When the House of Representatives summoned President Buhari over the recent killing of over 100 farmers in Zabarmari, Borno state by Boko Haram, no one fully aware of what is happening in this country expected him to appear. The President’s handlers will not allow him to take unscripted questions except it is absolutely necessary.
Asides the fact that this administration’s inability to protect Nigerians is irrefutable and that the President’s ability to intelligently weave through questions is doubtful, Buhari has displayed a high propensity whether as a result of mental infirmity or not, to digress from questions he is being asked to matters totally unrelated to them.
There is the UN General Assembly question on Nigerian youths where he pulled out a written speech to speak about climate change and the DW interview where he was asked about his proposed fight on corruption and he responded with some talk about oil companies in an unrelated context. There is also the NTA special interview where he was asked ‘Who Is Muhammadu Buhari’ and he started blabbing about teachers.
Nigerians deserve answers as to why the President would admit his service chiefs were not doing enough after 5 years and still retain those very same men despite the killing of innocent Nigerians at an unprecedented rate.
For emphasis, Nigerians don’t expect Buhari to subject himself to questions because he has failed indefensible. That they have sat down and tolerated the worst government in the history of this country doesn’t however mean that they should be made fools.
It was with utter disgust they had to watch the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila go to the villa to ‘water the ground’ for Buhari’s appearance before the House and emerge to tell pressmen that Buhari will address the house. Since when does the House of Representatives summon people to ‘address’ it?.
The legislature as an arm supposed to act as a check on the executive and safeguard a democracy doesn’t invite whomsoever they are dissatisfied with to come and read from a piece of paper or reel out some rehearsed words, their appearance is demanded (the failure to comply which necessitates an arrest warrant) to come and clarify as to a certain situation. They are asked questions and they respond.No one summoned has ever appeared before the House to ‘address’ it.
While it is no secret the leaders of the National Assembly were picked to enable the executive to have its way, the manner in which Gbajabiamila, in particular, has conducted himself is disgraceful. Under him, a petition was sent to Buhari over the refusal of the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, the MD of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, the GMD of the NNPC, Mele Kyari and the DG of the Bureau for Public Enterprises, Alex Okoh to appear and defend allegations of financial irregularities. The constitution clearly states in Section 89 (1) (d) that any arm of the national assembly whose summons to appear is disobeyed without that person adducing a reasonable excuse as to why he couldn’t come, should be compelled to do so via an arrest warrant with that same person covering all expenses incurred in effecting that arrest.
The above-named persons ignored the house and instead of their arrest as stipulated by law, a letter to Buhari was what was deemed appropriate. And now that Buhari himself has been summoned, with no shame at all, Gbajabiamila went to beg him to appear. We have learnt to live with a lot and even though no one expects the Nigerian police to arrest the President as the constitution provides (note that his immunity extends only to prosecution), it is appalling to have to plead with him and come out all smiles to tell the world he has agreed to ‘address’ the house.
The shameful antics of Gbajabiamila’s house shouldn’t surprise anyone but this is a very sensitive matter we are talking about the loss of innocent Nigerian lives to terrorists our troops are actively fighting and which the President has released over 2000 of with none charged to court. People are dying every day. If they aren’t dying in Borno, they are dying in Katsina, Zamfara or Kaduna. Any politician with a little class even if he shares the same bedroom with the President would worry about the possible implications of licking his boots in public when a matter this sensitive comes up.
You can’t disagree with anyone as the #EndSARS protests have proven, who says if these killings were going on in the South, they would have stood up to government by now. Buhari who anointed him speaker will leave in about 2 years and if he places him above anything else, he will go back to Lagos and never return to Abuja.
Nigerians have had to endure the very shameless cessation of all probes till after their vacation and the fact that no mention has been made of them after over 2 months of resumption. There is honour even among thieves and a consensus has been reached to desist from embarrassing fellow ‘comrades’ in government. The South-South is a quite bullish lot and once the NNDC probe started to create the impression the region was the only one looting this nation, you knew they would want the picture to depict the true state of affairs and in no time, the House minority leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu raised the issue of N100bn embezzlement at the North East Development Commission.
The majority leader of the House, Hon. Alhassan Doguwa from Kano subsequently issued a statement saying all probes will be suspended till they were back from break. Whatever financial irregularities Emefiele, Hadiza Usman, Mele Kyari et al need to come and clarify can he waved aside, the House of Representatives has ‘offed the mic’ and has pretended not to even notice so while wishing it all out of the consciousness of Nigerians.
They at least owe us all the decency to treat issues relating to the loss of lives without insulting our collective intelligence.
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is based in Kano