New Telegraph

The rain-soaked senate

Bad news. A body which was supposed to serve as an umbrella to protect Nigerians from despotic practices has been beaten silly by rain. Serves them right! But long before ferocious rain exposed that something was leaking in the hallowed chambers of the Senate, Nigerians with keen ears and sharp eyes suspected that there were some moral leaks in the red chambers – virtue and guts have been leaking for a while now. But the rain capped it up by raining water bullets from the leaking roof on Tuesday and sending the senatractors (my apologies, I mean Senators – pardon me for always mistaking them for contractors) scampering out of the chambers. Cry, my beloved country!

Leaks which leave large pools of water do not happen on roofs suddenly. They start as trickles and keep coming as trickles until the holes widen and then the downpour. However, the incident was a reminder that all is not well with our nation. How can we entrust our destiny into the hands of grown-up men and women who cannot manage their office complex? Pray, how can men and women who could not fix the building they use as their office, fix the gargantuan problems of a country with a population of over 200 million?

How can such persons manage the public trust? I bet you have never heard of rain driving out senators from their chambers in any other country before? As Lord Protector of the British Isles, Oliver Cromwell stormed the Rump Parliament on April 20, 1653 and sent them scampering out of the place with the words, “It is a high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice. Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government.

Go!” Do not read me wrong. This Senate is not a Rump Parliament and the senators are not going anywhere. Even though Buhari has a little more respect for the Nigerian Constitution than a cat has for a mouse, he would not play “Cromwell” against a pliant Senate. A senate mostly composed of con-patriots, not compatriots. Senators who are careful not to step on anybody’s toes. Unfortunately, nature through the rain may send them out for a time but the rain has not got the power and authority of a “Cromwell”. After the rain, the senators would gather together again and discuss the weather and the opportunity offered to them by the rain and leaking roof.

Expect a resolution to set up a panel to investigate why the leak happened on the roof and why it was not fixed on time. Everything being equal or slightly unequal expect the running cost of the “Senate Committee on the roof leak” to be just a few thousand Naira short of the cost of a new Senate building. Call that “seneconomics” (Senate economics). But you should understand that our distinguished senators make money as well as laws. Making money gives an insight into what US President Theodore Roosevelt meant when he said that “When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer ‘Present’ or ‘Not guilty.” In the context of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the distinguished senators are not guilty of not discussing insecurity in the country.

They are not guilty of folding their hands and watching the Executive usurp their function, ban Twitter and threaten to prosecute offenders without any law made by the Senate to support such executive brashness. They are not guilty of looking the other way while Nigerians are being massacred in genocides upon genocides. They are not guilty of not challenging President Buhari’s attempt to dig up a law long buried in the trash can of history, and use it to open cattle routes all over the country in order to give forced passage to Fulani cattle rearers. They are not guilty of being deaf and dumb.

They are not guilty because being deaf and dumb is a medical condition, and no one has ever been convicted for it. A friend, who was arrested in Lagos while crossing the road, was taken to a mobile court. He had a lot in his mind and he was in extreme depression. When he refused to answer any question posed to him in court, the judge turned and screamed at the policeman who arraigned him, “Who brought a deaf and dumb man to my court? Take this man out of here before I lose my temper.” Nigerians do not have to holler about having deaf and dumb senators because some of them do talk.

You can take a horse to the river but you cannot force it to drink, you can send a man to the Senate but you cannot force him to think. Our misfortune is that many of them would rather see no evil, talk no evil and hear no evil. Someone asked me, “Do you pray for the senators?” If you honestly take them seriously, you would pray Nigeria. With the Senate as it is, one hopes the roof continues to leak and the rain continues to rain.

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