It is very sad that the Nigerian political system and actions of the political elites recently have been taken a bit to the extreme with the demand for the blocking of the 2014 budget both at the national and state levels by politicians.
Last week Thursday in Abuja shortly after their National Executive Council (NEC) meeting the national leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) asked its lawmakers in the National Assembly to block the 2014 national budget if the Rivers State crisis was not attended to with a view to ending it by the Presidency in particular and the Federal Government at large. And just last Sunday Imo State lawmakers moved to also block the state’s budget insisting that the only condition with which they could rescind the decision is for the State Governor, Owelle Rochas Ethelbert Okorocha to guarantee them automatic tickets for the 2015 poll.
If the APC has set a bad precedence by using the national budget to play high power politics then Imo State lawmakers have literally legalized it and it is just a matter of time for this to be a national and acceptable norm, idea and means to press home or agitate for anything. Recall that after the militants in Niger Delta secured Amnesty under the Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua leadership the Boko Haram after a short while took up arms which led to the proposal of Amnesty to its chieftains by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The demand for a lasting peace in Rivers State by the APC is indeed a welcome development in the nation’s politics but tying such noble demand around the national budget is something that leaves more to be desired. The budget is meant for national development in all ramifications and the wellbeing of the citizenry is obviously attached to the budget. It is therefore not a good idea to play politics with the budget since it could lead to untold hardship on the masses and could further heat up the polity. In the light of this, the political class represented by the APC chieftains must seek for other genuine means of making request or agitating to the FG or Presidency rather than the harsh means of stopping the passage of the budget to the detriment of over 150 million Nigerian with majority of them unemployed.
Similarly the Imo lawmakers must be mindful of the fact that they actually represent the people and should have consulted those who voted them into the House of Assembly (electorates) before reaching such devastating decision to block the budget and use it as a means to press for their selfish interests. There are other means to employ like sitting down the round table with Okorocha to sort out issues rather than toy with the lives and wellbeing of Imolites.
This new political ideology of using the budget as a tool for agitation will spell doom for our nascent democracy. It is already painting the political elites in a bad light. The ordinary citizen sees such idea as very selfish. The Nigerian electorates are getting more sophisticated and wiser with each passing day and event. And incidents like this are capable of driving them into making the right choice when the 2015 voting exercises commence.
Lawmakers and the political class must put the people first in anything they do. They must consider the general interest of the masses and they must understand the body language of the populace before taking any decision that concerns all. Stopping or stalling budget passage is tantamount to telling the people to go and die. It is a reckless approach to solving political problem which in the first place was not created or caused by the man on the street. Politicians should be wiser in their actions and they must stop taking the people for granted especially as we approach 2015. Okorocha could accept the demand of Imo lawmakers but Okorocha will not be the only one to stand under the sun or rain to cast the votes. The ouster from office of former governor Ikedi Ohakim should be enough examples to the selfish politicians.
The Way We Are
Permit me to use this medium to commend you for your great work. I love your publication and I pray that God grants you the grace to sustain it. I really want to comment on the political development in our country since Chief Olusegun Obasanjo wrote that famous open letter to President Goodluck Jonathan. That letter has led to series of high powered political moves which is overheating the polity and the recent release of the guidelines for 2015 polls by INEC Chairman, Alhaji Attahiru Jega has further heightened tension.
I don’t trust the ruling party PDP and even the opposition, APC. The statements credited to the national leaders are scary if not unpatriotic. For someone to say that if the PDP rigs the election in 2015 the people will be mobilized to create confusion in the country is most regrettable. Only God will save the poor during and after the polls because it is clear that the so called political elites are selfish. It is not about party but about interests. When their interest is not protected in the sharing of the national cake, they raise alarm and cause uproar. Worst still is the activities of the so called elder statesmen and clerics whom before now we respect so much. They are selfish old foxes who threw the nation into the dungeon of confusion and corruption, yet they are unrepentant even as they approach their graves. What a shame! May God help Nigeria!
-Andrew Ngodigha, Port Harcourt, Rivers State