Real change representatives and parliamentary option

WITHOUT the 71 lawmakers who tabled a motion for Nigeria to return to the parliamentary option last week, our four years of “change” would have passed without any proposal to change anything from all the things that have brought us to where we are today as a country .

I saw one pitiable professor on TV last Friday, struggling with words as he laboured in vain to deny the fact that most of our problems are structural. For him, all our problems were caused in “16 years of PDP” and I wondered how much thought he impacted on his students in his teaching days if he could not think through his line of thought and its cul-de-sac.

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The professor is about to repeat a class failed by him and his principal and the Director-General of their bid is a man who was governor for eight years out of those 16. There were governorship elections in 30 states in 2015 and 20 out of his party’s candidates were active members in those years.

When a former governor under the PDP who later became the leader of the PDP in the Senate was about to seek refuge under the broom that sweeps away all allegations recently, it was the lot of our dear Prof to conduct baptismal classes for him before his own Oga for eight years of those 16 years and whose own acts in government would make those who ran the “16” years at the centre look like saints went ahead to canonise the gentleman.

In those 16 years of the PDP, a few of the current operators who did not carry the cards of the former ruling party were very loud against corruption in the land. They said the ancient regime lied about subsidy and that whoever talks about subsidy is a fraudster. I shook my head as the Prof defended subsidy on fuel with everything in him.

The junior minister of petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, shocked the country in April this year when he declared that annual expenditure on fuel subsidy has risen to over N1.4 trillion, an expenditure he described as “under-recovery” for supply of petroleum products across the country.

The figure he gave meant about N3.76 billion is spent daily on subsidising petrol when the current president voiced that only a fraud king would talk about subsidy in Nigeria.

It was a staggering 386 per cent higher than the earlier figure of N774 million daily given on March 5, 2018 by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, for the importation and distribution of petroleum products in the country.

There has also been a lot of propaganda about fighting corruption in the last three and a half years. The very successful war has looked the other way when a governor was captured on video, allegedly receiving bribes in millions of dollars. The man the DSS arrested and accused of collecting $50m bribes selling party tickets remains the chairman of Mr President and is likely going to raise his hands if the party kicked off its presidential campaign before the February 16 election. As I write this, nothing has been heard four weeks after the deadline given the panel set up by the president on the case of the NHIS boss, who was followed by axe-wielding policemen to break the doors of his locked office when the NHIS board had to act in the place of the president when it could no longer bear alleged corruption under the man once recalled by the president from ministerial suspension over corruption.

The sour joke in the country today is that a corrupt person in our country just needed to be close to one of the most corrupt men in the country to have a soft-landing when under heat!

How did we find ourselves here? It is not necessarily the 16 years or three plus years that ail us. That line of thinking is superficial and pedestrian. The sad reality is that our problems are largely institutional and structural and this has once again been proved by the way our “change agents” of four years ago have totally disintegrated today.

It takes a certain degree of deceptiveness for anyone to want to cling to what we have on ground now and be fooling the unwary that he wants to fight corruption. One of the greatest causes of corruption in our system today is the presidential system of government that has committed us to spend over 70 per cent of our resources to overhead.

A system that makes every village in the country the constituency of whoever wants to be president is nothing but the incubator of corruption. We deceive ourselves in the order of our anti-corruption joke that we have a ceiling on election campaign fund for a presidential candidate at N1 billion. When a candidate has to tell cock and bull stories from payment for expression of interest form within his party, go through rallies all over the country, put adverts in the media, pay cheerleaders and thugs and buy votes (which is now becoming institutional) in our season of “change,” are we talking of N1 billion?

There are 119,973 polling units across the county for which a serious presidential candidates must have at least one agent. If a candidate has to give N5,000 allowance to each agent, he has to cough out N6 billion. That kind of money does not come from raising cows or any petty business. It comes from corruption. How can any president prosecute anti-corruption war against those who provide such money?

This is why we must thank those 71 representatives who have tabled a motion asking Nigeria to return to the parliamentary system where your small constituency is all you have to win to become the leader of the country through negotiations in parliament. Those are the guys thinking real change.

And the empirical evidence is there. The top 10 least corrupt countries in the world (Canada, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand, and Denmark) based on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), are all run on the unitary parliamentary system.

The convener of Northern Elders Forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi, summed it up beautifully when he said: “The parliamentary system should have been better for us because, I believe, in a diverse country like our own, parliamentary system gives you the opportunity that you elect your representatives and the executive branch of government is largely, almost completely made up of elected people because you cannot be a minister in a parliamentary system of government until you are elected from your constituency.

“So you are accountable to your constituency and then your prime minister will nominate you and then you will become accountable to the parliament as well as to the prime minister and so on. But what we have today is that if you are in the good book of either a governor or the president, you wake up in the morning and then you are a commissioner, even though you don’t know your own village, you don’t know the people in your area.”

A parliamentary system will allow people with ideas and talent but without access to illicit funds that currently run our politics access to power. The presidential system is turning our politics to one big crime field where drug peddlers, 419ners and other allied crooks are having a field day.

FEEDBACK

Re:Aisha Buhari:The man standing in APC

Dear Yinka,

Thank you for the above article. It is a pity that most Nigerian men have refused to recognise, though at their own detriment, the power of the female folk. This may be one of the reasons the male dominated education policy makers removed the teaching of history from primary and secondary schools curriculum at a point. They never wanted the present generation of Nigerian females to know the likes of Funmilayo Kuti, Margret Ekpo, Queen Amina, Sawaba Gambo and the roles they played in the making of Nigeria. Even the role of women in the Aba women’s riot of 1929 has been forced out of our heads.

Nigerian men should read the modern history of South Africa and Eriteria and they will marvel at the excellent role played by women in the liberation struggles of these two nations. We must understand that the women are stronger than the men in some aspects of life. Some examples will do. Firstly, women can withstand stress more than men. They have effective and better stress coping strategies than men. Secondly, they can easily let out emotions and save themselves from sudden death caused by accumulated bottled-up negative and positive emotions. No wonder our men have become endangered species in Nigeria. If a census is taken of Nigerians who die of hypertension and stroke, we will find out that men are in the majority. While the men are hassling and pursuing money, position and power, the women are taking life easy and working step by step to manage us and the kids.

We all remember that when masked DSS operatives invaded the National Assembly complex this 2018, it was only a female lawmaker who stood face to face with the masked men and told them a piece of her mind. How many male lawmakers could do what she did? One or two of them just stood around, shoke  their head and moved off.

It is a pity that President Buhari does not appreciate and realise the assets he has in his wife. It was him who promised us “change” in 2015, but forgot that the “change” has to start with himself. This is because any change must begin in the mind for it to be effective.

I doff my hat and also raise the victory sign for Aisha Buhari for standing tall among men who have made themselves dwarfs in the APC because they have lost their moral compass for a pot of soup. She still has her values and moral compass intact. This is why she will remain: “Aisha Bihari: The ‘man’ standing in APC.” Nobody can deny her this apt and befitting title you have given her.

—Tony O. Ekwe.

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