By Edward T. Dibiana
The general elections campaign trails have been intense, exhausting, but exhilarating. The cacophony of impassioned political exchanges by different interests and the intriguing conspiracy theories, have all combined to raise expectations and apprehension in the polity about the coming elections.
This boisterous political atmosphere is not unexpected, as many Nigerians consider the 2023 elections as potentially the most crucial in recent history, for different reasons.
But curiously, as important as the institution of the Legislature is to the sustenance and overall good of democracy and purposeful governance in Nigeria, many people appear to be so fixated only on who becomes the next president that it seems they don’t actually care much about the calibre, character and pedigree of the incoming set of legislators.
This unwitting nonchalance in who becomes Nigeria’s next set of lawmakers may not be unconnected with the growing disillusionment over how the National Assembly is seemingly becoming an all-comers affair and subject of negative narratives among the populace. Public perception hasn’t been kind to the National Assembly over how it has handled its responsibilities in ways that made it appear as an appendage of the Executive in recent times. There is a consensus among the people that Nigerians deserve better from this all-important democratic institution.
That’s why it’s imperative for people to show more interest in the character, pedigree, world view and emotional intelligence of who their would be representatives in a democracy are. Records have shown that only the Executive arm of government would not sufficiently bring the needed healing balm to the socio-political and economic bruises the next administration would most likely inherit from the outgoing government, for obvious reasons.
This apparent sorry state of things in the nation, makes the possibility of having a seasoned legislator and true democrat, who understands the dynamics of representation in a democracy, like the former Speaker of the House of Representatives and governor of Sokoto state, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, as part of the coming NASS, an exciting prospect.
Although Governor Tambuwal would potentially be representing Sokoto South Senatorial District in the Senate, should he emerge successful at the polls next weekend, but his constituency would unsurprisingly be the entire nation, given his passion for nation building, commitment to equity and politics that abhors parochial and clannish tendencies.
From close observation of his persona, his private and public utterances attest to his broadminded attributes as a man meant for the national stage and imbued with diplomatic mien and emotional intelligence to understand the complexity of Nigeria’s unique diversities and the importance of balance.
He has consistently said, “I will not run a government of a few for interest of a few, if given the opportunity to serve. No section of this great nation would be denied the opportunity of human or capital development. Nigeria is blessed and every Nigerian should naturally benefit from this God given blessing, and every good opportunity to develop and fulfill our potentials as a people.”
Also, he further pledged: “And I assure you that I’ll always ensure the even and equitable distribution of wealth, projects and development across the nation, because Nigeria belongs to all of us, irrespective of ethnic or religious background.
“We need informed Leadership that will open up the system for Nigerians to show what they are capable of here at home, instead of exporting their skills.” Tambuwal said.
Where’s a better place to drive and institutionalised these ideals if not the National Assembly? Just imagine the possibility of having such a Servant-Leader with his usual infectious humility, leadership and legislative àcumen in the driving seat of the NASS leadership. That’ll be an absolute blessing to a nation and the institution of Legislature that’s currently in dire need of direction!
The Legislature remains the most important symbol of every democracy as it aggregates the voice and aspirations of the people it represents. And that undoubtedly is the sustaining oxygen of democracy.
To underscore its importance, the constitution empowers the Legislature with key functions of appropriation for government and its agencies and also to hold the Executive arm of government accountable through the instrumentality of its oversight responsibilities. If the Legislature gets it right, the people are directly impacted. And democracy thrives.
That’s why many have argued that a responsible Legislature should be a key driver of good governance in a democracy, as it would at all times, uphold the interest of the people for the good of the nation.
By next week, if everything goes as planned, Nigeria would have a brand new president. What no one may at this moment predict with certainty, is the political party that would produce the him or her. And as consistent with partisan politics, the new president, would obviously not be the choice of the entire Nigerian populace, but his/her choice would most likely fulfill a critical democratic principle of the will of the people through majority votes.
But irrespective of the obvious diverse political choices, aspirations and expectations of the people, there appears to be a united consensus amongst the people that Nigeria is in dire need of redemption and rejigging at all fronts. And it will apparently need more than just a new president to achieve a meaningful result of governance, institutional and developmental reinvention and reinvigoration. The National Assembly has a big role to play in taking the nation back on the pathway to progress and democratic accountability.
With the obvious challenges ahead, the Nigerian Senate could do with a generous dose of Tambuwal’s sublime leadership skills and politics of calming candour. But the ball is now in the court of the people of Sokoto South Senatorial District to do the needful at the polls on February 25 and avail the nation the opportunity to benefit from his services.
Dibiana is a media strategist and developmental journalist.