Indeed, only fear unlocks the pockets of the rich and mighty. The silence that has greeted the allegation of N10 billion against Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara is intriguing.
The fund was allegedly approved by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, in collusion with the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.
I know very well that the anti-corruption agencies are observing the allegations flying around and will only use the files gathered, when the time is right.
This is not an uncommon style; criminal charges against Saraki were not brought against him until he emerged as Senate President against the interest of the powers that be. Also, charges of N3.08billion theft against former Kano State governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and N15 billion against his counterpart from Sokoto State, Aliyu Wamako, were not matured for investigation and prosecution until now that the 2019 election is approaching.
According to the allegation, the duo of Saraki and Dogara, illegally received and shared N10billion from the national treasury.
Unfortunately, the persons involved in these allegations are not as transparent and cannot claim high moral profile. This is why they must do everything possible to convince Nigerians that the fraud wasn’t committed.
Should these allegations be established against the leadership of the National Assembly, the lawmakers will lose the remaining respect ascribed to them by the several government departments and agencies, as well as private investors, who appear at different investigative hearings in the parliament.
The report suggested that 30 out of the contractors who supplied vehicles to the National Assembly are not registered on the Bureau of Public Procurement database of federal contractors, while seven of the 30 are not even registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
Ironically, these are the first set of criteria observed by various committees of the National Assembly in every investigating hearing. An ongoing investigation of NEMA gives credence to this fact. It is unfortunate, however, that the hunter has been hunted by the above allegation.
Although, both the Senate President and the Speaker have threatened legal action if the story is not retracted, this threat did not deter the online newspaper that published the alleged fraud, rather the newspaper released more details about the transaction.
In the face of these daring allegations, Nigerians would expect Saraki and Dogara to make good their threats by pressing charges against the author and publishers of these allegations, since the story was not retracted.
If this is not done, it then means that the leaders of the National Assembly have successfully soiled their hands again. This may be the reason the 8th Assembly will always bark without capacity to bite.
Before Nigeria’s Democracy Hits Brick Wall
In the last one week, I received several messages in response to the views canvassed in the last edition of this column. Some accused me of undermining the capacity of the 8th Assembly to bring the President Muhammadu Buhari-led executive to account in line with the constitutional provisions, while others adjudged me of supporting an alleged underperformed legislature.
I’m impressed with the responses, it does mean that many Nigerians now show active interest in the executive legislature relationship. This suggests that citizens’ participation in political activities is on the rise and if the trend continues, our democracy will receive more strength.
Democracy is not ambiguous, rather, some acclaimed democrats, who seek to democratise their undemocratic actions, create confusion in our polity.
The constitutional role of the parliament is to check mate the actions of the executive, this is irrespective of whether the ruling party has the majority in the parliament or not. Nevertheless, there is a great advantage when a ruling party produces majority in the parliament, but the current federal government unfortunately did not take advantage of this.
Contrary to suggestions by some of our readers, I am neither in support of the perceived gang-up of the legislature against the executive nor fancy the obvious disdain with which the executive has treated the National Assembly. I am not even interested in who wins the ego battle between the leadership of the executive and the National Assembly. Rather, I am more interested in what becomes of Nigeria’s democracy if the President and his men blatantly refuse to recognise and respect the powers of the parliament.
No doubt, the National Assembly, as currently constituted, has lost its steam and is helpless in the face of President Buhari’s style.
In as much as I understand that the executive is winning the war, with public opinion tilting against the parliament, it is dangerous to destroy the institution of parliament, else Nigeria’s democracy will, at best, degenerate to oligarchy in disguise.
I actually minced my words when I said the National Assembly succumbed to pressure from the executive, hence the slow or no action on the Electoral Act Amendment. The truth is the federal legislature, as currently constituted, is timid and lacks courage to stand by their decisions.
Their leaders seem to be more interested in the wealth they can amass than the legacy they should achieve for democratic development.
I have spoken with a number of lawmakers in the past weeks and the story is the same, the parliament is helpless!