By: Abdulrasheed Ibrahim
Recently some lawmakers in the House of Representatives, about 71 of them in their wisdom came up with a suggestion that Nigeria should abandon the presidential system being presently practised for the parliamentary system. The last time we practised the similarity of parliamentary system in this country was during the First Republic when we had the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as the Prime Minister while the late Dr. Nnamid Azikwe was the President of the post independent Nigeria. But with the unfortunate incident of the 1966 Military coup , that system was sent packing. Between 1966 and 1979, the people in the military inform were in total control and by the time they were leaving, they installed a presidential system under the leadership of Alhaji Shehu Usmanu Aliyu Shagari with the 1979 Constitution. While the presidential system of government is the type being practised in the United State of America (USA), the parliamentary is the type being practised in the United Kingdom (U.K).
For the benefit of the laymen, I would have loved to do a comprehensive analysis of the two systems on this platform, but for space I would not embark on that exercise but would rather adopt in entirety Mr. Simon Kolawole , a Columnist’s article titled : “A Vote for Parliamentary System” recently published in the THISDAY NEWSPAPER’s backpage. SK did a wonderful job in comparing the two systems. Part of the submissions made by SK that interests me most was where he said that:
“…I have always believed that returning to a parliamentary system would offer us an opportunity to practise a more robust form of democracy .I like presidentialism, which we currently practise, but love the parliamentary system. Before I proceed, a caveat is critical: I do not believe parliamentarianism is the magic solution to Nigeria’s problems. When I say Nigeria’s problems, of course, I refer to the poor standard of living; the corruption and the ethno- religious strife which pervade every segment and every section of the country in varying degrees. I have always argued that competent and patriotic leadership is what we need to address these problems. I am therefore, not suggesting in any way or by any means that adopting the parliamentary system of government would turn Nigeria to Japan the day after the prime minister assumes power. No. I do not have such evidence in my file…”
Subsequent to the new suggestion by the 71 lawmakers people have began to express various views on this new recommendation as to whether Nigeria should still maintain the presidential system or switch to the parliamentary system. My own take on this has been that it is not the type of system we operate that matters but the people that will operate the system. A leader in any particular political system may be good and honest but if he surrounds himself with disciples that are not as good and honest as himself, that may be his waterloo. A leader may not be good or sincere enough and if he surrounds himself with good or sincere disciples whose sincere advice may not be meaningful to the leader, nothing positive may be achieved at the end of the day. If you think I speak in parable, I want you to please fault me on these two examples : President Shagari was in power between 1st October 1979 to 31st December 1983 when his government was overthrown by the Military. His government was probed by the same military authority that said about Shagari himself that the more they looked to nail him for corruption the less they saw. Can you remember how many politicians in that regime were sent to jail? Can you still remember the stories of Alhaji Umoru Dikko and others who were key figures during the Shagari regime?
When General Ibrahim Babangida eventually came to power with his own style of political system by declaring himself a military president, he picked people who were the best in their various professions to be ministers. It was under his regime we had people like Chief Bola Ajibola as Attorney General and Minister of Justice; late Professor Ransom Kuti as Minister of Health; late Professor Babatunde Fafunwa as Minister of Education and Professor Bolaji Akinyemi as Minister of Foreign Affairs amongst others. Despite all these great people in his government ,IBB had his own way, the way he wanted it by putting in place a protracted transition program to the civil rule which ended up with the annulment of the elections considered to be the most free and fair in the history of Nigeria.
Whether people continue to argue in favour of presidential or parliamentary system notwithstanding the fact that the parliamentary system is cheaper than the presidential system, the most important thing are the people that will operate the system. Those systems work in other parts of the world from where they are borrowed because most politicians there see politics as selfless service to their people and not in this part of the world where the politicians have seen politics as a lucrative business as I had had written about two years ago ,precisely on 28th December 2016 that :
“The reason why most of our politicians are desperate to be in power by all means is because the system we operate makes politics a lucrative business. If politics is truly about selfless service and sacrifice to the people wherein politicians are not being paid a lot of money, it is then that we are going to know those who really love their father’s land because whoever goes to politics then will truly be regarded as the true servants of the people. But what do we have in this country? Our politicians in offices go home with the lion share of the fund that is meant for the generality of the populace. They have fleet of cars and live in mansions They drain the treasury to fund their campaign to perpetuate themselves in offices. The politicians create paradise for themselves on the earth. Any attempts by the opposing side to challenge them are visited with violence in which common men are usually the victims. What do you think the politics will be like if we try to make it very unattractive by saying that whatever position you are elected to there will not be official residence for you as you must be going to the office from your own house; you will not be entitled to more than one car and that since you have decided to serve your father’s land you will only be paid peanut as your allowance or salary. If we can have this type of system, do you think our politicians will be desperate to contest for any political office? Our politicians are desperate and ready to kill themselves in the contest for a particular office because the politics have been made to be a very lucrative business.”
To me the clamour for the restructuring of the nation without the clamour for the politics that will accommodate both the upright, brilliant rich and the poor to participate in government as well as restructuring the remuneration that goes to the elected politicians will be a mere waste of time and energy.
WHEN PROFESSOR GOES TO JAIL
A former university lecturer and professor of accountancy is now playing guest to the prison authority and he will be there for the next two years after being convicted and sent to jail by a judge of the Federal High Court in Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria. On the arraignment of Professor Richard Akindele by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) on charge of age alteration and demanding sex for mark from one of his post graduate students, one Miss Monica Osagie, the professor upon pleading of quilt and a plea bargain was sentenced to two years imprisonment. What a great down fall to a professor? The trial judge, Hon. Justice Maureen Onyetenu his judgment had this to say:
“The menace is getting to secondary and primary schools .I am a pastor and a counsellor .I know the mental torture many of our female students have been subjected to by the likes of the respondent. The adverse effect of such action is huge .Many of his likes have been awarding marks to those students that are ready to warm their beds, thereby releasing half-baked graduates into the society.”
Honestly the judge was right , there are female graduates today that go about parading excellent results because they warmed the beds of their lectures to earned good grade because according to such ladies “ de thing no dey count meter”. That is what the likes of Professor Akindele have turned our academic institutions to and I do hope that those who are still plying the trade like that of the convicted professor would learn a very big lesson from this scenario. The problem with the people in the category of the fallen professor is that they do not think twice and deeply too before embarking on such voyage. If they can think deeply and ask themselves what will be their own feeling or reaction if some else demands for such a thing from their own daughters, sisters and wives, they will not go to such extreme. In everything we do conscience matters. This kind of things is not limited to the schools, it happens everywhere where unscrupulous people unjustly and sexually abused others in various forms. Such people must learn lesson from the fall of the professor. Anyone that fails to learn from history will surely be victim of history. A word is enough for the wise.
GETTING THE BOOKS TO YOUR DOORSTEP
When I said the LAW PRACTICE KIT and LEGAL LUMINARIES are weapons to win all the legal battles, someone asked me whether it is possible for a lawyer to win all his legal battle. My response was that as a student of literature that is what is called power of getting the message across. No war General will like to lose a war, so will no lawyer likes to lose his legal battle in the court of law. A lawyer that does not prepare very well for his legal battle bound to metaphorically suffer a bloody nose. Occasionally, a great lawyer may lose a legal battle but still get wonderful commendation from the jurists on the bench for a battle well prepared and fought. I can say confidently that the two books are not ordinary books to lawyers who want to win their legal battles in court. Some of the great people in the profession who have seen and read the books have wonderfully commended and endorsed the works. You do not need to stress yourself to get the books to your doorstep. Just call and you will hear a knock of your doorstep. LawReservior is set up to add value to your law practice!
ON ESSENCE OF CONSTITUTION
“The function of the constitution is to establish a framework and principles of government, broad and general in terms intended to apply to the varying conditions which the development of our several communities must involve, ours being a plural, dynamic society and therefore the technical rules of interpretation of statutes are to some extent inadmissible in a way so as to defeat the principles of government enshrined in the constitution”.
Per UDOMA , JSC in Nafiu Rabiu Vs. The State (1980) 8-11 S.C. 130 at Pg. 148-149.
On whether landlord can resort to self help to recover possession
“It is settled law that a landlord who resorts to self-help in a bid to recover possession of premises does so at his own peril and runs foul of the law and is liable to damages.”
See Ihenacho Vs. Uzochukwu (1997) 2 NWLR (Pt. 487) 257; Eliochin Nigeria Limited Vs. Mbaduwe (1986) 11 NWLR (Pt. 14) 47; SALAU Vs. ARABA (2004) ALL FWLR (Pt. 204) Pg. 115 Para E
For more Settled Principles of Law and Remarkable Pronouncements from our Supreme Court Jurists from 1956-2016, obtain or order for your copies of LAW PRACTICE KIT and LEGAL LUMINARIES. Call or text 08055476823, 08164683735 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org. Your library is incomplete without these books.