In Greek mythology, the Sirens were beautiful yet dangerous creatures who lured sailors with their songs to turn their boats towards their island as they pass by. The result was that the hull of the sailors’ ships would be damaged by sharp edges of rocks around the coasts of their island and they would pick the sailors piece by piece and drown them for meals.
The recent unhappy happenings in the Nigerian House of Representatives and the country in general share an analogous similarity with the mythological picture above and do not cast any news to the ears and eyes of the observant. From the month of July when Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin the erstwhile chairman of the House committee on appropriation began his ‘onslaught’ on corrupt forces in the House of Representatives, his name has become engraved in the minds of Nigerians as many things especially a hero to the masses. For some who may not be in the know of these happenings, a superficial brush forth is ineluctable. Hon. Jibrin first sounded his clarion concerning the alleged budget padding by the speaker of the house Yakubu Dogara. This issue condensed on the political and social stratosphere of the country and torrents of rancorous rain ensued. It became a scalding topic among the peak and crust of legal and political pundits all over the country, if padding the budget (subtracting from and or inflating the budget) submitted to the House of Representatives for legislative ratification is criminal, ethical or not. This fire while still raging was exacerbated when Hon. Jibrin began his messianic exodus to expose deeply crusted layers of corruption and ethical decay within the House, while it was still on recess. He appeared on some television stations and kept spilling the decayed beans while affirming that 10 principal members of the house including Dogara shared N10bn amongst themselves as bogus office running cost; one of the dividends of the alleged padded budget. Amidst calls for the resignation of these principal members, this seeming struggle to wipe out corruption from the house has not gone down well with them, as the house when it returned from recess, slammed some charges on jibrin, accusing him of dragging it in mire and pointing murky fingers at the principal models of the house wrongfully. The house was annoyed at his failure to “pass through the proper channels” in making his revelations and cast wicked faces at his act of going to the EFCC and news stations to channel his accusations instead of coming through them. Jibrin was asked to appear before the House Committee on Ethics and Privilleges which he failed to do, owing to the fact that the house refused to accede to his demands to make the appearance public. He continues to talk tough even after the house recently suspended him for 180 sitting days and barred the door to his office with other punishments being threatened.
Nigeria, as we very well know and should understand since we are all little bits of it, is neck deep in so many problems all of which are seen as offshoots of the systemic corruption that has found place and root in the government over the years. It will be painting the obvious to say that most Nigerians owing to the recent revelations see Hon. Jibrin as the hero of the masses. A minute others, see him as one of the problems of Nigeria, turned renegade simply because some bundles of lucre was not disseminated according to his taste and unethically standardised perception or because he inhaled anger’s breath after being eased out of office as the chairman of the committee on appropriation and now wears the girdle of innocence to blow the horns of anti-corruption to get back at the speaker and the house. Well, whichever way he has set out with his toast buttered, it is first of all commendable that he is brave enough to stand alone and speak out against the racketeering going on in the house but it is no less painful and shameful that at this point in time when the government along with all its arms is supposed to be wholly tuned to the wavelengths of nation building, an arm of the legislature is still immersed in bickering and rascality, painting issues we should have overgrown by now. In a country where the rule of law were to be in force, a mere tot of accusation served chilled on the house, should normally lead to the immediate resignation of its principal members even without calls for it. A proper inquest should have already begun into the issues raised to sponge off the means-draining fungus of corruption that may take hold of government but we really don’t run our affairs like that here… no, not here. Instead of investigating the allegations no matter what channel they came through, the house went on to slay and crush a seeming opposition to its banditry – Jibrin. The allegations against Jibrin which should have made him appear before the Committee of Ethics and Privileges of the house, should have come at a later time after the investigation of the allegations he alleged. This makes us actually wonder if there is a special problem with the House of Representatives. Not a great throng of Nigerians have forgotten the many times esteemed members of this house have gotten up from their seats to brew no few moves of Kung-fu and karate which they unleashed on themselves because of issues that could have been settled with proper dialogue. This house as it is quite far from what it should be.
I feel funny at times; advocating solutions that are supposed to come to our leaders naturally via the vehicle of common sense but one thing is obvious, if we stop speaking about their short comings, it gets worse. If we stop or cut our materials short in mentioning their errors to their faces, we are finished as a people and have no cause to cry when we suffer. We are celebrating our independence now, surely without smiles on our faces. This is not because we have lost gleaming dentitions to showcase, but we still suffer from the wounds caused by the wholesale failings and dereliction of duty of leaders and ourselves. If we are to set ourselves back on the path to El Dorado, this rascality had better stop. It is very clear that the show of power to stifle whistle blowers and grab the dividends of corruption especially when it is successfully masked and obscured from the eyes of the anti-graft agencies is bountiful and as sweet as the songs of sirens. But as these continue to play on, they act as abrasive agents to wear out our time, resources and eat deep into the hull of collective progression. Our legislature should hold up better the banner of anti-corruption as this regime has sworn to. The bickering and faults which though are results of our ethnic and ideological heterogeneity which mirrors on our representatives should be brought to the minimum. Like Hon. Jibrin stated; “It is only when the legislature comes with purity that effective oversight will be carried out and investigative hearing to expose fraud and corruption can be undertaken”. I adopt this through and through. If we don’t address these issues sooner and make sure we focus more on curing the disease than the mode of confession of the ailment itself, we will hit the rocks soon while tuning themes in symphony with the sirens.