By Oke Epia 
The dreary drama witnessed on the floor of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on October 29, 2015 is a mindless manifestation of the hypocrisy of Nigeria’s political elite. Watching senators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) file out of the red chambers in sanctimonious protest against the iron-cast resolve of their majority counterparts in the All Progressives Congress (APC) to confirm the nomination of Rotimi Amaechi as minister brings a feeling of dejavu albeit an unsavoury one at that. 
Amaechi’s nomination for the post of minister petition was clobbered by a petition over his indictment for corruption and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N97 billion by a judicial panel of enquiry set up by the PDP government of Rivers State. The petition was referred to the senate committee on ethics and public petitions which recommended against Amaechi’s confirmation. But that was not to be as APC senators needed to prove their loyalty to the party.
Of course we have been here before and nothing changed after the usual lamentations. And even though we have been promised change nothing is likely to change this time. Life would go on and busybody commentators like this writer would pen a piece to remind Nigerians of the sorry lot that has befallen them. End of story. Till the next drama happens. Just eight months ago, the reverse of what transpired penultimate Thursday played out as senators of the APC which were then in the minority staged a walkout from the chambers in self-righteous protest over David Mark’s wily resolve to ensure the confirmation of Musiliu Obanikoro as minister. Obanikoro had been accused of participating in rigging election and the matter was in court as at the time he was nominated. Back then, the PDP popped champagne as the APC was left to make do with sour grapes. Today, the tide has turned and the PDP is crying foul for being fed with the pudding it had earlier served the APC. 
Recall that then Minority Leader, Sen. George Akume, tried so hard to convince senate president Mark that a pending court case against Obanikoro effectively debarred the senate from considering his nomination. According to him, Obanikoro was unworthy of confirmation because “he is alleged to have participated in the rigging of elections in Ekiti; this in itself is a breach of the constitution,” adding: “In a civilised world, his name would not have come up whatsoever, and we are all opposed to this because of his involvement in the Ekiti gate. His matter is in court and one of the rules of the Senate is that when a matter is in court, the Senate should not deliberate on it.” One wonders how Akume felt to hear almost same words he spoke back then repeated by ‘belly-aching’ PDP senators who tried vainly to stop the ministerial nomination of his Amaechi, his party man? So Nigeria had suddenly become a civilized part of the world as different from the days of Obanikoro’s confirmation? 

But as APC senators had filed out in anger to address a press conference in a hearing room nearby, then Senate spokesman, Enyinnaya Abaribe told members of the senate press corps that Obanikoro was confirmed because he had not been found guilty by a court. This is what he said: “As a matter of fact, there are allegations against Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, but in our law and the Constitution of Nigeria, anything that is a mere allegation and not a court decision is nothing but a mere allegation.” He was not done. For full effect, Abaribe at the risk of privilege breach went on to take a dig at his colleagues: “Everyone in Nigeria is deemed innocent until proven guilty and even the senators who addressed the press conference and spoke about the qualification or otherwise of Senator Obanikoro are enjoying this privilege because some of them have EFCC cases. They are still in the Senate because of this privilege of being innocent until proven guilty and so they cannot go to a press conference and try to convict somebody when the person has not been convicted by a court of law. They cannot enjoy that privilege themselves and sit in this Senate and then turn around to say that somebody else cannot enjoy it. And the law is very clear: you are innocent until proven guilty.” Abaribe’s uncouth cut at his colleagues reminded one of the drama orchestrated by Senator Nuhu Aliyu who was then Chairman of Senate Committee on Security and National Intelligence. In 2008, the senator had shocked the nation with his assertion that those he had investigated for advanced fee fraud (419) while he was Deputy Inspector General of Police were sitting with him as senators and members of the House of Representatives. Enraged senators challenged Aliyu to name and shame those he referred to as 419ers. Aliyu said he was ready to so do but somehow the matter died under the dirty carpet of elite conspiracy into which it was swiftly swept. Abaribe was lucky to escape with that indiscrete comment about fellow senators being under EFCC investigation because the PDP ran the show at the time. However, he must have felt what it means to be left with the shorter end of the stick when the APC muscled its way through to confirm Amaechi.
It was simply a symphony of moralizing rhetoric to hear PDP senators cry foul over the former Rivers State governor while they had blocked their ears to the screams of their APC counterparts barely 8 months ago. Hear Sen. George Sekibo: ”There is a moral burden on all of us here, whatever we do today will be recounted in future. We are encouraging corruption when Mr. President said he is fighting corruption. The majority may have their way but we will have our say.” Another PDP senator, Biodun Olujinmi rose to speak and was even more dramatic in her attempt to prick the conscience of the senate: “There is a moral burden not only on us but also on the government that is riding on the crest of anti-corruption. There is a moral burden on anyone that is riding on the crest of anti-corruption. We need to ensure that the curt absolves him before we can confirm him in this senate. The majority will have their way but Nigerians know that this government is not ready to fight corruption.” It was strikingly ironic that while PDP senators made such strident calls on the moral compass of the nation, those of the ruling party booed childishly and interrupted their colleagues until they eventually walked out. Such cheeky reaction from the APC senators in chamber simply meant that they did not take their colleagues seriously apart from being driven by the partisan resolve to confirm Amaechi at all cost. But why should they take them seriously anyway? Are they all not birds of same feather? Are they not just two sides of same coin? The pot cannot be calling the kettle black.   
Afterall even Sen. Godswill Akpabio who led the walkout as minority leader is undergoing investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) – which in itself is an appropriate illustration of Sen. Abaribe’s mocking remark back in March. It is instructive that both Amaechi and Akpabio left office as governors of Rivers and Akwa Ibom states respectively at the same time. Both had petitions submitted against them to the anti-graft agency but while one had honoured calls for questioning, the EFCC seems to have developed cold feet on the other fuelling suspicions that the famed body language of the big boss was at play. Akpabio could only mobilize the limited powers of the PDP minority in the senate to attempt to stop his former governor-colleague. Yes, he failed. The PDP failed. But of heavier consequence is that the greater failure lies with the APC and the Buhari administration which has made a denouement of its anti-corruption movement. The APC may have served the opposition a portion of the bitter pill that was once forced down its throat but it has unwittingly written the obituary of its change mantra. At the end of the day, Nigerians are the greatest losers.
The hypocrisy of the APC as played out in the senate is very unfortunate. For a party and government that rode on the crest of a change manifesto and anti-corruption to gain power to have now become a demoralizing and demobilizing agent of its own core campaign message is simply disappointing to say the least. That the party and administration it superintends over is losing its essence so early in the day is a worrisome betrayal of trust. And to make matters worse, the APC has carried on as if it never campaigned for votes on a promise of change. Events playing out in Kogi and Bayelsa states where the party’s candidates for the upcoming gubernatorial elections are individuals facing criminal charges of corruption and embezzlement of public funds are a sickening pointer to the deceitful make-up of APC. Abubakar Audu has been facing corruption charges since 2003 when he lost his re-election bid to remain governor of Kogi State. He is yet to be cleared of those charges though he has not been convicted as well. It is same story with Mr. Timpre Silva of Bayelsa who was only few months ago re-arraigned by the EFCC on mind-boggling corruption charges while he served as governor. The APC leadership has had no qualms mounting the rostrum in Lokoja and Yenagoa to raise the hands of these ‘change agents’ as the best persons to provide leadership and good governance to the people of those states. All of these point to the fact that Nigerian politicians do not give a hoot about the people. It is all about the interest of personal pockets. May God help Nigeria. 
Follow writer on Twitter @resourceme



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here