A Current Affairs And Social Critic Blog



January 21, 2018


Greetings, folks!

“Senators Dare Buhari,” said the headline of an article that I read in The Sun Newspaper of Nigeria, on September 21, 2015. It was at the onset of President Buhari’s current administration and his declaration of war against corruption in Nigeria The article spoke of apparent dearth of integrity in the “Hallowed Chambers” of Nigeria’s National Parliament. It spoke of Nigeria’s senators and their apparent Counter-War against the nation’s Anti-corruption War. I refer to that article and the situation then to ponder on the current situation of the anti-corruption war. Is it effective?  Many observers don’t think so; they see it as a “one-step-forward-two-steps-backward” affair; that, as this government fights the corrupt practices of the previous governments, its operatives are committing worse atrocities. Meanwhile, conviction of arraigned suspects has been quite slow in coming!

I have heard President Buhari a couple of times or more pass the buck onto various quarters. For lack of convictions, he blamed layers and judges. And, for continued (seemingly soaring) corruption in the system, he blamed Mr. Corruption “fighting back” in various ways. I have to tell you, Mr. President has his own faults in the whole thing quite alright, but he does score a lot of points whenever he points the accusing finger. Can anybody with integrity truly look anybody in the eye and say that judges are not often part of the problem? Their corruption problem was truly getting on the wild side until President Buhari’s law enforcement officers made some counter-wild moves against perceived corrupt judges.  .

The incident that was told in The Sun Newspaper article of 2015 was/is a good example of the challenges that Buhari complains about. The article said in part: 50 Senators from across the political divide met and resolved Sunday night (20/09/2015) to defend the Senate under the leadership of Saraki from what they call ‘incursion’ by what they call ‘a cabal’ in the APC.” The senators were challenging the corruption-trial of Senate President Saraki, and they declared: “We will sink or swim with Saraki…he will be our president, even in jail.

Wow! I marveled. A man in prison must remain Nigeria’s Senate President, if indeed it happened? Have we degenerated that low?  Amazing!!! Mind you, I am aware that the senators alleged that some leaders of the ruling APC party were bent on imposing their “favored candidate” on the house as Senate President. The allegation was that when the senators defied the powers-that-be and elected Senator Saraki the president, the said APC stalwarts cooked up the charges against Saraki to bring him down. Okay; I heard that, but I still ask—is that enough reason to declare to the world that, if indeed Saraki got convicted, he would still remain the nation’s Senate President? How would they achieve such feat??? Some of those utterances and behaviors are very unbecoming of members of a nation’s parliament. They are definitely anti-democratic, and very discouraging in the anti-corruption war. When a nation’s parliament leads the way to challenge the anti-corruption law undemocratically; what do we expect of the public commitment???

I must respectfully say that the caption of the article—“Senators Dare Buhari”—was not quite apt for the topic; the senators do not “dare Buhari” when they illegally challenge or disrupt corruption trials. They are daring the entire Nigerians who elected them to represent the people! The war against corruption, if done sincerely, is not Buhari’s war; it is a Nigerian war. Buhari only happens to be the champion of that war at this time as the president, for the good of all Nigerians—if Buhari himself is sincere, I repeat. The sooner Nigerians get this notion straight, with every Nigerian knowing that he or she has a serious stake in the war; the better the matter is addressed.

I’d say that there are only two kinds of Nigerians in the anti-corruption war—those that loot the nation’s treasury dry, and the rest of the people who must stop them. There is no in-between! The question of whether Buhari is doing it well is a matter for another day. Indeed, even if we all happen to agree that Buhari is not fighting the war sincerely and lawfully, the way to stop him is stated in the nation’s constitution! And, it is the responsibility of the senators, along with their colleagues in the lower chamber, to call the president to order on any national matter, constitutionally; and not by committing illegalities themselves.

Away from the senators now and speaking generally; the fact is that many Nigerian leaders and politicians, their benefactors and beneficiaries, are not sincerely committed to the nation’s anti-corruption crusade. Yes, indeed; some don’t even seem to bother that some of their utterances and acts are easy giveaway that they are not committed to the cause. For instance, many don’t seem to see anything wrong in pledging solidarity to people of questionable character. They seem to pay no attention to the natural presumption, or deduction, that anybody who openly supports a thief is probably a thief.  Nigerian politicians and leaders openly support and celebrate alleged looters. They call it solidarity—often party, tribal, or religious solidarity. Some even pledge solidarity to convicted looters! Solidarity to what, I ask; solidarity to thievery? Do they even think of the message that they send to the public about themselves?

Sure, one does have the right to pledge “solidarity” to an alleged or convicted looter, I say; but also remember that the public has the right to presume that you are supporting your own kind. As they say: ‘show me your friends, and I will tell you who you are.’ And, a lot of people do think that way, a lot of times! Yes indeed; another proverb says that “He that fetches firewood with ants crawling all over it into his home is inviting the lizards to a party.” If you know that you are not corrupt and you don’t want to be presumed corrupt by the public, then think twice before you pledge your “solidarity” to the wrong people! These are some of the problems with the war against corruption in Nigeria.

Nigerians watched the “solidarity” by some of Nigeria’s “Distinguished Senators” in the “Hallowed Chamber” who openly virtually led a fight against the nation’s anti-corruption crusade. It was a very bad foundation at the onset of the war. The senators pledged, and I quote, “unflinching solidarity” to a man accused of looting the nation’s treasury. Please note that my argument is not about whether the accused is guilty or not; no, sir/ma’am!!! Honestly, I actually like the personality and carriage of the Senate President; so I do hope that he is innocent at the end of the trial. I hope, in other words, that they are accusing him of what he did not do.

Notwithstanding, I speak of the fact that the senators never investigated the man to ascertain his innocence, but they virtually pronounced him innocent, and supported his initial disrespect to the summons to trial issued by the nation’s Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). The senators themselves admitted and announced that they held meetings “to strategize” on how to thwart the laws of the land that they are sworn to protect. In line with my presumption-argument, rational Nigerians had (still have) the right to presume that the show of “solidarity” has to do with guilty-conscience amongst senators, and their fear that the corruption war might consume more senators if allowed to go on. One of the senators sighted at one of the 2015 ‘save-Saraki’ meetings was sincere to admit the apprehension amongst his colleagues. At that time, I called it Buhari Fever!

          Now, comparing our senators to their counterparts in the global community, I cite the American society where I have lived and practiced for many decades. What would the American Parliament do in a situation similar to Nigeria’s Senate President’s corruption saga?

On the matter of solidarity; any American senator that is drunk enough to show the Nigerian-style solidarity to an accused person is committing political suicide, or a temporary political comatose, at best! An American senator would first verify that the accused person is actually innocent before he pledges solidarity in public. You would then hear him probably say something like—I stake my reputation on this one. But even then, he still would never support the accused to evade trial as Nigeria’s senators did. In other words, an American senator would be very cautious (un-audacious), because he knows that Americans hold their public officers accountable for their words, deeds, and attitudes. Nigerian lawmakers do not seem to care if the public presumes them to be thieves due to their “unflinching solidarity” to suspects. You know why? They can retain their positions, regardless what they do; that’s why!!! They know that Nigerians are not politically sophisticated to kill the careers of politicians of no integrity—until now, I pray! This is topic for another day.

And, on the matter of Senate Presidency during trial, an American Senate President would most likely voluntarily step down before the trial begins. He would do it to preserve the integrity of the Senate, as well as ensure that work in the Senate is not affected by the trial. Mind you, it is not necessarily legally mandatory; but it has become an ethical convention that everybody follows—true, unselfish patriotism! In Nigeria, our lawmakers abandon the work for which they are paid, to conduct endless meetings in solidarity to a suspect. Then, they actually regularly trooped to court with the accused, in seeming attempt to intimidate lawyers and judges in favor of their colleague.

I expected a resounding rumble of condemnation of such questionable “solidarity,” but I only heard a few light comments. Indeed, in an undemocratic class distinction that can only happen in Nigeria, some of Nigeria’s “opinion leaders” actually berated the Code of Conduct Bureau for prosecuting Nigeria’s number three man.” Whao! While “number one” and “number two” men in sane societies are being thrown out of office into prison for lesser offences; Nigerians are busy slavishly celebrating their “number three men” as untouchable tin gods! Such misguided class distinction is not pronounced in sane societies that understand the democratic principle of ‘equality of all citizens under the law.’ I listened to some Nigerian politicians and “opinion leaders” argue that the Code of Conduct Tribunal’s trial of a Senate President is an insult on the “Hallowed Chamber.” And, a group of senators called the trial a “politically motivated witch-hunt ploy to embarrass the Senate.” That ugly phrase again—“witch-hunt.”

My spontaneous question when a man accuses another of “witch-hunting” is very simple—is the man being “witch-hunted” truly innocent? If he is guilty; then there is nothing like witch-hunt in my book! In other words, one cannot witch-hunt an innocent man; and, a guilty man has no right to claim to be witch-hunted!!! And, the only way to verify innocence or guilt is through trial, which was the duty of the CCT in the case of Senator Saraki. The senators, on the other hand, were fighting to stop the trial!!! Nigeria’s constitution says that only a court of law can pronounce innocence, and not the senators. If the senators had any regard for this section of the constitution, they would not pledge “solidarity” to an accused person to the point of kicking against his or her trial. The CCT critics were in effect saying that even if a lawmaker happens to be guilty of a crime, he or she is untouchables, because touching him/her is disrespectful to the parliament. Does this encourage the anti-corruption war? Definitely not!!! Are Nigeria’s Parliamentarians doing better today in support of anti-corruption war? See my documentary-style view in subsequent blog.

This is “No Bullshitting,” by Harry Agina.


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