FEATURE ARTICLE

E O EkeTuesday, December 15, 2015
eoeke@aol.com


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WHEN DEMOCRATIC RULE BECOMES ORGANISED CRIME, ONLY A RADICAL AND RUTHLESS SOLUTION WOULD DO

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or years, I have argued that Nigeria is run like a criminal cartel with a president, president of the senate and governors who have enormous power of patronage and leverage to break the law.

The evidence emanating from the investigation of the last National security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki and how the national fund is disbursed and carted in 'Ghana must go bags' has revealed the moral bankruptcy and shear criminality of those who weld power in Nigeria. It exposes the intricacy and deep seated hold, criminality has in the the way and manner Nigeria is governed.

I am not a fan of president Mohammadu Buhari, but I wish to commend him for the effort he has made so far in confronting corruption. However, I must hasten to add that it has not been far reaching enough.

The president is yet to show boldness and imagination in confronting the real big monsters behind corruption in Nigeria. The president must know that without extending the search light to Tinubu, Amaechi, Peter Odili, many ex governors and senators, Obasanjo and Babangida 's governments; and following it up with institutional reforms and legislations to plug the identified loop holes, many will see his effort as cosmetic.

It is not enough to target the past national security adviser. All past National security advisers and defence ministers, ministers of transport, Agriculture and all the ministers of ministries, where billions have been wasted without visible result since 1984, must be probed to find out, where all the military and security and all the other budgets went.

The ease with which governors loot the sate treasury must be addresses and renumeration of all politicians reviewed downwards to reflect the economic reality of Nigeria.

In a country wher the monthly minimum wage is less than one hundred Dollars $100.00, outrageous, scandalous and criminal are not strong enough to describe governors earning five thousand Dollars $5,000.00 a day as estacode for foreign trips, in addition to their salary allowances and security vote, while at the same time, retaining the power to approve such trips, its duration and authorise the payment. Such an arrangement which gives absolute power to the executive makes nonsense of accountability.

Details has shown that governor Oshimole approved for himself, a 17 day trip to the US, while in many schools in his state, children sit on the floor to learn.

It is therefore not surprising that many governors in Nigeria make more foreign trips than they visit schools and hospitals in their state. Foreign travel is another ingenious way politicians loot the treasury and impoverish the country.

In spite of evidence that successive senate presidents and speakers of house of representative have abused their office to enrich themselves through procurement of vehicles, houses for legislators and power to get loan from banks on behalf of the house and senate, nothing has been done to stop this.

The current senate has budgeted over 4 billion Naira for procuring cars for senators, which they will convert to their personal property after 4 years.

Why should the state pay for cars for senators, when the are paid such disproportionate salaries and allowances? How can that be morally justifiable in a country, where millions of youth roam the street without jobs and the country lack many basic infrastructure because of lack of capital?

Sadly, reforms that will turn Nigeria into a fair and accountable democracy under the rule of law, are not being pursued. It would seem that it is still business as usual. Arrest, harass, settle and acquitted.

Why is there no attempt to reform the civil service so that civil servants can serve the state, instead of the government in power? Why should governors still retain the right to appoint permanent secretaries in face of what is known about how this arrangement aids corruption? When will Nigeria taken away from governors the right to appoint director generals or permanent secretaries? This is what obtains in good and accountable democracies.

So far, the Nigerian legislature has be not been fit for purpose. The senators for instance are consumed in the pursuit and protection of their selfish interests, avoiding prosecution for their crimes they have committed and protecting what they have stolen.

In a country with the kind of problem Nigeria has, it is scandalous that in six months, the senate has not passed a single progressive legislation that would address a single problem of Nigeria.

Instead, the senators are planing a legislation to criminalise free speech. Nigerian senate prefer to make caricature of the rule of law. By openly supporting the senate president in the criminal case brought against him and, voting to support the granting of immunity to its members, the Nigerian senate is saying that it supports criminality and demonstrating that it is working directly against the interst of the people and and not fit for purpose.

There is now no reason why the people should not pass a vote of no confidence on the senate and consider dissolving it so that they can elect people, who will put the country before personal profit and interests. What one sees is a senate, which is genetically corrupt with majority of members, who are not fit for the position they occupy and out of touch with the people. What does the Senate do, which the house of representative cannot do? Who says a democracy cannot be run with only one legislative chamber?

The recycling of ex governors as senators is another reason why the attempt to address corruption in Nigeria may fail. They have no other aim, but to escape prosecution for looting their states.

As the days go by, Nigerian government looks more and more like organised crime in action and Nigeria needs a new generation of leaders with moral compass, who understand how to build free, fair and accountable democratic Societies on the rule of law to enhance peaceful coexistence.

In fact, what The Buhari administration can do, in addition to persecuting all involved in corruption; if indeed it is honest and sincere with the war against corruption, is to set up a public judicial commission of inquiry into corruption and abuse of power in Nigeria so that lasting lessons can be learnt.

Without a strategic approach to the war on corruption, which draws from empirical evidence of what is known about corruption in Nigeria, the current effort will be another fire on a grass that will soon be stamped out.

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