Nigeria’s political scene last week was saturated with events that kept many with different reactions. Among these events, we picked the bombshell by Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, during a virtual meeting with the US Congress, the riotous events at the Nigerian Senate, among others, in this week Politics Roundup.
We observed these stories and examined their imports on the nation’s growth and why they should not be ignored.
1. Kukah’s bombshell
The Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, on Wednesday, July 14, told the United States Congress Commission that President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is helpless in tackling the raging insecurity in Nigeria.
Kukah stated this during a virtual presentation to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Washington, DC, US, on the persecution of Christians in the North by armed extremist groups.
He said, “The North, even the whole country, is invaded by armed bandits, kidnappers, etc who attack communities at will. The fact that the government seems to be either helpless or uninterested in dealing decisively with these people has added more confusion.
“The contradiction here is that the President has blatantly pursued nepotistic agenda and policies that show very clearly his preference for men and women of his faith.
“For the first time in Nigeria, the people heading the three arms of government – President, Senate President, Speaker and Chief Justice – are all Muslims. These are all fine gentlemen, but that is not the point. The level of rivalry between Christians and Muslims has worsened. This kind of situation has never happened before.”
What Kukah said is not new to Nigerians. He only made known to his foreign listeners what many Nigerians have continued to accuse the Buhari-led administration of.
The Presidency on Sunday kicked against the position of Kukah on Buhari’s government and tagged the cleric a liar. However, despite the Presidency’s frown over what the cleric said, the truth remains that he only repeated what many Nigerians have said and are still saying about the current administration.
Rather than be on the defensive, maybe, the Presidency should keenly look into the claims made by Kukah, which many Nigerians have also been making, and see if it can make some amendments.
2. Riotous NASS
The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday, July 15, turned the Red Chamber into a war zone over the consideration of the electoral act amendment bill.
The plenary of the lawmakers became very riotous while they considered clause 52(3), which states that INEC may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable at its discretion.
After efforts to calm the commotion down failed, Senate President Ahmad Lawan had to order for a closed-door session where 52 senators, majorly members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, voted against transmitting election results electronically while 28, believed to be opposition members voted against and 28 were absent.
The outcome of the drama that played out among the federal lawmakers serves as an indication that the 2023 general elections may suffer electoral woes that elections before it suffered.
The expectation of Nigerians that transmission of election results electronically may help bring about transparency in the nation’s electoral process may have suffered a big blow.
The limitation of INEC independence, by asking the electoral body to first get the approval of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) before embarking on electronic transmission of results looks ominous.
And the role the APC lawmakers played in the matter showed the ruling party to be afraid of losing the election if transmitted electronically, hence, the need to allow a process that can be maneuverable.
3. Onochie’s booting
The Senate on Tuesday, July 13, rejected the nomination of Lauretta Onochie to serve as the Independent National Electoral Commission’s National Commissioner.
On why Onochie, an aide to President Buhari on social media was rejected, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC, Kabiru Gaya, said:
“… based on the provisions of Section 14(3) of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended) on Federal Character Principle as earlier stated, and in order for the Committee and the Senate to achieve fairness to other states and political zones in the country, the committee is unable to recommend Ms Lauretta Onochie for confirmation as a National Electoral Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission.”
The Presidency is expected to have done a proper check before nominating Onochie for the INEC commissioner job. It is either the Presidency was negligent in carrying out a thorough background check on her qualification for the job or might have planned to force her on Nigerians but for the decision of the senators to do what is appropriate.
Although the reason for her rejection was not based on the allegation that she is a member of the APC, however, the joy that greeted the rejection also showed why those interested in serving the public need to always play by the rules.
4. Osinbajo’s sermon
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Saturday, July 17, advised Nigerian leaders to always remain calm and teach their followers to do the same in the face of crisis.
He spoke at the 25th-anniversary conference of the Redeemer’s International Leadership Academy organised by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). In his virtual address at the conference themed, ‘Winning in Adversity’, Osinbajo said: “It is in times of adversity or difficulty, or hardship that leaders are most relevant and most needed.
“The leader cannot afford to lose his cool or his focus. He must calm himself down and calm the people down as well. When all is well, there is no need for guidance, encouragement or instruction, but it is especially in the midst of wars, conflicts, insurgency, famines, danger, and fear, that people look to leadership.”
Osinbajo’s sermon speaks to the failure of leadership at all levels in Nigeria.
In the face of the current raging crisis in Nigeria as a result of activities of banditry, terrorists, kidnappers, killer herdsmen and different agitations, leaders who are expected to help calm the situation have often been seen exacerbating the situation through ethnic and religious sentiments, nepotism and incendiary utterances.
There is no denying the fact that the current situation in Nigeria is a result of consistent leadership failures and the solution lies in the readiness of leaders at all levels to brace up with the demands of leadership and live up to what it takes to be a good leader.