I borrowed the title of my article from the poem I read long ago. Assembly of Fowls was written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th Century. The poem is about love. In the poem, birds gathered to choose their mates. The birds have a parliamentary debate while three male eagles try to seduce a female bird. The debate is full of speeches and insults. At the end, none of the three eagles wins the female eagle.
The National Assembly can be likened to the Assembly of Fowls. They congregate to debate what matters to them and other irrelevant issues that are not the priorities of the people they supposedly represent. They fight over who gets the most juicy plums and how best to loot the treasury. They seduce Nigerian people by pretending they are fighting for their interests. Their debates are full of deceit and lies crafted in meaningless speeches and insults. More importantly, at the end no progress is achieved to improve the welfare and wellbeing of our people and make Nigeria a better country.
Any conversation on the Nigerian Assembly pinballs between tirades and black humor. Nigeria’s history is replete with brutal dictatorship, coups, and dodgy elections. In the absence of a functioning legislature, it becomes heaven made for Major General Muhammadu Buhari to become a dictator that he is in a representative democracy. A Creole proverb says “Behind the mountains there are mountains.” A dysfunctional, National Assembly of fowls is one of Nigeria’s mounting many troubles.
It’s a double whammy for Nigeria: Assembly of fowls and absentee President is a perfect recipe for disaster. No one is in charge. Chaos, crisis, lawlessness, violence, and myriad of socioeconomic ills plague the country. The people are left stranded. The country reels from stunted growth.
Here’s a snapshot of the people benefits from Assembly of Fowls: Ninety-five per cent of Nigerians have no access to clean drinking water. Eighty-five per cent of the population face crisis-level food insecurity. 13.2 million children roam the streets. One hundred forty‐five Nigerian women die in childbirth every day. Each year approximately 262,000 babies die at birth. 53.95 years is the life span in Nigeria. 38,800 people lost their lives in automobile accidents in 2019.
The Nigeria Police Force (NPF), is ill-trained, ill equipped, underfunded, corrupt, professionally inefficient, and poorly clad, leaves Nigerians at the mercy of kidnappers, armed robbers, thieves, and unsafe communities. The only thing NPF is good for is firing live ammunitions at peaceful demonstrators. More Nigerians are dying during peaceful protests under a democratically elected government than during military rule.
Nigeria’s profound economic dysfunction has come to a head. Nigerians struggle with a tepid economic growth, rising cost of living, and barely functional public services. Electricity tariff and petrol prices were increased few days ago. Unemployment is at its peak. Our Education is inferior, irrelevant to demands of modern labor market. In all aspects of life, Nigeria trails the rest of the world. Nothing works.
In the face of all these systemic and endemic socioeconomic problems, the Nigerian parliament lacks the political will to adopt recommended reforms. The parliament suffers from chronic corruption and inertia. It is a “window dressing” chamber where corrupt actions go unfettered, undeterred, and unpunished.
So many useless bills that have no direct and positive impact on suffering poor Nigerians are the priorities of the Assembly of Fowls. Its priority is to loot, loot, and loot! No member of the 469-member of Assembly of Fowls (109 senators and 360 reps) has never initiated or sponsored a job creation bill. All they are concerned with is how to suppress freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of association. Which is why they are hell bent to pass the so called hate speech and anti-media bills over massive rejection of Nigerians.
Like the poem - Assembly of Fowls - and National Assembly of Fowls, in spite of the members seduction, lies, intimidation, tricks, cajoles, in the end, the 469 members failed to win the respect and love of the Nigerian people and move the morbid country forward.