Trashed Probe: A Service Fee Crash Or The Due Process Casualty

by L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu

I am very worried that Nigeria’s National Assembly has detracted from its major function which is law making for good governance and found itself deeply immersed in the murky waters of probes. This is not for purely altruistic motives but for personal gains and cheap publicity. I read in the papers where the legislature has usurped what would ordinarily have been purely executive functions. This is terrible and portrays the country as unserious in the eyes of the world

Do all gifts amounts amount to corruption? When should information on gifts be reported? These are all mind boggling ethical questions that we face. One of the most challenging and interesting issues is deciding where to draw the line between permissible and prohibited actions. Even if we know that some actions are clearly right and others wrong, there may be gray areas thus decision-making is difficult.

Deciding when to accept a gift or bribe illustrates this challenge. In this feature we will try to decide how to draw the line between morally acceptable and unacceptable acts and to justify their decisions. We will also try to distinguish the perfectly ethical way of accepting a public favour from an unethical one.

What is the trend with regard to the concept of bribery? For the purpose of this feature let’s define what a bribe is: A Bribe is any valuable thing given or promised, or any preferment, advantage, privilege or, emolument, given or promised in a corrupt manner; for one in public office capacity to violate or forbear from his duty, or to improperly influence his behaviour in the performance of his duty.

There are good moral reasons for us arising from this:

Bribery corrupts the economic system. The capitalist system is based on competition in an open and free market, where people tend to buy the best product at the best price. Bribery corrupts the free-market mechanism by getting people to make purchases that do not reward the most efficient producer.

Bribery is a sellout to the rich. In any situation ruled only by money, the deeper pocket will prevail. If bribery were universally practiced, expert testimony, justice in the courts, and everything else would be up for sale to the highest bidder.

Bribery produces cynicism and a general distrust of institutions. It destroys people’s trust in the integrity of professional services, of government and the courts, of law enforcement, religion, and anything it touches. There is good evidence that societies which allow bribery tend to have social unrest and perhaps revolutions.

Bribery treats people as commodities whose honour can be bought and sold. It thus tends to degrade the respect we owe to other human beings.
But it can be difficult to determine the difference between a gift and a bribe in a given situation. If you give a gift to someone and it leads to a business deal, is that a bribe or a gift. In some cultures, gift-giving is an entrenched part of doing business.

Consider this: Until an anti-bribery convention proposed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was signed by 34 countries in 1997, many nations, including Germany and Canada, allowed companies to deduct bribes as legitimate business expenses. Many U.S. entrepreneurs who believe this placed them at a disadvantage in the international business arena expect the OECD act to level the playing field.

Gift-giving also occurs in the area of reciprocity (meaning that gifts are given with the anticipation that the receiver will give a gift in return at some future time). For instance, a business person giving an excessive amount of money as a wedding gift to the son of one of the most influential government officials. His money was literally a wedding gift. However, shortly after the wedding, the business person informs this government dignitary indirectly that he needs a permit to expand his business. Gift or bribe? Formally, the money was a wedding gift, but, informally, it may be interpreted as a bribe for his business.

Sometimes, you begin to wonder if most Nigerians are living in a different planet or if Nigerians are living in 1039 BC. From the look of things it appears that we don’t have the will power to move a nation from economic and political obscurity to the luminous progress of the present global dispensation.

There are no signs at all that Nigeria is attempting to progress as her peoples’ thinking faculties is clouded with petty emotions and compromises for petty individual{s} over vital issues that are capable of moving the country out of the doldrums of poverty and mental backwardness. Those countries that are dictating the political and economic directions of the world today are countries who have outgrown petty feelings and compromises for petty individuals, exes, or back out of backward societal standards which unfortunately is the precedence of a modern Nigerian society.

If this nation; Nigeria is to keep the flame of transparency high then our legal code against corruption, scattered between the 1999 Criminal Code to the contemporary act of legislation should be brought together. It appears we are not serious in tackling issues of corruption inside this Agric subsidy, power sector, aviation, NNPC, bunkering, Aviation, failed rail contract, transport, PEF, and Banking industries probe.

The present probe is gulping the whole of N100,000 million and more from suffering tax payers funds; money that would have been put to better use providing badly needed basic infrastructure to the populace. All these money will eventually go into the deep pockets of these people parading the National Assembly premises as ‘law makers’.

Let it be said loud and very clear that Nigerians are tired and fed up with these masquerades. We have been pushed to the wall enduring all these plethora of probes that achieves nothing. Everything should be done to put a stop to these probes including this one. EFCC must be empowered to carry out its statutory functions including looking into corruption and embezzlement of funds.

Take also the ongoing tribunal’s chairman or judge transferred to a new duty station. He gets there on Friday afternoon and the next day, someone comes to his house and presents a fattened cow or sheep to him as a welcome gift. The first day he commences duty at the bench, there is a boy charged of thuggery. Later in the course of the trial the judge realizes the boy is the son of the man who bestowed him his gift. Can the trial be fair? In an era where right and wrong appear to be relative it important that we know what is gift and bribery.

In as much as this will further enhance the development of our democracy and good governance, it is a good thing. my fear is that people tend to politicise serious issues and at the end they end up bastardising the system. What the HOUSE is doing is not a big thing so far the country belongs to all of us and not to FORMER PRESIDENT OBASANJO alone, governance should be continuous. Obasanjo has come and gone, he has played his part.

All these probes and fact findings should be made to correct the wrong policies of the previous government and prepare the incumbent for a good governance and lay a better foundation for the ones coming after, at the same time to make life meaningful for an average Nigerian, THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY should make sure they do what we make our constitution work, we have all the necessary laws needed for a country ro work but our is just not working because the GOOD ONES refuse to be part of political process.

Most of the actors in the act of governance should not have been given the opportunity in the first place.It is here that party MANIFESTO and PROGRAM are not considered before a politician is supposedly elected or selected which ever option is applied. you see people changing political platforms as many times as time permits before the election day. no vision, no plan and no good intention, all that is required is ability to loot, to worsen the situation, Nigerians are very good in capitalising on constitutional loopholes, our politicians capitalised on the political party government funding clause to form so many political parties so as to have access to such funds. the saddening fact about the whole thing is that two or more political parties use the same membership register just to beat INEC. in order word one person is a member of many political parties.

Most importantly, LOCAL GOVERNMENT should be made to work and be answerable to the people. the governance at all levels should not be personalised, a situation where the chief executives at the various levels of governance are been praised on the pages of newspaper for doing the job they are paid to do as if it was a favour from them.

All this aimless probe should end as nothing will come out of it. The House should probe their own N140,000 per day per person meal allowance. It’s obvious this set of House members will use the first four years in office to probe and no one will be prosecuted as the offenders or accused still go back to the society to spend their loot. Are these various probes meant to show faces on television or what? They should go back to the work of law making and stop doing “busy body” probes.

The 100 million Naira spent by the probe panel is infinitesimal to the $16 billion that was squandered in a fiat by the past administration. There are moral justifications for former president Obasanjo to appear before the panel in person to answer the questions which he has tactically eluded for quite a while now. The Huge monies these National Assembly-men require for the “toothless probes” should be appropriated to enhance the efficiency of the state security service in collaboration with the EFCC to combat crime and fraud.

Nigerians must probe themselves of reality checks, mental check ups and shake off the spirit of continuously being subservient to killers of our hope and future. They must get rid of the syndrome of complacency which has dragged the nation 27,000 years behind her contemporaries. I have taught myself to live by an acceptable standard that is free from stupidity and myopic-ism. The panel has done a wonderful job. They have opened the Pandora box of Obasanjo’s 8 years of misrule as well as the appalling hypocrisy which he {Obasanjo} exhibited while he masqueraded himself as a saint to gullible Nigerians.

Nigerians will reap the reward of hard work and natural endowments if we face reality check. We shall become a prosperous nation when all Nigerians irrespective of social status are held accountable for their deeds and actions either in their private lives or public lives. A nation that wants to progress must move from bondage of mental shackles to freedom of thought and common sense. Attaining a world class economic progress requires grilling of exes and present political office holders. The status that has embossed Nigeria into a permanent backwardness must be exterminated or else, Nigeria will continue to bask in absolute barkwardness until thy kingdom come while our leaders sing the jingles of empty progress.

Aviation probe, apart from the sensation of arresting Fani-Kayode, Iyayi and co, has been instituted inside Obasanjo regime, the national assembly is yet to justify the cost of the said probe. If I were the committee, I would look for the “specifics” not this jamboree sensation that is leaving this nation “worse-off”. Like Mrs Waziri of EFCC has said few days ago, “EFFORTS SHOULD BE GEARED TOWARDS THE PREVENTION OF LOOTING FROM NOW ON NOT THE SENSATION OF HANDCUFFS AND LEG-CHAINS” this administration is abusing the due process in soft-landing the corrupt..

A great historian and writer by the name Arnold Toynbee said that some twenty-seven civilisations have risen upon the face of the earth. Almost all of them have descended into the junk heaps of destruction. The decline and fall of these civilisations, according to Toynbee, was not caused by external invasions but rather internal decay caused by corruption and immorality. If we remain silent about corruption we will get drowned in our own sins and a future historian will say that a great nation called Nigeria died because it lacked the soul and the commitment to fight corruption.

If we were to use the anti corruption barometer to measure the Zero Tolerance of Corruption we will no where get to 68%. Again, corruption in Nigeria is increasing under a regime, which has it as it slogan “zero tolerance for corruption”. Is it a case of the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak? How long can we wallow in the dark and desolate valleys of bribery and corruption?

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