‘2016: Diary Of A Columnist (II)’
THURSDAY Column with Mohammed Adamu
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‘A Clash Of Three Powers’ (09/03/16)
To suggest that the Attorney General instituting criminal proceedings against the Senate leadership bears the imprimatur of the Executive arm undermining the principles of separation of powers, or that it constitutes a coup of one arm against another, is most uncharitable, to say the least…. The theoretical notion of the ‘independence’ of the arms of government is a misnomer. What exists in practice is functional ‘inter-dependence’. Thus the idea of non-interference in the affairs of one arm by another practically is a farce. Each arm in one way or another is constitutionally obligated to interfere in the affairs of the other. Resolving crime cannot be the internal affairs of the legislature. It is the prerogative of the executive to prosecute those accused of committing crime, and it is the duty of the judiciary to determine their guilt or innocence. Legislators cannot hide under the guise of lawmaking to get away with high crimes and misdemeanors.
‘Still On The Sick Economy’ (05/09/16)
We managed to ‘swim’ under Obasanjo. We paddled hard to stay ‘afloat’ under Yaradua. But under Jonathan, the ship of State had gathered so much moss it was already ‘drowning’. We had virtually slipped off the cliff already and could not have landed in one piece without a shattered carapace. And now putting our broken pieces together so we can move on cannot be without some pain! There will be pain when the doctors apply the methylated spirit; there will be more pain even when they lay their knives and pincers. Yet growth for us is that we have not only transited from a profligate Jonathan to a prudent Buhari, we have virtually put a stop to humongous theft, mismanagement, waste and leakages in the administration of the Commonwealth. Growth to us is we are on the path of ‘regeneration’ –no matter how slowly so- and no longer in the throes of rot and decay. Growth for us is that our pain comes from the healing hands of a physician we can trust and not from the cursed fangs of a rabid canine that afflicted us all!
‘Ali: A Tribute’ (09/12/16)
Although Ali graduated from college at the bottom of his class and had difficulty with the ‘printed word’, he had shaped up to be a ‘bad-ass’ wordsmith in a class entirely by himself. He had spun such excellent poetic barbs in assail or rebuttal of opponents as had made poets blush. He would say: “I’ll beat him in EIGHT to prove that I am GREAT, and if he wants to go to HEAVEN I’ll take him in SEVEN; but if he keeps talking JAAZ, I’ll cut it to FIVE”. Ali was such a man of oratorical sleigh of ‘mouth’ that he gave instant witty retorts even to the most spontaneous turns of event. When his managers worried about a particular ‘ring size’ not being of regulated standard, Ali retorted: “I don’t care how small the ring is, I’ll fight that chum in a telephone booth!” In the segregated childhood days of Ali, there were two Americas: white and black; but by the time the curtains dropped for this greatest of all greats, America was one sending forth this illustrious son of the world, Muhammad Ali.
‘Ode To Mko: A Parody Of Shakespeare’ (06/20/16)
On the 12th day of June, a mandate was given; by the ‘many’ to one worthy of the peoples’ trust. He was a ‘man of the people’; he was the ‘peoples’ man’ -the great MKO, my Principal…. But the ‘freest’ and ‘fairest’ election, soon was cowardly annulled; and the mandate holder cruelly put to jail. And as though that was not enough , on the 8th day of July after years in their gilded gaol, the great MKO was felled at last… Soon the army of exigency became marauders of mischief; avoiding remembrance of ‘June 12’ or the 8th of July. They came up with a barren ‘May 29’ which they say is ‘Democracy Day’. Meaning that between the ‘fig’, the ‘olive’ and the tree of ‘vine’, they chose the accursed tree of Jesus that bore no fruits. And the question again is asked: What hath this day deserved? What hath it done that it, in golden letters should be set among the high tides in the calendar? If the tree may be known by the fruit, as the fruit by the tree, June 12 is our ‘Democracy Day’.
‘Tinubu’s Right Of First Refusal’ (10/05/16)
On contribution to the APC, Tinubu alone stands in a class all by himself. Many were neither there during the delicate pre-natal challenges of the formation of the APC nor at the trying ante-natal stages of uncertain expectation. They were hardly there during the excruciating pangs of the labor that occasioned the birth of APC. Tinubu was not just the revolution’s first rag-tag foot soldier, but the lone actor who laid both the geo-political and ideological infrastructure for the expression of the ‘idea’ that gave birth to the revolution. Whereas his 8-years as Governor provided the ideological basis for a renaissance of progressive-governance, his one-man-army’s legal battle against the reactionary forces of electoral gerrymandering to re-claim the South West, provided the geo-political launch-pad required for a pan-Nigerian initiative to liberate the country….
‘Musdapher: The Voice Not Heeded’ (10/19/16)
Although time was at a premium for his barely eleven-month tenure as CJN, Justice Musdapher was the first to embark on a holistic judicial reform program involving –for the first time- a no-holds-barred public exposé of the rot in the Nigerian Judiciary … He was the first Chief Justice not to follow the sedate, publicity-shy style of his predecessors. He was not about to keep quiet and sanctify the aura of judicial secrecy that had always shrouded the operations of the judicial system. He succeeded in getting the message across that the legal system is dogged no less by deficient laws and moribund procedures, than by corrupt judges and lawyers in the Temple of Justice. And even as he warned that the inability of the Judiciary to provide remedy to the growing menace of cut-throat politics, was becoming worrisome, Musdapher also lamented “the gradual but steady flight of decorum, ethics and rules of professional conduct” from the Bench and the Bar.
‘The Texture Of Justice’ (10/26/16)
Such was the greatness and practical sense of juristic propriety of British judges, and such was the texture of justice, that Denning, in a feat of patriotic bravado said if “a future Prime Minister should seek to pack the Bench with judges of his own extreme color”, British citizens would “need have no fear”, that such judges would be tools in the hands of political authority; because the judges of England “have always –and always will- be vigilant in guarding our freedoms”….The idea that the ‘hands’ of a judge are ‘tied’ by ‘unjust provisions’ so that he can only rule in a manner that does not achieve ‘justice’ is lame, escapist and untenable. The powers of a judge to decide what the law ‘is’ or what it ought to be, knows no bounds. If the ‘law’ contains impurities not conducive to the attainment of justice, it behooves a judge not to surrender to those impurities but to ‘construct’ the law to work justice…. Thus said Denning, although a “Judge must not alter the material of which (the law) is woven”, yet “he can and should iron out the creases”.
‘Nass And The Buhari Initiative’ (11/07/16)
A President must take the lead role in executive-legislature relations. He must always be a notch ahead of his constitutional check-mates. How he does this is less a matter of theory than it is of expediency. And whereas a jackbooted approach would be practically unsustainable, passive non-interference –which Buhari seems to favor- can be terribly self-harming! Rather than portray the President as respectful of democratic limits, it betrays a feeble presidential initiative and by implication a weak presidency. It is in tactfully striking a delicate balance between the extremes of meddlesomeness and non-interference that ‘strong presidents’ live up to their Executive billings. The APC lost the momentum when –no thanks to Mr. President’s ill-advised aloofness- it failed to corral its newly elected legislators to speak with one voice and to install party-centrist leaderships in both chambers. Since then virtually every internal crises of the APC owes its origin to that presidential indiscretion.
‘Now That Trump Is President’ (11/16/16)
Now the fault lines in the American Presidential system of democracy are beginning to show signs of fatigue. The import of the fallacy of the ‘electoral college’ is made more poignant today than any theoretical study could expose. Truth is: even when the founding fathers were shaping the union, there was no plan that the ‘people’ should be trusted to be their own ‘sovereigns’ -their right to ‘directly’ elect their president ceded to a manipulable elite club –the ‘electoral college’. Many delegates to the Conference did not believe that an ‘ignorant’ majority should be trusted with the task of directly electing the President. In fact Virginia’s delegate, George Mason said to allow that was tantamount to “referring a trial of colors to a blind man”. The ‘electoral college’ is not a product of superior wisdom, but a hurriedly-debated middle ground to calm feuding