OrderPaperToday – On the 10th of June, 2015, the House of Representatives observed a minute silence to mourn the tragic death of a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who was killed in Imo state. This was the first resolution of the 8th House.
One minute silence is a ritual of meditation and reflection over a tragedy or observed as a mark of respect to a departed soul. This ritual was observed so frequently in the House that between June, 2015 till that assembly was adjourned sine die in June 2019, the green chamber recorded 98 different observance of 1 minute silence in honour of Nigerians who died due to general insecurity in the land. These range from the deadly boko haram terrorism in the northeast, the herders-farmers clashes, banditry, kidnapping, trigger-happy police officers, and many others that classes of insecurity that have held citizens visitors hostage for years.
The ritual of one minute silence is most times followed by long debates laced with heavy rhetoric, sound bites, political slogans, call for investigations, summoning of concerned security outfits and personnel. Unfortunately, the killings and general insecurity have persisted and gotten even worse as the country now currently attests.
The question therefore is: aside from the chest thumping and long speech, did the members of the House of Representatives do more than playing to the gallery?
Here are some clear instances to suggest that the lawmakers have been failing to keep up with the rhetoric:
Motions without movements…
On the 25 of February, 2016, the House adopted a motion by Adamu Entonu on the terror attack leading to loss of over 145 lives and destruction of properties in Agatu Local Government area of Benue State and made some strong calls in addition to the minute silence observed:
- its Committee on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) was mandated to visit and access the situation in Agatu and report back to the House within four (4) weeks.
- The Committee on Public Safety and Intelligence was also mandated to investigate the ugly development with a view to providing lasting solutions and report back to the House in four (4) weeks.
- However, according to detailed checks by OrderPaperNG, the committees did not submit any report to plenary.
It is worth stating that this particular Agatu massacre subsequently metamorphosed to the full blown farmers/herders that have claimed several lives across the country. The question is: if the House had acted beyond the one minute silence ritual, would it have changed the direction of the conflict?
On the 19th of April, 2016, Segun Alexander moved a motion on a corps member, Samuel Okonta, that was killed in Rivers state. The motion was adopted by the House, with a resolution mandating the House Committee on Human Rights to investigate the recent killings of Corps Members and other students, and report back within 2 weeks.
This committee did not report back on this investigation, findings also show. Same way no report was submitted on the other motion on killing of another corps member mentioned earlier at the beginning of this story.
On the 25th of April, 2018, the House following a motion on a matter of urgent public importance moved by Mark Gbillah on attack by army personnel on innocent residents of Naka in Gwer-West Local Government Area of Benue State, reached some landmark 19 resolutions:
- Notable among them was to summon the President, Muhammadu Buhari to appear before House and a 7 days ultimatum for him to provide the House details of those responsible for the attack on Naka town and the action taken against them.
- The House also resolved to shut down plenary for 3 legislative days as a mark of solidarity with Nigerians and also a strong signal that government must take action.
- The green chamber also resolved to meet with Mr. President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces, on a legislative day to specifically discuss security matters.
- The lawmakers specifically called for the sack of the military chiefs
Of course the President did not appear and did not send any of the information required by the lawmakers. And there was no suspension of plenary as threatened. The lawmakers ate their own words and simply moved on to the next one minute ritual.
Sack of service chiefs calls…
Interestingly as seen from the resolutions above, the 8th House also passed a vote of no confidence on all the security chiefs and urged the President to remove them from office. At a particular plenary session, it resolved to urge the President to, within 24 hours, deploy enough personnel to flush out the armed bandits and establish a permanent military bases in identified locations in Benue State.
The House did not carry out any protest, and the service chiefs are still there. And its successor assembly is making same calls with no sign that anything would change. Nigerians are tired of these motions without movements and would love to see more biting rather than barking from their elected representatives