In response to: Bayelsa elders urge FG to apply caution in pipeline burning. 


Ben Murray-Bruce Senator Bayelsa East
The BEC has a responsibility of maintaining peace and order within their jurisdiction. The whole purpose of establishing and supporting traditional rulers by the government is to bring the government closer to the people particularly those outside the urban cities. The prominence and the financial support given to the leaders on taxpayer dime means they have an obligation to the people to be the government barometer in their area of influence. Their job is to feel the pulse of their people and make that know to the civil authorities and to be the advocates of the people. It is also their job to explain government policies to the people. In other words, they are part of the fabric of Nigeria’s government. Their role is not to sit in a palace collect tax from their people and stipend from the state and federal government, ride around in motorcades and sing “life is good”. They need to know their people, feel their pulse, be their pulse. Warning the federal government to thread softly in the face of terrorism is an abdication of their responsibilities. They need to sit-up and do their job or get out of the way. Nigerians need to be pulling together. There is little room for outliers in this economic environment. 
Yes, it is true that to many, the Buhari administration has been heavy handed and often times seem outright tyrannical, we should acknowledge this but, push on for a more just and constitution guided society. At the same time, we have to maintain a zero tolerance posture on economic terrorism. Pursue the perpetrators vigorously and bring them to justice guided by the constitution. The elders have a big role to play in this effort. They cannot pretend not to be aware of what is happening. They are the closest thing we have to every dinner table in every home. The communication ministry has a role and duty to make these elders and Chiefs aware of their roles and powers under the constitution. We cannot have a Nigeria where governance is by decree. 

Turning to the Buhari administration, to date I get the impression nobody in his administration has read the constitution of Nigeria. I sincerely hope that one of the first things we give to all representatives at all levels of government, before the brand new car we pay for, before the house and food we pay for, cook and serve, before the compensation package that is 8 times their United States of America counterparts, is a copy of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. At the start of each congressional session and as part of the orientation of freshmen, is a reading of the constitution. If necessary, members will be quizzed on their understanding and familiarity with the constitution. If we have to shame them to learn their jobs, so be it. Nigeria cannot abide lawmakers that don’t know the law let alone work within its constraints.

Everyday in both houses, it must be mandatory for all members to remind themselves why they are there by reciting the pledge of allegiance:

  • “I pledge to Nigeria my country, to be faithful, loyal and honest. To serve Nigeria will all my strength, to defend her unity, uphold her honour and glory, so help me God”

God bless Nigeria.