By Ahuraka Yusuf Isah and Solomon Ayado, Abuja
May 10th, 2017 will be remembered in the history of contradictions ever encountered on the floor of Nigeria senate; when glaring thesis and anti-thesis, probate and aprobate and perhaps saints and satans enchanted anti-corruption war debates by members.
Before the senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye moved his motion for probe of the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) for alleged stinking of monumental corruption, he announced the launching of his book titled “Antidote for Corruption, The Nigerian story”, on Monday, May 15, 2017; and that the senators were invited.
Subsequently, Melaye took to his Instagram page to invite everyone, adding that the likes of Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, Senate President Bukola Saraki; former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Dr Emeka Anyaoku; one time Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings and a bunch of others would be gracing the occasion.
Then he set out to the tirade on BPP’s corruption stinks; the BPP, he said has reneged in its duty, and as such does not perform or conduct mandatory post-procurement audit; just as it corruptly issues certificates of no objection.
“Procurement is responsible for over 70 per cent of corruption in this country. To get the fight against corruption right, we must also get our procurement very correct’’, Melaye said.
Besides, he said “There is an urgent need to investigate allegations of failure to perform or conduct mandatory post procurement audit and corrupt issuance of certificate of no objection by the Bureau of Public Procurement.
“Monumental corruption is going on in the BPP. That is where we have the contracts that are supposed to be awarded at N20 million, but awarded at N200 million. It is then approved by the Federal Executive Council. This certificate of no objection is not more than the investigation that is supposed to be conducted internally by BPP.
“In line with section 5(Q) of the Public Procurement Act 2007, the BPP is mandated to perform procurement audit and submit such audit to the National Assembly bi-annually.
“The BPP had repeatedly failed and neglected to perform this crucial and statutory duty particularly for conducts of post procurement audit and submission of reports to the National Assembly bi-annually.
“Based on section 61(c) of the Procurement Act 2007, the Bureau of Public Procurement is authorized to issue certificates of no objection to contracts awarded by relevant procurement entities.
“BPP has consistently engaged in under hand dealings with respect to the grant of certificate of no objection, abusing these powers to make pecuniary gains.
“We are concerned that if urgent steps are not taken to investigate this allegation and address proven infractions, the BPP is likely to transform itself from the regulator to a ‘disruptor’ and will endanger the entire public procurement system.
“It is time for the Senate to take the bull by the horn and ameliorate, correct and ensure that the BPP does what is right so hat social services will be available for the less privilege.”
In physics, horror vacui, or plenism, is commonly stated as “Nature abhors a vacuum’’, a postulate attributed to Aristotle; vividly came handy same day in the senate, though not on the floor of the senate, but in a room the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Committee sat to screen the 27 Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) nominees President Muhammadu Buhari earlier forwarded to the senate for their confirmations.
Nature provided for a vacuum when a REC nominee REC of the INEC, Ibrahim Abdullahi, though a staunch Muslim, but in the language of a Reverend Father ordaining a congregation; and in a characteristic mien and harmless innocence advised the Senators to amend their ways, not for the purpose of gaining entrance into the heaven, rather he said the lack of transparency in their activities is negatively affecting their images in the eyes of the general public.
Besides, Abdullahi said the highest lawmakers in the country seldom visit their constituencies, to engage their constituents, to interact, gather collective feelings, expressions especially on the current crunching economic distressing parameters in readiness to table perhaps before the senate of the whole for the needed solutions for the immediate and entire constituencies in the nation; of course emphasis mine.
Abdullahi, who stated this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on INEC for screening, was responding to a question by an INEC Committee member, Senator Ali Wakili (Bauchi South) on how the National Assembly can improve its image.
Curiously, Abdullahi knows the senators in and out; perhaps with security dossier on individual senator because he retired as a Director in the Department of State Service (DSS) attached to the National Assembly just recently, and as such still has fresh details on all the members and causes of perception of Nigerians on this body.
Senator Wakili did not ask the question as booby trap for Abdullahi, neither did Abdullahi gave the answer to spite the senators, but rather an honest answer for an innocent or harmless question meant for collective damage control for image question of the senators.
It is not likely that Abdullahi knew about Melaye’s BPP motion of that day, just as he might not have read a passage known as the Pericope Adulterae, the Gospel of John 7:53-8:11 or read the story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery before replying Melaye on behalf of the BPP ‘’ that the one who is without sin is the one who should cast the first stone’’
When on March 15 this year, the’’ Ides of March’’ as Senator Shehu Sani had reminded us that day, the very day the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu was taken to Golgotha or appeared before the senate for confirmation but rejected on suspicious grounds, he said he least expected Melaye to have led the onslaught for his rejection because they were once purportedly fighting corruption together until Melaye moved to the senate where ‘’stealing is not corruption, or corruption is not a crime as long as one complies’’
In reminiscence of Caesar’s immortal question, “ET tu, Brute”? (“You too, Brutus?”); when Caesar saw his close friend Brutus among conspirator senators stabbing him with daggers, though falling short of saying Et tu, Melaye; but rhetorically said ‘’ ; ‘’ I have to be open; Dino is my friend and we were fighting corruption together until he came to this house here and abandoned us’’. In other words, Dino is no longer seeing anything wrong with corruption like his counterpart in the Red Chamber.
On 28th March, 2017, the Senate protested against the retention of Magu as the EFCC Acting Chairman despite the rejection of his nomination by the lawmakers, thereby refusing to confirm the nomination of 27 RECs for the INEC, insisting that the process be abandoned until Magu was removed
But the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), also took the lawmakers to the cleanser, while reacting against senate’s action on RECs’ confirmation by describing the Senate’s action, calling on Buhari to sack Magu in two weeks, as childish and irresponsible.
He said, “That action is childish and irresponsible. Do they think Buhari is a man that can easily be threatened? My God! How can people of such character occupy the highest legislative office in the country? Nigeria is finished’’.
The following day, March 29th, 2017, the Senate directed its Committee on Ethics and Privileges to investigate remarks credited to Sagay; and possibly ask him to name the senators with questionable characters.
Senator Ibn Na’allah maintained that Senators do not have questionable characters and therefore asked the Senate to summon Professor Sagay to name those who he feels have questionable characters in the Senate.
According to an activist lawyer who do not want to be mentioned in the print, ‘’the problem of corruption war in Nigeria is that so many corrupt elements in our midst stand atop the mountain of corruption and decrying others on the mole hill of the crime. Somebody who has never worked in his life, has no any genuine business outfits but assembles posh cars of average price of N50 million per car, lives in mansion of billions of naira worth ; yet, purportedly masquerading as apostle of anti-corruption war. Curiously, Nigerians won’t ask such characters to declare source of his or her wealth, except to punish the petty thieves caught for stealing vegetables from someone’s farm. This is the crux of the matter; it’s the more corruption is attractive, lucrative and flourishing.’’