National Assembly & Ali Ndume’s Removal: Implication on Nigeria’s Nascent Democracy –Ishola Adebayo

April 7, 2017

Just like we highlighted last week, the drama continued. As ever, our hallowed chamber is the scene of attention with different gladiators politically arm-wrestling each other. For a long time it seems as if the essence of governance and the role they have to play has been forgotten or swept down the drain. Just like it happened in January, a gladiator was caught, this time aware unlike the other time.

Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South) was suspended by the Nigerian Senate for triggering investigations into allegations of forgery against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Kogi senator, Dino Melaye. News reports accused Mr. Saraki of importing a Range Rover SUV without paying appropriate import duty, and attempting to clear the vehicle with falsified papers. On the other hand, Mr. Melaye was accused of falsely claiming to have graduated from Ahmadu Bello University.

According to Ndume, the Senate has integrity to protect as those allegations were published on the front page of newspapers hence, the house must duly investigate those issues and take necessary measures. In response to Ndume’s call, the Senate dismissed both allegations, and sanctioned Mr. Ndume by suspending him for six months. Your thought is as good as mine, for suggesting the Red Chambers to investigate issues surrounding its integrity?

As expected, the suspension raised a lot of eyebrows especially among the people of Borno. Not long after his suspension, delegations were seen going to visit the Senate President, all in a bid to reinstate Ndume. Quite alright, some schools of thought believe that Ndume should have properly investigated the issue before presenting it before the whole house but really, he belongs to the Senate and he has the right to raise whatsoever issue is bothering the integrity of the institution and even if he should be penalized for the ‘false alarm’, it shouldn’t be for a long period because the 6 months would be calculated based on the number of days the senate sit for plenary. For the purpose of democracy, he was elected by the people of Borno South because they felt he is going to represent them well at the upper chamber, now that he is on suspension, who will defend their interest for over a calendar year?

Still, we cannot but link these scenarios to the 2019 race. At one point or the other, every political principal is trying as much as possible to be relevant and probably eliminate the chances of a prospective opposition. You either join the train or you remain discarded, partially or totally. Right from the period Ndume was politically replaced by Lawan as the Senate Majority leader, the handwritings were gradually becoming obvious even to a blind man. The people Ndume accused are strong men of the legislature who belong to a powerful caucus in the house to which Ndume belong before now. So it is right to say he played into their hands and he was dealt with accordingly.

Definitely, the end will always justify the means. As a Distinguished member of the Nigerian Senate, bringing the matter up at plenary was too open and tends to cast aspersions on the integrity of the Senate. Still banking on his experience, he should have employed the right means in tabling his concerns. We may rightly say he is aware of the outcome before saying it out.

Whatever happened to lobbying? As it stands, he has held the people of his constituency to ransom. He belongs to the Senate and he has to obey the rules of engagement at the chamber. On the other hand, if he feels the suspension is unjust, he can seek succor from the judiciary, it is democracy anyway.

Moving forward, this is a clarion call to all eligible voters across all constituencies in the country to properly select or elect those who represent them at various political positions. Once voted in, these politicians should actually project the concerns of those who they are representing and not dive into unnecessary personal political brouhaha which ultimately distort the process of good governance.

In a case where a particular arm of government is displaying excesses in their conduct, the principle of checks and balance must be put into place. Though we practice a democratic system, the people that occupy those democratic positions must do that with openness, fairness and with utmost sincerity leaving room for good governance.

In pursuit of a corrupt-free society, we hope the President will see to ensuring that sanity prevails in the land, transparency, accountability and #OpenNASS will be guiding philosophy of the legislative arm of government so as to maintain the proper doctrines of good governance as soon as possible.

The masses are however still expecting the change they voted for.