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The House of DINOsaurs

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Bukola Saraki

It is more popularly known as The House of Assembly, but I call it The House of Dinosaurs. And whether they concur or not, they are endangered and will soon be extinct. Certainly, their days are numbered. Just when we think they have reached the lowest of lows and there couldn’t possibly be a lower level of shame and disgrace, they somehow manage to prove us wrong. When the Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki was under investigation for fraud and/or forgery, we expected him to step down. This is the minimum expected by today’s standards of civilized conduct in public office. Sadly, the man sat put, shamelessly conducting the affairs of the Senate as if there was nothing amiss!

And of course, a house whose members did not collectively demand the resignation of Saraki, is indeed a house of dinosaurs.

As Senate President, Bukola Saraki was docked on a 13-count charge of false declaration of assets. He quickly assembled a team of 66 lawyers to defend him! That is 66 moronic buffoons who would be quick to tell you they were only doing their jobs and defending their client. But who didn’t see it fit to tell their so called client that he was a disgrace to the office he occupied. And this is not to judge him guilty before he has been tried but rather to say that his position became untenable the day he was charged.

The honorable thing to do was step down from the office. This after all is the third highest office in the country, and a position of absolute public trust. If at the end of it all, nothing untoward is established against him, he can hold his head high and that way he will even assume an exemplary image in the polity and be a shining example for others to emulate. But in Saraki, we have a Senate President who doesn’t even realize he is a role model for the younger generation. Rather he is one of the reasons there is little hope for the youths. They look at the Sarakis of the polity and conclude that this nation is a jungle where only the most bestial survive. They believe that you have to play the game to get along and there are no scruples or morals. In the jungle we call home, the primordial instinct becomes the norm.

Why then is anyone surprised by the farcical antics of Dino? We have the singular misfortune of boasting the highest paid senators in the history of democracy. And even when there was no recession, we complained that given the mass poverty in the land these guys are overpaid and there is no way their fat pay could be justified. Then came recession. One would expect these gluttons to announce a pay cut as their own sacrifice to help the nation come out of these hard times, but no. Nothing of the sort. Rather we are daily assaulted with shameless acts of primitive profligacy, by a gang of nincompoops foisted upon us right out of the Stone Age.

Why did David Cameron resign as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom? After the popular vote to opt out of the European Union, a move he opposed, he honorably decided to stand down as Prime Minister. Less than three months later, he resigned from parliament because according to him, “the circumstances of my resignation as Prime Minister and the realities of modern politics make it very difficult to continue on the backbenches without the risk of becoming a diversion to the important decisions that lie ahead for my successor in Downing Street and the Government,”. And here we are, with a brigade of overpaid clowns dancing around the place, making a mockery of our democracy for which some people paid the supreme price.

We have to ask ourselves; what is the brand essence of the House of Assembly? What is its raison détre? What promise does it hold for the millions of Nigerians who have high expectations of it? As a brand, what does this house stand for? What perception do most Nigerians have of the House of Assembly? Most would talk about the senseless pay they have allotted to themselves. Many would talk of corruption and money sharing. Many would talk of a bunch of guys who don’t even bother to attend sessions as we often see a lot of empty seats in the house. Many would talk of a gang of crooks who blackmail the Executive when it comes to budget approval so that they get all the perks and cash they want! This is the perception we have of the Senate.

The Upper House, as they like to call themselves is a shame to this country as it currently stands. Under normal circumstances, these guys are supposed to be the champions of the masses, putting our interests first and above all else. But is there anyone in this country who truly sees the senators as champions of the people? I am yet to find one such person. Rather they are perceived as a gang of selfish rogues who feed fat on the commonwealth without justification. I cannot point to any landmark law they have passed which has the potential to truly transform the lives of the suffering masses of this country. The highest paid senators in the world preside over a nation with one of the lowest minimum wages in the world. And they are not ashamed of it.

If this senate were a brand, how would Nigerians respond to it? Would they patronize it? Would they believe that it is living up to its promise? Do the senators understand the reason why they sit? Do they know their brand promise to the people of this country? And if they do, are they awake to their responsibilities? What if their allowances are dependent upon how much they improve the lot of the Nigerian people? What if they get nothing except they create value? For us brand managers in the private sector, this is the reality we live with every day. Even if he was innocent of all those charges, Saraki shouldn’t be sitting as Senate President today. And if that is the leadership of the house, what do we expect of the followers? As they say, a fish rots from the head.

I am incredibly optimistic about the future of this nation and like dinosaurs, the crop of clowns we have in our senate today will soon be extinct because they have no place in the future of this nation. The world has moved far away from the primitive and primordial ways of our senators and a new generation will surely arise and soon enough, these dinosaurs will be a thing of the distant past.

• Muyiwa Kayode is the CEO at USP Brand Management and Author, The Seven Dimensions of Branding.


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