The Nigeria Parliament both at the state and federal levels, have had a chequered history from independence to date. Of all the arms of our government, the legislative arm can be described as the youngest and less experience. One of the reasons for that status of our parliament, is perhaps because, at all times the military took over power, the law making body is usually the most affected. The executive and the judicial arms were usually preserved by each of the military who had at one time or the other foisted themselves on the people of Nigeria. However, from 1999 to date, our country has had unbroken democratic governance with three arms of government in place.
The issue arising for consideration is how has the legislative arm of our government faired; or put differently, how has our “Honourable members” of our State and Federal Parliaments honour themselves and this nation?
It must be quickly pointed out that, our political experiment between 1999 till date, particularly our legislative arm, has revealed the good, the bad and the ugly. No doubt, some of our parliamentarians, both at the State and Federal levels have indeed proven themselves to be worthy representative of the people. This group of our legislatures are the few voices who are concerned and indeed at every time will rise in defence of the weak and the helpless. They belong to the group that will not divert what is meant for their constituency to their private pocket. They work relentlessly having faith in the survival and prosperity of our nationhood. This group is in the minority.
It is sad that the legislative arm, in terms of those persons manning it from 1999 till date, they have consistently tread a path that cannot be called honour. Men who are called “Honourable men”, are so called because they have honour in them. They are persons of noble admiration, moral rectitude and standard worthy of emulation, not only by their immediate constituency but by the majority of the people of our country.
It is a paradox that those who are addressed as “Honourable”, do not even have a trace of honour in them. They often display the character and attitude of most uncivilized persons, attitude even a little less than that of street boys.
It is high time we as a nation, began to reckon with individual accomplishments in contributing to the well being of our people rather than official generalization of persons. A large percentage of such generalization by reason of the offices such persons occupy, are usually not a true reflection of those we call “Honourabe members”. Events over the years have shown that, many of those “Honourable members” are people who can not be properly called parents. People who are morally bankrupt, people who have completely failed to live exemplary life even in their houses, but have through whatever means got themselves to where they are now called the “Honourable” even when they do not know what it means to be honourable.
A chronicle of our parliament, particularly in response to their name “Honourable” is not only sad by an irony. From the National Assembly to the State Houses of Assembly, the free fight of lions in the zoo appears to me to be much more civilized and rational. The lions in the zoo fight against oppression, anti survival etc. Our “Honourable men”, most times fight for their individual gains to the detriment of those they ought to represent.
The Punch newspaper of Thursday, July 11 2013, captured in my mind the mood and the definition of Nigerians of our “Honourable members”. While writing on the recent Rivers State House of Assembly saga at page 8, the paper puts it this way:
“For the umpteenth time, Nigerians were shocked on Tuesday by the news of a nasty brawl among members of the second Estate of the Realm. This time, the battle ground was the Rivers State House of Assembly. The conflict was between a small group of law makers opposed to the governor of the state Rotimi Ameachi, and the latter’s supporters, who were in the majority.
The cause of the mayhem, which is the subject of a raging debate across the country, is an attempt by the anti Amaechi law makers to remove the Speaker, Otelemba Amachree, whom they accused of ineptitude, and install one of its own, Evans Bipi in his place.
The action had angered other members of the House, especially those in support of the governor, and a fight ensued between the rebellious five and thirteen others. About three law makers were injured in the process…”
It is no longer news, and Nigerians are no longer too surprise when things of this kind happens, whenever and wherever our “Honourable men” are gathered. I am sure, that it will be a whole lot of news, if the reverse is the case i.e our “Honourable men” doing their legislative business and there is no fight, their usual bitter entertainment.
List of unbecoming behaviour of our “Honourable Members” abound. Nigeria will not forget in a hurry the free for all fight at the House of Representative in the infamous days of Dimiji Bankole, the then Speaker of the Nigeria House of Representative. The fight that broke out that day, 23rd of June 2010 was a display of rascality to the entire world and the innocent school children who came to watch the proceedings that day.
On the 23rd day of February, 2012, the members of Edo State Parliament had their turn to show to the world how indeed “Honourable” they were. Even in their agbada and suit outfits, beneath them, were dangerous weapons which they freely used to vent their angers on fellow members.
On the 5th day of March, 2013, Ogun State House of Assembly, during plenary, engaged themselves in what “our Honourable members” know how to do best. They engaged themselves in most wild entertainment of fight, destroyed the symbol of authority: the mace of the House. In Lagos State, fellow “Honourable” men besieged court premises in solidarity for the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly facing criminal charges of money laundry and other related offences with some other persons.
The list of this most disgraceful and shameful display and disposition of “our Honourable Members” are endless. From the Federal to the State down to even our Local Government Counselors who also at any given time will want to be called and addressed as “Honouarable…”
The issue involve here cannot be called personal because these people, who ought to be representative of a given people have failed in their social contract with the people they represent. The shame, the disgrace, the ridicule and all such other things that are incidental to their acts or omission are directly or indirectly visited on us, Nigerians, particularly in the eyes of the international communities.
THE WAY FORWARD
Nigerians are at the receiving end of the acts or omission of these our “Honourable members”. It therefore behooves on all of use not only to speak against the use of this appellation but to act against the use. We must take a deliberate step to ensure an end is brought to this irony of usage.