WARNING: By the time you're reading this, Musiliu Obanikoro could have been confirmed by the Akindanidani Senators.
The Nigerian Senate is a disappointing aberration. Despite the political dilemma, economic mess, and troubling security in the country, the senators have shamelessly refused to drag themselves into the 21st century standards of ethics and morality.
Like in other areas of governance, the National Assembly particularly the Senate has abdicated its insight and oversight responsibilities. Nigeria cannot and will never recover economically or advance politically unless the National Assembly starts to pay attention to the Constitution. John Stuart Mill the British Utilitarian philosopher, insists that “The proper office of a representative body is to watch and control the government.” “Quite as important as legislation,” says President Woodrow Wilson, “ is vigilant oversight of administration.”
The hubris of Nigerian senators is staggering at times. Do they really think all Nigerians are as dumb as they are? The senators' clear lack of insight on oversight should not be overlooked like before during this election period. How about getting a custodian to clean out the unsightly play-for-play corruption, starting with the senate?
Who will watch the watchers themselves? Oversight is an outgrowth of the principle of checks and balances among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Two important functions of legislative oversight are to promote accountability in government and to raise and ask the tough questions of public officials. Just as the press serves as a watchdog over government, the oversight function of the National Assembly is yet another check at preventing fraud, wasteful spending, and abuse of law.
The senate oversight committees should protect civil liberties, keep executives in compliance and evaluate the performance of those we choose to represent us. The oversight function of our senate and indeed the National Assembly makes the most mockery of a representative democracy. In America for example, the oversight power of Congress has helped to force officials out of office, change policies, and provide new statutory controls over the executive. It has been demonstrated that the oversight power of Congress has proven to be essential check in monitoring the presidency and controlling public policy.
Three historic examples of oversight power of the American Congress readily come to mind. The Watergate hearings of 1973 exposed corruption deep inside the White House and eventually forced the resignation of President Richard Nixon. In the late 1980s oversight committees exposed the Reagan administration's secret arms sales to Iran and the funneling of arms profits to anti-government forces in Nicaragua.
In 1989, the US senate by a vote of 53 to47 failed to confirm John Tower one of their own who was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to serve as defense secretary. Tower came with an impressive resume. He had been reelected to the Senate three times – in 1966, 1972, and 1978. He also served as the Chairman of the powerful Armed Forces Committee. However, he was repudiated by his colleagues. Concern about Tower's personal life played a major role. He was accused of being a drunk and a womanizer.
Never met people from hell before – until now. Obanikoro's confirmation as a defense minister of state proves that our dumb senators have moved their legislative offices from hell to be in proximity to 170 million Zombies for Obanikoro's triumphant second coming as defense minister. Can anything good come out of a senate led by David Mark? Absolutely no! Nigeria is in a dire strait and it is doomed. It is a nation where the wisest are perplexed and the boldest are staggered!
What impact can godless characters like David Mark have on our representatives and the nation? Mark and his self-serving colleagues should know that leaders are to add value not to take it away. These Akindanidani senators forget that they must serve their people and their purpose. They are not given authority to better themselves, to enlarge their income or social status, or to improve the standard of their living at the expense of people they are supposed to serve. They should remember they are first and always servants of others. In a word, they are to pursue love and service to others, improve welfare of the people, and their motive should be to meet the needs and grow the cause of our people.
A senate of patriotic men and women of integrity, should have promptly instigated and instituted a hearing in the Ekitigate video in which Obanikoro was the principal agent of Mr. Jonathan on how to rig the Ekiti gubernatorial election. “The President sent me” says Obanikoro in the video, “this is no time for tea party.” In a saner clime, Obanikoro would have been subpoenaed by the senators not as a nominee but as a felon (election rigger) for criminal indictment. Indeed, for implicating Mr. Jonathan, the National Assembly should have speedily moved to start impeachment proceedings against Mr. Jonathan.
Obanikoro had appeared twice before the Akindanidani senators and each time they failed to perform their watch dog duty. The Ekitigate video is enough evidence for the senators to quickly throw Obanikoro under the bus without further ado. What further proof do they need? Why are the senators dragging their feet? Why are the senators so afraid of Obanikoro? What qualifies Obanikoro as a defense minister other than being an expert in election rigging? By the way, not much is expected from a senate dominated by criminals, crooks, looters, and dupers like David Mark.
Instead, they put the hearing on hold in order to exhort more money from Mr. Jonathan before they finally ask the felon – Obanikoro – to take a bow and have his old job back. I remember the confirmation hearing of one of the past leaders of PDP, Alhaji Bello Halim. Halim was deeply entangled in the Siemens' corruption network. While the case was being adjudicated, the senators confirmed Halim as defense minister without any objection or reference to his pending corruption case.
So, don't be surprised to see Obanikoro confirmed before you're through with this write-up.
The Nigerian Senate is a rubber stamp senate. Because of corruption, greed, and blind party loyalty, the three branches function as one – with no separation of powers. That's why Mr. Jonathan wields power like an emperor with unlimited and unquestionable powers. The upper house is supposed to be a chamber of a people of superior intellect, unmatched wisdom, matured, reasoned, thoughtful, deliberate, and above all, fueled by patriotism for the love of country. The opposite is true of the Akindanidani senators. The senators' lack of moral courage to condemn and reject Obanikoro's nomination exposes the senators political cowardice, impotence, and crass incompetence.
Will these cowards and thieves ruling Nigeria allow this nation to join the society of human beings? Who will breathe new life into this comatose nation?