ANALYSIS: Cameron’s Resignation, The Nigerian Democratic Culture And ValueArticles/Opinion, Featured, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Friday, July 15th, 2016
By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau
Another history was made in UK Wednesday, July 13, 2016. On that day, the immediate past Prime Minister (PM) Mr. David Cameron ‘acted’ his earlier resolve to exit 10 Downing Street due to his opposition to #Brexit which his country’s Wednesday, June 23, 2016 referendum favoured. Right after the 52 per cent “Yes” and 48 per cent “No” voting result became public knowledge, the political history which was made, over 48 hours ago in Britain, was the high point of Cameron’s immediate reaction.
Interestingly, the youthful looking former PM and his family’s vacation from 10 Downing street attracted no bitterness; rancour; meddlesome from anywhere. Rather, Cameron left under the atmosphere filled with fun; warmness and exchange of pleasantries. And to add to the fun, his last questions session with the Common drew deafening applaud and torrent tributes from members. The ex-PM himself was elated; felt fulfilled and declared without hesitation that he left a UK which is better than what he met six years ago (May, 2010) when he assumed office. This happened far away in UK, a clime geographically trailing behind Nigeria with difference of an hour.
The question one might want to ask here is that what actually is the driving force for this type of development to have unfolded in the first place? Well, let me first state that I agree to the allusion that, there is no perfect democracy anywhere in the world. Still, it is clear that some climes appreciate and give respect to the set rules, regulations as well as societal ethos. I mean these places despite admitting that, committing crimes or certain blunders is inevitable, still accord due respect to public offices and institutions. In countries where there is political advancement and democratic maturity, the people and their views really matter in formulation of policies. But when the otherwise happens, the public office holders suffer the grievous consequences of their actions.
As we speak today, the Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is on suspension after losing the country’s Senate impeachment vote. Ms. Rousseff was being punished for directing manipulation of Brazil’s budget and lying about the state of the country’s economy during her first tenure, all in the scheming to attain re-election. Also, the memory will remain green of former US President Bill Clinton and the White House intern Monica Lewinsky sex scandal. The saga almost truncated the second term of the former Democratic President in the late 1990’s. There are so many of reported and otherwise stories of civilians and public servants who had at one time or the other punished for moral related cases or voluntarily resigned their appointments on moral ground.
It might interest the readers to hear that former Conservative Leader and immediate past PM Cameron succeeded Mr. Gordon Brown of Labour party, who also bowed out of office through resignation as his administration was faced with the challenge of policy direction and opposition from the public.
In a spirited move to enjoy the public support, Mr. Cameron, who is the youngest PM in about 200 years of UK political history, in his maiden speech vowed to jettison party differences and govern “in the national interest”. Ironically, he left having realized that his personal view ran contrary to what the people wanted. On her own, Cameron’s successor Mrs. Theresa May later Wednesday in her speech after the appointment by the Queen of England, similarly pledged to run a government that is not concerned with, and favorable to the “privileged few”, rather, stand by the average and poor. Giving the antecedent of the Western political culture, Mrs. May might also end up in the way of her predecessors if she along the line, lost the public confidence.
I am not here justifying Britain exit from EU, rather, the principles and philosophy being advanced and canvassed by me is strictly about appreciating the importance; relevance and influence of the people as well as their power in nurturing; growing and sustaining democratic government; culture and values. If you ask me about this in Nigeria, my answer is that, we lack the value and maturity, hence the long pace we, as a country still need to cover.
Among other relevant instances, I have decided to narrow down to the alleged criminal conducts of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and lately, his Deputy Ike Ekeremadu.
Today, the first lawmaker in Nigeria is facing alleged false assets declaration and anticipatory assets acquisition trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). He is also the third defendant in another suit, in another court over alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rules used to conduct his election and Deputy in July, 2015. The full gists of the stories are in the public domain.
If we attempt the question; that what is the gravity of the reason Mr. Cameron willingly resigned from office and alleged crimes hanging around Saraki? As I distance myself from the alleged political angle (persecution resentment), yet, the true must be told that the occupation of Saraki of that esteemed office carries a heavy moral burden; so, it is a shame to him, the Senate, its members and a big question mark on our democratic value.
The situation is very disturbing and embarrassing. Saraki and his supporters occupy a honourable law chamber, but regrettably, they have failed to be honourable in their thoughts and actions. They have since last year till date, his trials began, deployed so many mischievous and unfortunately self-indicting tactics to either halt, trivialize or politicize the allegations and trials.
Saraki, owing to the low level of our democratic culture declines to step aside as the President of Senate, pending the time his ongoing trials lasts, instead, was jumping from one court to another; deploying rhetoric; hoping to get “jankara” judgment.
If Senator Saraki is very sure he is indeed innocent as he has insisted, why has it been so difficult for him to vacate his position and face his trial squarely, persecution allegation or not as being demanded by the public? If Senator Saraki were to be in a saner society; where dignity and integrity are appreciated and where institutions are accorded due regard, it is certain that he would have voluntarily left the hallowed chamber or be impeached. But this is Nigeria; our democracy is still in its ‘toddler’ age, no wonder, all silly advances and moves still thrive.
Senator Saraki and his men in the National Assembly (NASS) in a desperate move to frustrate his trial for instance, have attempted amendment to the Law that established CCT. Having tested the public opinion and realized it was not favourable, the move was tactically rested. The latest drive by Saraki and his colleagues (supporters) is to smuggle into the constitution, immunity for the NASS Principal Officers. The move as expected and as witnessed in the House this week Wednesday, was opposed from the onset, not only by the fellow lawmakers, but a good percentage of members of the public. It is very, very shameful that Senator Saraki and his supporters were busy, not only scheming that he (Saraki) remained on the “undeserving” seat, but have also unfortunately failed to be matured in the manner they go about their mischief as the reasons for all their sinister plots were obviously exposed.
Unfortunately, Saraki’s trials and his Deputy has never for once, stopped to be ruffling feathers in the red chamber. The latest of this was Wednesday’s friction between the pompous and loquacious Kogi Senator Dino Melaye and no-nonsense colleague from Lagos, Oluremi Tinubu.
From Senator Tinubu’s narration, Melaye was accused of always threatening other colleagues. Honestly, I take exception in the words such as “dog” and “thug” allegedly used by the Lagos Lawmaker on her Kogi voluble colleague. If Melaye merited such adjectives used on him by Senator Tinubu in the first place, it is not for her to utter them or use such gutter words on him (Melaye) in that setting. Having said that, the avowed Saraki’s supporter Melaye, justified his unruly and reckless nature, which of course, already known to the public.
Senator Melaye as he is one of the politicians who pretend to be justice ‘fighters’ and advocate of due diligence as well as free democracy but ironically, insist that Saraki must remain the Senate President despite his trials, lost the rather free respect he would have freely earned on the matter. As usual, he was garrulous, immature and so lost in his counter verbal assault. He in the end, turned his case at the Senate EXCO session and later (in his actions) on the saga to justify a Yoruba idiomatic expression: “Ebu alo ni ti Ijapa; ti abo ni ti ana e” (the initial blame is for the tortoise; later for its in-law). If the Kogi Senator had maintained his cool at the stormy Senate EXCO session, the apology the public is demanding from him now, should have ordinarily be from Senator Tinubu.
The South West Senator is not known to be a lousy or irritant fellow. She is a very intelligent, cultured and respected Yoruba woman. I am sure if Melaye has demanded for withdrawal of the statement from her, and the case is put before the public as it were, I can vouch, Senator Tinubu would have gladly obliged. But Melaye has turned the heat to himself, as he further ditched himself. On Thursday, he messed by touting Senator Tinubu, saying she has reached menopause, therefore could not have threatened to impregnate her. Thrash! Nonsesns! Is it not the same allegation (dog, thug and childish) Senator Tinubu leveled against him and with regards to threatening his colleagues while efforts of peaceful reconciliation was still in the making at the session, that triggered the verbal exchange between the duo?
Melaye is very haughty. He also cuts the image of an opportunist. Therefore, the traits he had displayed ever since his days at the House till date, is expected and never surprising to the Nigerian political watchers.
Nigeria with Saraki; his position; his ordeals and attendant rumpus is paying dearly for her present state of political advancement and democratic culture as well as value. Had the man at the centre of the debate and his followers appreciated integrity (as demonstrated by Cameron) and others at other times; he would have resigned his position, allowed his trials to be concluded freely, then, the Wednesday’s squabble at the Senate EXCO meeting would not have taken place in the first place and the country would have been saved from the ensuing needless controversy.
For sure, Nigerian democracy will not thrive with most of the characters constituting the present NASS Leadership. They have demonstrated the same shameful traits in the passing of 2016 budget bill. Saraki and his supporters especially those from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have made the statement clearly, that they are not with their party and most regrettably, with the anti-corruption drive of President Muhammadu Buhari.
I am not bother about the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senators on their solidarity for Saraki. The 16 years of their party in power were sad tale; they caused the present woes of the country, therefore, if they are partners in crimes, it is normal (for them); as crimes; impunity and deceit are their trademarks. “Baggage in; baggage out”.
Finally, one factor which is a source of hope for me is the strong political will of President Buhari to carry on, especially on the fight against corruption; making Nigerians to live a realistic life and begin the era of earning what you work for. The beginning is very tough I totally agree, yet, Nigeria is presently on the track to a fundamental shift in its political orientation; a change in its political system and democratic culture and value. What is being witnessed right now is a journey to where our political office holders will be transparent and accountable to the people. It is the beginning of a journey to long- advocate for developing and advancing of our public institutions and not the occupants as the case used to be in the past. President Buhari’s uncommon political will, will lead Nigeria to the era when public officers will begin to honorably vacate their offices when there is need, and stop calling sugar honey; black white, in an attempt to deceive; gain public sympathy and stay on, in the office. Overtime, we shall get to Cameron, Brown, Rousseff among other exemplary levels. It is just a matter of time, I have the hope.
Mr. Fashola; Rescue Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway Please!
As a Lagos State resident, I followed the eight years (2007-2015) of the current Minister of Works, Power and Housing as the State’s Governor. The Lawyer turned politician is a gift to Lagos State and a blessing, as the Chief Executive of the former Nigerian capital. Fashola changed the face of governance not only in his State, but across the country and later became a role model for other Governors in Nigeria. His case was so unprecedented to the extent that the opposition party and its members while he was Governor, could not resist singing his praises for seconding all other things for governance. To put it other way, Minister Fashola trailed the blaze of championing the real “good governance” in Nigeria. If you ask me, this country needs more of BRF for a steady and sustainable democratic development. This accounted for why I hailed Mr. President’s decision to have given him the three key portfolios. Although, I fault his recent approach with regards to hike in electricity tariff. Up till moment, I maintain the position that Government and other stakeholders must do the needful before reviewing the pay for a service which is not available for now.
Despite the facts painted here, I am worried about the present state of the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway. I understand the works have resumed in some other linked highways across the country, save the Lagos-Abeokuta highway. Minister sir, this road has collapsed, therefore, you and your team must do an extensive inspection of the it, (provided you have not) so as to evaluate its level of ruin and the need to urgently commence the deserving repair. Mr. Fashola, please act now!
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