democracy, he recently walked out of the Senate Chamber. Before then, he lamented the speed of lightning by which bills are uncommonly passed with the manoeuvering of the uncommon Senate President. He chastised Akpabio for passing legislation without formal reading or member input. This is a breach which he refered to as “procedural infringements.”
While Ndume should be commended, I am personally not shocked. From the inception of the 10th Senate, I knew that the era of rubber stamp which the previous 9th Senate was notoriously known for was over. But it was not over for a better era. It was a transition era to the new era we are in now which is more dangerous. One struggles to understand what separation of power is. One of the three arms of government is completely chopped off. Many would argue that the judiciary has also lost its arm. Yet I can argue that the judiciary still exists. If anyone strongly believes it (judiciary) has actually lost its arm especially going by the recent revelation by the retired Hon. Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad, I will say I am also disappointed. But I still believe the judiciary, as an arm of government, has not been completely chopped off.
This isn’t the case with the legislative arm. Its arm has been chopped off and added to the executive arm which leaves the latter with a longer arm. We should not lose sight of the fact that the President is married to a “legislator”—a former senator. His chief of staff Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila is also a “legislator”—a former speaker of the House of Representatives. The current uncommon Senate President uncommonly won his election and was uncommonly made the Senate President. Then, during the battle for senate leadership, competency and integrity did not matter. Recall that the Vice President Kashim Shettima was emphatic when he said the most incompetent southern Christian (probably in reference to Akpabio) is better than the most puritanical northern Muslim. Though he later apologized for that, but the handwriting is clear: the legislative arm has become what the executive arm wanted it to be.
From the above, it is easy to understand why our lawmakers may not find many of the items in the supplementary budget ridiculously inhumane. It is like “After all, the President has approved Prado SUVs in our favor, why shouldn’t his Excellency be allowed to enjoy the evening breeze with his sweetheart (the First Lady) in his multibillion naira Presidential Yacht?” Why shouldn’t the First Lady have assorted cars in her unconstitutional “ministry” (the Office of the First Lady)?
If I were the First Lady, I would advise the President against that profligacy. I would address the President thus: “My dear husband! Olowo Ori Mi! Mai Gida Na! Billions of naira need not to be budgeted for my office to purchase cars because Nigerians are suffering and the suffering is unprecedented. In addition, I am a mother and, currently, Nigerians see me as their mother—being the First Lady. I am not just the First Lady, there has never been a first lady like me. I was a senator for many years, the former First Lady of the former capital of Nigeria (Lagos), and now the Nigerian First Lady. What kind of car have I not ridden? I am not new to enjoying life. What kind of enjoyment have I not enjoyed?”
“My dear husband! You are not impressing me by budgeting this humongous amount of money to purchase cars for use in my office. You know (and I know) that this office is unconstitutional. Okay, though, being a human, I appreciate having a formal office as the First Lady, I am yet to understand how I will better the lot of the suffering Nigerian masses with the number of latest cars budgeted for my office. I suggest that this huge amount of money should be used to launch a pet project (probably in my name through my office) which will advance the cause of vulnerable girls, women, widows, and orphans. Women are known for their tenderness; I am a woman. I am tired of seeing Nigerians suffering and bleeding.”
“My dear husband, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, I was shocked when I was told that you budgeted 1.5 billion naira for my office just to buy cars in the supplementary budget. I am just thinking; how much would you have budgeted if it were in the main budget? Now I realize that your love for me is unquestionably untainted and undiluted. I have also observed that your love for me is not only limited to the Oza Room and you do not treat me like one who belongs to the Oza Room. How did I know? You have, times without number, proudly shown and showered me love even in public. I appreciate all this. But as a good wife who wants you to succeed as president, I will advise that we should show love to Nigerian masses. This should be reflected in your policies which must essentially be pro-masses. I know you have a listening ear and you want to succeed.”
“Dear, also know that I am not, and you should not be, in competition with former President Buhari and his family. Whatever he did that is right, build on it and do it better. Whatever he did that is wrong, it is wrong for us to repeat it. When you said you will start from where Buhari stopped, I felt like the earth should swallow me. I felt like committing suicide.”
“No! No! No! My dear Tinubu! You cannot start from where Buhari stopped. That will be too catastrophic. Could that be the reason why our son Seyi—as if competing with Buhari’s daughter—flew the presidential jet to watch polo games in Kano State? I was chilled to the marrow when I heard how taxpayers reacted to that profligacy. And let’s tell ourselves the truth, the taxpayers have the right to insult us because they cannot pay tax through their nose and by their sweat only to watch that broad daylight profligacy. I just hope such will not repeat itself again.”
However, it is unfortunate that I am not the First Lady. Not only that, I am not even a woman. So, there is no hope of becoming a first lady forever. Yet, I think wives of Nigerian rulers at the state and the federal level should learn how to counsel their husbands on how not to turn the masses into punching bags with their suffocating policies. If I were a first lady, I would use my position to add a human face to whatever my husband intends to execute as public policy.
Quickly on the FCT Minister
Former Governor Nyesom Wike is just too powerful. I think his power is too much for Abuja and he is looking for where to display it to the fullest. River State is, of course, the place to go. I wonder why he is not the Nigerian President with this strength of his. The ongoing political comedy between Minister Wike and Governor Sim Fubara is another sad chapter in the Nigeria’s political textbook. Let’s see who blinks first. Already some Nigerians have this to say: “Wicked Wike wants to swap a stubborn SIM but the network failed him.” Nigerians! I hail una!
I my last week column, I made reference to a Friday sermon by Sheikh Ahmad Gumi. The sermon was not actually given on the pulpit on Friday as I wrote. It was given in another religious gathering. Readers should take note, but Sheikh Gumi’s outburst remains condemnable.