Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, lately responded to the critics who have rightfully described the 9th assembly as mere a rubber stamp of the executive arm of the government. Gbajabiamila launched into his self-justification at an event in Lagos reported as, “Gbaja 2019 End of the Year Grassroots Empowerment Programme.” According to Gbajabiamila, he would rather be a rubber stamp National Assembly for the sake of the country’s progress rather than “fight” the executive without progress. Gbajabiamila’s rhetorical strategy is disingenuous. He brought up an argument that nobody made so he could discount legitimate criticism.
First, nobody asked him to go to the National Assembly to duel with the executive. He is merely cooking up things to justify the passivity of the legislature at a period in the nation’s history when they should be putting the feet of the executive to the fire. Many issues are ongoing in Nigeria that one would expect would have attracted the attention of the legislature, and some of which should at least have resulted in congressional hearings. But no, nobody hears “pim” from them. One such issue was the illegal detention of the journalist, Omoyele Sowore, who was only recently released after the Nigerian government had been duly shamed locally and internationally.
In the course of Sowore’s detention, people appealed to different powers-that-be, locally and internationally, to secure his release. It should bother the present crop of lawmakers that nobody thought of them as enough authority, constitutional or moral, to solicit their intervention. People did not look in their direction because they already act like mere vassals of the executive and could not afford to take a stand. While they could not be counted on to stand up for Nigeria’s democracy when we needed them, six USA lawmakers committed themselves to the noble cause. Despite the initial “gragra” of the presidency’s errand boys like Femi Adesina, these Americans managed to rattle Aso Rock’s dictator to the point they were forced to obey the constitution they were sworn to obey. Where was the National Assembly during the whole episode?