The Nigeria Senate of Bukola Saraki’s ShowArticles/Opinion Sunday, April 17th, 2016
By Prof R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
It may not have come to the minds of many Nigerians that what we currently have ongoing in the Senate arm of Nigeria Government is nothing but a film show. The principal actors are beginning to unmask but we need to wait to the end of the show before we can find an appropriate title for the show and tag the actors. What we see or hear so far is just the very beginning of a show that may not end until past the midnight. While the show plays on we already notice lots of flaws and inconsistencies of the immoral and unsustainable wealth inequality and poverty distribution prevailing in Nigeria. This is a background of the show and whether the show can provide a clue to the ill economic perpetrators if not the solution of getting out of it. At least we may be able to identify the national enemies. Are they the politicians, the judiciary, the elites represented by over 80 lawyers, the police unable to find tangible evidence to make a conviction, the executive always ready to play game or even the masses always ready to be settled on few naira notes and a small meal?
Majority of Nigerians have been forced to live with unnecessary hardship which nature has not created for us but brought by the mindless politicians turned commedia actors. We are not interfering with any of the court, CCT, EFCC, police investigations nor do we have additional information that may assist them. But we know that Nigeria could have been spared this unnecessary delay of programme implementation that could positively affect the lives of ordinary people. We also note that Nigeria has always had bad luck in selecting its leaders. Nature has been most kind to Nigeria in all areas like natural resources, human resources, geographical location, annual weather, intellectual distribution, etc but the wrong persons always get enthroned to lead. Our students may like to study this claim “the mafia rules in Nigeria“. Otherwise when you bring in a world economist to be in charge of financial affairs,and that becomes the very moment for lootting and the looters, something is amiss. Thereby you destroy not only the economy and Nigerians but the very so called excellent Nigerian world economist is destroyed forever just because they serve at home. It is a plague.
Back to the show where more than 80 of the 109 (over 70% of them) Nigeria Senators thought that they need to appear in the show of “their leader”. Senators please let us assume for a moment that the battle is between two ideologically different political parties. But in this case there seems to bei no major ideological difference between the former PDP in power and the new APC there now except a Buhari. This same Buhari had been rejected more than thrice hitherto. They decided to settle on him, not for their love for the country, but because they ran out of lootting ideas and reached the end of the rope within them as PDP. It was not that a Buhari won an election but that a Jonathan lost the election from within his own PDP system of lootting things. This is one scene of the show. Hence the over 70% of Nigeria Senators who thought that they were elected to attend court cases with their colleague are doing so for many undisclosed reasons best known to them individually. If you can burn the night candle you might get a bit from the free film show.
Another scene is the judiciary system where the same case can be heard in different courts, different towns, different levels of courts etc. There will be a day to address the Nigeria law, the Nigeria lawyers and the entire law system. I have interest in the law system not just because my daughter is a PhD lawyer but much more because even between me and the said Dr Mrs lawyer there is a big disagreement. But in this show of wigs let many a lawyer know that they are major stakeholders in the Nigeria law system beyond money making. Right now many of them think that success is measured by the fatness of the bank accounts or the acquisition of physical and material wealth. Hence a former Nigeria Antony may take up any case against the very system and government it once served. Today a lawyer can argue against but tomorrow he is ready to argue in favour. There must have to be a sense of moral justice, consistent pursuing a goal by each lawyer (eg specialisation or goal and objectives of service). The whole drama should not be just about money and who can buy justice or who can twist it base on any amount of cash on the table. In this unfolding show, and many like it that may come up in this Buhari’s tenure, many lawyers are going to destroy themselves by how they choose to interpret the same law and the different circumstances. We may be able to see shining examples but this is a dirty rated film where any actor is more likely to soil their reputation.
The public court and the news media is probably the most vocal and the actors to watch. Without all the evidence and counter evidence on the table the public court already reached its on conclusion and recommendations. You can get to them on Facebook, and others. Each actor is playing to this public forum, may be to win some sympathy and possible support. Their support is crucial for the accusers and the accused, for the judges and the lawyers, for the senators and those of them involved in both false asset declaration and those who didn’t know that they should properly do so. Many people take form filling for granted. For example when you applied for a university admission, or applied for a job, or a loan a friend, your parents or a brother might have completed the form for you and signed, with or without your permission. This case would help our system that wherever an error has been introduced into a system, that error will make us culprits and culpable. How we plea, when confronted with the truth, also maters at the end. We may remain adamant, repentant and shameful truly, or remain blind to the system as before. The court of public opinion has no effect or power to award a conviction but they can make their government ungovernable and their perceived “guilty person” live in hell the rest of its life. The court of public opinion is a big stakeholder even when the mafia is strong and brute. Fairness, openness and justice are the only elements that can tame the court of public opinion anywhere and even here in Nigeria. Yet public opinion may not always be right.
There is an allegation that the fight is actually between two established godfathers from Lagos and from Ilorin. We have since dismissed such insinuations but it may carry a little percentage of truth. Suppose the allegation has 5% of truth. The case also claims that the entire exercise is politically motivated. If that also is true and there was no falsehood in asset declaration the exercise will kill itself in time. However if there was a gross asset declaration and opponents are taking advantage of the situation to cut the wings of their opponents it is still a healthy politicking. It is because of the naivety of Nigerian politicians that an elected officer could be going to head the senate from the accused dock box. At least for the period the case may last the Senate should have respected themselves even when they have no respect for most of us. I happen to know many respected Nigeria Senators. We may recall the President of Kenya case who had to go to the Hague in the dock box. A temporary arrangement was made to have another seating President for Kenya different from the one in the dock box. Hence even if 100% everything is political the needful steps should have been followed to avoid docking the entire or over 70% of the house. Nigeria‘s democracy and politics have no other means of growing except through its daily experience and happening of intrigues and counter intrigues. How we address each case successfully will produce the growth but each failure will produce the unwanted growing to enthroning the mafia the more. Hence while the show may have some political undertones it is not unusual in politics.
The unknown actor, who may really be the main actor yet to be unmasked, may come from the presidency or the executive arm of government. Nevertheless, while we pursue such a possibility someone said recently that the enemies of each house always live in the house. Saraki may be advised to check his own house and so called loyalists. Hence what we are seeing may not just be from the executive arm fueling and fanning unsettled senate arm of government but individual senators fighting it dirty using all means. They link the emergence of Saraki as the Senate President to its current woes. The allegation claimed that some unknown supporters of Saraki at that time, diverted the attention of the yet to be sworn in senators away from participating in the selection. Unlike the Senate the House of Representatives conducted an election that saw a winner, even though different from the choice of the party. The major actor may finally emerge from this underlying thought. They do not think that politicians from Kwara State could so oppose their former governor and his godfather family. But don’t underestimate any actor in a new film.
It will be an unending film show. The actors have no show of same or sense of decency hence the film will be in series with replacing casts. The public expectations will be dashed as usual. Nigerians are used to their leader’s’ disappointment, institutional failures, miscarriage of justice and the like. For example, what is the effect of “Abacha Returned Loot” that is not transferable to infrastructural improvement but rather more contracts for western governments and cash in the hands of Nigeria leaders only? We read about $90 billion, $20 billion, politicians returning lootting but no conviction so far, no list of lootting returnees, no disclosure of what to do with such loot. Yet we hear of more of borrowing from IMF and from others. Nigeria has a unique opportunity to impress on their government to be serious for once and stop playing with our common sense. We went to the same schools with children of these established families but they perpetually perpetuate their own generation in government and national treasuries while the gaps between the poor and the rich families widening continually. What the film is campaigning for is not that there shouldn’t be established families living side by side with less established other families. It has been written that life should be like that. What we rather abhour is a situation of lack of development in the midst of natural abundant blessing simply because a few prefer to live stealing or unable to identify those that can rule the nation and develop it well. We lack not only the legal document to use in building our national but even the individuals to write such documents. Those who find themselves acting in this film must act well knowing that their own very existence depends on their performance. The world is watching with keen interest.
Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi
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