By ADEBAYO OBAJEMU
Jorge Luis Borges, the celebrated Argentine writer once said, “the real courage is the ability to say out collective fears when the rest of the people have chosen silence as a form of self preservation.”
In April this year, Borges’ portrait of courage took on the concrete and gave birth to two contrasting metaphors that concretized the two characters.
One of the characters is “a village idiot” according to Governor Ikpeazu’s commissioner for information, and the other is a Dame who Dino Melaye, former Kogi senator threatened to impregnate during the 8th National Assembly, not minding that her husband is a lion of Bourdillion.
Last April, there was some performance of great dramatic value as Smart Adeyemi, Kogi senator lost his cool on the floor of the red chamber over growing insecurity and lack of government action. And he wept!
Adeyemi said the country is under siege: “Insecurity is a serious problem in Nigeria. There comes a time where we cannot but speak the truth irrespective of sentiments,” he said.
The Nigerian Senate last April deliberated on the worsening security situation across the nation.
Over 15 senators made their contributions to the motion during plenary.
Adeyemi (APC, Kogi West) was moved to tears while contributing to the debate. He stated that, “Insecurity is a serious problem in Nigeria. There comes a time where we cannot but speak the truth irrespective of sentiments. A lot has been said this morning, Mr. President and I want to thank you for giving us time to speak expressly on this issue.
“Like my sister was saying, there comes a time when talk will talk itself. There comes a time where truth will become like a torch-light in the midst of silence so you are forced to talk.
“Mr. President, we need not run away from the fact that more than ever before in the history of our nation, this is the worst instability we are facing.
“In fact this is worse than the civil war. Mr. President, the solution is very simple. Today that there is a lot of misgivings and misinterpretations of what is happening. While people say that some people in government are supporting this move, other people believe some people are sponsoring those who are destabilising our country.
“The answer is very simple. We cannot pretend that we are capable of confronting the situation in our hands on our own.”
Adeyemi gave the impression that some of the lawmakers, particularly those on the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) are truly fed up with the security in the country. On this occasion, the senator chose the path less travelled by waxing independent. He criticised the administration for not doing enough in the area of security.
Unlike majority of the senators, Adeyemi criticised APC-led government for lack of action in the face of wanton killings.
The senators’ silence in the face of growing worsening insecurity was compounded by the demand of espirit de corps, to be ‘on the same page with the executives’ because, while the ship of state continues to derail, Nigerians were united in wondering whether the federal lawmakers are still alive to their responsibilities.
Close watchers of the National Assembly also noted how the lawmakers have over time been held hostage by a perceived unwritten pact not to rock the executive boat.
Many senators, who seem not favourably disposed with the rubberstamp tag of the 9th Senate, have been eating the humble pile in silence. But, with failures in many areas of national life, particularly the worsening insecurity in the country, it seems the chickens are coming home to roost.
Have the disenchanted Senators begun to speak up and bare their minds, no matter how unpalatable it may be to the governing party?
Aware of the fact that Nigerians are watching and taking notes, but apparently enraged by the overwhelming insecurity in the country, Adeyemi went hysterical during the plenary on April 27, 2021. He wept profusely as he contributed to a motion on a recent case of insecurity in Niger State.
Adeyemi, who has been an APC stalwart, threw caution to the wind as he spoke agonisingly about the situation in the country. He even urged fellow APC lawmakers to rise up to the occasion and urge President Muhammadu Buhari to wake up from slumber.
“We cannot pretend that we are capable of confronting the situation in our hands, America as powerful as they are, when the effect of CORONA virus pandemic overwhelmed them, it came to a point that China came to their rescue.
“We shouldn’t pretend that we don’t need foreign support now, let nobody deceive us. A lot of billions of Naira has been voted for security services, nothing is coming out of it. We wouldn’t wait until our nation gets burnt, let us shout and call for foreign support.
“I am an APC man and I have been supporting my party, but the President should get to know that we, who are supporters of APC, can no longer keep quiet, the President must rise to the occasion. You will not see the truth and you are afraid to say it, until you die?
“The nation is on fire, the President must rise to the occasion. It costs us nothing to ask for foreign support, we must rise up to the occasion we must bring in people to save this country or else we will be consumed. It has got to a point that we cannot sleep with our two eyes closed…
“Every part of this country is threatened from the North to the south, nobody is safe, nobody can travel 15km in our nation, I feel like shedding tears for a country that we grew up where nobody harasses you, when you travel from Lagos to Maiduguri.”
Adeyemi’s dispassionate appeal did not go without a contrary voice, especially as his stress on the ravaging insecurity was perceived as an affront and open attack on the governing party and the Presidency.
Senator Oluremi Tinubu decided not to let Adeyemi go scot-free. From the background, Senator Tinubu tackled Adeyemi, asking, “Are you in PDP? Are you a wolf in sheep’s clothing?”
Adeyemi is not a stranger to controversy. The camera man turned legislator is not one go to suffer fools gladly ,nor does he know how to mince words.
Not too long ago, Abia State Government and the Kogi-born senator were engaged in riveting exchange. The first salvo was allegedly fired when Ikpeazu, Abia State governor allegedly made uncomplimentary remark about Yahya Bello, governor of Kogi State.
In a dramatic riposte on behalf of his governor, who is allegedly one of his political backers as a counterpoint against his arch rival, Dino Melaye, Adeyemi described Ikpeazu as a drunkard. Abia government said it would have sued Mr. Adeyemi but for the immunity offered by the chambers of the National Assembly.
The Abia State Government then described Adeyemi, as a “village idiot”. Controversy, it would seem, is Adeyemi’s second nature, thus we recall in 7th Senate, he said some senators were corrupt and should be investigated, though he neither named names nor gave evidence.
Smart Adeyemi was born on 18 August 1960 at Iyara in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State, and was for years a camera man with The Herald Newspaper, a long standing newspaper of Kwara State Government. From 1999 to 2006, he was National President of Nigeria Union of Journalists.
He was elected Senator for the Kogi West constituency of Kogi State, Nigeria, taking office on 29 May 2007. He is a member of the APC. He was reelected as senator for the third time on the 30th of November 2019.
He earned a post-graduate diploma in Public Relations, diploma in Law, advanced diploma in Mass Communication, and master’s in Public Administration from the Federal University of Technology Owerri, and became a journalist.
Adeyemi was elected to the Senate in April 2007. On assuming his Senate seat he was appointed to committees on Privatization, Industry, Federal Character & Inter-Government Affairs (Chairman), Federal Capital Territory and Appropriation. He was also appointed vice chairman of the Northern Senators Forum.
In a mid-term evaluation of Senators in May 2009, ThisDay noted that Adeyemi had worked on bills on the State of the Nation Address and the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act amendment, and sponsored three motions.
In May 2010 the Daily Sun said Adeyemi had asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to start an investigation of members of the National Assembly who he alleged were corrupt.
Adeyemi said that he had been misquoted. He said, “I never said this National Assembly is corrupt […] but if there are a few that are corrupt the EFCC should go ahead to expose them.”
Despite his denial, Senate President David Mark announced a six-man ad hoc committee to investigate the issue, describing it as serious allegation.
The committee was to be chaired by Senate Chief Whip Kanti Bello and to include Senators Ayogu Eze, Olorunnimbe Mamora, James Manager, Adamu Talba and Zainab Kure.
Adeyemi recently won for the third time, a senatorial seat to represent Kogi West Senatorial District; defeating Senator Dino Melaye in a supplementary election ordered by the country’s apex court, for a fresh election to be conducted after Senator Dino Melaye’s victory was nullified. Adeyemi won with a margin of over 20,000 votes