As the mace was carried past him by an uncapped man clearly not dressed in white and black, common sense or patriotic adrenaline should have spurred Senator Ben Murray-Bruce to activate one of the action characters many go to see at his cinemas.
It would have confirmed Wednesday’s Senate plenary as the most theatrical and value-for-money session in Nigerian legislative history. It would have eclipsed the 2013 episode of Rivers state House of Assembly lawmakers beating themselves up with their mace, Chuba Okadigbo absconding with the fourth Senate’s mace to ‘Ogbunike cave’ in 2000, and the destruction of the mace and subsequent free-for-all on the floor of the legislative house of Western Nigeria in May 1962.
The Wednesday hijack of the Senate mace was not news to historians but history is not in the curriculum that formed and is forming Nigerians today. So the legend of ‘the mace runner’ will be recorded as another distraction from politicians by people whose fundamental headache is fending for daily bread during the day and relaxing with the Premier League or Big Brother Nigeria as the day winds down. Heck, Cee-C’s hailstorm on Tobi was arguably a more newsworthy spectacle to buzz and fuss about. Politicians can stuff themselves and life will go on.
Nigerian Senators receive N13.5 million for running costs monthly, hence should be able to take care of themselves. For three months receipts, a Senator could purchase the SUV used to comfortably wheel the mace away from the National Assembly complex. For the billions spent on them annually, security should not be an issue in the Senate; it should sting the ears that just anyone could, on the claim of being with a Senator (though suspended), make his way to the front of the chamber and successfully lift and evacuate the symbol of authority.
That was drama, but Nigerians have had so much drama from their leaders that they don’t care anymore. However, this 8th Senate is different in a way that calls the Obasanjo-era Senate to memory but with its unique marks.
It is the Senate with a leader whose cold relationship with the Executive’s leader and their party leader is always in the news. Interestingly, both Bukola Saraki and President Buhari, numbers 3 and 1 respectively in the country, were on official trips both sides of the Atlantic as the upper chamber of the country fought. In words and deeds, Buhari and Saraki have not shared much in common beyond the number of alphabets that make up their surname. Both men had different ideas about the leadership of the Senate, and remain at cross-purposes as to the way it runs its core activities, especially the confirmation of the Executive’s choice of appointees. The presence of the suspended Delta Central Senator, Ovie Omo-Agege, at the scene of the hijack brought both leaders into focus. His suspension, heavily contested, was for supporting President Buhari over the Senate’s decisions on the 2019 elections timetable. Indicted in an official Senate statement as the mastermind of the hijack and subsequently escorted away for questioning by the Police, he has denied any wrongdoing.
Then, Whodunit? Who pulled that mini-coup?
As Senator Murray-Bruce observed on Channels News at 10, everyone involved in the throwing of chairs and hijack of the mace were caught on various cameras, both professional and amateur. Yet, no one has been named. The entire ancestry, work and medical history of such bandits would have been shared on WhatsApp by now if this had been in a saner clime. With all the biometric data it has collected through several means over the years, one should expect the Nigerian Intelligence community to start using cases like this to shine.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo reportedly met with the deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, in the aftermath; a probe has been commissioned. The DSS and the Police had a 24-hour deadline from the Senate to return the mace, and they delivered. It is to be hoped that findings are not swept under the red carpets and guilty parties allowed out of the country only to say later that they escaped. If there is anything worth believing in ‘Nigeria’, that pattern should not recur this time.
Whoever directed a thug to arm himself with the totem of the upper legislative arm; what possible harm could they not do to the Nigerian people if permitted?