February 21, 2005
Dr. Haruna Yerima, a member of the House of Representatives representing Borno state in the legislative house is once again embroiled in a war of survival, this time with his colleagues. The legislators unanimously passed an order suspending Dr. Yerima for accusing the leadership of the house of receiving a total of N48.5 million worth of telephone recharge cards as bribe from one of the providers of the Global System of Mobile (GSM).
Said Yerima earlier on "I know about corruption at committee levels, come and see during the period of budget how various tactics, such as blackmail, are employed to ensure that government agencies and parastatal organizations do then bidding. Some members do go to ministers to ask for money before approval is given to their estimates. For instances a GSM Operator bribed us every month and this is the truth, every month they bring recharge cards worth N7,500.00, to each member. I don’t know about the Senate and I am not a staffer of the company. Why must they send recharge card to me".
Before Dr. Yerima, in the Senate it was a tumultuous case of similar magnitude; the Senator Nzenbe accusation of the use of ‘Ghana must go’, the El-Rufai case against some Senators’ requesting bribe before clearance and others. There is also the Adams Jagaba’s display of arrested inducement package for the removal of the erstwhile Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Umar Ghali Na’aba on the naked floor of the house. If scandals can rock a polity in the national Assembly, the tendencies would have put it out of business. The past experience in the national assembly had been a sorry state of moral reprehensions and public distrust of its inactions. When Yerima’s voice emerged from the wilderness the nation expects that the anti - corruption commission will demand for clues but as usual the prosecutors are judges in then own case. The House of Representatives placed Hon. Yerima on a suspension.
The legislature had not live up to the expectations of legislative business of checkmating excesses even within it’s ranks talkless of outside its’ realms. An image tinged with doubts had engulfed their very capacities and capabilities of living aboard. No wonder, the executive has been operating as a one-way traffic without any opposing tides. The vulnerabilities and otiose tendencies underplaying itself in the house, now and in the past, are engrossing with organizing self-inflictions, making the arm, physically present but morally absent. At least President Obasanjo has proved it beyond any reasonable doubt by his convocation of the National political reform conference.
Dr. Reuben Abati, a columnist with the Guardian Newspapers almost captured the true picture. In his column of 13th February, 2005, Abati said " our National Assembly seizes public imagination rather dramatically only when the lawmaker are seeking to make laws that would promote their personal interests. They do this without either remorse or gumption, conforming the widely held view that what we are running is an alimentary form of democracy, not of the people but of hungry stomachs and pockets waiting to be filled.’ Dr. Abati was reacting to Senate’s proposed bill for life payments for its leadership. Politically it is impossible to be subservient materially at the same challenging constructively within the context of political liberalization - that is the nemesis of the present members of the house. People liberties are normally negotiated at the alter economic deals, moreso, when societies are capitalist - oriented. If the system as it is presently constituted is left intact and with the apparent external forces of the IMF and World Bank policies having it’s way then many dramatic scandals will be engravelled as national models - a virus that must be lived with. Hon Arokodare while reacting to Dr. Yerima’s claim replied, "it is not true that the said member had never collected. He said he wanted to write me. Yes, but by my records, Hon. Yerima has collected once, while some members have collected say about four to five times". Reports had indicated that the Chairperson House Committee on Media and Publicity, Hon. Abike Dabiri agreed she collected once but Hon. Usman Bugaje denied ever collecting the recharge cards. From all the confessions, starting from Hon. Yerima’s accusation to Hon. Arokodare’s counteraccusation that Hon. Yerima is playing to the gallery and Hon. Abike Dabiri’s confirmation, it is certain there’s iota of truth in Yerima’s outburst except that Yerima stands indicted himself along the line of the action of corruption if he ever collected the recharge card - in this case, the quarrel will be likened to a struggle of an out do in sharing a loot. Infact, Hon. Yerima was very explicit with the various tendencies when he said "Talking about corruption in the National Assembly, who ever is telling you that there no corruption is very corrupt. Even the corrupt ones among us would tell you that there is corruption in this National Assembly". With the new wave of corrupt tendencies that has been upgraded to state craft with the rigours of wild fire encroaching into the fabric of our moral fibre, who, then will fight corruption in Nigeria?
Bravo Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman
Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman had proved by his rejection of nomination into the National political reforms conference that he is indeed a hope for a new generation. Bravo, Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman.
Mamza writes from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.