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Nigeria's Senate as a gathering of jokers


Exclusive commentary for USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston and

The term of the Nigerian National Assembly is coming to an end. If everything goes well, it should end in about six months. It appears our honorable senators have come to their senses. They have decided to confirm to Nigerians what some of us knew long ago: They are a bunch of jokers. The week started with a probe of fifteen senators who were alleged to have collected one million naira each to scuttle the veto override of the 2002 Electoral Bill.

It seems it was Senator Gbenga Aluko who started this round of probes. Maverick politician, Francis Arthur Nzeribe, Senator from Oguta, Imo State, told his colleagues not to get involved in a probe as their hands were not clean. The next day, Senator Aluko, moved a motion for all the probes involving senators, including concluded ones, to be quashed. The senators fell over themselves in their hurry to vote in favor of the motion. Afterwards, it was an orgy of self-serving smiles, hugs, kisses, and tears.

Senator Aluko, you will recall, was one of five senators indicted by the Idris Kuta Panel that investigated the award of contracts by the Senate. Chuba Okadigbo, then Senate President, and his deputy, Haruna Abubakar, were removed from office following that probe.

Recently, Senators Ifeanyi Ararume and Akpanudoudoehe, were suspended from the Senate. The senators claimed what they did on Wednesday, September 11, was in the spirit of reconciliation. Reconciliation with who? Are they reconciling amongst themselves, with the people who sent them to Abuja, or our destiny as a nation? Obviously, they are more interested in being in the good graces of their fellow jokers in the Senate than being honest and conscientious representatives of their various constituencies.

Aluko's argument in making the motion for the nullification of the indictments belongs in the hall of shame of politics. Hear him: "... we all came here with great enthusiasm and unmistakable streak of patriotism and nationalism to help unite our nation through the passage of bills, adoption of resolutions and provision of advice that would help the executive arm of government in the collective efforts of giving our people whose mandate we are custodians, democracy dividend.

However, from the election of the first Senate President of the Fourth Republic, the policy of divide-and-rule was applied, and deep lines of division were created. It suited the purpose of hoodwinking the Senate and, by extension, the National Assembly. We have gone through it all, and we are now conquering."

"In the course of the various acrimonies that arose, Distinguished Senators were indicted one way or the other, the highlight being the Kuta Panel and Oyofo Harmonisation Committee reports."

The man continues, "Distinguished Senators, we are about six months to go. There is need for us to leave the Senate at least the way we came, preferably better. We all would have come here without any criminal record or even an indictment of any magnitude whatsoever. "With respect, Distinguished Senators, it would be unfair to condemn certain Senators to perpetual indictment, as no set of Senators after us, would be in any better position to revisit the matter.

"I plead that we do not get into circumstance and situation that led to both reports; however, this is not the time for details. However, let us re-visit the indictments in the reports, and review it.

We all expect to have three friends from each state of this Federation and one from FCT, made in the course of this Fourth Republic Senate. No Senator should leave the Senate with the feeling that any Senator or group of Senators plotted his or her downfall. There should be global forgiveness amongst us and for the remaining six months let us collectively move this Senate forward."

With the above statement he shamelessly moved his motion:

"1. That the Senate do hereby revisit the reports of Senator Idris Kuta and Senator Victor Oyofo Committees respectively and,

2. That in the spirit of reconciliation that currently exists in the Senate, the Senate duly absolves all Senators indicted in both reports."

Let us examine the implications of Senator Aluko's self-serving motion for us as electorates and a nation. Nigerians have long believed that there is no transparency in the electoral process.

Politicians are the least trusted group of professionals in our country. This general lack of trust of politicians has been justified time and again as Nigerians count their woes in the hands of politicians, whether under the military or during civilian rule. Aluko's statement is a clear admission that the suspicion which Nigerians have of politicians is not misplaced. In the year 2002, in our 4th Republic, our elected officials are still carrying on like they are have no responsibility to anyone but themselves. How can anyone in his/her right mind justify the billions of naira spent on and by the Senate since June 1999, if everything they did can be wiped off the slate by moving a motion?

Furthermore, it is safe to assume that all the probes were unnecessary and designed as a witch-hunt against some members of the Senate. How does this bunch of senators justify the spending of taxpayer money on these probes? We must accept the fact that we have elected officials who go on the floor of the Senate to play on our time. The actions of the Nigerian Senate as a group must be seen for what it is: selfish, misguided, and criminal. This Senate cannot convince any Nigerian that they have ever acted in good conscience and for the best interest of Nigerians. I know that some Nigerians would question the notion that any Nigerian politician has a conscience. We must believe Senator Nzeribe when he declares that none of our senators have clean hands.

We elect people into political offices, not for purposes of friendship but to further our goals and help us realize our dreams. It, therefore, follows that Nigerians who cast their votes or selected members of the Nigerian National Assembly do not expect that what we would get for all our troubles is an unserious, greedy bunch of jokers. The Senate President, Pius Anyim, is living up to his billing as a man who cannot see beyond his nose. The man is bereft of vision and integrity. It is a disgrace to the Ibo race that we produced a Senate President who is a caricature of a man. Igbos should see Pius Anyim as a nightmare of which they would want to be rid.

How can Pius Anyim remain the Senate President when the events that brought him and Senator Mantu to Senate leadership have been declared null and void? Senators Chuba Okadigbo and Haruna Abubakar should be reinstalled as Senate President and Deputy, respectively. It is not enough to say because we want to be friends, let us quash all indictments.

Every action of a body like the Nigerian Senate has far-reaching implications. However, it is a testimony to the irrelevance of the Nigerian Senate that Nigerians are not on the streets in protest for the Senate's inane actions. The Nigerian National Assembly has been a drain on the resources of our country.

Their impact on the lives of common folk has been the comic relief they provide from time to time.

The Nigerian people should move a motion for the gates to be thrown open to all the prisons inNigeria. It is immoral to keep those who stole a few nairas locked up when those who were entrusted with higher levels of responsibility, steal everything in sight and are, yet, free to enjoy their loot. In terms of its impact on society, pardoning thieving legislators would have a more devastating effect on our economy than releasing the petty thieves who populate our jails.

There is a lesson here for our aspiring legislators and the political class: Steal as much as you can while you are in office. If you are a legislator, beg or bribe one of your colleagues to move a motion for reconciliation. Your other colleagues will be too happy to oblige. That way you walk out of the legislature a few months later, rich beyond your imagination and with an "unblemished record." If you are not a legislator, steal so much that even the President (certainly Obasanjo), will beg you to give back some of the loot. But you can still enjoy most of it. After all, what can the rest of us do to you?
Elendu is a contributing editor of and He writes every Friday, exclusively for Archiving of this essay on another web site is not authorized; only web links are allowed.

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On the charges by international human rights organizations and Nigerian media that his government has been involved in actions which have led to the deaths of thousands of Nigerians, the retired General gave a surprising answer.

He was asked that "as many as 10,000 people, it's being reported, have been killed in Nigeria (in) communal rivalries, and the number is believed to be increasing. And people are saying that although President Obasanjo has done a lot of good for Nigeria, you're accused of not -- accused of failing to halt that spiraling violence."

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Nwangwu, former member of the editorial board of Nigeria's Daily Times continued that "the third factor that is equally important to underscore is that the armed forces of Nigeria moved in for a punitive action rather than just containing a civil disagreement."

He noted in backgrounder "it was revealing and interesting interesting discussing Nigeria's issues with its leader - under the current circumstances of an increasingly out-of-schedule elections and the gathering storm of an impeachment process by a majority of the members of the National Assembly, predominantly by Obasanjo's party members." See rush transcript of the CNN International news program.

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