What began like a child play degenerated into a very serious and critical issue between Maku and the Upper legislative house when their stand on the five thousand naira note was trivialized by the Minister of Information as a mere advisory statement with no effect on the presidency.
Freedom is what we all need in life but it must be regulated. According to Isaiah Berlin, he said that unlimited freedom is bad. From the constitutional angle in Nigeria, we have freedom of speech. That is to say, we have the ability to express ourselves. However, this must not interfere with the right of others.
Often time, this constitutional right has been breached by well meaning Nigerians in order to air their view at the expense of the others. This has resulted to a lot of arguments or serious misunderstandings most times. Example is the exchange of words between ex-presidents Babagidda and Obasanjo on political issue of sponsorship and wastages during his reign and the most recent one, that of Maku and the Senators.
Is the minister of more importance to Nigerians or the Senators? Who is greater, the minister or the senators? Is the minister elected or selected? The minister or the senator who is voted for and who is to give instruction? Is there provision for this in the constitution? Is the interest of Nigerians to be toiled with? These and many other questions will emerge in the process of deliberation.
Nigeria as a federation operates a bicameral legislation. That is legislature that has two houses, the Upper and Lower houses. This, the constitution of Nigeria upholds and empower to operate at will.
The Lower house which is the House of Representatives make laws for the nation while the Upper house executes the laws made by the legislatures. Therefore, these two houses are set up to represent the interest and welfare of the people through good legislative and executive acts.
No wonder they are voted for in order to represent their constituencies and adjudicate on behalf of their people. These well constituted bodies are directly responsible to the people who voted them in as their representatives.
On the part of the minister, he is only nominated by his party people subject to the ratification and approval of the president before forwarding such name to the houses for screening before approval or rejection. By this, it infers therefore, that the minister is subservient to the dictates of the house. Since they have the power to approve or reject his nomination.
Though he has apologized to the house for what seems to be an unguided utterance that he made. By saying that the resolves of the house were mere advisory statement and as such not binding on the president.
It is pertinent to say that caution should be our watch word. What makes the difference between the wise and foolish fellow is utterance. If a fool keeps quiet, no one will be able to distinguish between him and the wise. As people in authority and representing the interest of the nation and its citizenry every statement should thoroughly look into before its usage. There is the urgent need for the avoidance of banding of word between the led and the leaders. For this to be effective, the leaders must be very meticulous in their approach.
What was the minister really up to? Is it not ludicrous to hear a servant addressing his master in a sarcastic and denigrating manner? Like Matamba in “The Slave Boy”, who wielded so much power and influence even more than the Sheikh himself in his heyday. But the day he out step his bound under the influence of power by demeaning the Sheikh’s daughter, that day, he was stripped off his power.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupt absolutely. It is like a crazy aphrodisiac it makes men blind to their short comings and inflicts them with a parallel view. According to Coventry Pastmoore, he said the truth is great and shall prevail when none cares whether it prevails or not. It is like a can, the more we press it in to water the more it insists on surfacing. No one can sit on the truth. 2 Cor.13:8 say, “For we can do nothing against the truth but for the truth”.
Could the minister have been glibly swayed by the array of questions that the journalists asked him? Was he under compunction to proffers answers to those questions? Was the question so complex and technical that the answer could be ambiguous? Even at that, would he not have been able to avoid such tempting question? Whose agenda was he really playing out?
Nigeria is greater than an individual as such, the collective voices and opinions of Nigerians must be respected and strictly adhered to. Although apology has been rendered verbally to the houses, it will be condign and proper to be written and come in person before the houses. Also, he should deem it fit to appeal and appease Nigerians for the desecration exercise.
We must move this country forward and one of such ways should be strict adherence to the rule of law. This, the erstwhile president Umaru Musa Yar Ardua was known for. We should imbibe that culture, if we do, it certainly will lead us to the Promised Land. Let us be our brothers keepers so that together we will enjoy the dividends of peaceful co-existence.
WRITTEN BY IFIDON BENSON