Nigeria’s lawmakers’ retreat on “ensuring governance accountability …” accommodates immunity for Saraki-type criminal charges – Tola Adenle

June 20, 2016



Stella Oduah

A favorite photograph of Nigerian newspapers that was used to illustrate many stories of Ms. Stella Oduah during her term as Aviation Minister under former President Jonathan whose wife purportedly gifted Stella with a ticket to Senate.

Nigerians can never forget Oduah, she of the multiple problems of integrity as a minister: she forged bachelors and masters degrees from a university which, in its over 100 years existence before it went out of business, NEVER had post graduate programs! The publicity led Stella having her page on the generally self-promoting Wikipedia – by Nigerians – being edited to remove the degrees she had claimed on her resume and also from the website of the Aviation Ministry! Her greatest scandal, however, was the hundreds of millions expended on armored luxury vehicles and two bullet-proof cars.

Saraki in dock

Bukola Saraki, Nigeria’s Senate President, looks out from the dock during his ongoing trial for multiple economic crime allegations. [google Images]

I’ve referenced briefly the antecedent of Oduah, one of the retreat attendees, a woman whose “election” to the Senate was nullified  (she’s apparently back) as she’s not the only one in Nigeria’s legislative body or politics with academic qualifications  and antecedents “with K-legs” – to quote former Pres. Obasanjo’s description of Rotimi Amaechi’s docs way back when. Oduah belongs to a group in Nigerian politics that will do or say anything to remain in the mainstream of the power in the legislative arm, one of those of the ruling elites I once referred to as Nigeria, Inc. back in 2003.

Here are a few quotes credited to a couple of legis-“looter” attendees whose depth of knowledge about governance, to say the least, is disgracefully pathetic:

Oduah:  “The executive enjoy it. Let us stand by our leaders. They should enjoy this benefit. They act on behalf of us. They are equal to the executive and judiciary and should therefore enjoy the same benefit.” – Punch.

Kabiru Gaya, Chair, Senate Committee on Works:  “See what is happening to the President of the Senate now. We are not saying the case in court should be stopped.

“But even yesterday we read in the papers that there is a fresh case of forgery of Senate Standing Rule against the presiding officers and some other persons and all is to destabilise us.’’

Before quoting the words of reason by Remi Tinubu, Gaya’s words should be noted as perhaps pointing out the extent of war that Saraki, the embattled senate president is waging on Nigeria and Nigerians because the words point to the goal of “lawmakers” who have not only legislated pays to guarantee them lives of ease while holding Nigeria back and impoverishing the vast majority of Nigerians but who also want to enshrine in Nigeria’s Constitution laws that would protect them and their ilk from criminal offences as long as Nigeria remains in existence.

By the way, Saraki, recently dismissed news reports about N300 million reportedly stolen from his Ilorin home as being false because “only N12 million” was the correct amount. Let us forget how a man being tried for purported money laundering would keep so much cash at home but could we ever forget or dismiss the Yoruba saying:  Nwọn npe ọ ni olè, o ngbé ọmọ ẹran jó!  [How could one with a scarlet ‘T’ for ‘thief’ attached to his name everywhere he goes, decide to pick a baby goat from its mommy and start dancing with it like a pet? olè! olè!! olè!!!]

It was in the news last week that N52 million was discovered in the bank account of Saraki’s “personal accountant”; several domestic servants “from Cotonou” are being treated like   olè! olè!! olè!!!, and the boss has reportedly gone all the way to Immigration’s “Ọga at the top”. Can deportation – hopefully without extra-judicial heavy-handed punishment – be far ahead?

Now, what in the world do we do with Saraki and the mostly motley crowd in the National Assembly for Nigeria to a chart a new direction?

To get their new iniquitous plan through, they’ve apparently recruited States’ Houses of Assembly Speakers as supporters to ram it through in view of the constitutional requirement by two-thirds of states.

Will Bukola Saraki get away with all the allegations the way he, his father and family got away with depositors funds in their family-owned bank? His rap sheet is long and fat: money laundering, false and anticipatory declaration – “working to the answer” in primary school Arithmetic  of my era by dull students, turning APC’s victory at the polls into a PDP ambush, no thanks to APC’s leadership which welcomed PDPers who were advanced in the ways of deceptive politics – by the droves.

Before you could spell S-o-c-i-e-t-e  G-e-n-e-r-a-l — the Sarakis’ defunct bank, Bukola had become the Senate President while, for good measure, his deputy and a few from among the crossovers, were planted in key Senate positions.  The old fox, Dr. Olusola Saraki, (Snr.) who headed the Senate in (PDP’s progenitor) Shagari-led reactionary government, must be smiling from the grave!

And, finally, a true representation of her constituency, the Nigerian people:

Remi Tinubu:  “Principal Officers drive fleet of cars and they have other entitlements. They should not earn extra money when they leave office.

“In the last (8th) assembly, we in the minority tried to raise our voice against it. You are first, second and third among equals. Some of us do not even have cars but principal officers have so many. I think we should drop that idea.

Here are the points the Senate is working to write into the Constitution through a constitutional review that they have the power – AND FINANCIAL MUSCLE to ram through from states’ Houses of Assembly all the way to the Senate:

  •       immunity from prosecution and life pensions for the senate president,            deputy president, speaker of the House and the deputy included in a                  revised Constitution of Nigeria.

“Towards Ensuring Governance Accountability in Nigerian federalism’’, is supposedly the theme of the retreat where the bombshell to declare further war on Nigeria was dropped but how the new inclusion to the Constitution would help “ensure governance accountability …” is a scam.

If Nigerians allow this new assault to go through into the Constitution, Bukola would be provided with a red carpet walk out of his many self-inflicted fraud charges. His deputy, too, is not without a case – forgery,  though less – that is pending.

It’s over to government, to the press and to Nigerians as a whole to say ‘no’ to this new assault. If it goes through, there’s nothing these people will not aim for and get through. Members of the Legislature like Remi Tinubu must work at not only trying to fight from within to get a few more people on their side but must let the Nigerian public know the effort they are making, knowledge that will help give steam to the fight.

The presidential system that retd. General Obasanjo could not understand enough as to be workable in Nigeria’s type of multi-plural society needs to be jettisoned. The maturity needed to handle all the executive powers at local, state and central government levels is not just present in the crop of politicians that the presidential system throws up in Nigeria.


Senators demand life pension, immunity for Saraki, Dogara, others


Nigeria lawmakers propose immunity from prosecution for Saraki, others


MONDAY, JUNE 20, 2016. 12.58 a.m. [GMT]



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