Adepraved National Assembly
Exclusivecommentary for USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston, CLASSmagazine
USAfricaonline.comand TheBlack Business Journal
By JONATHAN ELENDU
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Sometimesthere comes some glimmer of light and hope from the Nigerian NationalAssembly. While these rare glimmers are the effects of negativeincidences, we devour them all the same because of thenoveltyof the circumstances. Sadly still, we are hard-pressed to recall anytime there has been any ovationfor our honorable members for working hard to rescue the poor andunderprivileged members of the Nigerian society.
Thecurrent glimmer of hope is Haruna Yerima, a member of the NigerianHouse of Representatives, from
"MTNbribes us every month. It brings cards worth N7, 500 monthly for eachmember. I am not working for MTN, so I see no reason why MTN shouldbe doing that," said Rep. Haruna Yerima. This is unbelievable. Wealways knew that the much touted anti corruption crusade of Pres.Obasanjo is just a charade, and sometimes a tool to deal with thePresident's political opponents. Yet it is mind boggling that acorporation has maintained a policy of bribing the entire members ofthe House of Representatives right under the nose of the corruptioncrusading president.
Ihad argued in the past that the Nigerian National Assembly cannotpoint to anything they have done to ameliorate the plight of thecommon man. This is an assertion I made during the first term ofPres. Olusegun Obasanjo.
Eventhe rich amongst our politicians have traditionally used publicoffice to amass more wealth or further their business goals insteadof serve the people. Though elected into offices and contrary to theprovisions of the Nigerian Constitution, these men and women stilloperate their personal businesses. The governor of my State, OrjiUzor Kalu and Pres. Obasanjo are good examples of this malfeasance.Gov. Uzor's businesses have made quantum leaps while he has beenoffice. The President has acquired a license to build a privateuniversity.
Membersof the National Assembly have not been left out. "Most of us here arecontractors. Most of us come here to make money, make what you canand leave. Most of our debates are beer parlour debates. Noresearch," said Rep. Yerima. And he continues, "Whoever tells youthere is not corruption in the House is in fact corrupt. Ministersand heads of parastatals are often asked to bring money by somehonourable members so that their budgets can be passed." I will liketo know what caused Rep. Yerima to make these confessions.
Interestingly,Rep. Yerima's allegations have not been refuted by either theleadership of the House of Representatives or the ObasanjoAdministration. The so-called reaction of the 'MTN agent' in theHouse of Representatives, Rep. Yerima Arokodare is a vindication ofRep. Yerima. Rep. Akorodare admitted that MTN gave the 360 members ofthe House of Representatives free re-charge cards every month. Yet inAkorodare's mind this cannot be viewed as bribes since MTN did notannounce to them that they were being offered bribes. Arokodare'sreasoning is unbelievably obtuse.
Incelebration of this absurd and obtuse reasoning, former televisionreporter and now member of the House of Representatives, Abike Dabirichallenged Rep. Yerima to publish the names of members of the Housewho take bribes. This challenge is part of her attempt to debunk theallegations made by Rep. Yerima. Yet, Rep. Abike Dabiri admits thatshe receives the N7, 500 monthly re-charge cards. The House memberfrom Borno claimed that all 360 members receive the free monthlyre-charge cards. None of the members have denied receiving the cards.So what names does Rep. Abike Dabiri want him to publish? How aboutthe 360 that have already admitted receiving the cards?
Pres.Obasanjo and Akanbi's ICPC do not need to look for those to chargefor corruption. To the best of my knowledge, members of the NationalAssembly are not immune from prosecution. This is another opportunityfor the President to make good on often touted claim that there areno sacred cows. Or is the President complicit in these allegations?And MTN is an admitted accomplice and therefore must face the law forsystematically bribing the entire House of Representatives. They mustalso be made to reveal the names of other public officials they havebribed with telephone re-charge cards.
Theclaim that the re-charge cards to members of the House ofRepresentatives is a mere public relations gesture is nonsense. MTNactions are criminal and there is nothing criminal in the practice ofPublic Relations. I am a Public Relations practitioner. Every PRpractitioner worth his/her reputation knows it is unethical and evencriminal to have a program of consistently giving gifts to the samepublic officials without full disclosure. In the
Ihave decided that I will no longer address any member of the NigerianNational Assembly as honorable in any of my articles. I came to thisdecision after I read reports of a bill by Senator Dalhatu Tafida,the leader of the Nigerian Senate, to provide life-long pay forformer Presidents, Vice Presidents, presiding officers of the Houseof Representatives and Senators.
Itis normal for former Presidents and certain former members of thejudiciary to have life-long remunerations. Adding senators to thebill is a new low for this legislative body that Nigerians have cometo regard as parasites and a collective drain on the Nigerianeconomy. That Senators Tafida, Jonathan Zwingina, and Udo Udomasupported this bill is a further indication of the depravity of theso-called upper chamber. It is a show of shame from people who arebeyond shame.
Therationale for adding former senators in the bill for life-longremunerations is ludicrous. Senator Tafida is reported to have said,"I have seen some of my former colleagues who are now shadows ofthemselves¬¶former senators who come looking for N2,000, N5, 000." So what, Senator?
Aftera life of privilege paid for by suffering masses of
TheAdolphus Wabara led Senate is yet to enact any laws that will ensurea good future for working men and women of
Thisis an Assembly of the corrupt. There is nothing honorable about themand no Nigerian in his right mind should call these men and womenhonorable anything! They are despicable and dishonorable members ofthe ruling elite.
Elendu,columnist and contributing editor of USAfricaonline.com,CLASSmagazine and USAfrica TheNewspaper, alsowrote the insightful essays: DuelingLetters of Ogbeh and Obasanjo reveal Nigeria's sorrystate, JudgingAndrea,Talibansand Osama: A tale of cowards;and The Desperate and theUngrateful. Heis President of Elendu & Associates, a Lansing (Michigan)-basedcommunications firm. He is the author of the book: The AmazonTakes A Bow.
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