It is quite unfortunate that despite the overwhelming public outrage over his alleged key role in the Ekiti election rigging scandal, the Nigerian Senate has gone ahead to approve the appointment of Musiliu Obanikoro for a cabinet post. The approval followed repeated deferment and the protests of a section of the Senate – comprising senators from Mr. Obanikoro’s home state, Lagos, and the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC).
That nauseating act by the Senate demonstrates a wanton disregard for propriety of conduct in public office and sends out all the wrong signals about the importance of ethical conducts in our country. The upper legislative chamber’s worship at the altar of blind support for unethical conduct by a government minister and party loyalty has dragged it into the stench of moral compromise. The Senate brushed aside our collective sense of indignation as a people, shocked as we have been, by the revelations of the rigging tape that undermines the legitimacy of our political system.
PREMIUM TIMES considers this inappropriate confirmation of Mr. Obanikoro as, certainly, a tragic moment for parliamentary oversight and democratic accountability in Nigeria of today. It is clear that the Senate has refused to avail itself of global best practices in legislative ethics and morality. Our previously expressed consternation at the President’s recklessness in proposing Mr. Obanikoro as minister at such an inauspicious period and horror at the Senate’s willingness to consider the nomination have been now been confirmed to be right.
In clearing Senator Obanikoro – in line with the esprit de corps that prevents him from being grilled over his alleged transgression as a public official – some of our lawmakers have proven themselves, again, as largely constituting the greatest hazard to the entrenchment of an accountable democratic culture in Nigeria.
The government’s refusal to investigate and prosecute the claim of official misconduct proffered against Mr. Obanikoro and the confirmed travesty of the Senate can be seen to confirm a tradition of government in which it feels no accountability or obligation to the people. The Senate and the President, who proposed the appointment of Mr. Obanikoro are telling Nigerians that they have no fear of consequences for their action. Their attitude, sadly, is that “hell will not fall” no matter how badly the people are violated.
PREMIUM TIMES condemns in the strongest possible terms the Presidency and the Senate for taking their penchant for impunity a step too far. This act clearly exhibits a tacit support for criminality. The moral stench oozing out of these willful actions – involving the deplorable shielding of a crime suspect and grand conspiracy at rewarding a government agent with impunity – is bound to consume the leadership of the Senate for its invidious role in the debacle. Mr. Obanikoro has become a minister with an ethical albatross on his neck. President Goodluck Jonathan is the puppeteer in the entire charade; and his government welcomes one more person lacking in integrity and character.
A patriotic government of men and women of unassailable integrity would have acted otherwise by instituting a hearing into the Ekiti election rigging affair and addressing the public’s concern without attempting to promote impunity. However, this is another manifestation of the pervasive absurdities permeating our national landscape and defining public life. Surely, this ought not to be one of the manifest habits of the legislature, which should be a bulwark against the routine degradation of the Nigerian experience. Our lawless and shameless lawmakers have failed the country once again, and there is no doubt that they will remain on the wrong side of history for a long time.