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The Emperor and his expired Lawmakers, by Ugoji Egbujo



Sometime in December 2023, a bunch of Rivers State legislators woke up from sleep and decided to defect to another party.

On the floor of the state legislature, before TV cameras, they gleefully announced their defection to the APC.

Speaker Amaewhule, the megaphone for the giddy and pulsating others, prattled to justify the defection.

He was conversant with the law. The law didn’t allow defecting legislators to jump ship with the people’s mandate in their pockets. So, the speaker and his journeymen had to conjure up something. They were desperate to demonstrate their loyalty to their political deity. They said their party, the PDP, was torn to pieces. The legislators didn’t know they were stirring the hornet with a bald head.

After defecting in the House, they came outside to celebrate it. At a grand reception for them by the local branch president’s party, which their deity was propping clandestinely, they collected the flags and symbols of the new party and danced to the tunes of initiation. They sang to their leader, the little emperor, who was a minister in Abuja and spoke of him like a messiah. The defection was supposed to position them properly for federal largesse and the swift use of the guillotine of impeachment on the governor, who had been declared a modern-day Judas by the emperor. Neither the emperor nor his stooges could see they were taking off clothes in the rain.

To leave no stone unturned, the defected legislators took their exuberance to the Federal High Court to depose an affidavit attesting on oath to the defection and stitching up puerile afterthoughts as justifications. The idea was to fit themselves within the window allowed by the law where they could eat their cake of defection and have it by remaining legislators. But it appeared that in their desperation to bow and lick the ass of the emperor, they took many things for granted.

They overestimated the ability of the mentor to mesmerise the judiciary. They underrated the ability of the beleaguered governor to mobilise public goodwill. They had misjudged the necessity of defection and sleepwalked into a torturous superfluity. If they lacked all volition and were simply railroaded into it like school children, we might never know. At times, their popping eyes revealed regret more than defiance and evoked pity. But soon, the chickens came home to roost.

The few legislators who didn’t defect seized the reins and declared the seats of the defected vacant. The Supreme Court had decided that the fact of defection truncated the legislative mandate except in limited and rigid circumstances. Because the discombobulated legislators couldn’t manufacture the requisite circumstances out of thin air, they had to turn the truth on its head and disown history.

The defected legislators are now struggling to deny the defection. In a society where honour means something, they wouldn’t dare. But here, they will just seek to confuse the public. They might deny that the House proceedings where they announced defections in public glare never took place. They might refute the oaths they swore to at the court registry. They are now resolute. They have to create an alternate reality. They will rely on the fact that in Nigeria , the masses are routinely perceived as gullible by crooked politicians. They will trust that the pervasive amnesia from which the people often suffer will flare to make everyone forget. They will trust that the judiciary can be made to see a spade and call it a hoe.

Nigeria is such a country. The president and his party—which had received them, will look away, say nothing, or tell a lie. Integrity means nothing; the end will justify the means. Judges and lawyers have already welcomed the frenzy that has ensued. Brazen lies told by eminent politicians often generate a flurry of cases through the courts, creating wonderful opportunities for money to exchange hands. The emperor, now fighting tooth and nail to get his hirelings to disown their oath, was once responsible for the summary excommunication of defected state legislators in Ebonyi. He had taken it upon himself to champion the removal. Now, after goading his puppets into an asinine defection, he wants to supplant the system to keep them in place. Farce upon farce.

The emperor and his minnows know that in Banana republics everything is possible. After truncating their mandate, the expired legislators decided to do a few heretical things. They elongated the expiring tenures of local government chairmen in the state. For every act of lawlessness they legislated, the courts were besieged anew. The end result is the police have sealed local government councils ostensibly to prevent further bloodshed.

Along the line and behind the scenes, some self-appointed elders will start talking about reconciliation “because in the presence of sufficient rancour, no development can take place.” That’s the popular jejune refrain. The idea will be to sacrifice truth and justice so that some diabolical peace that favours and cuddles savage gangsterism can reign.

Once such an arrangement is procured or manufactured, the emperor dressed in another expensive but ill-fitting denim robe can dance drunkenly with his stooges and celebrate in hedonism the triumph of brigandage to the cheer of a section of the peasantry howling their addiction to servitude and pumping fists. Before a pyrrhic victory, there will be a phoney performance. Some nobles have folded their hands. Their idea of nobility is that there is no honour amongst thieves. So those who have lived by the sword should die in the hands of highway robbers. That way, they can endorse state capture without feeling the pangs of cowardice. This hesitation to stand for the truth only happens to protect some political deity against scrutiny and moral accountability. If some carnivorous entities decide to reform this democracy entirely, journalists and students would be expected, once again, to risk their lives for collective freedom.

Basic truth-telling rather than magomago and wuruwuru will save the country many troubles.

Credit: Facebook | Ugo Egbujo

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