Palace Watch

9th National Assembly weakest in our history – Luke-Kalanama VIII

By Gabriel Omonhinmin

His Royal Majesty, Pere of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State, has said that the 9th National Assembly is the weakest in the history of Nigeria.

The 56 years old Monarch, who ascended the throne of his ancestors at a youthful age of 21 years, is the first Vice Chairman of the Delta State Council of Traditional Rulers. He has been on the throne of Akugbene-mein for 25 years. He is known to be very reserved and rarely intervenes in national issues.

Some days after the euphoria of his 56th birthday celebrations, Trumpet Palace Watch decided once again to try its luck and asked him for an interview after several attempts in the past were quietly declined.

He spoke about the efforts he had been making to attract developments to his hitherto rustic fishing village which is now one of the bustling modern cities in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria. We then dovetail into present-day politics, banditry and other national issues.

Commenting on recent political developments in the country, the Akugbene-Mein expressed disgust at some political developments: “The absurdity and political recklessness, which is almost becoming a norm in Nigeria, is most unacceptable and not good for the health of the nation, from here in the Niger Delta Region, to Imo State in the South East, to Kastina, North Western and Borno in the North-East, we are all Nigerians.

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We all have a common stake and common interest in the survival of the country. We, therefore, need each other to survive. It is our collective responsibility therefore as a people to ensure that Nigeria as a country, no matter its present challenges survives.”

Speaking on the most recent political developments in the country, he said, “It is with utmost restraint that I am making these comments. As a traditional ruler, I am not supposed to play politics and I will never actively or covertly support any political group or party no matter the pressure.

But this does not prevent me from making informed comments on issues that are giving the country great concern. And if the truth must be told, we have never had it so bad, like the way and manner we have descended so low in our political rating globally as a country under the outgoing administration.

“Most Nigerians before the assumption of office of Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) as Nigeria’s President believed very strongly that he was the long-awaited Messiah, who will take the country out of the woods. Our general assumption then was that he will fight insurgence and corruption to a standstill. He was also looked upon by all I mean all Nigerians, no exception!

As the man who will further unite the country, to make it stronger and focused so that Nigeria can compete in global areas, economic, technology and politically. Sadly, we were all wrong in our assumption then. Within these past seven years, things have gone from bad to worse, our hope as a country has not only been dashed, the little gains our past leaders have managed to make have been totally plundered and filtered away.

This is now eroding our national unity. This is truly disappointing! One must say!  As we speak, Nigeria that was at some point one united indivisible country is on the verge of disintegration. Foreigners of all shades and colours are almost taking over our lands unchallenged.

“Except we are lucky to vote in the right quality of persons into political offices in the forthcoming 2023 general election people with integrity and track records, who are well intentioned, focused, detribalized as leaders the country might not make any progress.

We need to vote for people who will be determined to make a difference, otherwise, we might no longer be able to save this country from its dangerous drift. More than ever before we now need leaders, who will not tolerate or encourage ethnicity or sectionalism. This is the only way our country will gradually be redirected and brought back from its present brink to a country of our dreams and aspirations.

“If not act of mischiefs and a calculated effort to further put a wedge into the country’s unity and co-existence, of what use is this ‘Water Resources Bill’, which was again reintroduced to the National Assembly, after it was roundly defeated in the past, after the uproar that followed its first introduction?

This particular bill, if ever passed into law, will not only set a dangerous precedent, it will take away the powers of State Governors in the federation, especially Lagos State and all States in the Niger Delta Region, under the 1999 constitution, as amended.

“In 2017, Buhari’s government first sent this particular bill to the National Assembly requesting that the bill passed into law. This bill sought to transfer the control of water resources from the state government to the Federal Government.

“Owing to a countryside outcry against the measure, it was killed by the former Senator Bukola Saraki’s led 8th Senate. Surprisingly, this bill has again been reintroduced, because the Federal Executive Council led by President Muhammadu Buhari, knew it has a willing tool in the current 9th National Assembly headed by Senate President, Ahmed Lawal.

Most disappointingly, Senator Lawal and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila had unashamedly told the Nigerian public when they assumed office, that whatever Executive bills were ever forwarded to them, they will pass without asking questions. It doesn’t matter whether such a bill or bills is in the interest of the generality of Nigerians.

It will be passed into law, so long as the personal interests of Senator Lawal and Speaker Gbajabiamila are protected.

“If one may ask at the end of the day, how will these men be remembered in our national history? Do they ever care about how history will judge them, either individually or collectively? The Senate President, Ahmed Lawal, was doing all he was doing, hoping that, at the end of the day, he will be rewarded with the country’s presidency, as a form of compensation for being a very good boy all these years.

I am sure he now knows better, that things don’t just work the way and manner it was planned politically initially. When will the Senate President ever man up, to be his own man?

“To be candid, this 9th National Assembly is the weakest, since the inception of this present political dispensation in the country. Compared to past National Assemblies in the First and Second Republic even during military regimes in the country, the

“From time immemorial, Nigeria has been blessed with water in abundance. From the 1970s, the government at the centre alongside state governments invested in river basin authorities and dams, which made water available all over the country.

Indeed, the urban areas were guaranteed regular supply of water to the extent that there was pipe-borne water in every home and street in Nigeria. But the dream of the rural areas to have pipe-borne water extended to them was shattered in the regime of Military President, Ibrahim Babangida when the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) was introduced in Nigeria.

It was SAP that led to the drastic reduction in public funds meant for social services under the Directorate of Foods, Road and Rural Infrastructure. It was after this experience, that water supply was privatized and priced out of the reach of the common man in Nigeria.

It was thereafter, that water from boreholes started to be packed and sold in sachets to the poor while the rich could afford bottled water produced by factories. Instead of collaborating with the States and local governments across the country to address this problem of lack of potable water, the Nigerian Presidency under Buhari again reintroduced to the 9th National Assembly the once rejected water bill.

“I am a proud Ijaw man, since the reintroduction of this bill, the political tension in the country has been unnecessarily hit, especially in the riverine areas of the country.”

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