Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Nigeria House Of Representatives In Show Of Shame

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The Nigeria House of representatives on Tuesday 22nd June 2010 got involved in what could best be described as a show of shame and national embarrassment; as the law makers threw caution to the winds and engaged in fisticuffs in the full glare of publicity, with some ending up with broken nose, broken arms and torn clothes.

Trouble started when eleven members of the house - Dino Melaye, Salomon Awhinawi, Ehiogie West Idahosa, Gbenga Oduwaiye, Independence Ogunewe, Austin Nwachukwu, Kayode Amusan, Bitrus Kaze, Abba Anas, Gbenga Onigbogi and Doris Uboh, accused the speaker Dimeji Bankole and the leadership of the house, of financial misconduct. The case was even reported to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by Dino Melaye.

The speaker of the house organized his own group to try to intimidate the eleven members who were bent on fighting corruption in the house. Their eventual suspension and an attempt to forcefully drag them out of the chamber led to a physical combat, during which some of them (five of the aggrieved members) had their clothes torn to pieces; one left with a broken nose. However one of them was able to over power one of the aggressors, leaving him with a broken arm.

This show of shame is coming up at this time when Nigerians have all become weary of corruption; and the government of Dr Good luck Jonathan as trying to put in place better mechanisms to eradicate corruption in Africa largest country

But why would the law makers go to that extent of taking laws into their hands? Politics in Nigeria has become an investment platform; where people invest all they have in order to get into office and then later steal over a 1000% of what they invested. They want to sit tight in office since it is the highest profit yielding investment ever. Instead of losing such high yield investment, they would rather lose their integrity and get their names rubbed with mud.

How can we control this trend?
1. Choose Representatives based on integrity: Representatives of the people should be chosen based on integrity and past records, and not on party loyalty or affiliation. It is only by this method that people with character and track records would be nominated to represent their constituencies

2. Give constituencies power to recall erring Representatives: when constituencies are given the power and legal backup to recall erring representatives, those who are elected to protect their interest would sit up; because they know they would be recalled should they disappoint their constituencies

3. Make corruption punishable: a lot of people are getting involved in corrupt practices because there seems not to be adequate punitive measures put in place to make corruption unattractive. The moment people are punished in proportion to their crimes, they would no more engage in corruption with impunity.

4. Removal of parliamentary immunity: Immunity should be removed from office holders in order to make them answerable to the electorate while still in office. When they know they are accountable to the masses, they would stop plundering and looting public treasury.

5. Reduce salaries of politicians: the only people enjoying unrestricted salary increase in Nigeria are the politicians. This should be stopped. Anybody going into public office should do so for the sole purpose of serving the people. If they go there because of the attractive salaries they will never give their best to the electorate.

6. Assets declarations: politicians should be made to publicly declare their assets before assuming a public office and on completion of their tenure in office.

7. Freedom of information bill: the freedom of information bill before the National Assembly should be passed into law as a matter of urgency. This would enable the public give information concerning any corrupt politician without fear of molestation.