In his article â€œWe Shall Overcomeâ€ (Nigeria Today Online, Friday 6th March 2009) Cornelius Ewuoso wrote â€œI could not hold back my tears when I read that article by Okey Ndibe, regarding the amount each member of the House of Representatives and each Senator receives annually as constituency development fund: $ 1.2 million and $1.7 million for each member of House of Representatives and each Senator respectively. Wahoo! This is very scary. An amount sufficient enough to pay more than 8,000 striking Nigerian teachers! What a paradox. Where is the transparency and justice? This provokes a question which must asked, what should be our priority? Our pockets or the education of our children? Millions of Nigerians go on hunger strike, live without any means of livelihood while those who claim to be their representatives, loot their money; live in luxury and comfort. There is decadence everywhere you turn to, but our representatives seem not to care. Failure stares us in the face, thousands of Nigeria go home at the end of the month without their salaries, live in continuous misery and yet these despots are allowed to go home with such a huge amount to the detriment of the people. But, whose representatives are they?Â What is at stake, dear friends, is the question of justice. So many are being treated unjustly; while a few are allowed to whisk away public properties. Teachers are either under-paid or not paid at all, while some are allowed to smile home with this huge sum of money. As a result of this, these secondary and primary schools teachers who could ordinarily sustain themselves and their families through their labour, now live in abject poverty, pains, frustration, hopelessness and uncertainties. And their rights to a meaningful life whisked away by a powerful few. Shall we then fail to speak for these ones and the millions of other Nigerians- the pensioners, displaced NITEL staff, University lecturers, Local Government staff – marginalised and oppressed all over the country? I do not think so. Godâ€™s command is relevant here, â€˜what you do unto others, you do it unto me (God)â€™.
So where do we go from here, my brothers and sisters. The very people we are appealing to, to make the laws which will enable corruption to be fought to a standstill; the very people we are writing a petition to, to remove the immunity clause that protects executive office holders from prosecution whilst in office, are the same people carting away millions and billions of Naira in illegal, stolen, embezzled and undeclared loot.
Back on the case of the Ogun State House of Assembly: since people are so deep rooted in corruption, every step they take will continueÂ reflecting that. What do we expect? A few weeks ago, the EFCC was trying to launch its ANCOR (Anti- Corruption Revolution) programme in the South-West, none of the Governors were there – it’s a shame.
Compatriots! Please do not be deluded. What is allegedly going on in the Ogun State House of Assembly is replicated in all the other 35 states of the nation, as well as in the local governments and the Federal House of Representatives and the Senate. It is the free money which Nigeria seems to have that has made democracy and politics in Nigeria a â€œdo or dieâ€ battle amongst existing politicians and potential ones. Everybody wants to get there, share in the cake (read: looting) and they will do anything, including murder and genocide, to get there.
Look at how suddenly, disgraced, impeached former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, has become very relevant again in Ekiti politics, dictating terms and conditions to his party, the PDP, and the party now looking to him as their ace in the pack to win the forthcoming re-election in the state. What a mess? I tell you, the PDP is going to implode soon, and with its Chairman acquiring a N400 million mansion, they are on their way to self-destruction.
Also, Olusegun Agagu, my former lecturer at the University of Ibadan and now, ex-Governor (thankfully) of Ondo State was arrested (or quizzed) by the EFCC for stealing $23 million or 25 Billion Naira within about 6 years. He was caught this time, only after being forced out of the Governorâ€™s Office for rigging himself into office for a second term; he may have stolen 3 or 4 times more during his lacklustre rule in the state. Donâ€™t forget he was also a Minister of Aviation. Even the new Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, was also a Federal Minister of Housing and has himself some case to answer about the small matter of diversion of funds whilst he was running the Ministry.
This is the perfect opportunity forÂ the EFCC to investigate these â€œdis-honourableâ€ members of the Ogun State House of Assembly, if they are willing to provide full disclosure and evidence, as obviously Honourable Moses wants to do, and let justice take its course. In fact, the whole House of Assembly should be dissolved by Federal fiat, constitution or no constitution, and the Governor himself, who cannot plead ignorance of this entire goings on, be questioned and indicted. These are very serious allegations indeed, and the EFCC should act immediately before anybody develops cold feet. The EFCC and ICPC torchlight must not only be directed at executive office holders, but also on our legislators, local councillors, board members of Parastatals and civil servants.
We therefore call on the EFCC to wade into this issue of the Ogun State House of Assembly. What better chance toÂ prove to Nigerians that the EFCC is capable and that the war against corruption is not derailed?