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Monday, July 18

See What makes Nigerian politicians superior to the British

NIGERIA, the giant of Africa, and its colonial master, Great Britain are facing trying times. But their  political classes are handling matters in contrasting styles. Brexit is the main headache of Britain, but the wise Nigerian politicians would never have  played themselves into such a corner; rather than a referendum on crucial matters, they would decide for the people. New Prime Minister Theresa May composed most of her cabinet within twenty four hours; for her, there is work and it needs to get done quickly. But that speed also revealed the lack of a democratic system. 

In Nigeria given needed consultations, political balancing  and stress of a government change, appointing Ministers is not a tea party; it can take half a year or more. Those who caused Britain the stress are the leaders of the Brexit campaign who ordinarily should be punished, but May is handing them sensitive positions. A man as heady  as  Boris Johnson who led the pack, was appointed Foreign Secretary to finish executing the exit. Mrs. Andrea Leadsom who challenged May to the top post was appointed Secretary of State  for Environment and Rural affairs. In Nigeria, such a rival would have been consigned to the Siberia of politics.  Such appointment cannot happen in the most populous black country where  loyalty to the leader must be 100 percent, anything less, is disloyalty. 

The decision by David Cameron to leave office because Britons  decided to reject  his advice  to stay in the EU, is unwise. In this part of the world, if a leader gives such an advise and the populace rejects it, that would not be his headache; that will be the people’s ‘funeral’. Certainly, a leader will not resign over such a mundane issue. Poor Cameron, he is not bordered about the money he and his family would have made  remaining Prime Minister, rather he says “I will miss the roar  of the crowd. I will miss the barbs of the opposition.” 

Then what will he say  about the Nigerian Parliament where insults and personal attacks even against respectable and married women are free? Where legislators do not just roar, but actually engage in physical combat? Cameron was leader of the ruling Conservative Party. Without prompting, he resigned. What a waste! He needs to come to Nigeria and learn how to acquire and keep power.  For instance, the self- acclaimed leader  of the Nigerian opposition party remains in power even after the party convention had removed and replaced him. He is now working very hard to ensure that his party is disqualified from governorship elections in two states. 

For him, it does not matter if his love for the chair may lead to the disintegration of the party; what matters, is that he remains in office. The British constitution is unwritten but it is obeyed. In contrast, the Nigerian constitution is written in bold letters  and is available on the internet. But that does not mean it is obeyed. For instance, Section  308   confers immunity on the President, Vice President,  Governors  and Deputy Governors.  

But to circumvent the constitution, sometimes, coups are carried out against beneficiaries. For instance under the Obasanjo administration, in order to strip then Plateau State Governor Joshua Dariye of his immunity, six legislators rather than the sixteen  required by the constitution, were used to remove him from office. That was in the analogue era, in these digital  times, such rigmarole is no longer necessary; immunity is becoming a privilege depending  on the individual,  or party  he belongs to. 

The provision on immunity is interpreted depending on whether the person concerned is  considered an enemy or friend. Irrespective of the constitutional provision, if in the opinion of  the powerful, a governor is an undesirable element, he may lose his immunity. In comparison with Britain, Nigerians are as sophisticated as that. Another example; the constitution will not provide for a maximum two terms in office, and a  British politician will decide to spend three or more terms. 

That is the type of laxity Nigerians enjoy. Also, while British politicians respect and obey court orders and judgments, their Nigerian counterparts are at liberty to democratically pick which to obey and  those to ignore. The Nigerian elite is far more  sophisticated than the British; while employers in the latter will not owe wages  without the risk of a legal challenge or  being declared bankrupt,  those in Nigeria can owe workers up to two years wages and nothing will happen. In fact, they may be assessed worthy of national awards. 

 As for pensioners, they are expendable; they cannot even go on strike and many are too feeble and hungry  to mount a sustained protest. Kidnapping in Nigeria is so cheap that a human being can be seized just for a recharge card. In fact,  cities like Kaduna and Lokoja which are one hour away from Abuja, are so much hotbeds for kidnapping that you require prayers and fasting travelling there.

 There is also so much hunger that the aroma of soup on fire is enough to attract burglars. Sustained and random Killings have also not abated. In Britain, a state of emergency would have been declared, but that is because they are feeble-minded. Nigerians are strong, and take such things in their stride. While subscribing  to the same ideology, the  politicians of both countries are different. If a British politician  trips, he would get up, look forward and continue the race towards development.

 In contrast, the Nigerian politician would look around him, lament his fate, blame his predecessors  and potential successors, wait to be raised, and begin to limp.  While British politicians are as predictable as the Nigerian weather, many Nigerian politicians are as unpredictable as the British weather. Even the chameleon does not change political attires as many times  as many Nigeria politicians. 

The only politicians worse in changing sides, are those in Kenya. Nigerian politicians are certainly more colourful than their drab counterparts in West Minister, but people who want security, food on the table, clothes on the back, roof over the head, children in school and a better future, would prefer the latter.

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