Have LP lawmakers betrayed the revolution?


Now that “We no de give shishi!” mantra has pushed some politicians into the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly, and state Houses of Assembly, this clarion call from the revolution-tasty citizenry should be turned the other way round, lest it becomes just another dubious anthem used to rob Mother Nigeria of her dream of a real revolution. Instead of rejecting the meat in the palace, the “Obidient ambassadors” have lost their voice, hid their face, and are now salivating, waiting for the porridge about to be dished to them from the poisoned chalice they once swore to crush when elected.

Truly, one had expected that the Labour Party lawmakers should have started shouting, “We no de take shishi!” by now. This would have sealed the revolution they started last year, and given a spiritual fillip to Peter Obi’s struggle at the presidential election petition tribunal.

But they seem not to be thinking in this direction. If they did, we would have heard them speak out against the outrageous monetary packages proposed to be shared among themselves. Some weeks ago, the new government removed the subsidy on fuel, thereby plunging the country into untold hardship. As part of the so-called palliatives to alleviate the suffering of the citizens, the Federal Government asked the National Assembly to approve N500bn for the masses from the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act. The lawmakers quickly approved the release of the fund because there is something in it for them.

The proposed palliative is so glaringly pro-power. While just about 12 million indigent Nigerian families shall get a monthly cash transfer of 8000 naira for six months, the just over 300 new lawmakers shall get N70bn “support allowance”. Not only that, N40bn is also allocated to buy 465 Sports Utility Vehicles and bulletproof cars for members and principal officials.

In my view, the LP lawmakers should not be associated with this legislative gluttony. It totally contradicts the Obi legacy that catapulted them into public office.

Lest they forget, they are not the same with lawmakers from the other political parties. They are the children of a revolution. Most of them would not have smelled the corridors of power had they not come under the Obidient banner. We heard how some of them never even campaigned for a day, yet they were voted into office. Some of them were unknown to the people that thumbed the ballots in their favour. Their faces were not familiar. Yet, all they needed was to be recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission as the LP candidate. It was “Elu Pee” all the way. Nobody cared who was on the ballot.

Therefore, these new LP lawmakers cannot argue that they needed to recoup the monies they invested in their electioneering. The tag “we no dey give shishi ” means exactly what it says. They got in without the traditional largesse bazaar for godfathers, thugs, hangers-on and voters.

Second, the person they follow is known for his prudence and frugality even with public funds. He is also known for rejecting outrageous (official) offers from government executives for personal enrichment. He once rejected a land given to him by a government he served. It was his due, but he opted to turn it down, because he felt it was immoral to accept the lush offer while other citizens lived and died in penury. He did not need the gift, so he passed.

Likewise, the LP lawmakers do not really need all these (official) perks, because the bounty is actually indirect inducement.

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Without doubt, if the Obidient legislators are perceptive enough to feel the mood of the nation, they would have realised that now – more than ever before – they have an opportunity to speak with one resounding voice. During campaigns, they did not possess the official voice to vaunt their incorruptibility and self-denial. It was only their leader, Obi, who could boast of such. He was a one-man saint leading a multitude of believers into the den of demons. He was a giant-slayer, exorcising thousands of political goliaths in the country’s corruption-ridden and slippery political tapestry.

But, indeed, because revolutionary leaders seem to replicate themselves, the outcome of the 2023 general elections was such a decisive disruption, that we now have many Peter Obi’s in public offices. Or, do we?

As the Pentecostal would say, one shall chase a thousand; two shall chase 10 thousand. Obi was pursuing a thousand entities. But now, there are 40 federal lawmakers that can chase away 10 million rats that are nibbling at the core of Nigeria’s economic, social and political life.

But, if they cannot muster the courage to resist enticements coming from their colleagues, then they have betrayed the revolution. And considering the immense sympathy the Obi multitude enjoyed from far and wide, these politicians have indeed failed Nigeria, Africa and the world.

To me, the most unfortunate part of this reality is that it is a spiritual booby trap to Obi’s post-election legal struggles. Perhaps, the presidential election tribunal is not just about scrutinising the process that threw up the country’s number one citizen. It is about considering the right person to put the soul of Nigeria in his hands. Hence, there are several other considerations to be made before handing over the reins of power in a complex country like ours. One of such is the imponderables surrounding any revolutionary trajectory. If Obi is the only bastion, soul and life of the alternative paradigm, it could be too fragile an edifice to trust with state power.

Third, the LP lawmakers must empathise with Nigerians in these trying times of hunger and hardship brought about by the fuel subsidy removal. Even if legislators from other political parties are insensitive to the plight of Nigerians, the Obidient cannot afford to look the other way while we suffer. Everything they do should reflect the harsh realities on ground, and they must be seen to be compassionate and understanding to the condition of the man in the street. That is what Obi stands for.

A huge crowd elevated him as a symbol of their demand for a paradigm shift towards shared prosperity, wherein the rich would ensure that the poor gets to be served the basic comforts of life in a sustainable manner. The other concern is trust. If the rich countries forgive our debt, or give us money, to what extent would our political leaders ensure that everybody got a piece of the pie? Will they use the money to fund their extravagant lifestyle and corrupt official spending while still keeping the masses impoverished?

But, if they fail, it would clearly show that those that had dreamed about a green crusade within the Obidient movement, may have to dream again. In a country where there is no active Green Party, some people in the environmental sector had hoped that the Labour Party/Obidient Movement could eventually fulfil the principles of the Global Greens Charter, thereby helping Nigeria achieve the much-needed ecological quantum leap. There are six guiding principles: Ecological wisdom, social justice, participatory democracy, nonviolence, sustainability and respect for diversity.

Nonetheless, Nigeria urgently needs a green party or a party with a green spirit. The LP lawmakers have shown how eager they are to follow the All Progressives Congress et al in the old dirty path. If not anything, the glaring lack of ecological wisdom is in the fact that they are ready to festoon their offices with N70bn while farmers who suffered the devastating 2022 floods across the country get N19bn to prop back their lives and their land. ,

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