Thousands of Nigerians went to bed on Wednesday April 18, 2018 with the embarrassing news from Abuja that thugs invaded Nigeria’s Senate chamber while it was in plenary. The shocking news which spread across the country like a harmattan wild fire was viewed by well meaning Nigerians as the height of gangsterism. The invaders, as it was confirmed carted away the Senate symbol of authority-the mace, only for it to be recovered hours later by the police under a bridge in the federal capital city.
By the time the day’s night had turned into another night the incident had become another burning issue in the nation’s political spectrum. Those who weren’t opportune to grab the drama red hot did not have any cause any way to regret as various media houses and social networks were awash and alive with print and video clips of the incident. Yes, it was real and it happened life and direct from the red hallowed chamber of Nigeria’s legislative House, Abuja. As the news continued to spread, so Nigerians were caught spell bound on the hot topic. Many registered their grief and displeasure through every formal and informal available means. But like a typical Nigerian populace, there were reoccurring disagreements as to whom to apportion the blames. Opinions were divided, nerves flared and name callings at their peak, yet there was something that couldn’t be argued: the whole drama was an assault on the Nigerian polity.
Narrating the story, DailySun reported that: “Trouble started at about 11.20am, when a gang entered the Senate complex in three vehicles- a Range Rover and two Land Cruiser SUVs.
At about 11.25am, the three vehicles were stationed in front of the main entrance leading to the two chambers of the National Assembly. Policemen, Sergeants – at Arm and other security agents, who were on ground when the gang arrived, in their usual manner, did not suspect anything.
At about 11.30am, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege representing Delta Central District stepped into the Senate chamber. Security officials, who attempted to stop him, were shoved aside. Three members of the gang entered the Senate chamber as the Senator made for his seat.
“Without wasting time, they pounced on the mace stationed in front of the presiding officer. One of the gang members, who wore an ash T-shirt and a white trouser, grabbed the mace and threatened to hit anyone who dared to stop him. Bewildered lawmakers scampered for safety as he and the two others made their way out of the chamber into one of the three waiting vehicles. In the waiting vehicles were other members of the gang, dressed in suit and African print. As the other three returned from the chamber and entered, one of them brought out white sub-stance and unleashed into the air, as they zoomed out.
“While the whole drama played out, according to the same source, Omo-Agege was in the chamber. Despite his running suspension, he sat dutifully on his designated seat throughout the duration of plenary which proceeded with the provision of a spare mace. When the Senate adjourned at about 2.pm, Omo-Agege was accosted by over 15 policemen, led by the commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory Abuja (FCT), Sadiq Abubakar Bello. A mild drama ensued before he was finally led away.
Hear the two men
CP: “Senator Omo-Agege, you are under arrest for what happened today in the senate. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be used against you”.
Senator: “You have no right to arrest me. I have not committed any offence. Why do you want to arrest me? What have I done?”
CP: “When we leave here, you will be told. Please, kindly follow us.” The Senator was led into a waiting Hilux van and driven out of the premises.
What a tragicomedy? Recall that Omo-Agege, was recently during plenary put under a 90-day suspension for the remarks he made at a press conference, accusing fellow senators that the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act which changes the sequence of election set by INEC is targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari. Though, following his apology on February 21, 2018, his suspension was reduced from 181to 90 legislative days.
Meanwhile, his sudden appearance in the senate chamber and the dialogue he had with the police commissioner brought the senate invasion to anti-climax. While many Nigerians saw the incident as one of those episodes shot in Hollywood film, the two men were being perceived in many quarters as principal actors of the mace drama.
Subjecting the whole saga to a more critical analysis through dissections and thorough appraisal, this piece is geared not to descend crucifixion sledge harmers on our security operatives as proffered by many, just as it is also not interested in knowing which side of the Abuja VIP restaurant the man at the center of the brouhaha must have been led to by the same personnel who accosted him in the protruding eyes of the media.
Yes, every keen watcher of political scenarios particularly since the return of democracy in 1999 would not be disappointed when reminded that such high wired political show does not go unrewarded from those who had written the scripts. The police and other security operatives are always there to bring the drama to perfection. Interestingly, the case at hand would not be an exemption. This brings us to the present-day appeal of conscience which stipulates thus: for the safety of life and property of the common masses, it would simply look like a misadventure if we continue to bank entirely on the security intelligence of the police. For instance, their sheer failure to nip in the bud simple security challenges bedeviling the country like the reprehensive activities of the headsmen laid bare the hypocritical status of the popular lie told by our leaders at all level that the police is our friend.
Be that as it may, the folly of the police is at all not the concern of this write-up for that would be a discussion for another day. We are here to look at the response of our honorable lawmakers whose actions on the drama of April 18 has added another infamous feather on their avaricious cap. Take or leave it the senate incident has once more highlighted one of our country’s endemic problems which I believe is the constant failure on our part to appreciate the importance and precious nature of every Nigeria’s institution and property. This is the thrust of this piece and I must say without mincing words that the over 80 honourable senators present at the chamber wittingly or unwittingly displayed this fact through their inordinate self-protective approach. They were so intoxicated with life security that no report mentioned any of them with the burning desire to save the mace. Is this not biting fingers that fed you? That patriotism is a stepping stone for nation building is something that cannot be overemphasized. Yet such attribute is hugely lacking among those we believe should be pioneer custodians of our country’s institutions. It is a popular maxim in Igbo parlance that an elder does not sit and watch a goat undergoes the pains of parturition in tether. Then, in which manner of language could one explain the action of a group of lawmakers who watched rascals make away with their legislative symbol of authority without a chase or fight? Were it to be Ghana-must-go bags stuffed with raw cash, who said Nigerian politicians would also scamper for safety while an intruder attempted tampering with the money?
This action is a reaffirmation of what is already known that Nigerian politicians are solely driven by the trappings of their stomach and pockets. It is greed, avarice and covetousness that lure a good number of them to Abuja. Sad enough, just as those miscreants made away with the mace, majority of our politicians are always lacing up to garner for themselves and their families our collective patrimony. There is neither any sense of duty nor love of country in them.
Fellow Nigerian, it is high time we began to change our orientation toward our country. Nigeria cannot attain the global prominence of our dream with this kind of unpatriotic mind set. The time to right our wrongs is now and we must do this with the intention of upholding and sustaining at all cost the nation’s vital institutions and properties. This I feel is the way forward and it would remain an accomplished legacy well bequeathed to our generations next to come.
Gozie Ukasoanya Assumpta Press Owerri