Obasanjo, Etteh and the PDP

by Femi Sobowale

President Umaru Yar’Adua’s stance on the rule of law is not in doubt, at least on the surface. What remains to be seen is for him to show genuine commitment along with this posture, especially with the recent indictment of Speaker Patricia Etteh by a probe panel following her involvement in contract scandal, running into hundreds of millions of naira. Even though the president has repeatedly stated his zero tolerance for corruption, his immediate predecessor’s support for known corrupt political figures in the present dispensation might be his greatest problem.

The speaker has tried unsuccessfully to clear herself of the smear caused to her image and integrity in the eyes of Nigerians. Her face-saving ‘explanation’ undoubtedly placed more questions than answers in her way. She must have gone through quite a lot of sleepless nights since the story about her travails broke. As a human being, and a woman, hers has been a very trouble world in the last couple of weeks after the report of the David Idoko-led probe panel became public.

However, her cause has been stubbornly defended by the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). As it is now, the PDP’s unflinching support for the speaker can not be overemphasized, even with the outcome of the probe report. Given this scenario, one would be right to state with some degree of certainty that the ruling party is a community of people lacking in integrity, and the level of competence required to rule a country like Nigeria. It is a shame that the PDP through pronouncements by its principal officers has glaringly shown Nigerians that theirs is a party of anything goes.

For instance, the Ahmadu Ali-led outgoing executive reportedly gave the speaker a thump-up last week at a press conference aimed at saving the speaker from imminent disgrace. It is speculated that the party’s action is in consonance with the position of former President Olusegun Obasanjo on the matter. However, Nigerians are waiting to see what becomes of the speaker when the House reconvenes on October 16, from a forced two-week recess in the wake of the submission of the probe report.

Already, there had been signs that the House members, with their show of shame on the floor of the lower chamber, are sharply divided in their support for the party on one side, and for the president on the other. It is a case of a house divided against itself, as noticeable cracks in the party are becoming increasingly wider by the day. While some members, majority of who are Etteh’s rivals within the party feel that the speaker should be removed, others, apparently playing the scripts as written by Obasanjo vow to resist any attempt to unseat the embattled Nigeria’s number four citizen.

Giving support to members in a political party is not in itself a misnomer, what baffles critics is the idea of extending such loyalty to corrupt and fraudulent individuals in the face of daunting proves like the one facing Etteh at the moment. In an organized and sane society, the speaker needs no prompting before she tenders her letter of resignation with apologies to the people and government of Nigeria for her wrong doing. However, in Nigeria, leaders feel no remorse even if their action or inaction runs contrary to their oath of office.

It is on this premise that one argues on the side of the masses for the members to start without further delay the process for the impeachment of the speaker. This will serve, one hopes as a sign of respect for the feelings of the citizens of Nigeria from whom the elected representatives got their mandate. It is not asking for too much if Nigerians use the Etteh scandal to show the international community that the era of accountability and transparency in governance is here.

For Etteh, she can still resign honorably NOW, given the controversy her short tenure has generated. Her continued leadership of the House of Representatives constitutes a disgrace to Nigeria in the comity of nations. As a member of the global village, Nigeria can not afford to be a laughing stock of other nations as a result of an individual’s purported connection in high quarters. It can be argued that Etteh will not be the last elected official to hold on to her post in the face of corrupt charges, but then, she is the latest for now. Enough is enough as Nigeria is greater than Etteh, Obasanjo, and the PDP.

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1 comment

Abolade Ayobami Paul October 31, 2007 - 3:14 pm

it such a fantastic article one will be looking forward to see, as such it shows the recent ellusion in house and how it has being a clamour and bone of contention, that is tarnishing the image of Nigeria, home $abroad


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