Did anybody recognize Hon. Binta Garba last week? She was unmistakable. You couldn’t have missed her in the recording which revealed her wrestling and hard-hitting abilities. Ask Hon.Hafiz Adenowo from Oyo State: He not only got his cloths torn by Binta, a few slaps were added. The question is: Why would a supposedly honourable individual behave in a dishonourable manner? In Chapter 5 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the “Qualifications for Membership of National Assembly and Right of Attendance” as contained in Section 65 states: “(1) Subject to the provisions of section 66 of this Constitution, a person shall be qualified for election as a member of: “(a) the Senate, if he is a citizen of Nigeria and has attained the age of 35 years; and “(b) the House of Representatives, if he is a citizen of Nigeria and has attained the age of 30 years;..” Is the devil in the age? No. Because even primary school pupils know the weight of the sanctions regime should anyone be caught fighting not just in class but even on the playground! And the age of 18 is considered good enough for adulthood – forget the warped argument by Senator Yerima about the girl child and what constitutes adulthood.
Therefore, the silliness of adults in a chamber of the national assembly cannot be excused on account of age – the age of 30. But when you consider the fact that there has not been a corresponding show of shame in the Senate, then, may be the age factor could be considered.
From the early days of Imam Salisu Buari as Speaker, to Umar Ghali Na’Abba, Aminu Bello Masari, Patricia Etteh, Dimeji Bankole and now Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, a few members of the House had always demonstrated that they forgot their bag of decorum back at home. More importantly, because these people do not appreciate the price of everything and the cost of nothing, they fly into a fit of rage, bringing disrepute upon the House.
According to Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, a bad habit is “an undesirable behavior pattern”. Psychologists agree that the earlier one recognizes these habits, the better it is to eradicate them. But psychologists, having studied the nature of man, also discovered that will and intention play a deciding role.
“A key factor in distinguishing a bad habit from an addiction or mental disease” they contend, “is the element of willpower. If a person still seems to have control over the behavior then it is just a habit. Good intentions are able to override the negative effect of bad habits but their effect seems to be independent and additive—the bad habits remain but are subdued rather than cancelled”. But then, there is the role of reinforcers. These reinforcers are the factors which trigger as well as encourage the persistence of such habits because “as you get older, it becomes more difficult to remove them because the many repetitions have helped with the building of the habit, and each repetition has unfortunately left its mark”.
More unfortunately, what was thought to be an undesirable behavior pattern appears to be very desirable judging from the number of altercations and wrestling bouts that have been witnessed on the floor of the House. And this brings us to the real reinforcers! What single most important factor has always caused the adults in the House to behave badly? Money! That is the root of all the evils. What was displayed on the table beside the mace during Na’Abba’s tenure? Money! What created tension in the seemingly lack-lustre tenure of Masari? Money! What led to the many altercations in the House during Etteh before she was shoved aside? Money! When Bankole
started having issues with Hon. Dino Melaye, leading to an all out fight in the House? Money!
Last week, the allegation was everywhere that some members had already been induced with $25,000, allegedly from the other faction that enjoys executive support, to ensure that the Abubakar Kawu-Baraje group did not visit easy. Whereas Speaker Tambuwal made the slip of reading the request in the open chamber, there is no justification for the show of shame. Just imagine what would happen if a presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the 2015 election other than President Goodluck Jonathan seeks audience with the PDP caucus in the House! This same set of male and female wrestlers would be at their worst behavior. And they will end up giving President Jonathan a bad name; because they would be thought to have been doing the bidding of Aso Rock. Would President Jonathan be the one to commission such acts of brigandage? Of course not!
But that is the way of bad behavior. What reinforces it is not the order issued; it is not even the funds alone, used to induce adults to behave badly. It is simple acquiescence to such acts. And whereas many still see the difference between a rambunctious leader and Jonathan’s acknowledged gentility, the actions and inactions of those who appear to be doing battle on his behalf are making the line blurrier. That line may disappear in the coming months as the battle for re-election engages another gear. We may then see more adults behaving wilder. Except, of course, minders of President Jonathan and President Jonathan himself, make it clear that he would not suffer aggressive idiocy any longer – even if he would have to contend with many doubters.