In the months since the fuel subsidy brouhaha and the subsequent probe by the Senate and House of Representatives, several accusations have come to light in various sectors, of attempts to extort money by members of our esteemed legislature. There is an adage that says, “There is no smoke without fire.”
Farouk Lawan Femi Otedola
The first bribery scandal to embroil the legislature was that of the SEC probe at which allegations of payments to a sub committee chair were made, and are currently under investigation by various parties including the EFCC.
Not long after this the pensions scandal broke with the revelation again that the Chair of the committee had received inducements to the tune of N3bn whilst allegedly declaring only N500m to his fellow members to ostensibly prevent further investigation of the wrong doings in the sector.
In the not too distant past we have had the telecoms saga, which till now has not come to a satisfactory conclusion and has to all intents and purposes been swept under the carpet.
The latest scandal to rock the legislature is the current standoff between Femi Otedola of Zenon Oil and Farouk Lawan, Chair of the House of Representative committee on the probe of the fuel subsidy. Rumours have been doing the rounds for several weeks that recorded evidence existed of both video and audio recordings of the Chair receiving a bribe running into several thousand dollars from Femi Otedola.
The story then broke in which it was stated that organs of the state security services namely the SSS acted in tandem with Otedola to record the transaction thereby exposing the kind of corruption that the average Nigerian has come to expect from our legislators.
It is no surprise to see Farouk Lawan then come up with a counter accusation and produce letters (possibly backdated) showing that he had ostensibly contacted a different agency of government, that is, the Nigerian Police with a view to exposing the alleged attempt at bribery by Femi Otedola. A neutral observer would smell a rat immediately.
Several questions arise:
1. If the Chair of the committee was indeed looking to expose the marketers’ bribery attempt, why did he not declare this in the time since the House adopted the committees report?
2. If any other marketers were involved in attempted bribery where is the evidence to support this?
3. Where is the evidence that other members of the committee were aware of the alleged bribery attempts?
4. Why only after the expose in the press has the committee chair come up with a convenient excuse?
5. How has the various state security agencies managed to conduct separate sting operations on the opposing factions in the subsidy issue with differing outcomes?
6. Which of the 2 agencies set up their operation first and where is the incontrovertible proof?
The question then arises as to whether the current clamour by the legislature to probe almost it seems every area of government is part of a grand design to extort as much money as possible from various government agencies. It is a long accepted fact that one of the main areas of graft for the legislators comes from their oversight functions.
Rumours abound of ministries and parastatals having to settle various committees in order to get their budgets passed. Of pressure from legislators to patronise certain sectors and organisations to ensure legislative compliance. How many times have we read on the pages of newspapers the lightly veiled attempt to blackmail the executive when the time for passing the budget rolls around!
Once again the average Nigerian is left wondering what exactly is going on. When are our parliamentarians and executive going to start acting in best interest of all Nigerians and not for their own selfish ends?
What is the current clamour for probe after probe and investigation after investigation going to benefit the ordinary man on the street? We have in the last 50 years gone from one probe to the other one white paper to the other with absolutely nothing to show for it.
The country has just experienced a major disaster, is under the grip of a major security issue and our esteemed legislature are looking the other way and seemingly only interested in lining their pockets. This is the same group that is currently one of the highest paid in the world with the biggest perks of office imaginable.
The average Nigerian has come to expect little or nothing from either of the 2 Houses other than internal bickering, constant changing of officers etc.
Is Nigerian now run by the legislative arm or the executive? We appear to be moving from one probe to the other, one investigation to the other. When our elected officers actually going to settle down and begin to actual work meaningfully on behalf of their so called constituents?
It is difficult to imagine them doing so as one is unsure as to if any of them were actually elected via public vote. Most were foisted on Nigerians by all of the parties both the ruling one and the opposition. It is a safe assumption that all benefitted from government largesse to fund their various sham campaigns and there current opulent lifestyles.
It is next to impossible to find a single member of either House working selflessly for the benefit of their constituents, I do not mean their immediate family or village or local government.
All the posturing by the various committees going back to the first republic have not led to any tangible benefits for the majority of Nigerians. What is the cost of running the Legislative Houses and the vast bureaucracy that surrounds it? What is the actual benefit to the nation of the huge sums of money expended in these Houses of Shame?
I have no doubt that if one were to dig deep enough the stench of corruption emanating from the legislative arm would put that of the executive and judiciary to shame. I hereby as ask the question: who is probing the probers?
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