The Senate: A World Of Dog Eat Dog

by Banjo Odutola

There is a palpable feeling when cerebrating antics are displayed with flair and candour. It is interesting to listen to protagonists and antagonists whose arguments are based on principles and ideals. The arguments are presented to persuade or dissuade the audience. Yet, a superior position may not win the day, sometimes. This synopsis is only drawn to show that as humans, we reason with each other; oftentimes, we may not necessarily take the position of a superior argument. However, with dogs, it is different. If they have entrenched positions, it is unclear to human. In a herd, they could be riotous and their actions are often inexplicable, at least to humans. I see no difference in the recent actions of the Nigerian Senate.

What similarities therefore, does the House of Senate in the Federal Republic of Nigeria have with cerebrating antics or the lack of it and herd behaviour of dogs, for which, I adopt a moniker of: A world of dog eat dog? Does this mean our senate is devoid of good reasoning or its decisions are a result of a herd mentality?

The Senate has in two recent matters obfuscated the message it emanates. It is unclear if the lawmakers are attempting to convert that they are not as fainéant as the electorate believes. The alternate and perhaps a generous consideration may be that our Senators are now leading by example: I do not accept either of the hypotheses. I contend that this is a body of lawmakers that perpetrates a self-preserving policy: a confused policy that has no legal basis. Their new found concinnity in jettisoning the reports of Idris Kuta and Oyofo is clearly unacceptable; the words of Gbenga Aluko that brought about “the forgiveness” need to be examined because they bear gravely for the precedent by which this Senate is midwifing our democracy.

Let us pause to review the homily of the young senator, whilst as a backdrop, the principle of constituency representation must instruct us that elected senators are the representatives of the people and they are not elected to serve their own whims and fancies. Therefore, is the electorate prepared to forgive the indicted senators? Given, the reaction to the “forgiveness”, it is clear that the electorate is not in a forgiving mood. The capsulation of Aluko’s pleadings infers guilt and narcissism of the bloated perception in which these senators hold themselves. They are not only lawmakers; they begin to believe that they are laws unto themselves. For ease of reference and a legitimate outrage, the decision to “forgive” senators is not in the gift of the Senate; it is a decision that unfortunately may still prove to be the undoing of many of them.

Consider this pleonasm that is reported in that young Ekiti Senator Order 14: “When this Senate was inaugurated in June 1999, we all came here with great enthusiasm and unmistakable streak of patriotism and nationalism to help unite our nation through the passage of bills, adoption of resolutions and provision of advice that would help the Executive Arm of Government in the collective efforts of giving our people whose mandate we are custodians, democracy dividend”. Hear! Hear!!. It is not what these senators intended on arrival at Abuja; it is about the mockery of the mandates in their custody. Time and various deals of the last forty-two months rebut Aluko’s claims. Methinks, Aluko should not attempt to tar those honourable senators who were not indicted in the reports; they are discharging their duties honourably. But as for him and his fellow indicted colleagues, there is no doubt that a civilised country would be looking forward to their incarcerations. When I reflect on the effrontery of the Senate, I feel sorry for Lord Jeffrey Archer, who was born in wrong country. Archer should have been a Nigerian, where truly, he could have operated above the Law, which he enacted in the British Upper House of Parliament.

It is reported that Aluko went on to say: “Distinguished Senators, we are about six months to go. There is need for us to leave the Senate at least the way we came, preferably better. We all would have come here without any criminal record or even an indictment of any magnitude whatsoever…”With respect, Distinguished Senators, it would be unfair to condemn certain Senators to perpetual indictment, as no set of Senators after us, would be in any better position to revisit the matter. I plead that we do not get into circumstance and situation that led to both reports; however, this is not the time for details. However, let us re-visit the indictments in the reports, and review it. We all expect to have three friends from each state of this Federation and one from FCT, made in the course of this Fourth Republic Senate. No Senator should leave the Senate with the feeling that any Senator or group of Senators plotted his or her downfall. There should be global forgiveness amongst us and for the remaining six months let us collectively move this Senate forward.”

I disagree most profoundly with the ranting of this indicted and “forgiven” Senator. The words reported lack the courage of personal responsibility and it is predicated, mind you, not in Law, which by now the Senator ought to understand, but on egocentrism. What is difficult to fathom in what he is reported to have said, which he may not be in a position to deny, is why he believes that since he and his colleagues arrived in the Senate unblemished, they ought to leave the same place in like manner after their indictments. This is illogical.

The herd mentality granted the absolution for which Aluko pleaded; the backslapping was meant to show that all is now forgiven and the Senators are leaving the House as friends. Right? Well, if you are Arthur Nzeribe, the staged ‘forgiveness’ does not extend to you. What is puzzling is the forgiveness of many and the persecution of one. Why has this House refused to extend their ‘forgiveness’ to Nzeribe? Why shortly after the pseudo absolution, would the Orlu Senator be exposed? Is it time for the dogs to turn on the bully and render it powerless. The dog, called Nzeribe may now look to the courts to rescue it as he has in the application for a judicial review of the decision to suspend him. However, we need to consider the Nzeribe factor and the personal animosities that has brought the Senate to this knell.

Arthur Nzeribe is described as a maverick in the Nigerian clime. That description may be too generous for such a despicable man who in his words aborted the 1993 elections with a judicial ruling in favour of his Association for Better Nigeria. It is surprising that in spite of the fictitious names by which he and his legal representatives pleaded the review to abort the results of the elections, the Ministry of Justice has not brought a case against them at the direction of the Courts. It is an accepted position in law that no one is allowed to mislead a court of law. We are told ABN used some fictitious names for pleading the review. So, as it is a punishable offence, why not punish his legal representatives, who should have ensured the bona fide of the applicants? It is time someone calls Nzeribe and his legal team to account for the fictitious names. There is a need to bring a case against him and his lawyers.

Our Senate has routed on the Orlu Senator because of an allegation of misappropriation of 22 Million Naira. Excuse me! Is this a case of a pot calling a kettle black? Anyway, let the procedure and utterances of Anyim be considered here. Pius Anyim has informed us that the Orlu Senator would be arraigned in court. I am rather surprised that it is the Senate president that makes the announcement for the police. So far, the police has made no pronouncement on this matter. It begs the question, what type of a leader is Anyim? Was he mischievous or damn right falsifying the state of play? If the police has no intention to arrest Nzeribe, is this Senate President not morally guilty in misleading the nation? Is the Senate President a liar or what?

As the high drama between Ishiagu and Orlu takes an infamy turn, it is reported that the Senate is now looking to a private prosecution. What a waste of money! Why in this country, do we waste money to mesmerised egocentricity? Anyim is truly getting too big for his boots. Some analysts now argue that they were wrong in their assessments of the president of the Nigerian Senate; I have written on this matter before and as for now, I stick to my views. He is in a borrowed robe and to his surprise, he may find out that like all abstractionisms that animate reality, sooner or later, the toll takes its turn. You see, in the problems with Ogbeh, the Ishiagu man used his last card by inviting the police, he is making this same mistake with Nzeribe. At the final analysis, Ishiagu and Orlu Chiefs will get together or better still, will be “settled” to ‘intervene’ between Anyim and Nzeribe. It is then that the Ishiagu Senator would realise that he that fights and runs lives to fight another day. In politics, you ensure you finish your enemies completely and they are destroyed in a manner that they will never attack you. Anyim has failed so far. Therefore, we should not be surprised that the next dog to be devoured may well be the Senate president.

A petition has now been sent to the Corrupt Practices Bureau to investigate him; I am hardly convinced by all the allegations but at the same time, there are certain allegations that make the hair stand at the back of the neck. Would Anyim survive these allegations? Time will tell. If it is true that Anyim now has a country home and an office complex at Abuja, then we are finished as a nation. However, what is of interest in all of the allegations, is the name of Julius Berger.

There are allegations that this German construction company peddles gifts to our government officials and there are instances where cement bags, construction materials, etc., are alleged to have been given to serving officials to assist them in building their properties. Have our laws not proscribed these gifts? What, as a nation, can we do to take the laws into our hands to drive out the corrupting influence of these foreign companies. Could theses companies peddle these type of gifts in their own countries? Is Anyim going to claim that his properties were built as largess from a construction company or would he plead a construction financing deal was arranged? If the alleged properties attributed to Anyim were not paid from his salaries and benefits, he would wake up to see Ogbeh and others come down on him like the proverbial ton of bricks.

In all of what has happened and still happening in our Senate, the electorate is all the poorer. In the last three years, as a nation, those in whom our mandates are entrusted have raped the nation, the lawmakers who had little by way of material gains are bulging at the seams. They have not been censured nor indicted; the field is open for them to seek re-election and we all ask for the development of our nation. Is it now not clear that in this country, we will continue to witness a great deal of motion and no movement.

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