There are obviously no indications that Governor Rabiu Kwankwanso or his proxies were involved in last week’s assault on the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero. However, the governor’s dangerous assault on the collective psyche of the nation could suggest, if not otherwise, a desperate aspiration for kingship.
Speaking to reporters in Abuja last weekend, the governor made a rabid assault on the concept and institutions of democracy when he railed against the idea of autonomy for the legislative houses in the country.
Besides, he also sought to rubbish the still contentious issue of autonomy for the local government councils.
In an unabashed manner, the Kano governor was quoted in one of the news reports as saying:
“You see, what we have in the National Assembly is what they want to transfer to the 36 state houses of assembly and that is not correct.” “So, what they want is to transfer this sort of thing to the 36 state assemblies. That means I will sit here as a governor, members of the state assembly will have independence, they will give themselves salaries and allowances which they think should be due to them.”
What the governor said is what many Nigerians have come to accept, albeit regretfully, as the bastardisation of the principle of democracy.
It is this distortion of democracy and the principle of separation of power that has enthroned the culture where the president and the governor in Kwankwanso’s Peoples Democratic Party, PDP automatically become leaders of the party at the federal and state levels. It is a concept that has enthroned mediocrity and abuse of office across all tiers of government simply because political office leaders have been transformed into tin gods.
Even when many Nigerians have reluctantly accepted this culture as the norm, not even the worst examples of democracy in the land could have uttered the words ascribed to the Kano governor.
It is a complete shock that not only has the governor not recanted the views ascribed to him, but that Kwankwanso was one time the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives.
The principle of separation of powers is one of the bedrocks of democracy that has flowed from Roman periods, even through the middle ages to the present.
The French philosopher, Baron de Montesquieu was correct in his assertion that the three arms of government should be separate from one another but should depend on one another to the extent that no one or two should together be able to influence any of the other arms.
This has been an acceptable maxim in democracy. Governor Kwankwanso’s desperation to alter it is shocking and simply unacceptable.
The bare fact that the nation’s legislative houses have been unable to fathom their rights, or in many cases been compromised, is not a sufficient reason for them to be swallowed up in the way and manner suggested by the Kano governor. After all, if one were to mark iniquity certainly the legislators would come out as angels compared to many in the executive arm of government.
This is a wake up call to the National Assembly and the 36 state Houses of Assembly to safeguard themselves against the erosion of the institution they represent.
It is the failure of the legislative houses to assert themselves that has mainly led the country to this morass where incompetence and vainglory have become the main credentials for public office in the executive and legislative arms of government.
Legislators at all levels must recover lost ground, assert themselves and push for the enthronement of accountability and transparency in government. But alas they cannot do this unless, they first purge themselves of the cankerworm that has for long inhibited that great institution of democracy.
They should also come to the help of the local governments. The untenable claim that the local governments are not federating units is not sufficient reason for them to become the foot mat of the governors. This correspondent believes that the failure to get it right at the local government is one of the basic fault lines of our democracy. When a failed local government chairman is promoted upwards to state or federal office, he or she inevitably carries that failure along. And that exactly is what is happening!