The House of Representatives, last week, deliberated on a bill that would make it compulsory for any sitting President to address Nigerians on the state of the nation, periodically.
The bill titled: ‘A Bill for an Act to Make Provision for the State of the Nation Address by President and for Other Matters, 2020,’ was sponsored by Hon. Ben Igbakpa.
This development and two other issues engendered national discourse and put Nigerian lawmakers on the spotlight in the week gone by.
State of the nation address
On June 15, Hon. Igbakpa proposed a bill aimed at arresting issues associated with a sitting President’s negligence in addressing the citizenry on the state of the nation.
He had said: “Where the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria fails, neglects or refuses to render the state of the nation address within the time stipulated by Section 1 of this bill, the National Assembly may by resolution supported by 2/3 (two-thirds) majority votes of members of the Senate and House of Representatives, summon the President to address the nation pursuant to the provisions of this bill.”
Igbakpa’s bill must have stemmed from the growing national dissatisfaction over President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to constantly engage Nigerians, as a culture of governance.
It is believed also that the bill is a subtle move by the House to ensure that what happened in December 2020 when Buhari snubbed the invitation to appear before them does not happen again.
Needless to say that insinuations that Buhari has been too insular, and withdrawn from Nigerians is rife.
It is hoped, therefore, that the bill in the works, if it survives, would help strengthen our institutions and ensure that the current leadership, and those to come after them, would make themselves accountable and not treat countrymen as piece of thrash.
A cause for concern though is if ultra-conservatives in the National Assembly would not sacrifice the progressive bill on the altar of party politics.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“We have a government today that is manifesting sectional leadership. Boko Haram has been killing people, but nothing was done to them. When our boys were carrying flags running around, it was easy for them to get them proscribed as a terrorist organisation but the same government refused to designate Boko Haram which everybody knows their activities, killing and destroying and bombing churches and institutions. When we challenged them, the Minister of Information (Lai Mohammed) said that Boko Haram was faceless, but our boys were known?”
Answer: See end of post
Two other stories
Reign of bandits
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives, on June 13, accused the All Progressives Congress (APC), of facilitating the influx of foreign bandits into the country.
Hon. Kingsley Chinda, the leader of the caucus, made the accusation, saying, “In their time frame, the APC appears to have fiercely facilitated the influx of foreign bandits who now wantonly kill and maim on rural farmlands across the federation, spreading sorrow and anguish on a daily basis.”
The influx of bandits, and rise of banditry, especially in Northern Nigeria, have, indeed, become subjects of national debate.
While the blame games persist, there is a dearth of workable ideas and it is surprising that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), would rather choose unrewarding rhetorics in place of joint action to save the country from instability and wanton killings.
To start with, the legislative arm of government must apply the necessary pressures on the Buhari-led executive to subject its border agencies, especially the Immigrations and Customs, to public probe on why the country’s borders have continued to witness the influx of illegal aliens.
Okorocha’s worries, remedies
On June 19, former governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha, urged Igbos clamouring for Nigeria’s disintegration to have a rethink as they will be the biggest losers should the country disintegrates.
“Igbos would be the worst hit if Nigeria breaks up…It is only an Igbo man that goes to a place and remains put in that place, buys a land and builds a house for his family without feeling insecure. The Igbo’s will lose more if Nigeria divides,” he said.
No doubt a timely contribution to the raging national discourse on self-determination for Ndigbo, Okorocha may do well to fervently pursue the part of consensus building to help return the country on the path of harmony and stability.
He must be reminded, however, that no stable and progressive society is built on injustice, inequity and oppression.
Needless to add that peace of the grave yard is not sustainable. The Nigerian project can only get better if its constituents continue to feel a greater sense of belonging.
Answer: Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe
Abaribe made the statement, on June 20, 2021, while speaking at the inauguration of the Igbonine socio-cultural organisation in Enugu. Abaribe, an outspoken and daring Senator, is Senate Minority leader. He represents Aba South Senatorial District.
By John Chukwu…
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