- Category: GENERAL
- Published on Saturday, 23 June 2012 16:02
- Written by Ogbufefi Blogs
A woman was said to have thoroughly beaten her son caught stealing. After applying the corporal punishment, she decided to counsel him by asking: “Do you know where you will end up if you continue to steal?” To the amazement of the mother, the boy said he knew where he would end up. So she asked him: “Where?”. The boy
replied: “National Assembly!”
President Jonathan once said he shakes his head when “some people shout, ‘Corruption! Corruption!’”
When the House of Representatives had latched onto the spontaneous popular resistance to the total removal of subsidy from petrol and became advocate of the masses by immediately setting up the committee, chaired by Lawan, to audit the management of oil subsidy in the country. It was the belief of Nigerians that the secret of the country spending over N2.1 trillion in subsidy payments in 2011 was corruption.
All hope was then on the Lawan committee to unravel the subsidy jigsaw puzzle. It was not for nothing that everybody had confidence and heaped hope on Lawan. Since 1999, he has been in the House of Representatives and managed to build what appeared like a solid reputation.
Now Nigerians know better. The sordid revelations of serial compromise in the Lawan-Otedola scandal have kept the country on tiptoe for more than one week.
The fall of Lawan and the capitulation of his committee are a metaphor for tragedy of the whole NASS from 1999 to the present Seventh Assembly.
Since 1999, the modus operandi of both houses of the NASS has predicated on serial extortion of money from ministers, heads of departments, agencies and company executives whose organisations have the misfortune of being investigated by the NASS. For ministers and heads of parastatals to be cleared by the Senate, they are expected to ‘perform’.
Ministers and heads of parastatals have consistently cried out that the NASS extort money from them to pass their budget. The ICPC got one of the smallest budgetary allocations during the time of Justice Emmanuel Ayoola despite presenting perfect documents, while other ministries, department and agencies, MDAs, that understand their body language have their budgetary allocations increased rather than being reduced.
A history of sleaze runs through the NASS since 1999. The Ndudi Elumelu-led power probe N100 million bribe scandal. It ended up in an anti-climax, like the Lawan case.
The recent stock market probe equally underscored the rot in the NASS. Herman Hembe and some of his committee members have been arraigned by the EFCC on corruption charges.
Similarly, for MDAs recruitment, members of appropriate committee of the NASS insist on getting ‘slots’. Consequently, one now needs a written endorsement from either a senator, or a representative, or both to get a job in the MDAs. There appears to be no vacancy for hapless Nigerians without access to their representatives.
The lawmakers also go after juicy contracts in the MDAs with a lot of viciousness, including blackmail. If they do not get it, the minister, DG or executive secretary is in deep trouble.
The constituency project is a major avenue for corruption in both houses of the NASS. The lawmakers nominate the contractors who are actually their fronts. In most instances, they take so much of the contract money that the contractor’s ability to execute the contract is hampered. Some buy motorcycles, exercise books, host birthday parties and chieftaincy installations as constituency projects and pocket the rest of the money.
Apart from constituency allowance, lawmakers claim huge sums of money quarterly as ‘running cost’, which runs into millions. For the Senate it comes to about N58 million per senator and for the House it is about N45 million
The Petroleum Industry Bill could not be passed by the NASS because of an alleged heavy lobbying by the multi-national oil companies who understand how to manipulate the itching palms of NASS members. Today, the NASS has become a basket case. And many people feel that Lawan’s case is nothing new after all.
Little wonder that Jonathan shakes his head when “some people shout, ‘Corruption! Corruption!’”
You emulated the British blindly by calling your MPs-"Honourables", "Excellencies" for your President, VP , Governors and Deputies and you created the word "Distinguished" for your Senators, if your good Countrymen and women have elected such; and so many Honourable, Distinguished and Excellent men and women; how come you have no designations for wrongdoers and above all such corruption and impunity?
National Assembly’s history of scandals
Alleged actors, Accusations
Salisu Buhari, Certificate scandal
Evan(s) Enwerem, Name falsification scandal
Chuba Okadigbo, Contract scandal
Ibrahim Mantu and Jonathan Zwingina vs Nasir el-Rufai on clearance as minister of FCT, N54 million
Ghali Na’Abba, Spending £4,000 public fund to fly his sick uncle abroad
Adolphus Wabara-led Senate vs Fabian Osuji, N50 million
Patricia Etteh on contract award, N628 million
Nicholas Ugbane et al., N100 million
Nicholas Ugbane, Ndudi Elumelu, Paulinus Igwe and Mohammed Jibo on rural electrification project probe, N5.2 billion
Ahmed Yerima vs NAPTIP, Marriage to a minor (13-year-old Egyptian bride)
Iyabo Obasanjo vs Health Ministry, N300 million
Dimeji Bankole and Bayero Nafada, N40 billion loan
Herman Hembe et al. vs Arunma Oteh, N39 million
Farouk Lawan and Boniface Emenalo vs Femi Otedola, $500,000
This list is by no means exhaustive
Ogbuefi Ndigbo, with materials from TELL Magazine