Opinion

The inevitability of Instability in the National Assembly( NASS).

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By Fenny J Fwa

For the avoidance of being accused of plagiarism, I have to quickly state here that the title of this piece is lifted from a well researched paper on the ills of Nigeria state by one Professor O’ Cornell of the then Department of political science, ABU, Zaria. I was not in ABU when he wrote the piece in 1975. He was immediately deported by Nigerian Government for the paper being too offensive to the then military Government. I don’t want to bore you with the contents, but when you read this piece, you can deduce what could have been contained in that paper.
What is happening in the National Assembly should be a source of concern to all Nigerians that are stake holders in the Nigerian project. We have travelled this road severally times and at the end of the journey is all about movement but no motion and the Nigerian state is worse of in terms of the provision of democratic dividends. Remember in 1999, there was a fierce contest between Late Evans Ewearam and late Cuba Okadigbo for the office of the senate presidency. Ewearem emerged victorious, but the victory was short lived as Okadigbo toppled him and became the senate president just for a while before some forces within installed Adalphous Wabara as the senate president. It was because of the instability in NASS that Okadigbo warned Adalphous Wabara his successor to be wary of the banana peel domiciled in office of the senate president which could lead to him being thrown out. It was the leadership of Anyim Pius Anyim who took over from Wabara that eventually stabilized the senate.
The House of Representatives could have suffered the same fate but for resilience and political sagacity of Ghali Na Aba who fought the Executive to a stand still. Despite the seeming stability in House of Representatives then, the altercation affected adversely governance within the period and because of his fierce independence and alliance with forces perceived not to be with OBJ led by Atiku Abibakar, the forces loyal to OBJ made sure that he was defeated at 2003 general election thus depriving the nation of his vast experience and competence in legislation.
Notwithstanding the manner the amiable Aminu Tambowul, the outgone speaker of House of Representatives was brought to power which was against the interest of his party, the PDP, His election brought stability to hitherto rancorous House of Representatives until towards the end of his tenure. Same can be said of the senate presidency of David Mark. For the first time the leadership was led by one man for 8 unbroken years.
The two some namely Tambowul and Mark attained some measure of legislative stability because they were able to carry all the major stake holders in the real politic of NASS. They related very well with their party, the Executive without compromising the independence of the legislature and most importantly they carried the interest of their colleagues in terms of their welfare, balancing interest of various groups through the three Cs that is compromise, consultation and consolidation.
It’s debatable if they were able to bring about quantum leap in the development of Nigeria as that was the primary reason they were there, one can however say with high degree of certainty that they fiercely preserved and protected the interests of members of NASS which more often than not were at variance with the interests of the Nigerian people.
I don’t think one can say the same thing with the present crop of the leadership of NASS who have unfortunately adopted the attitude of winner takes all and are frontally, without blinking of their eyes , taking on their party the APC, the governors and to a large extent the president who to quote Atiku Abubakar is a leader and not a politician. This attitude plausible as it looks may in the long may be counterproductive to his presidency.
My take on this is that though i cherish the independence of legislature, but it can’t live in an island. Whether they like it or not, it is extremely important that they carry along the party that brought them to power. The Executive and other stake holders are equally important. Pandering to the interest a few could spell disaster to the leadership of NASS.
Just imagine Dogara that won by only 8 votes refusing to carry the Femi Gbajambila group that has about 50% of the members of the house in appointment of its leadership. This an invitation of chaos as we saw played out in the house on Thursday 25th of June where there was free for all fight. God knows how long this will continue. His

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