Senate And Doctrine Of Bow And Go. Manasseh Paul-Worika
The strategy used in battlefield, politics and other endeavors, to bring conditions most favorable to one’s own side, judge precisely the right moment to attack or withdraw was exploited by Nigeria’s 9th Senate screening ministerial nominees.
For four days, Nigerians helplessly watched as the Senator Lawan led Senate, cleared all the nominees telling them nearly dozen of them to take a bow and go because they were former senators or specially forwarded without considering if they were familiar with the magnitude and urgency of the problem at hand or equipped with the requisite knowledge required to help the nation come out of its present predicament.
Fundamentally, apart from this doctrine looking curiously old-fashioned, and lacking critical judgment, the practice neither squares up with global best practices nor is it in harmony with expected high moral standard.
The case of Hillary Clinton, a onetime senator and wife of the Former and President of the United State, Bill Clinton remains particular instructure in the contrast to the Nigeria and the United States of America. Before she was sworn in by the D.C. Court of Appeals’ Associate Judge Kathryn Oberly as the 67th U.S. Secretary of state, she was not only grilled for hours by the Senate- despite being a former senator, but she had the likes of Senator Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, and Senator David Vitter, R-Louisiana opposing her confirmation.
In the Nigerian context, possibly the most alarming factor that set the stage for this appalling situation is the Lawan led-senate failure to deploy strategic insights to screen a Ministers list that was silent on portfolios. Nor sufficient due diligence in the light of several allegations of malfeasance against some of the nominees.
Regardless, the senate policy of ‘bow and go, and the ambiguity of portfolio indicates that Nigerians may be in for much trouble than we Can actually imagine. It also rings apprehension that unless the senate comes to terms with the harm of their screening pattern the nation and review the bow and go with the urgency the nation may be having a greater crisis.
Should parochial, dismissive and blanket clearance become a tradition in the senate. Should we as a nation allow the trend to go on and prepare to reap whatever fruit that comes in future?
We are currently in the dire straits that urgently calls for improving performance in every sector of the economy, education, youth development, energy and powers and others. And allowing the sentiment of ‘bow and go’ can only be an option if it is clear in which direction the nation is going. And the choice of that direction is important and must be determined by the quality of people we put in charge running critical departments of government and our national life.
It was importantly, for the Lawan-led senate to be aware that the question was not only about what the nominees had done in the past about Nigerians having the privilege of knowing beforehand what they intend to do when they become ministers in the interest of Nigerians.
We need good people in office to have a good government. The nation needs ministers who are sensitive, with great insight to do things differently and challenge the status quo.
Not allowing the ministerial nominees to tell Nigerians their plans and programmes indicates that the Senate as an arm of government is yet to recognize that all Nigerians are ‘soldiers in the development army and have the same ranks and tasks to develop the country and rather erroneously, depicts all senators and their ilks as all-knowing, more nationalistic, selfless, honest, and more intelligent than others. This cannot be the true position.
In my understanding, the President, Governors, Senators and others are first among equals, in the front line of development are entrusted with the most crucial mission not that they are more important than other citizens in the effort to secure victories in the wars of national development.
Ascertaining the capacity of our ministers has become urgent and imperative as we are convinced of the need to change, but if we must determine our pace towards change we must choose our priorities. If we are not convinced about our priorities, the world will impose change on us and we will be left with no option than to play second fiddle. Worse still, if we do not choose our own pace of change, the world will dictate it for us’.
If a people-purposed leadership is what we truly seek, if accelerated economy is our goal, if social and cultural development is our dream if promoting peace, supporting our industries and improving our energy sector forms our objective, then the senate has to look for a way to accommodate the views of Nigerians and suspend its rule concerning this unfair privilege and come up with an effective mechanism that will help throw upright and competent men for public offices. Not people whose inadequacies will be covered deliberately by an all-knowing senate.
The senators must learn some valuable lessons from the case of Hilary Clinton and similar ones in various parts of the world and take ministerial screening as serious legislature duty bestowed upon them by the constitution. It is a duty that requires honest patriotic scrutiny rather than filial or partisan relationships.
Nigeria must learn to adjust to new political conduct policies that will ensure a people purposed leadership in the country.