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Role reversal

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18.05.2020

TWO developments last week exposed the state of play in the country even as it reels from the pandemic and rising coronavirus cases. The first was the spectacular lack of unity displayed in the specially requisitioned meetings of the National Assembly and Senate. And second was the lack of social discipline evidenced by crowded scenes in markets and bazaars across the country following an easing of the lockdown announced by the federal government.

Neither came as a surprise but both are consequential to the management of the evolving health crisis. Far from peaking, this is now witnessing an alarming surge in numbers.

Expectations that the first parliamentary session since the pandemic began would urge the government and opposition to demonstrate solidarity may have been misplaced given the bitter partisan bickering that preceded these meetings. But in the face of an unprecedented crisis it was still hoped that public representatives would temporarily set aside their politics and work together to address the issue for which the sessions were called: Covid-19.

This was not to be. The proceedings saw intense sparring and unseemly rhetoric by both treasury and opposition benches. But then it is the government’s responsibility to show leadership and take the initiative to reach out to the opposition and build consensus especially at times of crisis. In all democracies, oppositions oppose and subject the actions of the government to critical scrutiny. It remains the majority party’s obligation to extend a hand across the aisle to elicit cooperation from political opponents and mobilise support for its policies.

Coming weeks will be a defining time for........

© Dawn


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