7th April, 2016,
SARAKI: SENATE INTEGRITY AT STAKE
The trial of Senate President, Dr. Olusola Saraki, began at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) two days ago (Tuesday 5th April, 2016). Since then, shocking revelations have been made at the proceedings. But the last nail in the coffin is the implication of Saraki in the recent Panama papers where the Senate President allegedly has hidden assets in safe havens abroad.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is constrained to call the attention of honourable members of the Nigerian Senate to the serious and damning implication of this ugly development. The integrity of Senate is at stake here and something needs to be done and very urgently too.
It is on record that more than sixty senators accompanied Dr. Saraki to the CCT on his first day of appearance. The picture has been largely the same during other appearances. The business of Senate was grinded to a halt on each occasion with the attendant waste of tax-payers’ money.
While we salute senators for this manifestation of camaraderie, several attempts by the embattled senate president to resist trial suggest that he probably has skeletons in his cupboard. The recent revelations during court proceedings where staggering amounts of money were alleged to have been surreptitiously deposited in bank accounts or siphoned outside this country by the Senate President through his agents also call for caution, concern and sober reflection.
The fact that huge sums were reportedly split into smaller amounts and paid fifty (50) times into the same bank account on a single day is quite worrisome. Somebody somewhere knew that the source of the money he intended to deposit in a bank account was illegal. Somebody somewhere wanted to avoid detection. Somebody somewhere knew that he could be detected if the whole amount was paid in bulk and at a go. Somebody somewhere has been a smart Alec.
Can honourable members of Senate beat their chests and tell Nigerians that this somebody somewhere is not occupying the highest seat in the hallowed chamber? Is this not desecration of the highest office in Senate? We know that there are honest men and women in Senate. We know there are people of integrity who occupy well-deserved seats in our Senate today. Are our senators waiting until Nigerians start judging all senators by the same parameter? Are our Senators tarrying until Nigerians start invoking popular proverbs like “Birds of the same feather…?”
MURIC therefore calls on Senate to do the needful. The Nigerian public is disenchanted with a legislature that cannot satisfy all righteousness. A legislative arm which condones stinking corruption at the leadership level can never be in tandem with Nigeria’s new elixir for anti-corruption.
Saraki must go. Those who come to equity must come with clean hands. We cannot afford to have an icon of credibility at the Nigerian apex of the executive only to have the exact opposite in the higher chamber. Perhaps that is why very little progress has been made since May 29, 2015. Saraki is a Trojan horse.
The Nigerian masses will know their true friends in Senate in the next few days. They will know those who are ready to sanitise the system and those who are in Senate to pursue the wicked agenda of the super rich against extremely poor Nigerians. The practice whereby ‘monkey dey work, barboon dey chop’ must stop.
Workers’ salary cannot take them home even on the day they receive it. Some states are yet to pay the N18,000 minimum wage. Some states also owe as much as three months salary arrears. Our graduates of ten years ago are still roaming the streets. There is hunger and starvation in the land. The average Nigerian lives on less than one dollar ($1) per day. Our per capita income is less than $300. More than 70 million Nigerians are poor.
How then can the masses stomach reports of a single person depositing between N600,000 and N900,000 fifty times in a single day? This wide gap between the rich and the poor is nothing short of social economic injustice. It is responsible for the rise in violent crime, particularly armed robbery. Robbers see no difference between robbing with the pen and stealing with the gun. It kills workers’ morale and frustrates the few honest people we still have around. Students use this same socio-economic disequilibrium as an alibi for jettisoning academic pursuit. The youths use it as justification for going into Yahoo-Yahoo and other fraudulent activities.
MURIC therefore calls on senators to save Nigeria from the impending doom. Our senators must prove to Nigerians that no single person is greater than Nigeria. It is time for pendulum swing. Distinguished Senators, are you going to be loyal to a particular person or to Nigeria?
As a concluding remark, countries like Switzerland and the United States with questionable latitudes in their banking laws which allow kleptomaniacs from Africa to hide their loots must own up, stop the eye service and take urgent steps towards transparency, probity and accountability. Those who make it easy for thieves to hide their loot (and also benefit their economy from the proceeds of looting) live with a moral burden.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)