Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ekiti State, Segun Osinkolu, said the current crisis rocking the House of Representatives over alleged budget padding is an eye opener for Nigerians to always elect people of integrity into offices.
Osinkolu, who described the current National Assembly as the worst since the advent of democracy in 1999, said achieving development under President Muhammadu Buhari might be an herculean task if the likes of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, are on the saddle.
Saraki and Ekweremadu are currently answering forgery charges at a Federal High Court in Abuja over alleged alteration of the standing rules that brought them into office, while Dogara and former Chairman, House Committee on Finance and Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jubrin, are exchanging verbal abuses over alleged budget padding running into billions of naira.
Speaking with journalists in Ado Ekiti, yesterday, Osinkolu said what is playing out at the National Assembly is painful to him because he has declared his intention to contest the 2019 senatorial election.
Osinkolu, who is grappling to represent Ekiti North at the Senate, added that it is appalling that shenanigans and the corruption going on in high places might prevent people of integrity from going into politics.
“This might be painful to many of us who have senatorial aspirations, but let me emphasize that these unwholesome conduct should not discourage good Nigerians from pursuing their aspirations.
“President Muhammadu Buhari alone cannot win the war against graft. He needs good institutions like the Senate and House of Representatives to win the war. We need men of integrity, those with strong character and incorruptible nature to lead that pivotal arm to help the executive raise the bar of governance beyond this pedestrian level.
“My desire to go to the Senate is to serve the country and not to desecrate or abuse or enrich myself. People like us are not encouraged by the way these present National Assembly members have comported themselves.
“The silence of members of both chambers in the midst of these raging controversies lend credence to the fact that they are also complicit. They have not comported themselves in the most honourable way and this portends grave danger to us as a nation. Making laws need not be a full time job were governors finish serving for eight years and retire to the Senate to remain relevant and to seek refuge against prosecution.”
Osinkolu called on the federal government and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, not to spare anyone complicit in the official malfeasance going on in both chambers of the National Assembly.
He appealed to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, not to bow to pressure and harassment coming from the senators on the alleged forgery case, saying his ability to prosecute such high profile case would send a signal that President Buhari is committed to ridding the country of criminality.
“President Buhari was elected by a popular notion that he has integrity and the political will to tackle corruption in any form. He shouldn’t disappoint Nigerians in this regard because sparing these big men might cast a thick doubt on the integrity of the APC-led federal government.
“I am not really happy because many of us are struggling to represent our people in the Senate and I don’t imagine finding myself in a place where people would feel that everybody is corrupt. What we are witnessing today in both chambers of the National Assembly is a national shame.
“It is now time for Nigerians to always put on their thinking caps while voting for people. They should stop voting by emotions. They should look at the contestants’ integrity and character before casting their votes for them or else national shame like this will continue to reoccur.
“One can’t imagine those that were voted to represent them to be involved in allegations of forgery and illegal injection of billions of naira into the budget in the name of padding. All these can’t bring Nigeria out of the woods and they are capable of derailing the ongoing anti-corruption war,” he said.
…Group urges members to tread cautiously
Meanwhile, a group under the auspices of Joint Northern States Progressive Youth Forum, Kaduna State chapter, has urged members of the House of Representatives to tread cautiously in handling the saga surrounding the purported smuggling of constituency projects into the 2016 budget.
A statement issued by the group and signed by its Secretary, Abdulrahman Sade, said “we have observed with keen interest the ongoing altercation between the former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, and some members of the House over what is today trending in Nigeria as ‘budget padding’.
According to the group, “we are not here to attack anybody, we are not here to apportion blame or pass judgment, what we intend to do is to put the records straight and explain to Nigerians what they do not know about the man dishing out these wrong information and also why the current issue is nothing but a distraction as far as we are concerned.
“On several occasions, this great institution has received bashing from within and outside, but this time around we are compelled to protect it from any external or internal aggression. We say so because without the House of Representatives, there is no Nigeria. Yes, because every local government has a representative and as such we all should protect it.
“We are not saying there are no issues, all over the world parliaments have one issue or the other to contend with and they resolve it amicably, but here, a situation were one member wants to hold the whole House to ransom must be rejected and condemned by all and sundry, even though there are channels in the House that he can utilise to lay bare his grievances with a view to resolving them,’’ the group concluded.