The members of Nigerian parliament have developed a penchant for wasting public funds on irrelevant things that do not add any quality to our lives. They waste our money, they waste our time and they play with our collective intelligence. We do not get any value for the money we spend on them. They have a short attention span on any matter. Different mundane things easily catch their attention while matters of national importance are quietly and deliberately kept off their radar.
They have now taken a fancy to uniforms. They like uniforms. They like Police, Army, Customs, immigration, Civil Defence uniforms. Uniforms! Our honourables and senators have turned uniforms to an issue of national importance. They want to see as many as possible in uniforms. They are not interested in the person, just the uniform he wears. The servile retinue of police aides in uniforms who waste our taxes guarding them from us, their employers has conditioned them to look down on service uniforms. They feel that they are superior to the wearer of any kind of uniform; after all, their police guards clean their shoes, carry their bags, escort their wives to the market and play the servants to their children. Appearing in anything but a uniform is considered an affront by these members of parliament. They send you out of their presence. They disgrace and humiliate you. Ask Hameed Ali. They were irked to see him in their parliament without his uniform. They wanted him to deck up like one of those police officers that carries their bags. He refused to oblige them. They walked him out. They hammered Hameed. They were not interested in hearing him on the performance of his charge or the reason why he dreamt up payment of import duties on old and tired vehicles which his own men allowed into the country. They were not interested in Nigeria. They were interested in their ego. They invoked a redundant law to prove their point. Where on this God’s earth do parliamentarians waste taxpayers’ money on discussing in which clothes an employee of the State must appear before them? Hameed Ali did not come in his skin. He came in a decent and non-flamboyant outfit. But these senators wanted to see him in uniform by all means.
Their obsession with uniforms has limits however. They want others to wear uniforms, but not them. They dread the idea of changing their babarigas and agbadas for any kind of uniform. Just a couple of days ago, a tailor who sews uniforms for greedy politicians passed by their senate to ask them for confirmation of his appointment. He wanted them to confirm him as the official tailor for their future uniforms. They were horrified. They mugged Magu the Tailor. They did not hear him. They could not. They were deep in mental imagination of themselves in badly sewn short uniforms. They all know that Magu the Tailor already has their sizes. They also know that he has already purchased the cloth to sew their uniforms. They knew that if they confirmed his appointment, they would sooner or later be obliged to wear their short Made by Magu uniforms. Individually, under their breaths, they muttered, “I reject it”…”this is not my portion”. Collectively they chased Magu, the EFCC chief tailor out of their presence like a demon. They exorcised him from their collective system.
And just down the road, in the House of Representatives (of themselves), the honourables are considering a bill to nominate their own tailor. They do not want to hear of Magu or any other tailor chosen by Mr. Buhari. They want one of their own to be their tailor. They want well-made agbadas and babarigas, not the kind of ill-fitting shirts and shorts built by Magu who learnt the trade from Ribadu. They believe they can pull it off. They know from history that Ibori built his own High Court in Asaba where Justice Marcel Awokulehin gave him favorable verdict for an unprecedented list of economic crimes. The honourables know that it is possible in Nigeria to eat your cake and have it. And they know that Nigerians will just take this intended coup against decency in their stride. After all we had Waziri and Adoke and nothing happened. We have had all sorts of nightmarish people in important places and nothing happened. We just wring our hands in the face of unimaginable crimes against us and our country.
But what is Mr Buhari going to do now about Magu the Tailor? Is he going to oblige the senators and find a more merciful and compliant tailor? Is he going to tell Magu to burn the block note of the sizes of the senators that he has diligently compiled? Will Mr. Buhari ask that the clothes that Magu bought to sew the uniforms be burnt? Mr Buhari should understand that none of these options is open to him. Magu does not know any other trade than to sew clothes for politicians with sticky fingers. See what happened to tailor Ribadu when he was sent out of his shop by Jonathan & Co. Ribadu lost his bearing. He is still reeling from the shock. Ribadu, like Magu is a dedicated specialist tailor. Both cannot practice any other trade. Therefore, Mr. President Buhari, Mr. Magu cannot be sacked by those to whose wardrobes he wants to add more clothes. Magu has exposed more thieves of our commonwealth than the combined total number exposed since our independence. He has shamed them even if the courts are dragging their feet to send them to jail. Mr. Magu deserves a national honour and not a disgrace.
In the case of Hameed Ali, Mr. Buhari should let these senators understand that it is not the uniform that makes the brain. They should look elsewhere to massage their egos. Mr. Buhari needs to make it clear to the clients of Magu that if Hameed must wear a uniform to appear before them, they also will have to wear their own uniforms to appear before the people, Magu or not, and sooner than later.
Abimbola Lagunju is a writer and author of several books.