Sunday, July 9, 2017


10th July 2017

The National Assembly (NASS) has been at loggerheads with the executive since the commencement of the Buhari-led administration on May 29, 2017. This has retarded normal running of government, delayed the approval of budgets on two occasions and slowed down other government-related activities.

Worse still, the executive-parliamentary faceoff appears rooted in their diametrically opposing approaches to the issue of corruption and how to tackle it. While the executive demonstrates unflinching determination to eliminate graft and punish looters, the legislature whose membership contains some law-makers who are facing corruption charges is not so keen. It is even on the verge of promulgating a law granting amnesty to looters of the nation’s treasury, a move widely believed to benefit some of its members.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is deeply disturbed by this cat and mouse game between the executive and the legislature. From all indications, it appears that the eighth NASS was set up ab initio to frustrate the efforts of the Buhari regime in its fight against corruption.

Nigeria’s eighth legislature is embroiled in a litany of sins ranging from its alleged outrageous emoluments, tampering with budgets, rejection of government’s nominees, arm-twisting the executive over sundry issues thereby virtually railroading the government to bend over backwards to meet lawmakers’ frivolous demands.

Against the background of the threat issued by the NASS to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo who has been asked to sack Ibrahim Magu, head of the economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or face the consequences, we warn against any rash action.

Our message to the Nigerian lawmakers is loud and clear: touch the Acting President and face the wrath of the Nigerian people. We believe that the NASS is taking too much for granted. This law-making body should not invite anarchy. Nigerians are not really the fools they think they are.

Our legislators should learn from countries like Venezuela, Paraguay, Macedonia, Moldova, Iraq and Burkina Faso. These are six countries whose parliaments were attacked by patriotic citizens for adopting anti-people policies in the last three years. Just five days ago, precisely on Wednesday 5th July, 2017 in Venezuela, pro-Maduro groups stormed Caracas congress accusing the lawmakers of standing in the way of President Nicolas Maduro’s reform policies and programmes.

Also, for adopting an unacceptable amendment to the country’s constitution, Paraguayans invaded parliament on 1st April, 2017. The amendment would have allowed current President Horacio Cartes to be re-elected for another term. In the Balkans, the Macedonian congress at Skopje was invaded by supporters of President Zoran Zaev on 27th April 2017.

Last year, Moldovan parliament in Chisinau was also stormed on Wednesday 20th January 2016 by hundreds of demonstrators shouting ‘thieves!’ after parliament appointed a third prime minister within one year. Iraq’s protesters stormed parliament on 1st May, 2016 demanding an end to corruption.

Burkina Faso parliament in Ouagadougou was burned down on October 30, 2014 when demonstrators vent their anger over a proposal to extend President Blaise Compaore's 27-year rule. The storming of the parliament building marked the culmination of several days of demonstrations.

These scenarios can be replicated in Abuja. Members of the NASS should not be deceived by the elitist environment of Abuja which, unlike Lagos, Kano, or Enugu, makes mobilization difficult. Our lawmakers should know that it is not impossible for a determined citizenry. Neither should they underestimate the Nigerian electorate. Nigerian parliamentarians should not test our will. Nigerians are sick and tired with legislative oligarchy and parliamentary terrorism.

This eighth NASS is severely detached from the citizenry. We voted the present administration into office to fight corruption. We are disappointed that the NASS has become the recruitment sergeant for corruption and a weapon for harassing, coercing and intimidating the symbols of change and champions of accountability like President Muhammadu Buhari, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, Babatunde Fashola, etc.

We can no longer stand akimbo watching lawmakers who are paid with our hard-earned money destroying the future of coming generation of Nigerians. We want to see looters in jail. We want our stolen money recovered. We want special courts to try these sophisticated kleptomaniacs. 

Although protests against parliaments in other countries in the examples cited above have been characterized by violence resulting in injuries inflicted on lawmakers as well as destruction of properties, MURIC advocates non-violent action like the occupation of the NASS and peaceful rallies and protests in state assemblies by placard carrying patriots. We know the hawks in the NASS will not succumb easily. Nigerians must therefore be ready for a prolonged struggle. We must be determined. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. Dare to struggle, dare to win. There must be no retreat, no surrender.

Islamic liberation theological teachings enjoin citizens to stop evil doers and oppressors from perpetrating further evil (wa yanhawna ‘anil-munkar : Glorious Qur’an 3:104, 110; 31:17; 16:90). It warns that the wrongs committed by a few will sooner or later affect all if citizens do nothing (Qur’an 8:25) and that citizens must take necessary actions to effect change because Allah will not come down by Himself to change things for them (Qur’an 13:11). The hadith of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) equally exhorts mankind to “hold the hands of evil doers” (ta’khudhuhu faoqa yadayhi).

As our concluding remarks, we remind Nigerians of the wise words of great men in history. Uthman Dan Fodio said, “In an unjust society, silence is a crime.” Dante Alighieri, an Italian Poet opined, “The hottest part of hell will be reserved for those who in times of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.” Lastly, Elie Wiesel fired man’s revolutionary instinct when he observed, "There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."

We remain oppressed until the hungry are fed, the sick healed, the naked clothed and the homeless sheltered.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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