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Saturday, 8 April 2017

The Lawmakers and the People: The Rise of Democratic Protest

 The people of Nigeria have become unpredictable in their response to government policies or persons. A group of people, on Tuesday, 4th of April, 2017 demonstrated rather than commented that the National Assembly cannot wield their gathered power of the electorates unchecked. The demonstration may not engender any desired change but it is another beginning of democratic reactions.
Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume from Borno State is favoured with fame when he got suspended from the Senate for six months on because he raised a point on March 21 that the House should investigate Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki’s alleged importation of vehicle with fake documents and Senator Dino Melaye’s alleged fake degree certificate.
The Senate Committee on Ethics presented a report which propelled the decision to suspend Ndume. The suspension is one issue, whether it’s deserved or not and whether six-months is proper or not. The point raised by Ndume is another issue, whether he’s right and factual or not and whether he’s of honest intention or not. But the focal point of the suspension, as germane to this paper, is the weighty monitory reminder that no Senator should imagine or attempt to arise against The Senate President and other ‘lords’ of the House. Whatever the allegation was didn’t matter. Anyone who reports an HOD to the VP can report a Vice Principal to the Principal and can later report the Principal to the Commissioner of education. It seemed an all-embracing accusation. So, the VPs and HODs and Principal must curb that act of prying by scapegoating such a fellow as Ndume. If the reported misdeed is common in their caucus (or likely to be done by anyone of the lords) they they must unite to douse the fire of a challenger.
While they have wielded their power they have also given Senator Ndume much strength to his name and made him outstanding. Perhaps, Ndume created that saliency for the purpose of future political enterprise. Now, the news must talk of Ndume, President Buhari and Senator Saraki met on Ndume.
Above all, Ndume became a man to be defended, a champion of ‘justice’ and truth. This is evinced by the protesters’ call for Ndume’s reinstatement. The protesters may be Internally Displaced Persons and Borno State indigenes resident in Abuja as reported. They might have got the impetus for the protest by Ndume’s sponsors. That is very possible. Nevertheless, the protesters have demonstrated that the lawmakers even in jointure are not unquestionable. It is difficult for all electorates to agree on the badness or goodness of the decision of any elected leader, especially the lawmakers.
In April 2016, a group of anti-Saraki protesters had clashed with a group of pro-Saraki at the national Assembly. Then it was Senator Ndume who reacted said that an anti-Saraki protest was a dangerous precedent. Some interest groups called for the resignation of Saraki over false declaration of assets at that time. Division among the electorates will always render their arguments as mere opinions. But the Pro-Ndume protesters show passion and action. That foretells an active-rather-than-passive generation of Nigerians arising. Nigerians are waiting and watching. An attitude of democratic questioning of the government has started to evolve. There will be more of active democratic political assessment, surely.

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