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Do these people represent us?

THE  House of Representatives, usually in holiday mood was asked last Thursday to consider deliberating on the Academic Staff of Universities (ASUU) national strike.

The strike which has shutdown universities in the country, except the monetised poultry farms called private universities, has seen our undergraduates back at home or on the streets.

Ordinarily, the Honourable members would have been expected to know that national development or the so called drive towards 2020 when we are supposed to become one of the twenty largest economies in the world; would be unattainable without education.

It would have been expected that the Honourables realise that we exist in a knowledge – driven world and that those who do not invest in ideas would be bystanders in the global village.

The ASUU strike should be a matter of national emergency needing urgent attention.  But the House did not consider the matter serious enough to attract its attention.  It voted “democratically” to consign the country into the abyss of ignorance.

There are other Government – induced strike epidemics that broke out across the country, shut down hospitals and schools, paralysed public electronic media and brought business in many federal institutions to a stop. Again, the Honourables decided to travel the highway of indifference, until its leadership set it back on the road of national responsibility and relevance.

While it is a fact that the Honourables with their individual average monthly income of N7million can afford to send their children to foreign universities, and therefore have no interest in ours functioning, one would have thought they would at least pretend that they are interested in the wellbeing  of the country.

Please do not get me wrong, not all Honourables belong to this team of self servers; there are quite a number that are interested in our welfare, but unfortunately they are in the same boat with their indifferent colleagues.

But like I have stated on previous occasions, sometimes, something good comes out of the House.

Comparatively, the Senate is a less sensitive, more conservative and backward institution.  But even here, the Distinguished Senators can spring surprises.

This was the case when last week; it publicly backed its Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions which had obtained the names of money bags who sank thirteen banks with huge debts totaling N53.3 billion.

The debts which were mainly due to abuse by the directors of the failed banks have remained outstanding for many years.  The Senate Committee had revealed that it got the information from the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).

The Corporation had confessed that over the years it recovered only a paltry N4.722 billion.  The question is, what concrete steps did the NDIC and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) take to recover the money or bring the culprits to book?

Did they bring this to the attention of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)?  If not, why?  Or is it a case of collusion with the debtors?  If they did, then the public will be interested in hearing from the EFCC what steps it has taken to bring them to justice.

With the Senate’s backing, some of the names were made public.  From this basic move, the country is beginning to reap benefits; some of those mentioned, perhaps out of embarrassment or fearing the possibility that the Senate may press for their prosecution, have taken steps to pay up.

Mr. Emeka Offor who was listed as owing  the defunct African Express Bank N3.85billion has made a pledge to pay N1.2 billion within one year. Senator Chris Adighije, a Distinguished who is not new to controversies bordering on good conduct, issued a cheque of N1.9million to clear his indebtedness.

Perhaps a major problem of the Senate is that since 2003, many of its Distinguished members got into its hallowed chambers by selection.  The powerful and money bags simply imposed themselves or their boys on the electorate.

Things were so bad in 2003 that the ordained Senate President had not even won the elections.  So we had the spectre of a Senate President – designate who was not a senator.

And when it was clear that he had lost, everything had to be done to ensure he got a certificate of return from the crime-compliant Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Similarly, the appointed Deputy Senate President designate did not win the elections in a transparent manner.

Also the Senate leader was pushed into the Senate in a similar fashion.  It was no surprise therefore, that the team met an inglorious end.

With the refusal of the Yar’Adua government to allow an  independent INEC, the reign of Area Boys over electoral matters, and the seeming powerlessness of “We the People” to defend our votes, perhaps the judiciary which has shown flashes of courage and independent– mindedness might be the immediate redeeming institution.

In the last three weeks, the judiciary has purged the Senate of two Distinguished Senators out of the three from Ekiti State.

Mr. Ayo Arise, the arrow head of the Ekiti electoral farce was a “Distinguished” representing the Ekiti North Senatorial District.

The Court of Appeal confirmed what we all know; that Arise did not win the elections and that his declaration as winner of the elections was based on fraud and the connivance of INEC.  The court ordered a re-run.

In the case of Chief Femi Kila, his election was not only annulled, the court ordered his immediate replacement with the Action Congress candidate. Kila was a gentleman with a distinguished history of service in the Labour Movement and the corporate world of construction.

Some how he got into bad company and had his respected name soiled.  The hope is that he will retrace his steps and rebuild his battered image.


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