The Problem Is In The System

I read Bayo Oluwasanmi’s recent article, “A Senate of Fools, Blockheads, Ignoramuses and Idiots”, published in the 3 August 2015 edition of Sahara Reporters with interest.

I can imagine the anger that must have prompted the young man to come up with such a strong condemnation of the Nigerian Senate. Any Nigerian or lover of Nigeria who knows where Bayo was actually coming from could as well be angry. The anger would be justified in some ways.

However, there are fundamental procedures in the art of writing, the import of which those of us in the ink profession must understand and appreciate. We must be cautious that in throwing away the used bathwater, we do not throw away the baby with it.

Calling Nigerian Senators names in the media has very serious national and international implications.

At a time Nigeria is struggling to come to terms with its public image rating at the international level, portraying the country’s leaders in this disrespectful and rude manner is hardly acceptable.

It may be right that the Senators chose a wrong leader, but it is certainly unfair to write about them in such a rude manner. It doesn’t do the country’s overall image any good.

Bayo should have realised that Sahara Reporters is widely read across the globe. Helping to batter the image of his own country abroad, as his article seemed to have done, is bound to affect even those Nigerians who are not in the Senate, who are simply getting about their private businesses in foreign countries.

Many Nigerians abroad will tell their stories of woe in their host countries. They are hounded. They are not trusted. The host countries are hostile to them. All these happen because of the impressions such people as Mr Oluwasanmi have decided to create about their country to the outside world.

It is obvious that Oluwasanmi was only seeing the Nigerian Community at the home front by the time he wrote that article about Nigerian Senators ganging up to elect Senator Saraki as the Senate President. But even at that, the short history of the Nigerian Senate shows that many Senate Presidents have been elected before Saraki, but they did not last the test of time in that position.

Right from the Second Republic, Dr Iyorcha Ayu, a Benue son was in that position for just one year, from 1992 to 1993. In November 1993, he was impeached by the Senate because of his vehement opposition to the Interim National Government headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan, after Chief Moshood K. Abiola was barred from becoming the President and Commander-in-Chief. Elder Statesman, Ameh Ebute, another Idoma son from Benue State, took over. He presided in 1993 for less than one year.

Between 1993 and 1998, there was no Senate President in Nigeria. The military was literarily “on official duty!”

Evan Enwerem who hailed from Imo State became the first Senate President of the 4th Republic. But he also did not hold the post for long. A Senate committee investigated him for fraud, part of the allegation being that he falsified his name. He was removed from office on November 18, 1999.

Then came the Presidency of Dr Chuba Okadigbo, another Igbo man from Anambra State. Okadigbo was relieved of that office in less than one year, on August 8, 2000. He was accused of fraud and misappropriation of funds.

He was succeeded by Pius Anyim, yet another Igbo man from Ebonyi State. Anyim presided over the Senate from 2000 to 2003. In 2003, another Igbo man from Abia State, Adolphus Wabara, took over. Wabara was there for two years from 2003 to 2005.

He gave way Ken Nnamani, yet another Igbo man from Enugu State. Ken presided for two years from 2005 to 2007 when the Presidency went outside Igboland, and back to the Middle Belt.

In other words, there is nothing to prove that because Dr Saraki has been elected President of the Senate, he will remain there for the entire 4 years duration of his tenure, unless of course he proves himself competent by the standards of the Senate in particular and Nigerians in general.

That is why the venom that Mr Oluwasanmi poured out at the instance of the “election” of Dr Saraki as the Senate President was not necessary in the first place. The outburst was not necessary at-all.

But be that as it may, it is important that Nigerians recognize that every organisation in human nature has its limitations – its good and bad qualities, its strengths and its weaknesses. In other words, no human organisation is perfect and it would be unfair to expect, especially, a political organisation or a country to be perfect.

It is natural to be imperfect. And that is why in a democracy, the people involved aspire to towards perfection.

They aspire to become better. That is also why they should be given the opportunity to better themselves. If they fail, the next election results will decide if “changes” are necessary or if they are worth it at-all. Remember, Nigerians voted for change. And change they will have. But whether for better or for worse, only time will tell.

I think really that what concerned citizens like Bayo should be more concerned with is the system that produces bad or unscrupulous leaders. The Nigerian system needs a total overhaul.

A system where traffic lights are never obeyed; a system that exposes its teenage children to grave dangers by allowing them to hawk; a system that has criminally refused to fight bribery and corruption by enacting the most important law that will penalise employers who fail to pay their workers as at and when due, must be bad enough. And if we all agree on that, how then do we get about overhauling the system?

It is the system we need to work on and every other thing will fall in line. The problem is not exactly in the Senate. The problem is in the system.

(The Nigerian voice)

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