June 11, 2009

Let’s learn from other nations, AC advises politicians

LAGOS—The Action Congress (AC) has said Nigerian politicians have a lot to learn from other countries, especially in Britain where a recent expense account scandal involving parliamentarians has brought a crushing defeat to the ruling Labour Party and threatened the government of Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

“The lesson is simple. Bad governance, financial scandals and politics of entitlement should not go unpunished by discerning voters, otherwise there will be no development,’’ the party said in a statement in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

“In a country like Nigeria, where bad governance and a series of scandals rarely get punished or are shrugged off by the government and those involved, development will remain a mirage,’’ it said.

AC noted that the expense account scandal, in which British parliamentarians have been robbing taxpayers blind by claiming thousands of pounds with suspicious receipts for dubious expenditure, has triggered a crisis that has shaken the very foundation of the Labour Party and the government of Prime Minister, Brown, who is now standing on just one leg.

“As embarrassed government ministers quit in droves and the PM hangs on by a thin thread in the face of a historic defeat of his party in local elections, no one doubts that the citizens are expressing their disgust and disapproval for the scandal that has also claimed the Speaker.

According to the party, “In Nigeria, however, the situation is different. In the face of one financial scandal after another, our politicians carry on as if they cannot be bothered, the President keeps harping on the rule of law even when everything points to crass lawlessness while the ruling party (PDP) continues to ‘win’ elections after elections.

“From Ettehgate to vehiclegate and powergate, our politicians have been involved in scandals after scandals. Right now, a number of our federal legislators are in EFCC custody or hovering between bail and jail. Yet, they seem to be waxing stronger in their politics of greed at the expense of public service.

“This is one reason Nigeria may not be among the top 20 economies in the world by 2020. This is one reason why all our governments, past and present, have only been able to come up with are visions after visions, even as the country is robbed blind and cannot progress.

“Public officials don’t resign here even if their hands are caught and photographed in the goodies jar! Integrity is in short supply and the ability of the people to punish these mindless politicians has been hampered by a system of election rigging perfected by the PDP, in collusion with the electoral body and security agencies.

“Unless integrity and transparency are urgently brought back into governance and bad governance punished at the polls, our country will continue to be among the world’s poorest, not minding the number of visions we come up with,’’ AC said.