The recent allegation by a former Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, that members of the National Assembly (NASS) seek bribes from government agencies to carry out their constitutional duties should be investigated and the culprits brought to book if indeed the country wants the anti-corruption crusade to make any meaning.
The allegation is a serious indictment on the members on the first estate of the realm who are supposed to drive the anti-graft war, which is the second primary object of the present Buhari administration apart from improving the economy and safeguarding and securing the country.
Professor Jega, speaking in Abuja at an occasion marking 2018 Democracy Day, accused members of the National Assembly of bribe-taking. He specifically accused the Senate Committee members of taking bribes at will under the pretence of committee work and oversight functions.
“Members of the National Assembly engage in bribe-taking when they pursue committee works and oversight and I wonder what is happening with intelligence and investigative responsibilities of security agencies in policing our National Assembly.
“Some chairmen of these committees in the National Assembly have become notorious on this issue of bribing.
“I am not saying the chief executives are saints but all we are saying is that we must point the searchlights so that Nigerians and particularly public office holders should have basic common decency and integrity by which they discharge their responsibilities because virtually everybody seems to forget about what is going on”.
Jega threw this bombshell on the occasion to the consternation of President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, the Chief Justice of Nigeria Walter Onnnoghen, among other federal lawmakers and top government functionaries present.
Miffed by this development, the National Assembly, although denied that any of its committees demand for bribe for any oversight function, asked the former INEC boss to name bribe seekers among the lawmakers or he should keep quiet.
Since the National Assembly has thrown this challenge to Professor Jega, nothing has been heard on the matter.
Considering the fact that he who comes with equity must come with clean hands, Jega should also furnish either the National Assembly or the anti-graft agencies of any evidence of bribe taking by any of the committees in the discharge of their oversight functions.
The evidence (s) is/are necessary because of the caliber of Professor Jega, who is believed to have weighed the gravity of the allegation before making it.
It is also expedient for him to provide evidence of bribe taking moreso that the Senate President Saraki had even vowed to deal appropriately with any lawmaker found guilty of any bribe taking.
That notwithstanding, this allegation needs thorough investigation by both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) if truly the allegation of Professor Mega is anything to go by. This also will ensure the veracity of the former INEC boss’ claim.
After thorough investigation based on empirical evidences, there should be no cover-up or sacred cow and the culprits brought to book to serve as deterrent to others. It is through this that Nigerians will take government serious about the corruption fight.
As expected, the National Assembly is supposed to drive the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari administration. So, it would be unfortunate if this is not done as all the efforts of President Buhari to rid the society of corruption may turn to be futile.
We believe that the support of all and sundry is absolutely necessary more so that the President himself has said his administration has been receiving applause from both the local and international arena on account of some of the policies so far initiated with a view to stamping out the corruption malaise.
Buhari had said, “The second primary object of this Administration is to fight corruption headlong. Like I have always said, if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will destroy the country. Three years into this administration, Nigerians and the international community have begun to applaud our policies and determination to fight corruption. We are more than ever before determined to win this war, however hard the road is. I, therefore, appeal to all well-meaning Nigerians to continue to support us in this fight.”
With this submission from Mr. President, we support the call for all and sundry in the country and beyond to continue to lend their support to the government in its resolve to carry on with the anti-graft war in order to wipe out the malaise or bring it to the barest minimum.
Since government alone cannot fight war against corruption, we urge all hands to be on deck in ensuring that the present Buhari administration fulfils the second thrust of his government part of the reasons he was voted in as President in 2015.
.For a better society