up, bow and take your award for non-performance
Newspaper Column

Rise up, bow and take your award for non-performance

By Morak Babajide-Alabi

Sometimes last week I had this beautiful idea of making myself the judge for a man or woman or agency of the year in Nigeria. This idea did not just come out of the blues, i was only trying to follow the tradition that is worldwide. At the end of a year, personalities are named as people who had one way or the other influenced the world or their corner of the world. An example is Angela Merkel who is Time’s Person of the year 2015.

A very good idea which has all the years been inspiring people to want to do noble things.

The interesting thing about these awards is that “baddies” are never named. This has denied many underperforming personalities or agencies the opportunity of taking the centre stage for “recognition”. I am aware that some are named and shamed for one reason or the other during the year, but they should also take their places on the podium at the end of the year so they can have as much publicity as they deserve.

I didn’t realise that my self-imposed mission would be tedious. I set about by pencilling down a few individuals I think deserved mentioning. From the former President Goodluck Jonathan, being named as the Hero of the 2015 General Elections to the enfant terrible Ayo Fayose, the new face of grassroots politics in southwest of Nigeria. Along the line, I abandoned the list as I discovered there was constant tinkering with the criteria for nominations.

To save myself an unnecessary headache, I shifted my attention from individuals to agencies. And with a twist I decided to search for underperforming agency or arm of government of the year 2015. Rarely do we scrutinise the activities of government bodies or agencies in Nigeria. To some members of the public, the executive is seen as the “government” without realising that there are actually three arms. This is understandable though, as the executive arm is the most prominent over the Legislature and Judiciary.

As a result of this public perception pf government, the legislative arm has therefore literally gone to bed. Therefore the 2015 award for the Underperforming Agency/Arm of Government goes to the National Assembly of Nigeria.

Since the inauguration of the present legislature, the members have strengthened Nigerians’ opinion that it is nothing more than a talk shop.

There is something about the Upper Chamber particularly that gives one an idea that it is not a place for serious business. I am definite I am not the only one who feels this way. The idea in the constitution is that the Senate is the highest legislative body of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, yet it comes across as not a tad different from states houses of assembly.

This is not to say that the “junior” House of Representatives is any better or can be viewed as a ground for the “sharing” of intellectual ideas. No. You will be forgiven if you paint the two with same brush. I have never been on the floors of both houses, but I do follow proceedings on the broadcast media, and by the contributions there is not much to write home about.

The vibrancy of the Legislative arm of government in any part of the world is determined by the quality of individuals that populate it. In some countries, the best of the political class are always guided towards the legislature. We can say this is not the case in our beloved country. Therefore, the result that is produced is less than what can move the nation forward.

 While the legislature is just a arm of the government, it is understandable that it is often referred to as the brain box. In here are bills designed to make governance easy expected to be discussed and passed into laws. In the principle of separation of power, the legislature should operate parallel to the other arms of government.

 The Nigerian assembly is interesting. It lacks all the qualities of modern legislature. While in other climes, there are “intellectual” arguments, in Nigeria, the law makers are not in this league. Their arguments are usually rowdy and bother on either how to share available posts or improving their own welfare. We can recollect how the legislature was almost shut down at the start of its tenure a few months ago. No thanks to intrigues displayed by these lawmakers who obviously are more interested in their pockets and affiliations than national interests.

There is a marked difference between the present day legislature and what was obtained in the Second Republic, which was operated under the Presidential style of government. In those days, the conduct of the lawmakers was very dignifying while their contributions were matured than what we have nowadays. I remember those days with nostalgia. My closest encounter as a teenager with the Legislature was mainly on the national television. In those days all news came via the National Television Authority (NTA) before the advent of states and private television stations.

The Legislative arm of the government in the Shehu Shagari-led government operated from the grounds of the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos. I remember a visit as a teenager where I got carried away with the illusion that I was close to a vital arm of government. I fell in love with the serene atmosphere around the place and the fact that I was close to the hall where political juggernauts meet to make laws for the country. In those days, the Senators and House of Representatives members were actually sponsoring bills and involved In the governance of the great country, Nigeria. The calibre of people in the National Assembly was quite impressive.

After this encounter with the “grounds”, I was so sure a political career was on the table for me. It was a dream of a career that never came through. With the military intervention on the last day of 1983, all “affiliation” with politics came to an end. The pace at which the country travelled in the dictatorial “space of time” was unprecedented in history.

Many observers have argued that this long period of military intervention has been a curse rather than blessings on the country. They believe that this is what has contributed to the backwardness of the present political class. This is not far from the truth considering the fact that the present crop of politicians had no mentors or leaders to emulate. Those who were supposed to have learnt one or two tricks in politics were forced to look into another “trade” to survive.

Please discount the experimental type of government that the evil genius, Ibrahim Babangida “threw” up in those days. His contraption of civilian legislature under a military rule did no good to the polity at all. Rather, it bred a new set of desperate politicians with no ideology. It will be an understatement if IBB’s attempt at democracy is described as disaster.

The award of incompetence and non performance for the present federal legislature is based on the proposed bill for the “gagging” of the Nigeria social media space by these legislators. I have tried as much as possible to balance the reasons as advanced by the honourable gentleman and his supporters. On every occasion I concluded that the house has only allowed the reading of this bill not for anything else but out of nothing to do.

Please let us rise and congratulate the federal legislative houses for the award of non-performer of the year 2015. They sure deserve it.

Published in Sunday Vanguard December 27, 2015. CLICK HERE






I am an experienced Social Media practitioner with a strong passion for connecting with customers of brands. As part of a team, I presently work on the social media account of a leading European auto company. On this job, I have brought my vast experiences in journalism, marketing, search engine optimisation and branding to play.