Henry A. Onwubiko, PhD.
My father once told me that it is the business of the snake to reproduce long things. As a consequence and a victim of his idiom, I have been accused of being too quick to state the obvious. Without retreat, I venture to state that the last sixteen years of the campaign for democracy in Nigeria has given rise to a National Assembly of cockroaches for which former President Olusegun Obasanjo has remained their foundation father.
Cockroaches have no limit in their pattern of consumption, and many have flown into flames or drowned in liquids in their futile search to fill their stomachs. However, they do undergo metamorphosis to assume strange physical forms in a process of development or dormancy determined by abundance of food or unlimited elements of consumption. President Olusegun Obasanjo did not deem it necessary, even for the sake of posterity, to restore the historic date of June 12th, 1993 as the true Democracy Day in Nigeria when the people voted en-mass in a free Universal Franchise for his kinsman, Chief M.K.O Abiola. Only cockroaches will continue to retain an Immunity Clause which protect and reward criminals after robbing their states as governors only to come to the National Assembly to rob the entire nation of public funds needed to be invested in industrial infrastructure, education, health among other areas. Obasanjo as the foundation father of this Democracy, had the capacity sixteen years ago, to influence the National Assembly and repeal such a clause from the constitution or amend it, but did not venture on such suicidal mission to hault their metamorphosis as a National Assembly of cockroaches to a popular patriotic National Assembly which depended on a limitless capacity for consumption and accumulation. Instead the popular National Assembly which would have resulted from the June 12th mandate was supplanted by its counterfeit, a National Assembly of cockroaches, seeded at its foundation by Obasanjo, the enemies of popular democracy, and agents of neocolonialism.
Like father like sons. The father, discovered by western imperialist agents to have the inherent weakness of an egomaniac with the amoral trait of a Neanderthal, Obasanjo was truly the right man for Imperialism to serve as a catalyst in seeding a counterfeit National Assembly. The result was a National Assembly in which the cockroaches competed over their heinous crimes against the Nigerian people reminiscent of the fictional account by the Kenyan Pan-African writer Nguji Wa Thiongo, in the Devil on the Cross. New terminologies were invented to accommodate the chicanery and corrupt excesses of the Cockroaches of the National Assembly, among them Budget Padding, Constituency Projects, White Elephants, plain bribery Owambe home-and-abroad parties, allowances, to out-right stealing by chairmen of adhoc committees of the Senate and House of Representatives. A few senators or members of the House of Representative had become scape-goats from time to time, where they failed to settle key members of the National Assembly such as the Speakers, Senate President, so called majority and minority leaders among others. For instance, Honorable Abdulmuminu Jibrin, a former chairman of the House of Representative was suspended for stating that Yakubu Dogara the present Speaker, his Deputy Yusuf Lasum, and minority leader Leo Ogor padded the 2016 budget with 140 billion naira. Of course, budget padding is stealing from the public purse. Also Honorable Lawan Farouk, former chairman by the House Adhoc committee to verify and determine subsidy requirements had received $620, 000 as part of $3 million bribe to expunge the name of a business Tycoon, Femi Otedola from the list of marketing oil companies who received foreign exchange for petroleum products they did not import. Farouk was merely removed as Adhoc committee chairman but has remained a member of the House of Representatives. These activities by the men of the people were occurring when most households in Nigeria could not afford to buy the kerosene and petrol refined abroad by Multinational Oil Corporation from their crude oil. In a similar case Honorable Patricia Etteh a former hairdresser who became Speaker of the House of Representative embezzled over N600 million naira from public coffers to renovate her residential quarters and organize for Owambe parties in Maryland USA with friends and well wishers.
It is also common knowledge that most ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria bribe leading members of the National Assembly for funds allocated to their ministries, in order to have them approved without cutting the money budgeted to their ministries. For instance, Professor Fabian Osuji, a former honorable minister of education was dismissed for bribing Senate President Adolphus Wabara with 55 million naira. Yet among their heineous crimes, most significant of all is the corruption culture extablished between the law makers of the National Assembly and Multinational Oil Cooperations-a vital link to the nation’s under-development, nor their role on the Nigerian civil war; who in their exploitation and action demonstrate that the nation remains their native plantation.
One evidence of the submission of members of the National Assembly to the diktat of multinational oil corporation against the development of their people is in their failure to pass the Petrol Industry Bill which was designed to enable the nation earn more money for its development, and for its citizens to gradually have more access to their hydrocarbon resources. Under the present arrangement the Nigerian people have continued to be guest and slaves to multinational oil corporation and even victims of pollution and other forms of environmental degradation in their own country, with inadequate capacity to fund even the education of its youths, from primary schools to universities.
The culture of corruption of the National Assembly is also facilitated at various Owambe parties, at home in Port harcourt, Lagos and Abuja and abroad, London, Maryland and Washington DC etc. Obasanjo who together with his eminent friends and well-wishers had initiated the first sets of Owamba parties had also displayed his trade mark hypocrisy in being the first to condemn it, by insulting disloyal governors as Owambe governors. He forgot that it was at these Owmabe parties that he met his teeming foreign friends, where he allegedly signed off tanker-loads of Nigeria’s Bonny Light crude oil to his well-wishers and made them midnight millionaires. The Owambe parties enabled him to seek the opinion of Imperialist Agents on the choice of their future servants to be seeded in the swelling and putricient National Assembly. Here is a National Assembly where over one third of its members have cases of corruption being investigated by the Economics and Financial Crime Commission while close to the remaining two-thirds have cases yet to be discovered, but are presently allied with the government of the day in order to be shielded. Certainly most governors now serving in the National Assembly or serving governors and ministers with the intention to seek re-election to the National Assembly could only have the single objective to evade justice for their crimes against the people through the retention of power and protection by the Immunity clause.
The National Assembly in its Campaign for Democracy in sixteen years has only undergone a metamorphosis to cockroaches, from the animal kingdom to their descent to the insect kingdom. Here is a National Assembly where the Speaker dumped his party for the opposition, due to his desire to pad more budgets to enrich himself but impoverish the people who elected him. Here is a senate whose mace or the Legislature’s Symbol of Authority was recovered under a bridge after it had been snatched a day earlier in one of its stormy sessions often induced by the effects of alcohol, narcotics and other sedatives. Here is a senate that its President switches party at will, tempered by his brazen ambition and is answering a case of bank robbery at Offa town in his own state of Kwara where more than 33 innocent Nigerian citizens were mowed to death. A selfish hog-headed man who feasts on his own element and that by all means meandered to head the senate and who feast mostly on his own elements. This is a senate where Senator Dino Malaye without decorum and common decency declared to the world his character as a Neanderthal, with the unlimited capacity to impregnate his female colleagues and even declared fatefully that nothing will happen. This is a National Assembly where each member senator, robbed the public the sum of 200 million naira on regular basis which they claimed to be constituency allowances for projects; a senate where each member collected 13.5 million naira monthly as allowances despite their monthly salary of N750, 000 which is more than the salary of most Legislators in most Nations and more than that of Professors.
But what was witnessed in the recent election in Kwara State is the reverberation and resurrection of the spirit of June 12th that determined not only the end of the Saraki dynasty, that enough is enough, to all those that oppress the people. It is the ignition of light by the Nigerian people for the commencement of the ninth National Assembly.
It must distinguish its character from previous National Assemblies which had served the counterfeit of the popular will of the Nigeria people. Let the ninth National Assembly thoroughly be the negation of the negation of all past National Assemblies, with the expected arrival of June 12th being the defining point of the departure. In the past National Assemblies the form appeared before the content.
The ninth National Assembly must let its content determine its form. No more lobbing of the National Assemble with huge sums of money by oil companies such as Shell, Chevron and others to continue to do their bidding and govern Nigeria as they desire, while the people remain in bondage without water, public schools converted to prisons to keep restless youth form destroying their investments. Certainly the time for egomaniacs to seek third term to rule the people against their will and constitution is gone. The era where a minister of communication who pronounced that telephones are not for the poor and yet is made Senate President is now unthinkable. The coming National Assembly emerges as a sanctuary of freedom and hope for the people and not as in its ugly past a haven where criminals that have robbed the people of their meager funds for development are rewarded and come to find rest, a people’s National Assembly and not a National Assembly of cockroaches.
Henry A. Onwubiko, PhD, is a Senior Fellow, ORISE and Professor of Biochemistry, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.