By Jereaghogho Efeturi – Ukusare
The Senate is defined by the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (LDOCE) hereinafter referred to as LDOCE as “the smaller and more important of the two parts of the government with the power to make laws, in countries such as the US, Australia and France. The Nigerian government and Senate is fashioned after that of the United States of America with the introduction of the Presidential system of government in Nigeria with the 1979 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from the Parliamentary system which was operational in Nigeria as established by the British government prior to the 1979 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Hence, Nigeria has a Senate that is expected to operate like that of the United States of America.
The major function of the Senate is to make laws. It is expected that each Senator comes up or sponsors bills which should be passed into law for the betterment of the country and or his/her constituency. Another function is oversight. That is “to be in charge of something” (LDOCE). These are the functions of the Senate and the Nigerian Senate. The Senate must therefore be accorded its respect at all times as a very high state institution.
Coming to the gladiatorial combat between the Nigerian Senate and the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali; the Senate is expected not to have any business dwelling on what he wears to appear before it. The Senate has the power to invite the Comptroller General of Customs and interrogate him whichever way it pleases as part of their functions of oversight. Where the Comptroller General of Customs fail to answer certain salient questions, the Senate can then go tough with him. Going tough with him does not mean asking him to resign. Constitutionally, it is not the duty of the Senate to ask an appointee of the President to resign. Asking him to resign is a cheap political strategy to put him under pressure that would not work. Going into the records of the Customs, checking through the organisation to see what he has done right or wrong are some of the things the Senate can do in getting tough with him. And if he comes out clean, very well then.
On the other hand, the Comptroller General of Customs has not given any good reason why he cannot wear the Customs uniform. Being an ex- military man does not mean he should not wear uniform again. As a matter of fact, he could clad himself in his full military attire and present himself before the Senate as the Customs boss. Where the Senate ask him to leave without posing the relevant questions, then the Customs boss would have done his part in full in appearing before them. At this point, he would have made a very strong point, put an end to the controversy and place the Senate at the mercy of the Nigerian people who would now see the move of the Senate as an attempt to ridicule him. This would end the whole cacophony of uniform wearing as the Nigerian people who the Senators represent would take up the fight for the CG of customs without any controversy. Taking another look at the matter, the CG of Customs could simply just wear the Customs uniform in obedience to this highly placed institution of state. This would also put an end to the noise and frivolity.
It is said that two wrongs do not make a right. It is expected that the Nigerian Senate should act as a gathering of the sage men and play big brothers and put an end to this controversy by dropping the case of the uniform as the Nigerian people have suggested. But no, the pride of the Senators would not allow. On the other hand, the pride of the CG Customs would not allow him to wear any of the uniforms available to him to wear. So, where do we go from here?
The Nigerian populace is weary of this political drama. The people want their Senate to formulate progressive bills and pass them into law as well as carry out their oversight functions responsibly. And not publicly argue with an individual over an issue as inconsequential as the wearing of uniform by the head of a government agency who was never a staff of that agency. The people also want the Customs boss to concentrate on his job and not involved in such an argument.
Jereaghogho Efeturi – Ukusare is the Publisher & Editor In Chief, St. Hilary’s Magazine and an Entrepreneurship Training Facilitator.