LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT AND CORRUPTION

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended) has empowered the National Assembly in section 88 to by a resolution published in its journal or the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation to direct or cause to be directed an investigation into:                                 

1(a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws; and

(b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, Ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for:

executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly; and

disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.

2        The powers conferred on the National Assembly under the provisions of this section are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling it to:

make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws; and

expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence  and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.

Therefore, it is mandatory for Standing Committees of the National Assembly to exercise oversight of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs to assess policy objectives and implementation strategies; identify lapses and factors inhibiting successfully implementation of projects; advice on improvement; and identify misapplication and mismanagement of funds. Reports of oversight visits are expected to be presented in plenary of the two chambers and if need be, the provisions of Section 88 of the Constitution evoked for full investigation.

Regrettably, since the return to democratic rule in 1999, oversight of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs by Committees of the National Assembly have been ineffective in exposing corruption and waste in the public sector. Serious allegations of committees members demanding for example, MDAs to fund their local or foreign trips or to provide funds for public hearings, and solicit contracts among others, from the same MDAs they are expected to oversee has negative effect of diminishing the role of the National Assembly in promoting good governance. It also undermines the principle of checks and balances in the conduct of governmental affairs.

Furthermore, the budget approval process has been adjudged by members of the public to be less transparent. Allegations of committees conniving with MDAs by “burying” huge sums of money in the budget with a view to retrieving same after the budget has been passed and signed into law abound. Budget hearings have become mere rituals and do not guarantee judicious deployment of scarce resources to the most felt needs of citizens nor promote transparency and accountability.

Equally worrisome, is the incessant fight of members of the National Assembly over the so called “juicy committees”. Section 62 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 as Amended) empowers the Senate or the House of Representatives to appoint a committee of its members for such special or general purpose… and delegate any functions exercisable by it to any such committee. Therefore, “juicy committee(s)” is strange to our constitution and in conflict with the expected role of committees as envisaged by the Constitution.

In other jurisdictions, committee assignments are perceived by a legislator as opportunity to offer meritorious service to one’s country.  The Nigerian experience has shown that private gains as against national service  is a major factor in the constant fight on the floor by legislators over the so called “juicy committees” There is clearly conflict of interest between self gains and national service. Flowing from the above, it can be asserted without fear of contradiction that failure of legislative oversight in Nigeria is responsible for the massive corruption and impunity in the public service.

Indeed, the numerous investigative hearings conducted by committees of the National Assembly whether in the power sector, aviation, petroleum subsidy, capital market, etc., are pointers of failure of legislative oversight. Committees as the engine house of their respective chambers should be proactive in exposing corruption, inefficiency or waste in the public sector and not wait for things to happen before commencing investigations.

The President of the Senate Bukola Saraki was quoted recently lamenting that “poor oversight by the National Assembly caused the financial scandal of the former National Security Adviser, retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki.” Pointing out that “if the Senate committees on National Security and Intelligence as well as the one on defence had performed their Constitutional roles on monitoring and investigating how funds allocated to that sensitive area had been utilised, the nation will not be witnessing the mind boggling stories that are coming out.” Therefore, the President of the Senate advised committees “to take their duties more seriously to prevent the high rate of abandoned projects and fraudulent tendencies of government officials.” (Daily Trust, December 16, 2015)

It is only time that will tell whether the wise counsel of the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki has been heeded by committees of the National Assembly. Let us pray!!!

 

THE ROT IS VERY DEEP

Since the inauguration of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, on 29th May, 2015, attention of Nigerians and the international community has been focussed on among other issues; how to tame the hydra headed monster called Corruption. The war commenced with focus on public institutions and immediate past government officials alleged to have plundered the Treasury under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party. There are high expectations that the stolen funds would be returned to Nigeria to facilitate development.

Corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of the Nigerian society. We conduct ourselves as if Nigeria is a country without national ethics. Section 23 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 as amended) prescribes the national ethics as: Discipline, Integrity, and Dignity of Labour, Social Justice, Religious Tolerance, Self-reliance and Patriotism.

Unfortunately, the Family – the institution which is expected to inculcate these values in its members has abrogated its responsibility in pursuit of mundane issues. The Family it can be asserted without fear of contradiction has failed the nation. This position is informed by the gamut of societal ills bedevilling our country which are manifestations of moral decadence. Otherwise, what else could propel some parents who reportedly hire members of the public to write examinations on behalf of their children or purchase examination question papers thereby sending wrong message to the children that it pays to cheat? There are reports of children at such tender age in nursery schools who steal snacks from lunch boxes of other children, of university students who cheat during examinations or pay lecturers to obtain in advance examination question papers before examination day so to pass the exams. Children who hitherto were community assets and protected by members of society are presently subjected to all manner of abuses and targeted as objects of trade. Those who establish baby factories to manufacture babies for sale, the armed robbers, the kidnappers, the suicide bombers, and Boko Haram sponsors are all manifestations of collapsed family system. Indeed, the Rot is very deep.

Examples of pervasive Rot in our society are numerous. In our markets, traders cheat unsuspecting members of the public by for example, hiding rotten tomatoes at the base of baskets while scattering large and healthy looking tomatoes on top to give a false impression of the entire content of the basket in order to extract maximum amount of money. The practice is same for food items such as yams, potatoes and so on. What about those engaged in the production and sale of fake drugs, counterfeit currency or collude to convert our beautiful country into a dumping ground for substandard goods, hazardous electronic waste or import sand as fertilizer and water as petroleum products and are paid subsidy.

The traditional institutions that harbour our rich cultural values have not been spared the rot. In times past, traditional rulers were seen custodians of our rich cultural values, an embodiment of truth and justice. They shielded their communities from imminent danger. Regrettably, in present day Nigeria, some traditional rulers are known to harbour armed robbers and participate in the sharing of loot snatched at gun point and through the spilling of the innocent blood of citizens. Similarly, faith, community based and civil society organisations, labour unions, students and professional bodies house elements that engage in corrupt practices. The Rot is very deep indeed.

As Nigerians, therefore, it is our collective responsibility to join hands with President Buhari’s Administration to bring about positive CHANGE in our fatherland. We cannot stand aloof and criticise the government of inaction or inability to deploy the “magic wand” to effect positive CHANGE in Nigeria. All Nigerians need to stand up to be counted as CHANGE Agents by doing the RIGHT THING. So that TOGETHER we shall bring positive CHANGE in our country.

POWER OF THE PEOPLE

The just concluded 2015 presidential election in Nigeria has brought  to the fore the power of a  people to take their destiny into their own hands.  That Nigerians have the power to vote out a government that has failed to meet their aspirations is no longer news. The Nigerian people have ably demonstrated this power and politicians can ignore this fact at their own peril. The signs of an impending defeat at the polls by the incumbent  were there but those who surrounded President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan failed to decode. They were engrossed pursuing personal agendas and creating enemies for the President and could not decipher the warning signs on the political horizon. The impunity of those in the corridors of power continued unabated. Genuine and constructive criticisms of government actions or inactions by respected elder statesmen and citizens were met with indecorous language from these political aides. Rather than response to issues, insults, and curses were heaped on well meaning Nigerians while the President looked the other way. The Cabal held the President hostage and contributed to his failure at the 2015 polls. The true electoral value of these political gladiators has been revealed by their inability to win votes for President Jonathan even at the Ward level in their States. These members of the Cabal thrive best in an atmosphere of confusion.

The Lagos Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Jonathan Support Group led by Senator Musiliu Obanikoro for example, spent millions of Naira in newspaper advertisements for the sole purpose of tarnishing the integrity and capability of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega to conduct free and fair elections in Nigeria.   The actions of the Group contributed in no small measure in aggravating tension in an already charged political environment. Indeed, the attempt to spread outright falsehood rather than vigorously peruse issue based campaigns further alienated their Principal form the people and hampered his   re-election chances.  Similarly, the culture of IMPUNITY exhibited by political office holders and the systematic destruction of public institutions are issues which the incoming administration of the All Progressive Congress (APC)  need to confront head on so as to avoid the pitfalls of the past.

Nigerians Take a Stand Now

The political campaigns in Nigeria have brought to the limelight serious challenges facing our country. It is unbelievable that the political campaigns are loaded with hate messages aimed at causing disaffection among Nigerians. Religion, ethnicity, cultural differences have been exploited to the most ridiculous level that one wonders whether the damage being done to our nation will ever be reversed after the elections have come and gone. It is painful to know that politicians have taken Nigerians for granted over the years. They have exploited, divided and ruled us for their selfish interests. They have no interest in ensuring good governance and development of Nigeria. Indeed, they lack the capacity to conduct issue-based campaigns; hence the resort to religion and ethnicity as a platform for securing cheap support. This has been the trend since the return to democratic rule in 1999.

The Cabal that is fighting for the soul of Nigeria has no integrity, morality and credibility. Campaigns using derogatory and despicable language, which is strange to all known Nigerian cultural values have taken the center stage. Which Nigerian cultural norm promotes death wish for a political opponent or derision over the deaths of family members.

The PDP campaign groups are so desperate to have its candidate returned to Aso Villa and are ready to do anything. just anything in the name of supporting the incumbent President. They have for example; widely circulated a medical report on the health status of General Muhammadu Buhari purported to have been obtained from the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria. The hospital has since disassociated itself from the report and further stated that the so-called doctors who appended their signatures to the report are not on their payroll.

Recently, African Independent Television (AIT) and Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) transmitted a documentary full of inaccuracies with the sole aim of destroying the APC Presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari. Even though the National Broadcasting Code for elections provides to the contrary:

4.2.2 Broadcaster shall:

(a) Not broadcast a programme which violates social value, shows disrespect for law and order departs from an honourable life-style;

(g) avoid the use of foul and blasphemous language;

5.1.6 Archival or library materials where used to illustrate a current event, shall be used with discretion and clearly identified to avoid confusion or causing emotional pain, offence, embarrassment or defamation.

5.2.5 Political broadcast shall be in decent language.

5.2.7 A broadcaster shall, in using a political material for news, avoid taking inflammatory and divisive matter in its provocative form;

5.3.6 A live broadcast shall take cognisance of the cultural and religious sensibilities of all Nigerians and avoid offensive inputs.

The question that begs for an answer is whether the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria (APN) have lived up to expectation by sanctioning stations that have been violating  the broadcasting code with impunity. As rightly observed by the Veteran broadcaster Dr. Tom Adaba that” We cannot seat back, arms folded, looking the other way and pretending all is well. Let the truth be told, we have simply behaved as if there is no tomorrow for Nigeria. The campaigns or advertisement of mudslinging and derision, which we have allowed to appear on the screens, have not been helpful to the course of this nation. It has indeed helped to divide us as a people. If we preach hate we shall reap hate and destruction, if we preach love and peace well shall reap same” (Sunday Trust 21nd February, 2015 P.36)

During the Presidential media chart held at the State House in Abuja on Wednesday 11th February 2015 President Jonathan referred “… to the attempt to pelt the Presidential convoy by young, ignorant people, as treasonable offence….” Although  the action is condemnable, it was most revealing  when asked as to whether he was not worried by the threat of war by his kinsmen if he is not re-elected. President Jonathan simply responded that his government will make sure that things are done “in such a way that nobody goes to war. We will not encourage anybody to destroy this country. We must protect this country and those who support us must not destroy this country.”   The threat of war by his kinsmen to destroy Nigeria is indeed a treasonable offence, even though President Jonathan refused to condemn Asari Dokubo and co-travellers as he did in the case of the “young, ignorant people” in Katsina State. (Daily Trust 12th February, 2015 P.5).

Dame Patience Jonathan in a recent outburst  in Calabar during a political campaign told Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supporters “Anybody That Tells You Change, Stone That Person!”

Nigerians Take a Stand Now to Save Our Country from Destruction.

Nigerians Vote Wisely

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Attahiru Jega has since the postponement of the February 2015 general elections in Nigeria come under series of unwarranted attacks from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its faceless supporters. It is unfortunate that the very Government that appointed Professor Attahiru Jega is leading the campaign of calumny against him.

The GOODLUCK Lagos group and the Director General of PDP Presidential campaign organisation, Senator Ahmadu Ali have questioned the readiness of INEC to conduct free and fair elections; while the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNPA) led by Chief Edwin Clark has called for the resignation of the Chairman and arrest on the grounds that he intends to rig elections in favour of the North. Indeed, men and women of integrity may in future reject national assignments, so as not to be rubbished by self-serving groups.

Nigerians have opined that the postponement of the general elections is just the tip of the iceberg of subterranean maneuvers aimed at rubbishing the image and integrity of Professor Jega so as to have reasons to execute the second phase of the agenda which include among others; removal of the INEC boss, bribing the National Assembly members to extend the tenure of the present elected officials to six months in the first instance and subsequently for a period of two years due to insecurity.

The PDP government has failed to realise that Nigerians are fed up with the rot and the decay that has continued to pledge this country. Unfortunately, those in the corridors of power who are benefiting from the system have held President Goodluck Jonathan hostage. The President is therefore, out of touch with the pains, frustrations and failed aspirations of Nigerians especially the youths. Instead, the PDP government has instituted mediocrity, impunity, greed, nepotism, primitive stealing of public funds, religious bigotry, indecorous behaviour, use of abusive language and elimination of political opponents. Nigerians have helplessly watched the locusts destroy our beloved country.

The 2015 elections therefore, is not about President Goodluck Jonathan or General Muhammadu Buhari. It is about the future and survival of Nigeria.

Nigerians use your Vote wisely.

Sights of Bad Governance in Nigeria

Goat on a Bus top, Katsina Ala Road, Nigeria.

Goat taking a ride on a bus top on Katsina Ala road

Man and Goat taking a ride in Nigeria.

Man and Goat taking a ride

A Woman fetching water from a  pond at Gadoro in Kuje Area Council, Abuja, Nigeria.  Daily Trust 17/12/2014 Photo Credit: Abubakar Sadiq Isah

A Woman fetching water from a pond at Gadoro in Kuje Area Council, Abuja, Nigeria. Daily Trust 17/12/2014 Photo Credit: Abubakar Sadiq Isah

Displaced persons sharing food items at a camp in Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria.  Daily Trust 25/12/2014 Photo Credit: NAN

Displaced persons sharing food items at a camp in Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria. Daily Trust 25/12/2014 Photo Credit: NAN

Resident at a stream in Kwaku Community in Kuje Area Council, Abuja, Nigeria.  Daily Trust 17/12/2014 Photo Credit: Abubakar Sadiq Isah

Resident at a stream in Kwaku Community in Kuje Area Council, Abuja, Nigeria. Daily Trust 17/12/2014 Photo Credit: Abubakar Sadiq Isah

Mode of Transportation in Nigeria

Transporting a Satellite Dish