Being the text of the State of the Nation Press Conference addressed by the Executive Chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL at 610, Lagos-Abeokuta ExpressWay, Ijaiye Bus stop, Lagos on March 30, 2017
We thank you for your prompt attendance of this Press conference called at this inauspicious period given the happenings in recent time as we collectively continue to play our different roles in the strife to better our country and to save it from the dangerous abyss some intend to keep it in as an entity. You are welcome.
At the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL we have watched very closely the character of the present Senate right from the very day it was inaugurated, just like that of the Presidency, the Judiciary and other superstructures of governance under All Progressive Congress, APC-led ‘change’ government of the Federation.
The intrigues; melodrama, insensitivities, horse-trading etc. still point to our postulations that governance has basically been directionless and that ‘distractions’ was the mode of governing being practised since the commencement of the present administration. We pointed out then that the future was foggy for the country.
We were not doomsayers then, neither are we now, in fact we are being vindicated with the recent acts, particularly the stupidities and criminalities being displayed with impunity in Nigeria’s Senate House of horror and disastrous humour.
It is now clear that the Senate as presently constituted may succeed in finally destroying the country on platter of idiocies, incurable greed and lust for power, if we, as Nigerians who can see through the present fog fail to take back our country from the bunch of desperadoes occupying our esteemed Red Chamber.
As at now the Senate has degenerated to the level of constituting the leading clog in a government it’s supposed to be part of. The refusal by the Senate to screen 27 Residents Electoral Commissioners, REC for the Independent National Commission, INEC and the basing such illogical decision on the President’s ‘refusal’ to sack Ibrahim Magu as acting Chairman of EFCC is a pointer to the stagnations that the country suffers almost in every aspect.
The suspension of Ali Ndume for not “conducting due diligence” before filing a petition against Senate President and Dino Melaye, the ridiculous idea to summon Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption for his personal utterances and other recent frivolities of the Senate leave majority of Nigerians in absolute bewilderment as to how far the apparently retarded bunch in Red chamber can get. At this rate, Nigerians will continue to wallow in pains while they engage in summoning anybody that show indignation at their profoundly corrupt tendencies, and over extremely trivial issues.
The leadership of the Senate and their cohorts in the Red Chamber predicated on their baggage of corruption has consistently deployed every dubious means available to them to deflect and distract government from the very essence of its creation. And this is in the bid to shield themselves from the scales of justice over the plethora of corruption allegations against them. They have played all the tricks in the game and have apparently run out of cards leading to this macabre dance where shame, patriotism, conscientiousness, morality and sanity have been thrown overboard. Rather than submit to judicial processes to disprove the avalanche of corruption allegations, the shenanigans have continually demonstrated that they are ‘above the law’ and therefore, are ‘untouchable’.
It is time for Nigerians rise in unison to take back their country; we must halt the ongoing speedy degeneration to the abyss as being championed by the corruption tainted Senate leadership and their counterparts in the Nigerian political class before they impose socio-political and economic anarchy on us as people via their political intrigues, inanities and self-aggrandizement.
Specifically we say for the umpteenth time that Bukola Saraki is not fit to head the National Assembly and we are repeating this with every stretch of conviction that the longer he occupies the exalted position, the more grievous our situation will get as a result of his apparent incurable corruption tendencies.
As for Dino Melaye and his trending disgusting show of shame over the certificate forgery allegations, it is clear that he belongs to the same box with Saraki on the scales of integrity, self-esteem, self-respect and morality.
The facts that are already in public domain on his academic qualifications from different institutions including the prestigious Harvard Law School, in New York, London School of Economics and Nigerian institutions are glaringly in sharp contradictions with Dino Melaye’s claims. His reactions so far has been nothing sensible, they only betray boldly the extent of tomfoolery a so-called Senator of the Federal Republic can engage in, particularly when a matter of honour is in question!
It shows lack of self-confidence in one’s inherent abilities and the false need to parade oneself as what one is not. It is moral bankruptcy. An honest person would not lie about educational qualifications no matter what. To even know that the constitution does not compel anybody to have a degree before being eligible to contest for elective positions and some people still prefer to forge certificates speaks volumes about the character of whoever commits such acts.
No one needs not to be told that anyone capable of forging a certificate to get to office is extremely likely to perpetrate corruption if elected into office. This is one of what is responsible for the rampant corrupt and sharp practices we witness in the public and elected offices on daily basis.
Dino’s certificate saga has further exposed the level of rot in our education system given the drama where a Vice Chancellor had to join the trago-comedy of the Senate by appearing in a session to proof the academic status of a former student. It corroborates the school of thought which says that many of our institutions have commoditized certification which is responsible for the qualities of graduates that are churned out periodically.
The saga has also shown that, as a country, it is wrong to predicate the election of persons on certificates over meritocracy. This is one of the fundamental things that lead desperate politicians to forge certificates because of their aspirations. Certificates have never proven to be the best test of ability when it comes to leadership, so as a country, we seem to have gotten it wrong from the beginning.
It is important to point out too that, a country that cannot guarantee free education for its populace lacks the moral basis or right to deny the people of access to leadership positions because they do not possess certificates; it is unjust and it represents exclusivity. And the truth is that there are a lot of Nigerians who qualify to be in leadership positions over many who have the best of certificates. In fact, the certificated ones seem to have performed more brilliantly in terms of the perpetration of corruption.
Most importantly, Nigerians must not allow their focus on rebuilding their country to be lost or shifted from cause by people like Saraki, his ‘soul mate’ Dino and their cohorts while they rollick in their unexplainable humongous ill-gotten wealth; a catastrophic reality they have sustained thus far while our commonwealth is pilfered at will and with impunity leading to the persisting excruciating socio-economic and political condition of existence. That is the bigger picture, which is the circumspection we must not lose.
While majority of Nigerians wallow in abject penury, the Senate with bare-faced effrontery and insensitivity have continued to engage in acts that will without any doubts result into greater calamities. The National Assembly was recently said to have purchased a shatter-proof Sports Utility Van, SUV at the exorbitant amount of N298M under the current perilous economic situation where many barely exist owing to the pangs of the period. This shows the insensitivity of the law makers to the sufferings, pains and groaning of the people.
The manner with which the Senate leadership emerged was questionable right from inauguration and considered dubious by majority of Nigerians. Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu were alleged to have illegally amended the standing rules that ostensibly aided their emergences both as Senate President and deputy President respectively. Given this messy background, it is not difficult for anyone discerning enough to understand that hardly will any good thing emerge from a Senate with such a dubious leadership.
One just needs a glance at the resume of the characters in Senate in relation to the several corruption allegations against many of the members to understand why the hallowed Chamber has assumed the current colouration.
Beginning with Saraki, he is someone who is known for running publicly-owned businesses bankrupt, he is not fit to be called or be elected as a Senator not even to talk of becoming the Senate President. With his background and considering that he oscillates between sitting in several criminal suspects’ boxes at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and other courts as a criminal suspect while sitting as President of the Senate in the hallowed Chambers of the National Assembly and doubling as the Chairman of the National Assembly, the situation becomes an aberration. And this makes Saraki morally and ethically a misfit for the exalted position of the Senate President.
He was also recently yet again alleged to have been involved in the diversion of the first tranche of the Paris club fund, linking him to about N19bn. And there are many others like him in the Senate. An attempt to magnify the character of the Senate in terms of its composition reveal a scary and dangerous reality that the hallowed Chamber is indeed infested by people who the late legendary Dr. Tunji Braithwaite described as ‘cockroaches and rats’!
Buruji Kashamu has a pending case in court with the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA over drug peddling. Joshua Dariye is facing a 23-count charge bordering on abuse of office, corruption and money laundering. Shettima Yarima was docked for a 19-count charge by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC. Murtala Nyako was charged alongside his father, on a 37-count charge by the EFCC for criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering. Mohammed Danjuma Goje is facing trial on an 18-count charge on conspiracy and fraud to N25bn instituted by the EFCC. Abdullahi Adamu still has a trial on 149-count charge and many others.
Against the foregoing, it is becoming very clear that Nigeria will have to take the option of scraping the Senate before it scraps the country itself. Several other countries have come to similar ‘crossroads’ we seem to be at. In 2012, Senegalese Parliamentarians voted to abolish the Senate saying the body had never really played its role; other countries with bicameral parliaments had done the same in history including Australia, Canada at some provincial levels, State of Nebraska in the US, Portugal, Sweden, India etc. Majority of these countries adduced cost-cutting in government expenditure, un-representation, misrepresentation and corruption as part of their excuses.
Another option will be for the various constituencies to commence the processes of recalling their respective representatives that are apparently profoundly corrupt from the Senate because they are conspiratorially holding down the progress of the country. This option is however cumbersome, but it remains a constitutional way to go about dragging those polluting the Senate out, for their misdeeds and betrayal of country. Saraki, Dino, Buruji, Nyako others should be made scapegoats along this line to make a loud statement on our indignation at their acts so as to serve as deterrent to those that get elected to public office only to turn against public interest.
Public pressure must be mounted on the shenanigans in the Senate and the government in general to desist from their inanities and conscious distractions so as to redirect governance toward its original purpose. While the option of waiting till next elections may sound plausible, it is at the very risk of allowing the continuation of the present macabre dance which can only mean one the thing, and that is, the despoliation of the country which will further aggravate the subsisting precarious socio-political and economic existence characterized by agony and pains.
Quintessentially, we state here unequivocally that the Senate cannot be isolated in the situation the country is in; isolating the Legislature will mean loss of circumspection! The Executive and the Judiciary are also deeply involved in bringing our country to this regrettable state.
The Executive comfortably houses both elected and appointed public officials that have plethora of corruption allegations against them that are yet to be disproved. Babachir Lawal, who is at the ‘heart’ of the Presidency as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF is a shining example along that dishonourable path. He obviously has a lot to answer for, as far as the allegations against him are concerned, as against the clearance by the President which suggests that he had not been found wanting.
Ordinarily, the SGF should have stepped aside long before now to thoroughly clear himself of the misconducts he is being accused of. This alone implicates the Executive and challenges the presidency’s acclaimed sincerity about fighting corruption no matter whose ox is gored. Several Ministers too have allegations of corruption against them which the Executive have kept on ignoring.
The Judiciary, despite all the brouhaha that witnessed the arrest of judges by the DSS, the pontifications of members of the Bench that, that the arm of government could cleanse itself of corruption, we see today that the cases that are court which emanated from the saga are either being foot-dragged on, or consciously being ‘killed’ silently. This is exactly what has been characteristic of our judicial system where it is always easier for the ‘camel to pass through the eye of the needle’ than for suspected criminals to answer their charges and where perversion of justice is a pastime.
Finally, against the present background, we say, it is time to take back our country through every constitutional means possible. It is very clear, based on the self-inflicted contradictions of present government, only Nigerians; the ever patriotic and committed ones can stop this slope down to anarchy! It is a collective and generational duty to salvage our country.