NAMES are identities by which all things created are known and addressed so the Bible, when the world was created, said Adam was privileged to name all things created including you and I long dash homo sapiens. When, therefore a name is given to an object, he/it straightens its/his ears when that name or sign is called.
For instance, if the domestic goat is astray somewhere and the name such as “Lanke” given it is mentioned or called, it runs helter skelter to the direction its owner-caller is. That same authority as was given Adam transferred to us his offsprings-white or black.
By the time Nigeria got her name from the explorers from the important Rivers Niger and Benue, Niger Area later contracted to Nigeria was given to the geographical enclave. The happenings in that country make us think the name given to us in Nigeria is a misnomer. Don’t say: ‘What’s in a name?’
The import of my illustration springs from the way our governments are run in the number of tiers they are split. Britain colonized the country. She colonized Ghana and some other African countries especially West Africa.
Ever since, our British colonialists are reputed for comparative peace, stable governance. No one is in doubt as to her diplomatic posture earning her economies. She is also very, conservative – living on this conservatism as well. Up to now, there’s no record that Britain has a written constitution and this reason has never resulted in any political upheaval. Convention, which its constitution assumes, has never failed its governance once.
Convention means a general agreement accepted and signed by the components making up that nation with regard to social behaviour. Most of these agreements pass from mouth to mouth. Britain has ever never violated these conventions.
Why the hues and cries over constitution writing in Nigeria? The number of times that I have heard Nigeria write constitutions are innumerable. So much that lawyers in Nigeria specialize in constitution. Besides, this has not provided us a permanent constitution. Rather than solve our problems, we are more united in the breach of the constitution than its observance. The constitution is never faulty. It’s its operators that have their mental faculties deserving of examinations.
The very first pointer to the need for the test of the psychiatry of Nigerians particularly the leaders is the number of years it has taken certain vital issues as ‘Freedom of Information Bill etc crawling, creeping in the National Assembly,
It will surprise a mentally upright setting to know that the ‘FOI’ bill has been between the Executive of and the National Assembly since the last nine or ten years.
Once, it was said that the National Assembly complained that the copies of the bill did not go round the members. The argument was punctured thereafter by the concerned. How will copies of bill not be available? Unbelievable.
All forms of hide-and-seek excuses docked the Bill. The presenter of the Bill, if not a professional journalist, media practitioner, would have long abandoned it
I am aware that the Bill seeks to give the media unfettered access to information at both government and civil levels. The deals of the politicians and the allies will no longer be shrouded in secrecy. The bill will enable the media to probe into the secret deals of the people at whatever level. No wonder, there’s more to the excuses our Assemblymen give than meets the eye.
The whole truth about the delay of the Bill in the National Assembly is that the members are not representatives of the people but people who galvanize their seats from the power brokers in various political parties. Some of these Assemblymen are foreigners to the people they claim to represent. So, in terms of doing what the constituents badly need, they do what favours their pockets for which they scamper for Assembly seats. Does it surprise you to hear that some of the representatives don’t know which state their constituencies belong! Are you saying Haba! Before you say haa! what’s the difference between a representative who, all his/her life, had never set feet on the soil of his/her home-town and those who know their states of origin only?
Freedom of Information Bill, except by divine intervention, will not sail through in the current Assembly. If it ever does, it will be so battered that its bruises will turn ‘Lazarus’ of it.
One of the indications of the ‘Lazarus’ bruises the Bill will suffer is what one-time Minister of Information, Chief Tony Momoh-criticized the Assembly for recommending the Bill to pass through – that permission be taken from the judiciary. Why must the judiciary be the approving authority for the Press to operate? Is the Senate President suggesting that the Press is not a respectable enough organ that can manage its censorship? Is the Senate President suggesting that the Assembly is the right arm to say who to consult before the items of the bill are made use of? Methinks that, free as the National Assembly are, the executive and the judiciary have to be dictated to as to what they should do. Each Arm of government should maintain its autonomy. The skeleton of the assembly is not unknown.
The kind of elections that brought the executive, the legislature to power in 2007 were enough to read the mind of the assembly. One can read the Senate Presidents’ apprehensions by the time he indicates running another term what adverse effects passage of FOI bill, as contained, will have on “arrange elections” representatives enjoyed to get the office.
By now that, after 48 years of ‘countryhood’ – not nationhood, so many wrongs have not been righted in the polity inspite of litigations, one would not but conclude that the name “Nigeria” is’ a misnomer”. So many steps backward at a standstill stance towards progress.
Can that name be the cause of so many steps backward our development experiences?
God save our souls.
•Due to public demand, this write-up BY SONALA OLUMHENSE, is re-produced for our teeming reading public. -Editor