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POL SNIPES: Reps, please no more probes!

By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor

After three sensational investigations that gave much hope of cleaning the Augean stable of corruption, Nigerians obviously should now be seeing through the hypocrisy that is called probe by the House of Representatives.

The unfolding bribery story revolving around Rep. Farouk Lawan and the House ad-hoc committee on the investigation of the utilization of subsidies is bound to shake whatever confidence Nigerians have in the House.

After the merry go round that saw Rep. Lawan and his committee members hound the alleged subsidy thieves, Nigerians are now asking, ‘so who is the real thief?’ or perhaps, ‘who is the bigger thief?’

The investigation of the trillion naira fraud in the implementation of the subsidy regime was almost universally welcomed by most Nigerians. The exception was obviously the beneficiaries of the subsidy regime.

The investigation was in line with the constitutional duty of the legislature to unearth corruption and make laws for the good governance of the country.

When Nigerians were last January pushed to the wall over the seemingly rapacious inclinations of the administration and the subsidy beneficiaries to inflict them with unrealistic fuel prices, it was the House of Representatives that came to their rescue. The House intervention despite the outward hostility of the administration was especially commended by Nigerians.

The fallout of the House intervention was the constitution of an ad-hoc committee to investigate the implementation of the subsidy regime by the administration.

Mr. Lawan who was appointed the chairman of the investigative committee is a veteran who has been in the House since 1999. Remarkably, Lawan has been within the corridors of power in the House since the 1999 leadership contest when he made a failed attempt to be the speaker of the House.

Even more remarkably, Mr. Lawan had adorned the toga of Mr. Integrity with his frontal role in hounding Mrs. Patricia Etteh out of office in 2007. When the Lawan led Integrity Group began the drive to edge Mrs. Etteh out of office upon mutterings in the House, not a few held nose at the thought of ‘kettle calling pot black.’

The irony of it is that the latest scandal broke just as Nigerians were about pitching tent with Tambuwal’s House in the battle against the subsidy beneficiaries. It is a serious let down. This is not the first time that the House of Representatives would be taking the populace on a wild goose chase.

Just few weeks back, the House had treated the nation to a theatrical display framed as the Capital Market probe. Rep. Herman Hembe, chairman of the House Capital Markets was subsequently forced out in the wake of multiple allegations of corruption. Today he is being prosecuted for allegedly collecting estacode for a foreign trip he did not go for.

Before then, the Ndudi Elumelu led committee on power in the immediate past House, equally held the nation spellbound with its dramatic glut of zealousness on behalf of the people. At the end, the committee’s report turned into another scandal and the helmsman of the committee, is undergoing trial on charges of corruption.

Remarkably, all three cases -Lawan on subsidy, Hembe on the capital market that impoverished countless Nigerians and Elumelu on electric power- are grave issues touching on the life and wellbeing of Nigerians.

It is nevertheless commendable that the Tambuwal leadership has at all times moved to isolate errant members of its flock. It is as such reassuring that the leadership has quickly moved to summon today’s session over the issue.

How the House responds would give currency to the growing feeling of distrust of the probes of the House of Representatives. Until it restores confidence and deals with the ‘Lawan problem’, the judgment from outside the House is no more probes please! Don’t take us for a ride any longer!


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