For My Generation, It Seems It is Politics As Usual

Two of the most prominent members of my generation in Nigerian political circles are the speaker house of representatives, Hon. Dimeji Saburi Bankole and the Corps Marshall of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Osita Chidoka.

But alas, the generation that vowed to be different is learning fast and furious from its predecessors. In this case, they are not necessarily learning any ground breaking novel ideas, they are only learning the act of politics as usual, especially the Nigerian variety of it, do nothing tangible and protect your own interests.

Take the case of Chidoka, besides the trail of corruption and mismanagement leveled against him, I am yet to see any tangible vision emanating from him. The squabble over driver’s license and license plates with the Lagos state government is unnecessary and a distraction. The framers of the 1999 constitution did not even deem it necessary to include a provision for the federal road safety corps, it was an act in 2007 that officially recognized the corps besides the decree that established it. The crux of the matter between LASG and FRSC is thus two provisions in the FRSC act 2007, section 24 d; driver’s license and 29 f; the production of vehicle plate numbers. These can easily be resolved if Chidoka is not playing politics as usual and instead team up with the LASG to forward an amendment to the national assembly to allow states to issue their own driver’s license and license plate numbers, they can reach a compromise on information sharing between the state governments and the federal government. This is good for state security, internal revenue generation and smart policy. It will also free up the corps to do the more important work of road safety. And perhaps lessen the accident rate on our highways.

There are other ways by which Chidoka can be innovative and different, take for instance, right now, the method by which a learner’s permit and the actual driver’s license is obtained through Chidoka’s FRSC is cumbersome and outdated. On its website the FRSC states that for a fresh application for a learner’s permit, all a candidate has to do is pay a fee of 250 Naira and be granted a learner’s permit which shall entitle the learner (provided he/she is accompanied by a licensed driver/instructor sitting beside him/her) when driving to drive for a period not exceeding 3 months from the date of issuance of the learner’s permit within the highways specified in the permit and shall be tested after 3 issues of the permit.

The candidate is not required to pass neither a written road test nor an eye test before he is given a learner’s permit and the statement about the candidate being tested after 3 issues of the permit does not make any rational sense.

Again, here is an opportunity for the corps Marshall to exercise some vision and come up with safer and more efficient ways for citizens to safely obtain driver’s license and operate automobiles on our roads. It is my belief that if the corps Marshall is constantly looking out for best practices around the world and in turn shares those information with state governments who should be naturally saddled with the responsibility of providing driver’s license and license plates to residents, our roads will be more safer. The fight over who has authority to issue driver’s license is wasteful and counter productive.

Now to the 500 pound elephant in the room, the Speaker, House of Representatives, another distinguished member of my generation is not living up to the hype. He confirms my worst fears, that if given the opportunity my generation may not be any different from the ones before us. In Bankole’s case, I see not a paucity of ideas but a lack of political courage to break away from the usual and the comfortable. I saw this in the offing when I advised in my open letter to him on shortly after his election as Speaker to form a strong alliance with the integrity group and move quickly on matters that are dear to Nigerians. As at the time of this article, Speaker Bankole is yet to pass any monumental legislation that will impact positively on the lives of Nigerians. Right now the Speaker and other members are embroiled in fights over committee chairmanships and the people’s business is playing second fiddle to their narcissism.

In a nation that is just recovering from the wounds of the military, with dilapidated infrastructure, a broken educational system, improper healthcare and the list goes on, you would think that the emergent leaders of my generation, armed with superb education that money can buy, well traveled and the advantage of youth will be vanguard in the restoration of a new Nigeria, alas, they are proving to be no different from the predecessors that sired them. But for my generation there is a chance for redemption. They are not too ensconced in the trappings of power yet to be totally oblivious of history’s judgment. If the golden rule is that every generation should aspire to be better than the one before it, then in contemporary Nigerian history, no generation is better prepared to deliver on that promise than this one.

As a first step, Speaker Bankole could provide leadership by opposing the new PDP proposition before the constitutional reform committee of a single 7 year term for the president, 6 years for the governors and 3 years for the LGAs (ironically the single most important arm of government), this is nothing but a move towards autocracy and despotism no matter the merits in its proposition and our present circumstances. Speaker Bankole, its time for you to step out and provide real leadership on this and other pressing issues facing Nigerians today.

CSN: 40505-2008-16-50

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