Rep. Chinyere Igwe’s audacity of dishonour
By OBO EFFANGA
A certain Chinyere Emmanuel Igwe who happens to be a member of Nigeria’s House of Representatives reportedly slapped a security official of the National Assembly on Wednesday September 9. The latter’s offence was, in the words of Igwe, “he has just embarrassed me and I won’t take it”.
News reports say the security official had asked the Representative to identify himself as he (Igwe) made to enter the National Assembly but the legislator replied with the assault and battery. He would probably have done worse but for the intervention of other security personnel who rescued their colleague from the lawless lawmaker!
One newspaper (The Nation) quotes the dishonourable member as saying afterwards: “Imagine that boy. How could he claim not to know me? Does his duty not include recognition of faces of members? He has just embarrassed me, I won’t take it. This case will not end here. I will take it to any length, including the National Assembly Service Commission, where he would be disciplined.”
Really Rep. Igwe? You mean you actually said that? Talk about the audacity of dishonour! If Igwe truly believes that the duty of a security officer in the National Assembly includes recognising the faces of all 360 members of the House of Representatives and all 109 Senators, he must be a comedian. And to think that most of the 360 Reps and 109 Senators are absentee legislators or bench-warmers who hardly speak on any issue, let alone sponsor a bill or motion, Igwe must be berated. I have never heard of Rep. Igwe, and I cannot be described as a person non-conversant with issues in the National Assembly. I am just knowing today that the man is (embarrassingly) the vice chair of the committee on human rights. What horror!
Pray, what is embarrassing in a security officer asking for the identity of a public officer, just to be sure that he has the right of free access to the National Assembly? One ordinarily flays the idea of unduly fettering public access to the legislative building, but our present legislators prefer to build undue security round themselves, hence the extra screening of persons going to the National Assembly. So, if a security officer asks anybody to identify himself/herself, such must be taken in the line of the duty of providing security.
The newspaper description of the dishonourable member’s appearance is relevant here. He was “casually” dressed in black trousers and a “flying” khaki short-sleeve shirt. He also wore a “jungle face cap” and slippers! Given our stereotyping nature, who would blame a security officer for having a doubt that a “big man” could be so dressed in the “corridors of power”? The main building of our National Assembly is actually referred to as “White House” among staff and members of the federal legislature.
The federal legislator talked about the matter not ending there and threatened to take it up to the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) to “discipline” the staff. I just wonder who between the aggressive legislator and the battery victim needs to be disciplined by the appropriate body. Is there any hope that the House of Representatives would sanction the dishonourable lawmaker for his undisciplined public behaviour?
Igwe, no doubt, talked like a typical Nigerian “big man”, who in the face of his guilt is shameless to throw his weight around. He plans to take the matter to a higher authority, where he would sit as superior or at least a contemporary to discuss the matter involving a “poor, lowly security man” who stands the chance of being “disciplined” by the powers that be. A pointer to what might happen when the matter goes to a higher authority could be seen in the news report which said the matter lasted for 30 minutes “before other National Assembly security operatives and the police intervened to calm the lawmaker”. Calm the lawmaker? That is apparently a euphemism for “beg the lawmaker”.
I fear therefore that soon, the senior management of the legislature may compel the victim to apologise to the aggressor for embarrassing him! But if the leadership of the Sergeant-at-arms office is worth its professional status, it must rise to defend its officer and in fact demand an apology, if not more from the legislator.
And this calls to question again the quality, temperament, value system and mental frame of some of our public officers. Igwe’s attitude is to a large extent, representative of the arrogance of the ruling class in Nigeria and the contempt with which they treat the rest of the society. Sadly, nothing, absolutely nothing positive would come out of this incident. It would just be one in a series of human rights abuses by the powerful against the powerless in Nigeria.