The first hallmark of wisdom is the ability to choose your fight carefully. Princess Mariam Onouha early this week, threw her hat to the ring to contest for the Speaker of House Representatives. But her decision to contest for the number four citizen of the country has been described as the worst choice of battle to embark on.
The Imo born lawmaker who had barely served two terms was a subject of discussion and her premature ambition became a topic of criticism at the Nigerian Union Journalists Secretariat in Abuja just hours after her interface with journalists at the National Assembly.
Among those who engaged in the conversation, were some House of Representatives correspondents, analysts of thoughts who held that such position will not be reserved for a rooky no matter the sentiment anyone tries to whip, and also a few others who held the view that it’s her right to contest. But the opinion of the right of anyone to contest to become a speaker in the parliament of the largest democracy in Africa where experience matters, does not hold water; not even a drop.
It has been a general consensus amongst opinion leaders and thinkers that the true bastion of democracy is the parliament because it is the arm of government that represents every member of each constituency, howbeit, by proxy.
Safely, it can be deduced that the parliament arm of government is an assemblage of the whole citizens. By default, the judiciary and executive remains in place, while the parliament (Constitution) is suspended, each time democracy is rudely interrupted.
Historically, because of the sacrosanctity of this arm of government, care is always taken, so its leadership doesn’t fall into slack hands. This explains why rigorous criterion were put in place to ensure the emergence of competent persons as leaders of national assembly.
For example, the current speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, contested and emerged speaker at his fifth terms at the green chamber.
The President of the Nigerian 9th Senate, Ahmed Lawan, was first elected to the House of Representatives for the constituency of Bade/Jakusko in 1999, After two terms, he was elected to the Senate in 2007. He only became President of the senate after three terms at the red chamber, as the the Nigerian Senate is symbolically called. One thing is common amongst the duo, they’re versatile lawmakers. They weren’t difficult to be noticed because of their legislative acumen.
It’s little wonder that the recent declaration by Princess Miriam Onuoha, a member representing Onuimo/Isiala Mbano/Okigwe Federal Constituency of Imo State, that she wants to contest for the position of speaker of yet to be inaugurated 10th National Assembly caught many Nigerians jaw-dropped. They see the announcement as smacked the height of political comedy and theatrics.
She should have consulted men/women of deep wisdom before choosing this battle, which has the potential of getting her to bleed on both sides, that’s she might lose on both sides. For daring to challenge the ranking protocol in the national assembly, she risk been posted to ‘dry’ Committees.
However, it is said that when you see a toad dancing on top of the water, it’s drummer may be under the water. Who’s advising Princes Onuoha? What’s her legislative pedigree? Who’s deceiving her that legislative back benchers like her can become the speaker of the prestigious green chamber of the Nigerian National Assembly? Some henchmen may have lured her into this travesty.
Her recent interaction with journalists at the National Assembly, raises many questions about how she got into the national assembly in the first place. It raises the question about what criteria was used by the people of Onuimo/Isiala Mbano/Okigwe Federal Constituency before returning Princes Onuoha to the national assembly, an assembly where people of immense intellectual and political pedigrees; capacity; capability and competence comes to speak on behalf of their good people. By her outputs, she should be the least qualified to be sent to the national assembly to speak for the highly sagacious people of Onuimo/Isiala Mbano/Okigwe Federal Constituency.
An African aphorism has that “it is God who gave tortoise opportunity to enter a car before it’s dragging for space,” if not, what will bring a tortoise close to a car before competing for a seat. It’s abysmally incomprehensible what was running through her mind, when she made that outlandish claims of having the backing of 198 Members-elect of the 10th national assembly. Has national assembly become so cheap that even rookies are raising hands? The claim of having the backing of 198 members is as outlandish, as it is spurious and abysmally blur. The low level of Onuoha’s intelligence is sickening.
Suffice to buttress that the Nigerian National Assembly ranks enviously high among their peers around the world. Besides, with our status as true giant of Africa, the leadership of the national assembly commands immense respect globally. Is that where Princes Onuoha wants to drag for a space? As part of her many qualifications for the speakership position, she should tell Nigerians what she has been doing at the green chamber in the last seven years, besides utilising her truckloads of make-ups kits and beauty pageants.
He/she who must lead others, must first be master of him/herself. Onuoha’s rickety ambition is dead on arrival. Besides, it is an insult for a lady who cannot point to one impactful bill she has sponsored in eight years to be dragging for the speaker seat. It’s like giving what’s meant for children to dogs. It’s an error and God forbid. Princess Onuoha’s ambition offends the sensibility of right thinking minds. Giving the speakership of the green chamber to a legislative toddler like her can be likened to boarding 365 brilliant, intelligent, resourceful men/women with two eyes into a plane and having a blind Captain in the cockpit as the pilot to fly the plane. The destination is predictable. She’ll crash it, kill herself and 365 others. Speakership position in the hands of Onuoha would be like knife in the hands of a madman, he’ll use it to injure others and himself.
The bogus claims of having the backing of 198 Members validates the call and proved the urgent need for her to see her psychiatrist. If this hyper hallucination is not urgently checked. If allowed to fester, it can snowball into full blown madness. Where are the 198 Members backing Princess Onuoha’s lousy ambition? Or like Saul, she wants to be amongst the prophets? Who knows, we’re in the era of permutations. Certainly, her target is not the speakership position but a bargaining chip for the so-called juicy Committees. Suffice it to allude that permutation is a viable tool in politics but carrying it to the level Onuoha has gone is not only crazy, preposterous but ridiculous.
In that ill-fated interaction with the press, Onuoha struggled throughout the duration to pin point why on earth she qualifies to occupy the speakership position. She practically had to dodge almost all questions bothering on purpose behind her ambition. The steeped men of pen profession feasted on her ignorance and made a mess of a legislator, consumed by blind ambition. If not, how can a lawmaker, who’s renowned to have a bed space at the hollow chamber to practice her near death-like sleep, dare ask for speakership?
Needless to drum into her num skull that speakership position is not a beauty pageant. It’s work. Real work. A deep brain work that Princess Onuoha will and can never posses in a lifetime. To borrow a phrase from the “Things Fall Apart” by the late literary icon, China Achebe, “Those whose palm-kernels were cracked for them by a benevolent spirit…” or handpicked and imposed on the good people of Onuimo/Isiala Mbano/Okigwe Federal Constituency of Imo State, by a godfather, should not think speakership is cheap bread.
Good product market itself. Princes Onuoha is certainly a bad product to market. Her drummers are over aware of this fact but because they must line up their pockets, even when she’s headed for the out.
Like Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and Senate President Ahmed Lawan, who had to become Speaker and Senate President respectively, after decades of legislative exploits, Princess Miriam Onuoha has to up her games, work hard for another decade, that’s if she survives the emerging electoral tsunami.
Gowon Idris, a public affairs analyst writes from Abuja