The Bus Parliament

Diversity is an attribute that makes a parliament interesting and intriguing. Individuals with different backgrounds coming together to discuss issues that affect them and the people they represent. Many parliaments would envy the diversity of a bus’ passengers—individuals picked randomly from different points along a route, not held back by party allegiance.

I stood along the road, somewhere in Victoria Island, Lagos, waiting for a bus heading to CMS. After standing for about 20 minutes, ably comforted by a sun that seemed angry at me and intent on roasting the scalp beneath my freshly trimmed hair, a bus finally showed up. Apparently, close-of-office traffic congestion somewhere in VI, had contributed to my unsolicited romance with the sun. It was a bus ride I would both enjoy and seek to escape from.

The parliament consisted of 14 passengers and the driver with his conductor. There was only one young lady among the passengers. Everyone took part in the deliberations except for the only soldier in the bus. There was no speaker—no need for that position. All parliamentarians knew when to talk and when to allow others to contribute.

What better stimulant for having a parliamentary discussion inside a bus, than a Lagos-style traffic congestion? Then the driver turned on the radio—apparently a trusted companion in Lasgidi traffic. A caller on the radio said “there should be no elections until the Chibok girls are found”. The parliament was now officially in session.

Mr. A, an Igbo banker, fired the first salvo. “Thunder fire you there! (at the radio caller) When my people were being killed, nobody talked, now you’re saying the government should be shut down. In fact, your papa!” This was the cue the other parliamentarians needed to join the discussion. Mr. B then recounted how he had to hide in a trailer for two days during a religious riot in the North. He said he had spent nine years in seven northern states. Miss L stepped in with a question of her own, “how do we even know that the girls were kidnapped?” To this, Mr. D, with some experience in the North, angrily retorted, “Are you saying that the girls were not kidnapped?”

At this point, the parliamentarians began arguing about the plausibility of the kidnap saga. Mr. C, who said he once lived in Kaduna, said the girls had likely been married off to “big men” in the North. This view was supported by Miss. L., who cited the example of Senator Ahmed Yerima. She believed that the girls were “somewhere eating fried rice and chicken”.

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