By; MANSIR LAWAL KAWARE
The Devolution of Powers Bill was on Wednesday 26/7/2017 defeated at the Senate by 48 to 46 votes while it failed to meet the 2/3 majority required on 27/7/2017 at the House of Representatives. One may, however, needs to ask how sincere are the agitators for the devolution of powers.
A simple analysis would show that the devolution issue is more of regional other than a Nigerian affair coupled with the interest of a few top notchers from both Northern and Southern parts of the country. Some people from the North are blindly following those making the agitation from the south whose interest is inimical to the existence of the North. It may sound odd that these people are doing so either because they see it as an act that could assist them clinch to power or because they are opposed to President Buhari.
I pity those supporting the agitation from the North, because while those from the Southern part of the country have reasons for their action, those from the North could have realized their mistakes had the Bill succeeded, because they will end up achieving nothing. If they think Buhari is their target they have mistaken, Buhari is only making a sacrifice but has nothing to lose as a person.
The leading agitators from the North are Atiku and IBB who are all known to be opposed to Buhari, who knows if they have a hand in what is going on at the National Assembly. One could have reason to believe that the National Assembly leaders are acting on a script.
Otherwise since the Bill has failed, it means the National Assembly members have spoken why are they as leaders of the National Assembly interested in representing it. Hear them, Bukola Saraki the Senate President in Ilorin on 27/7/2017 when “not too young to rule forum visited him as contained in a statement from his media office, said the Bill for devolution of powers would be revisited in September after the break.
The youth were there for the Bill that concerns them and not that of devolution of powers. The Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu on 1/8/2017 told a South-East consultative meeting as contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media Mr. Uche Anichukwu that the devolution of powers Bill would be revisited in September after the National Assembly break.
The House Leader of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila also issued a statement on 2/8/2017 saying the defeated Devolution Bill would be represented because its rejection was a mistake which needs to be corrected in September.
All the National Assembly leaders issued common reasons that Nigerians are not happy with the rejection of the Bill, it would be revisited in September and each of them issued a written statement to that effect as against verbal statements. By this development, one could deduce that the National Assembly leaders are taking lesson from one source which they come out to disseminate to the public.
Come to think of it, they are saying Nigerians are not happy that the Bill was defeated, who are these Nigerians, because if Nigerians are really in support of it, it wouldn’t have been defeated because those who voted against it are equally representatives of Nigerians. From my understanding the major stakeholders of the Bill are our brothers from the Southern part of the country.
When one talks of Nigerians it means those who came from the Southern part of the country, those of us from the North are simply referred to as Northerners, that is why only Gbajabiamila was able to give one example of Edwin Clerk, the Champion of Ijaws otherwise they were only saying Nigerians.
They do not want to mention those rejecting the defeat of the Bill because 90% of the names to be mentioned will be those from the Southern part of the country.
The House of Representatives lawmakers are relatively younger by age and 70% of them are not as experienced as the Senators, that was why they, I suspect, were misled into believing that the Bill borders on Nigerians and party interest other than the working of a regional interest married to that of a countable selfish persons from the North. Only last Saturday 5/8/2017, a coalition of Niger delta militants led by Chukudi Okasike said there has to be devolution of powers or they would form Niger-Delta Republic.
For those of us from the northern part of Nigeria it is better for the country to break-up than to go into the Devolution of Powers. No matter the explanation, we view the Devolution of Powers as a systematic enslavement of the North. In the light of that, we do not want to have anything to do with the Devolution Bill let alone present it for another round of voting.
Those concerned have been making reference with how it is happening in America. While we adopted American Presidential system and its type of elections, it would be wrong to attempt total compliance with what they are doing because our democracy is not matured for that, how can one compare what is in practice for over two hundred years with what obtains under twenty years in Nigeria? Our democracy has to be nursed to a certain level before we start to think of total compliance. This is similar to state police in America which has been on demand by some Southern States and the recent call for the separation of the office of Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation. All these are nothing but jumping into the river by those who do not know how to swim. Will it not be wiser to learn how to swim before attempting such a risky venture? The Governors calling for State Police may end up becoming prey to their own creation, because the day they left power they may regret establishing the body.
Therefore the National Assembly leadership’s intent to lobby other members to pass the Devolution Bill should be discarded unless they have something beneath their hearts. Senators and members of the House of Representatives should also hold on to their commendable stand of rejecting the Bill no matter the number of times it may be represented before them.
MANSIR LAWAL KAWARE sent in this piece from Katsina State. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
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