National Chairman of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Chidi Chukwuanyi, says the state of corruption in the country calls for the replication of the Ghanaian experience under former President Jerry Rawlings in Nigeria. Rawlings, known for his no-nonsense position against corruption, executed Ghana’s past leaders accused of corrupt enrichment.
The NDP chairman in an exclusive interview with Sunday Tribune said politicians who have been stealing the commonwealth and frittering same should be put in where they belong to allow the country and its people move forward. He decried a situation where huge sums of money meant for the growth and prosperity of the nation would be diverted by few individuals, thereby neglecting the general public good which would promote harmony and peaceful coexistence among the citizens.
He said it was imperative for the Federal Government to set up a special and independent tribunal to investigate all the probes in the National Assembly, especially in those involving the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) where members of the legislature were alleged to be part of the under-hand dealings.
“I am calling for immediate setting up of an independent tribunal to investigate the allegations. It is evident that it is improper for the National Assembly to investigate itself. “It has to be an independent tribunal that will investigate the National Assembly members of both the Senate and the Houseof Representatives who are culpable in this matter, the interim and the expanded interim management committee members and all those connected even in the Presidency and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) residing or hiding in any part of Nigeria.
“So long as they are culpable in the rubbish that has been disclosed to Nigerians, they should face the full wrath of the aw. It’s simple,” he said. He said the allegation on the National Assembly has blighted its reputation and that of Nigeria by extension, and, the National Assembly could not be seen to be a judge in a matter it was allegedly culpable.
“It is a very sad story. Every Nigerian is wishing that somehow Nigeria can get a Flight Lieutenant Rawlings to somehow emerge so that some of these politicians who are stealing ourcountry’s funds with reckless abandon can be put in their right places.
“More bemusing to Nigerians is that a majority of the contracts went to National Assembly members while they appear before the camera to grandstand, to the extent when the minister wanted to disclose those involved, they said he should keep quiet. Can you imagine that?
“Can you imagine [someone sitting as a judge over his own matter?] That is what we have happening in Nigeria. It is a terrible thing. I hope journalists can sustain this narrative in the public domain and sensitive Nigerians population to the issue. He said the matter has assumed international dimension, given the reach of the new media presenting the nation as habitat for corruption.
“That is why developed countries do not take us serious. Nigerians should deeply consider the statement former British Prime Minister, David Cameroon, said overall this nonsense that we put before the camera. “He said if ‘a tenth of what was alleged to have been stolen had happened in Britain, Britain would cease to be a country.
“That is how horrible it is. A trillion of naira? Go to the Niger Delta and point at any primary school that is of the standard to a British primary school. Also speaking to Sunday Tribune on the same subject, Honourable Eseme Eribo, former spokesman of the House of Representatives in the Sixth Assembly and Chairman House committee on Donor Agencies n the Seventh Assembly, said while there is nothing unusual about the legislature carrying out the probe, the exposé so far was “indeed sordid and unbecoming of a commission created to meet the development gap of the region’s infrastructural and human assets.”
He said the challenge was one of the leadership recruitment processes which promotes more of strong men than building the institutions that would outlive the strong men and serve future generation. He lamented that the region has not benefited from the intent of those who fought for and reasoned that the commission should be created to carry out the development of the area.
“What is going on now in the National Assembly with regards to the NDDC and other agencies of government is a constitutional requirement and is okay as it falls within the responsibility of the National Assembly. “The issue of corruption, irregularities and breaches, financial breaches or breaches related to financial regulations; breaches related to procurement act are to be guarded because there is a minimum standard of governance and Nigerians deserve to be so governed in accordance with international best practices.
“When it comes to these things, of course, it is very important that we must be on the watch. Therefore, what goes on in the Niger Delta is rather unfortunate. It is something that ought to have happened before now. “Since the NDDC was created, there is nothing that the people of the area can boast of as coming from NDDC. It was created as an interventionist agency to intervene in the development gap in the Niger Delta.
“It was to try to grow prosperity among the people through infrastructure and human asset development. As we speak, scholarship has not been paid to the students on scholarship. With this reality, where is the human asset development? “When you get wrong people into right places they begin to have unbearable influence on the institution and when the institution is weak, you now begin to have the normal garbage in, garbage out.
“Going forward, can we now begin to see a real respect of rules guiding our leadership recruitment process, where we begin to get the right people into the right places and people are punished for their offences. “I’m talking about the enforcement of laws and when we begin to see the issue of building institutions instead of building individuals we shall make geometric progress as a region and as a nation.
“In changing the narrative of the culture of building institutions as against building individuals, because there is a culture of building individuals to the peril of building institutions that would long outlive us as individuals, can we also say that what the NDDC represents today, is the typical adage that a society begets the kind of leadership it deserves?
“We have a lot of well developed and respected people in the Niger Delta across all category of age, education intelligence and otherwise; we have one of the strongest and most active youth in the Niger Delta. So what went wrong?” Eribo asked.
Eribo told Sunday Tribune that the nation’s political leadership has focused on building the nation on an ad-hoc basis as against taking a futuristic review of the nation and planning along that line. “What we fail to do in Nigeria today, particularly, in the Niger Delta is that, for every government, leadership issues are being treated for the sake of the next elections, not the next generation, that is where we got it wrong.
We have not developed a template or a strategy for improving the next generation. All that we are doing is to create incentives for the next election and we must stop that,” he said.