By Richard Akinwumi, Joshua Olufemi and Chinenye Ugonna
The seventh National Assembly will most likely end its tenure in early June without resolving majority of the huge misgovernance and corruption issues that characterised the outgoing administration.
Under the present dispensation, the oversight power of the legislature was not judiciously exercised to guarantee Nigerians the dividends for electing their representatives.
There were clear cover-ups and lack of political will to bring a lot of the cases to closure.
Even when it issues reports on certain important national issues, such as the fuel subsidy scam, the National Assembly lacked the firepower to compel the execuitve execute its recommendations.
As nothing almost always get done after individuals, agencies and corporations are indicted by either the House of Representatives or the Senate, the billions spent yearly on either public hearings and oversight functions have turned out to be mere drains on national resources.
Below are just a few of the scandals the National Assembly may not resolve before the end of the 7th Assembly.
1. The Maina Pension Scam: There was a probe into pension funds that affected about 141,790 pensioners. Abdulrasheed Maina, the Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team, was accused of looting N195billion.
The Senate set up a committee to investigate the matter. During investigation, Mr. Maina alleged that Aloysius Etuk, representing Akwa Ibom State, demanded $100,000 dollars from him as bribe. A former director of pension in the office of the Head of Service of the Federation, Sani Shuaibu Teidi, who was prosecuted along with 31 others, also alleged that Mr. Etuk and other members of the committee collected a bribe of N3 billion from him. Although the Senate seemed furious about the allegation, it did not take decisive steps to investigate.
The National Assembly also did not push the executive hard enough to implement its report on the pension scam and punish offenders.
2. Kerosene subsidy scam: The kerosene scam is considered monumental fraud by the average Nigerian. Kerosene, which is supposed to be sold for N50 to consumer, sells for between N100 and N120 per litre. Many years after a presidential directive ended subsidy for kerosine, the NNPC claimed it had continued to subsidise the product.
Yet, Nigerians are not benefiting from the subsidy as the product sells for far above the official price at the pumps. Several billion naira are believed to have been stolen under the guise of kerosine subsidy. The National Assembly made a feeble attempt to get to the root of the matter. But it issued no indictment and did not take concrete steps to resolve the matter. No official of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, and the petroleum ministry have been sanctioned over the matter.
3. Police Pension Fund Fraud: Five people, including fa ormer Director of Police Pension Fund, Esai Dangabar, were accused of misusing N32.8billion from the Police Pension Fund. Mr. Dangabar accused some committee members of the Senate of benefiting from the loot. The senate denied the allegation without ordering an investigation. The world may never know whether indeed the Senate joint Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matter, and State and Local Government Affairs indeed took bribes from the pension thieves.
4. Stella Oduah: Before her removal as Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah was embroiled in a N255 million armoured car scandal. She was accused of abusing her office by compelling an agency under her ministry to buy her expensive cars. The House of Representatives has so far failed to release a detailed report of its investigation into the matter. Although Ms. Oduah was later dropped as minister, other officials involved in the matter remained untouched till date.
Recently, a Federal High Court in Abuja granted Media Rights Agenda (MRA) leave to apply for an order to compel the House to furnish it with transcripts of the proceedings of the House Committee on Aviation at the hearing of the Committee on the procurement of the two bulletproof BMW cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) through Messrs Coscharis Motors Limited.
5. Missing N20billion Naira oil money: In 2013, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, alleged that the NNPC failed to remit billions of naira in oil proceeds to the state. This caused a huge rift between the CBN governor and President Goodluck Jonathan, leading to the president suspending Mr. Sanusi from office.
The National Assembly investigated the matter but was unable to bring it to closure.
6. $15million private jet/arms scandal: A private jet conveyed $15million in cash to Johannesburg for a purported arms deal between Nigeria and a South African firm. That deal seriously embarrassed Nigeria, but the National Assembly failed to investigate. Attempts by lawmakers of the All Progressives Congress to table the matter at the House of Representatives were frustrated by their Peoples Democratic Party’s counterparts.
7. Abba Morro Immigration Scandal: Despite the death of over 15 individuals who went to write entrance examinations into the Nigerian Immigration Service on March 13, 2015, the Minister of Interior, Abba Morro, has remained in office. Before the entrance test, candidates were made to pay N1,000 for application forms. A private company, Drexel Nig Ltd, was also implicated in the recruitment scam.
Although federal lawmakers commenced investigation into the incident, nothing has been heard of the matter ever since. Nigerians suspect cover-up, especially because the minister involved, Mr. Morro, is a core loyalist of David Mark, the President of the Senate, who doubles as the Chairman of the National Assembly.
8. Malabu Oil Scandal: This was one of the biggest oil scandals that did not receive the kind of attention it deserves. It involves a former Petroleum minister, Dan Etete, who was convicted in France for money laundering.
His illegal company, Malabu Oil, received an illegal $1.1million from the Nigerian government as proceeds for the sale of an oil block. Upon receipt, the money was immediately disbursed to certain individuals.
The National Assembly is yet to bring this matter, which involves officials of the presidency, ministers and business people, to closure. There appears to be attempts to cover up the matter.
9. Ekiti Gate: A leaked tape of the alleged electoral malpractices during the gubernatorial election in Ekiti State caused a major stir in the country. Four principal characters were heard discussing how to manipulate the election. The voices were those of former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro; the Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan; former Deputy governor of Osun state, Iyiola Omisore, and the eventual winner of the election and current governor of Ekiti state, Ayo Fayose. Despite the huge evidence in the public domain, the Presidency said it would not investigate the matter.
The National Assembly has failed to investigate the matter, which is clearly a major assault on our democracy. Mr. Obanikoro indeed went ahead to receive a National Assembly approval for ministerial appointment.
10. Farouk Lawan: House of Representatives member, Farouk Lawan, was caught on tape collecting $620,000 out of a $3million bribe while his committee investigated the fuel subsidy scam. He was seen collecting the money from oil mogul, Femi Otedola.
The House of Representatives referred the bribery allegation to its committee on ethics. But no report has been issued till date.
(Culled from PREMIUM TIMES)