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State of the Nation Address; Another waste of time.

By: Sylva Nze Ifedigbo
 Published March 12th, 2009

Last week, the Nigeria Senate passed a law which shall make it compulsory for the President to address a joint session of the National assembly (US Style) once every year apart from the usual annual budget presentation.

Apart from it being a good attempt at copying the US, the Smart Adeyemi initiated bill is in my opinion, just another jamboree and a testimony to a directionless Legislature.

The reason for my position that the bill is a complete waste of time is not farfetched. First and foremost, I think it is an unnecessary attempt at duplicating efforts. The Nigerian president already addresses the nation on one too many occasions and the content of each of these addresses is always on “the state of the nation”.

Currently, the President speaks on the state of the nation on 29th May (Democracy day), 1st October (Independence day), 1st January (new year day), on all other Christian and Muslim festivals for which public Holidays are declared and of course during the budget presentation. Do we really need another special day for such an address to hold?

Moreover, do we (or the National assembly) need a special address to know the State of the Nation? Perhaps the senators and Honourables who are by their wealth which they continue to steal from our treasury are insulated to the daily realities of living in Nigeria might need such an address to remind them, but for we the ordinary Nigerians, it is utterly unnecessary as we daily feel the bite of the “state of the nation”.

Apart from the uselessness of the law is the question of sincerity. We are familiar with our leaders even in the face of rising unemployment and the prevalence of hunger and insecurity in the land, mounting podiums to talk about making “progress” and reading out figures only themselves and perhaps those who drafted the speech can understand about how the economy was “doing well”. When they finally convene such a session to hear the president’s speech, are we going to here the real “state of the nation” or some sweat worded address about non existing progress?

The other question is about what the National assembly will do with the speech. The bill says they will deliberate on it within five days. Should we then expect what afterwards from People who cannot achieve anything from endless deliberations on other issues?

I am angered by the fact that while the economy is in bad shape and there is a clamour for review of the constitution with approaching elections, our senators can find time to discuss and pass such inconsequential and totally useless laws.

With the House or Representatives sure to concur, we have to ourselves a new law that in no way makes our lives better, but one which provides another opportunity for those politirickcians to size themselves up, massage their egos, and share banter, all to the detriment of our national pocket.

Sylva Nze Ifedigbo 




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