The art of making laws dates back thousands of years and is as old as politics itself ― possibly older, if we consider divine laws. But that is not to say mankind has mastered it from countless years of experience. Far from it. All over the world, we see legislators making dumb laws, useless laws, too useful laws, or no law at all ― while none of these things is inherently wrong; it all depends on how they make those laws. All over the world, except in Nigeria, you see.
Law-making in Africa’s largest country may be only about a hundred years old, but it has evolved so rapidly that it will take western nations at least a century to catch up. Our law-makers are the most sophisticated in the world, and this is fact not opinion. If you are honoured to pay any of them a visit to their homes or offices, you will be greeted by an endless array of glittering plaques and awards, from student associations, trade unions, and even professional award-giving organisations―an attestation truly to their unrivalled expertise and skills.
Here are some of the traits you will find in the Nigerian mace-housing chambers that you may find nowhere else; traits that have been developed over the years through hard work and dedication.
With great talents come great emoluments, said Aristotle in one of his many undiscovered books. As it is not easy to be the best law-making machinery in the world, our legislators often get a take-home pay that can sponsor a two-way ticket to heaven―even though that is not their home (nothing intended please). Seriously, it is one thing to be diligent in duty and another to be courageous enough to give honour to whom it is due―yourself.
The best part is that, to show just how sophisticated they can be, Nigerian lawmakers deliberately decide not to get all their remuneration through lawful means. It is only the average mind that knows and treads only one path to the market. The hallmark of a true genius is diversification – of purposes, of processes, and, most importantly, of allowances. Nowhere in the world will you see diversification in the legislative body as diverse as we have it in Nigeria.
Not to forget the omerta – mafia code of silence – that has been incorporated into the senate rules. It requires that no member of the house shall divulge exactly how much they earn, and if by any chance or accident the house budget is released, the part about allowances of law-makers must be written in Latin, Hebrew, or any other dead language of the world.
Not just any cars though, Nigerian law-makers only drive bulletproof cars. It is the law. He who must make the best of laws must have the best of livelihood, Thomas Acquinas was reputed to have said on his death bed when no one was around. Nigeria is a country that has just survived decades of military rule, and bulletproof cars are a necessary measure to ensure we do not slip into that era of endless coups.
But the fact that a car is bulletproof does not also mean it is wear-and-tear-proof. So these cars ― the best of them there are ― must be bought every fiscal year. Whatever happens to the previous ones is no one’s business. No one.
Yes, you read that correctly. Sleep. So simple an art, yet so sophisticated. You have to understand there is sleeping and there is sleeping. It is in grades. The kind our lawmakers engage in is not made in Nigeria. It requires maximum focus and steadfastness. And it is also very necessary. Why? It is during these diplomatic visits to the dreamland that the gods reveal the most brilliant legislative ideas ― such as the social media bill.
Imagine how difficult it is for four persons to be friends for four years. Now agree with me as I say it takes great expertise for 109 (or 360 as the case may be) lawmakers to be united through thick and thin for four straight years. It is not easy, with all that intelligence and money, for people to agree on certain things, especially when the law is a victim. Classic example is when Uncle Dino tried to evade arrest. The average senate – including even the respected U.S. Senate – would have suspended Uncle Melaye. But our lawmakers are too smart for that. Instead, they suspended senate sitting in honour of their victimised colleague and have declared war against his persecutors. Bravo!
We all know the saying that no one is above the law. But most are not aware that this expression is a bastardisation of the original saying: no one is above the lawmakers ― err, perhaps with the slight exception of journalists sitting in the chamber gallery. But this, to borrow from our communications minister, is inconsequential.
It is because of this fact that the Senate has the right ― and knows ― to summon everyone and anyone summonable. There is no exception to this simple rule: at the fall of the gavel in the chamber, every head shall bow, even if it belongs to a transmissioner ― sorry, I mean, commissioner ― of police. If the summonee should dare send a well-informed and able representative, the legislators are wise enough to see through this mischief. And, of course, as common sense demands, they put the delegate where he belongs: outside the chamber.
If you agree with all I have said, say aye! If you disagree, say aye! Yeap ― just as I predicted ― the ayes have it.
[…To be continued if the spirit so whispers]