By Chioma Gabriel
According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, impunity means “exemption from punishment or loss or escape from fines”.
Impunity is especially common in countries where the rule of law is practically ineffective , abused and where the judiciary is weak or members of the security forces are protected by special jurisdictions or immunities .
In recent times, the word impunity has become a common parlance in Nigeria’s political turf. The opposition party, All Progressives Congress, APC, consistently accused the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of enjoying impunity, insisting that something must be done to correct the impression.
Before they finally joined forces with the opposition party, the leadership of the defunct Alhaji Abubakar Baraje faction of the PDP, severally appealed to the founding members of the PDP to save the party from acts of impunity allegedly committed by its National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
Baraje’s group had accused the founding fathers of PDP of keeping mum while Tukur and his misguided collaborators (sic) kept destroying the party and making it vulnerable before the 2015 general elections. The Baraje- led group had queried the silence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the erstwhile Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who the group alleged recruited Tukur into the PDP through Chief Nath Yaduma. Atiku Abubakar was accused of keeping quiet while the party was being destroyed by his kinsman. The group equally expressed dismay over alleged silence of Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Prof. Jerry Gana, Chief Audu Ogbe, Chief Barnabas Gemade and others who risked their lives to ensure that the PDP was formed to challenge the military?
The group also queried the silence of Chief Tony Anenih, the longest serving Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman of PDP and the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who prepared the PDP to rule Nigeria for the next 100 years!
It expressed dismay that the PDP has been reduced to a laughing stock. The PDP, it said, is now known as a party that does not know the supremacy of figure 19 to 16 following its refusal to recognise Governor Chibuike Amaechi, who defeated Governor Jonah Jang during the last Nigerian Governors’ Forum election.
The perceived unjust, and unconstitutional decisions taken by the ruling party against its aggrieved members, have made the party synonymous with the parlance ‘impunity’.
When Oyinlola was suspended , the defunct new PDP said, it was part of the impunity they were protesting; that Tukur doesn’t know PDP’s constitution.
Governor Murtala Nyako of AdamawaState who recently decamped to the other side also spoke about the impunity of PDP and its leadership.
When new PDP office was sealed by security agents, the opposition described it as the height of impunity of the ruling party.
But I want to look at impunity beyond the politicking in the PDP. I perceive impunity in failing to provide the basic necessities of life to the people that the ruling party promised them. It is impunity on the part of the ruling party to have allowed so much decay in the system and across all sectors without the culprits being punished. It is impunity to allow corruption destroy practically all sectors of the economy, leaving the perpetrators to go scot-free.
This impunity spreads across the telecommunication system, the power sector, the roads, the education sector, the health sector, the railway and what have you. Corruption is reigning supreme across these sectors without anybody being punished for anything. PDP is the party in government since 1999 when civilians got reprieve from the military and took over power. If things were bad at that time, they have gotten worse since 1999.
Some refineries were still functional before 1999, but they have died completely under the PDP-controlled government and the inquiry into the sector did not yield any result. If it did, nobody has been prosecuted. The fraud being perpetrated in Nigeria’s oil sector has defied competent description. The whole structure has been eroded by corruption thereby leaving the government at the mercy of corrupt marketers, fraudulent staff and even not so clean government officials.
The brains behind these shady moves are friends and members of the ruling class and many of these have received national honours. The chief executives of some of the companies involved in the fuel subsidy scam that blew open recently are party men. They are the ones that obtain PFI (Pro Forma Invoice) to import petrol into Nigeria.
The country has been milked for years by members of this “oil cabal”but the scandal only blew open when the N1.3 trillion figure was quoted as subsidy and the Federal Government could no longer cope with the burden.
Nigerian roads are death traps and claim lives every year across states in the federation due to lack of maintenance. Highways are in dilapidated and deplorable state. Some portions of these roads are washed out, riddled with big potholes and in some cases, are impassable. Abandoned projects have contributed immensely to the state of these roads. It is no longer news that there have been daily loss of lives and property occasioned by the sorry state of these roads.
The hospitals are now mortuaries due to lack of infrastructure and personnel to man them. Nigeria’s health sector is in shambles and something needs to be done as quickly as possible by the PDP led government. In many places, hospitals especially primary health centres are far away from where people live and some give out expired drugs to patients. Some operate in dilapidated structures, corrugated roof covered with cobwebs and in many places, have become inhabitants of domestic animals.
In some tertiary and secondary health centres, ordinary water supply is not available. Patients resort to buying water in jerry cans and health workers have to wait endlessly for essential drugs and disposable gloves and there is also irregular power supply to contend with.
Nigeria over the years has been losing it’s experienced health workers to developed countries as a result of neglect of the health sector, mismanagement of resources, lack of priority , lack of respect for human lives by our leaders , low wages , poor motivation, persistent shortages of basic medical supplies, poor working conditions, outdated equipments, lack of efficient and effective coordination, limited career opportunities and above all , economic reasons are among the most important factors responsible for this brain drain.
The power sector is another thing altogether. Lots of funds have gone into the sector but there is no concomitant development to show for it.
The Obasanjo and Jonathan administrations invested heavily in the sector but power supply has remained most epileptic.
Babangida’s regime completed the 1,320mw Egbin Power Station in Lagos, which is the biggest power generating station in the country. He also inaugurated the Shiroro and Jebba hydro-electric power stations, with total combined capacity of 1,140mw.
We have heard so much about on-going reforms in the power sector but we are still living in darkness.
The steel industry does not exist anymore and there seems to be a loud silence about it. The Ajaokuta Steel company has been abandoned in the relics of history just like the refineries and a whopping $1 billion will be required to revamp the moribund multi-billion dollar rolling mill.
The education sector is on fire. The ruling party has completely failed in this regard. Currently, ASUU is at ‘war’ with the Federal Government over unfulfilled promises made to the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU. The strike is now about five months old and despite an order by the Federal Government to return to the classrooms, the lecturers are still sitting put at home.
The primary and secondary schools have been known for poor performance in external examinations especially in Secondary Schools Certificate Examination (SSCE) and the General Certificate Examinations (GCE) by students.Education is everything; the jugular vein of any nation is the education sector. The all-pervading system failure across all sectors is based on the failure of the education system. The poorly-trained engineers construct bad roads just as the ill-educated medical doctors are not doing well in the health sector.
For Nigeria to survive, a radical and urgent overhaul of the education system is needed. Stake holders have been calling for an immediate declaration of a state of emergency in the education sector. They believe that if emergency is declared, there would be no crisis in other sectors anymore.
The PDP-led government should sit up. It is impunity in all ramifications when a ruling party has not been identified to have achieved anything and corruption pervades the entire system without punishment being meted out to corrupt officials.
Nigeria: What tenure elongation?
The National Assembly has kick-started a campaign for tenure elongation for the President and the governors of the 36 states. Are these law-makers trying to tell Nigerians something? Is President Jonathan afraid of losing the next election? Is he scared of the polity that he just wants a single term of six years and then goes back to his village to rest?
The last time he was in UK,he fell sick and just recently, he made a private visit to Germany. We hope our President is not sick again and the rigours of governance is not affecting him. We hope he is not scared of the opposition or the many problems in the Nigerian state that he wants to maximize this one opportunity he has gotten. What is PDP trying to hide from Nigerians and what is the Deputy Senate President trying to tell the people? Why won’t the governors who think they deserve another term in office work so hard for it instead negotiating a short-cut?
Agreed, this is democracy and as Chairman of Senate Constitution Review, Ekweremadu has the right to his opinion but not this time. We have not even concluded talks on national confab and the committee on the confab just submitted its report which is not yet made public and we are talking about tenure elongation.
Haven’t we been there before? President Jonathan had sometime in July pushed through the National Assembly, a constitution amendment bill for a single term of six years for the President and the 36 governors but that came dead on arrival as many dismissed it as self-serving, fraudulent and diversionary. Is Nigeria’s problem that of tenure ?Will that solve all Nigeria’s problems? Haven’t we had governors who served eight years without achieving anything?
Jonathan will be six years in office by 2015. Does he want to get another two years in addition to make up the eight years of two terms or what? What could be the reason behind this recent development in the polity?
A fighter should not leave his flanks open but PDP is leaving it’s flanks open by suggesting the near impossible. Why would the president or any governor for that matter want the short-cut?
Yes, term elongation would indeed portray our leaders as weaklings who are afraid of hard work and want the easy way out!
We need more explanation: how can tenure elongation be the panacea to the political tension in the polity? Will that solve the problem of Boko Haram insurgency? How can political tension be blamed on the crave for re-election by the President and governors?
Former President Obasanjo had two terms in office without qualms. There was political tension and when the issue of Sharia states came up, he looked the other way believing it would not hamper his regime and it didn’t. He said then that the issue would die a natural death and it did. People were able to separate religion from politics.
And when the same Obasanjo wanted a third term in office, the constitution killed that ambition.
So, will a single term of six years in any way rebuild or restructure the polity?Does the National Assembly have the constitutional power to elongate the tenure of the president and the governors? What are the governors saying about this development? Does that mean that governors serving their second term in office will now have ten years instead of eight years (2015 or 2017)?
Will the doctrine of necessity that brought President Jonathan aboard give him the required eight years through elongated tenure?Should we now settle for less simply because every election year is turbulent? Why are we practicing democracy if we are afraid of elections? Agreed, every election year is turbulent: lives are lost, money is wasted, there is general insecurity, incumbency factor, hooliganism and sundry problems but we are experiencing those things even when we are not having elections. The issue of insurgency has been on since 2011 and seems to have defied solution. So, what are they telling us?