Post Script as Breaking News

It seems there’s no let-up or end in sight to Nigeria’s pillage in the hands of PDP helmsmen who have turned the country into a “crime syndicate masquerading as a nation”  Yesterday, Sunday, May 29 as a new President was being sworn in, Nigerians woke to the story of outgoing House Speaker, Saburi D. Bankole’s purported $1 billion – over N150 billion Naira – in a UBA domiciliary account.  This would be on top of a N10 billion loan; the earlier N2.5 billion car “scam”, etcetera.  Oh, and there’s the little matter of NITEL building bought for N4 billion by Bankole although I read a while back that the father, an NPN member – NPN fathered the PDP – bought it.  Sahara Reporters carried the story.  What’s more: the news site reported President Jonathan has been approached by the man who described Nigerians as “docile followers”.

There are all sorts of anti-money laundering laws and yet, a single person keeps a billion US dollars and these banks do not raise a whimper?  Why does Nigeria get tagged with the scarlet letter ‘C’ for corruption by the outside world and why do many of her citizens view it as a “crime syndicate” – or why did I describe it as “Nigeria, Inc., like Murder, Inc.” back in 2003 when the PDP was merely warming up?

What next?  He’s apparently building a war chest for his next run at politics; he could be Nigeria’s president one day – sleaze and all.  The PDP has promised to rule the country for the next 60 years; they may even be wrong because with the kind of loot being stolen, we could be seeing a North Korea, a totalitarian state  in the making;  life-size posters of “our leaders” already abound all over the landscape.  Too much money at the center.

Nigerians are looking to the President for the “fresh air” he promised.


I must first congratulate you all for either returning to the Senate or the House or for winning a first term tenure.  Now for the difficult part:  you have an arduous task ahead to prove to Nigerians who see most lawmakers as “lawbreakers” who feel self-entitled to cornering the country’s wealth – that things will be different from now.

I’ve had occasions to use the quoted part of the title in other write-ups since I first came across it in one of those outpouring of Nigerians’ frustration at what passes for law-making at Abuja – on the web.  The same kind of mindset that yielded a country’s lawmaking-arm taking 25.4% of Nigeria’s total budget according to the CBN governor – is still much at play even in the dying days of this legislative term.

It’s been in the news these past couple of weeks that the approved federal budget cut requested by the President passed alright but not before additional N30 billion was tagged on to raise the national assembly’s allocation.  It’s worth noting that the NA had raised its budget from about N112 billion to over N232 billion for a more than 100 percent raise in a country that is the poster child of countries where most people earn less than a dollar a day – before the initial cost. To start with, the amount being enjoyed by members of both chambers was a self allocation far above what the Revenue Mobilization body decided was its just due some years back. The self allotment not only ranks Nigeria’s law-making bodies as the highest paid in the world but the excessive money supply has made governance impossible.  Fights – verbal and physical have taken central stage over money sharing, allocation of positions that yield double, even triple earnings.    By the way, news reports claim the N.A. also upped the presidency’s budget in a sort of ‘Mr. President, we are all in Nigeria, Inc.,  remember!’

Well, the magic seems to have worked as the president has now signed the budget as amended with the extra N500 billion tagged on the whole budget left intact.  That is over US$3 billion, enough to make at least a dent in Nigeria’s development.  “A  crime syndicate masquerading as a nation?”  A sizeable proportion of you are new and must say ‘no’ to this kind of selfishness bordering on criminality.

Some NA opposition members seem to share the same ideas that most Nigerians have come to expect from PDP members even as there have been PDP members who have shown courage and real patriotism and some have suffered for it, e.g. Dino Melaye.  Not only did the public not hear dissent from ACN members over the outrageous allowances these past few years but recently, ACN’s Ayo Adeseun the chairperson of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation was reported to have defended the jumbo pay and lectured Nigerians on how “democracy is not cheap … the product of the expense is what the people should focus on … if Nigerians want democracy they must be willing to pay for it.” I don’t know what this guy did for a living before going to Abuja to “make laws” but he must know that the country has been ill-served by the “product” from the Senate and House.

Nigerians need proper documentation of what Saburi Dimeji Bankole of “Nigerians are docile” infamy took a loan of N10 billion for after all the money squandered by the House; one hopes this would not be settled the PDP-family way:  that’s your “return on investment in Nigeria, Inc.; go and sin no more!” Femi Falana has already taken the matter up.  Nigerians must support him in challenging all the illegalities that are daily passed off as governance because the ruling elites will want to frustrate and wear him out.  Here is the basis of Falana’s challenge excerpted from his article on award-winning Sahara Reporters:

“On the 10 billion naira loan … the law is clear and unambiguous that the Federal Government can obtain loan for any capital expenditure or human development subject to the approval of the National Assembly … no provision for either of the Chambers of National Assembly to obtain loan from bank or any financial institution whatsoever. The leadership of the House of Representative has no legal basis for obtaining the 10 billion naira loan. It is even more criminal when such loan was used for recurrent expenditure. Furthermore the loan does not meet any of the criteria outlined in Section 44(1) to (5) …  none of the conditions for borrowing and verification of compliance was complied with …Section 41 (3)  … requires all banks and financial institutions to request and obtain proof and compliance … before lending to any Government in the Federation …”

Apart from crying out and fighting the profligacy of the NA, you must stand firm about the separation of powers.  While Ayo Adeseun pontificates on jumbo pay as a necessity to performing so-called “oversight functions”, the Smart Adeyemis of the NA are out selling such supervisory role to the executive arm through “party supremacy”:  ”The new Senators-elect should forget about vying for the office of the Senate President with Mark because the party has zoned it to the North central … Whoever is bankrolling anti-Mark project is deceiving himself. We will … enforce party discipline on zoning.”

I’ve read how President Jonathan has reportedly put Gen. Obasanjo at bay regarding six ministerial nominees because he’s condoning no godfather.  Well, that would be good news to most Nigerians but in the matter of the NA, whoever the former president wants as Speaker will be Speaker, okay?  What does Adeseun have to say on “oversight functions” even as the body is being emasculated by the executive arm on the matter of Open-Secret voting amendment which an NA majority wants?

With all the ballyhoo of an “independent” legislative arm, an area that you as opposition lawmakers must revisit is the clause on Independent Candidacy which stipulates that aspirants for political offices up to the presidency do not need to be members of any political party.  This was recomended by the Uwais Electoral Reform Panel as part of Late President Yar Adua’s electoral reforms.  Let’s look at it this way: wouldn’t it be nice if your contributions to national discourse and the stands you will take would be the ultimate decider of whether or not you retain your Senate or House come 2015?  Would it not be great for this country if somebody can decide to run for president without being beholden to any party?  OR, may be this whole mess of presidential system should be scrapped because it has moved the country nowhere in spite of its great cost?

Parties reportedly did not understandably like it; ditto, the governors who were reported to have instructed their legislators to shoot it down. Did those legislators understand they were selling their rights to governors who are not superior to them in political hierarchy? I know, governors do want to run for Senate which is the correct order but senators also want to run for governor because it’s where the honey pot is.  Wouldn’t it be great if someone like Shekarau, about whom I’ve read some heartening things could come out as an Independent and sell his message to all Nigerians for the presidency?  Or anybody for that matter?  Shouldn’t this be the beauty of democracy; to be able to dream that you could aspire to any position not through the powers of some backroom “chieftains” who will forever control your every thought and action?  Wouldn’t the quality of legislation be substantially improved if people have to answer only to their conscience and constituents and none else?

The present class of opposition lawmakers to which you belong can achieve great things and go down in history as having rescued Nigeria from the brink even though you do not constitute a majority.  You can drag the others even if screaming, to the path of rectitude.

Finally, I must touch the matter of the lopsided “federalism” which Nigeria operates.  Like many, I’ve written about this subject many times but like others, I have only words and nothing else to fight with.  You have the power through the confidence reposed in you by your different constituents to change this.  If Lagosians pay VAT, proceeds must be kept to improve Lagos. They are like state taxes in Federal USA which levies its own federal tax – which Nigeria also does.  And for states that do not levy taxes like Nevada, they know how to make the shortfalls.  The Nigerian central government keeps far too much revenues from oil, and then takes the VAT which it shares in the same lopsided way. The effects of too much money at the center, no thanks to Abacha Constitution, are what makes the presidency so attractive and so powerful.

Just as it would be great for the two chambers to be able to resist the meddlesomeness of the executive arm, e.g. the President giving orders to governors-elect NOT to interfere in their predecessors’ work – it would be even greater to point the way to proper running of the two legislative bodies:  no fist fights; no impunity and no living in utter luxury while your constituencies resemble backwater settlements with no potable water, electricity, bad schools, etcetera.

This is your time and you must seize it and write your name into Nigeria’s history in gold.



Nigerian newspapers and online news sources
  • 234 Next News site
  • Bella Naija Magazine
  • Business Day Newspaper
  • Daily Champion Newspaper
  • Daily Independent Newspaper
  • Daily Trust Newspaper
  • Elendu Reports News site
  • Emotan Blog
  • Huhu online News site
  • jhova blog Blog
  • Leadership News site
  • Linda Ikeji Blog
  • National Daily Newspaper
  • Nigeria Plus News site
  • Nigeria Village Square News site
  • Nigerian Observer News site
  • Osun Defender News site
  • PM News Newspaper
  • Punch Newspaper
  • Sahara Reporters News site
  • Sun Newspaper
  • The Guardian Newspaper
  • This Day Newspaper
  • Tribune Newspaper
  • Vanguard Newspaper

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