LEWIS OBI 08173446632 sms only
UNLESS the National Assembly is dissolved, nothing is going to change in Nigeria. It will not matter if the entire leadership of the House and Senate goes to prison for 10 years or more as they should over the budget scandal. In China and elsewhere they probably would be executed. It will not matter, indeed, if half the members of both chambers went to prison. It is doubtful if a single member can be found who is innocent of this padding scandal. And it would be good if all of them could be jailed for a lengthy period. But I know this is the real world. It will not happen. Yet even if 99 per cent went to prison, the National Assembly would still come out a corrupt institution because there is corruption in its DNA.
Unless the National Assembly is dissolved, it will not matter what President Muhammadu Buhari does in the fight against corruption. The virus as long as it is in the National Assembly would remain in the body politic, growing and perpetuating itself. The National Assembly never pretended to join in the fight against corruption. This is why, excepting Senator Shehu Sani, not a single member declared his or her assets publicly, to follow President Buhari’s and Vice-President Yemi Osibajo’s worthy examples.
Unless the National Assembly is dissolved, it will not matter if |Speaker Dogara, the Ali Baba in the House, resigns with the House leadership. It will not matter either if Senate President Bukola Saraki, the Ali Baba in the Senate, resigns with the Senate leadership. Anyone with the most rudimentary idea of the workings of a presidential system knows that the National Assembly has become the greatest danger to the survival of democracy in Nigeria. Anyone who has lived through “I, Brigadier- Gen. Sani Abacha” broadcasts in Nigerian history ought to be justly nervous that the National Assembly is leaving daggers on the table against democracy.
Unless the National Assembly is dissolved there would be no hope for democracy in Nigeria because democracy can only survive on truth and honesty. All our elections end up inconclusive and in litigation because there is no truth in them. Elections are marred by violence because someone wants to bend the truth with force.
Representative Abdulmumin Jibrin, the erstwhile chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, is probably the instrument of Providence to save Nigerian democracy. His heart seems to be in the right place. But it is not a task he can accomplish alone. He needs the support of all patriotic Nigerians who should converge on Abuja in their hundreds of thousands, encircle the two chambers, and insist on the dissolution of the National Assembly and a total reformulation of the institution.
Our powerful national groups and change agents must stand up – the Nigerian Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Petroleum and Gas Workers Unions National Council of Women Societies, Women in Nigeria Nigerian Union of Journalists, National Union of Railwaymen, Civil Service Unions, Local Government Employee Unions. An interim Nigerian National Congress must be constituted from these patriotic organizations. Men and women of proven integrity from the six geo-political zones should strengthen the groups representatives and be legally proclaimed.
What has happened is obvious. The National Assembly having betrayed its mission after 17 years of shameless, unbridled corruption has lost its mandate and authority and therefore its legitimacy. The Nigerian people must reclaim their mandate and constitute a new body since the National Assembly has become destructive of the objectives of its founding, leaving the people no choice but to abolish it and institute a new legislature with a fresh mandate to provide them with safety, honesty, integrity in public administration, law, order and good government.
Abdulmumuni Jibrin was stating what most Nigerians already knew when he told Channels TV that President Olusegun Obasanjo had been right and that, “yes, we (National Assembly members) are corrupt…there is corruption in the House of Representatives, and not only is there corruption, there is institutional corruption.” “These are things that I can prove and it is what my struggle is about…the only thing is that we have been living in denial..I have been there for five years and I have seen a lot and I am happy that something has triggered it… to address the issues at the National Assembly to force reforms… This issue is going to lead to a revolution in the National Assembly.”
“My problem was that I was not talking. I came to the National Assembly and I was made to believe that when one is chairman of finance, you have to live and die with certain information. Also, if you are chairman of Appropriation (Committee), you have to be custodian of information, meaning there are a lot of things you must not say.”
It is truly remarkable how the National Assembly turned a democratic institution, the people’s house, which ought to be open and transparent in all things, into an Ogboni Society cult-like secret coven.
Now the greed of the National Assembly is simply breath-taking. So far N480 billion of padding has been identified for the 469-member legislature, apparently, so members get a billion apiece. But the Speaker, a man who often acts as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, would get N3 billion; the deputy speaker, N2.55 billion; House Leader and Chief Whip, N1.8 billion each; deputy leader and deputy chief whip, N1.5 billion each; minority leader and minority whip, N1.4 billion each; the deputy minority leader and deputy minority whip, N1.3 billion each, totaling N17.5 billion. These are separate from the N20 billion inserted in the so-called service-wide vote. The N480 billion incorporates the 2,000 projects inserted by 10 standing committee chairmen. No one knows how much of these have already been cashed out but National Assembly members have reportedly besieged Federal ministries and agencies trying to retrieve the inserted amounts. Two senators are reported to have made a fortune cashing out from the Cross River Basin Authority and the Sokoto Rima Basic Authority and the Small and Median Enterprises Development Agencies of Nigeria. One pocketed N3.4 billion and the other N1.2 billion.
But to Senate Leader Mohammed Ali-Ndume “the issue of budget padding is more of a media hype… it is more of personal thing between Dogara and Jibrin.” An indication that much worse secrets lie beneath the iron-clad secrecy that has always surrounded the Senate. Then the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which periodically acts the alternate government, summoned Jibrin last Tuesday. In a tone reminiscent of the Communist Party Presidium, it warned Jibrin that “failure to and/or refusal to honour this invitation will amount to a decision you have made not to submit to the party.” Jibrin was interrogated for four hours and told not to speak to the Press any more, which is often the first step to sweeping a scandal under the carpet.
Correction: Last week I erroneously wrote that the former Governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje, is from Kano State. I regret the mix-up.