Posted by By Emma Emeozor on
For the Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum, Chief Sunday Awoniyi, there couldn’t have been a better occasion than the conference of Northern Senators to express his feelings over the state of the nation, particularly President Olusegun Obasanjo’s style of governance and his anti-corruption crusade.
For the Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum, Chief Sunday Awoniyi, there couldn’t have been a better occasion than the conference of Northern Senators to express his feelings over the state of the nation, particularly President Olusegun Obasanjo’s style of governance and his anti-corruption crusade. He therefore stormed the Zaranda Hotels, Bauchi, venue of the conference simmering with facts he believe could serve as ‘eye opener’ to the distinguished senators and spur them into the serious business of sweeping clean the ‘augean stable.’
Blow by blow, Chief Awoniyi reeled his testament: his grouse with President Olusegun Obasanjo, the root of the current spate of corruption in the country, the failure of the senate, how the ruling People’s Democratic Party has met its ‘waterloo,’ his regret for helping to bring Obasanjo to power and his hope for Nigeria, among others.
I regret helping to bring Obasanjo to power
Obasanjo was a man thoroughly rejected by his Yoruba ethnic group in every way, and particularly electoral. But the rest of Nigeria decided that they wanted him to lead them. He used two strategies to land us in the mess we find ourselves today. The first was the blatant way the party that brought him to power was corrupted and rendered irrelevant. The second was the equally crude and undisguised way the legislature was corrupted, destabilized and rendered impotent. Please, pray for Nigeria as I often do. I am still doing penance for my little contribution in helping to bring Obasanjo to power.
Hold Obasanjo responsible for the messy state of the nation
Willy-nilly, Obasanjo has to bear personal responsibility for the corrupt individuals he has appointed to office. Why does he attract to himself such dishonest men and women just like a magnet attracting iron filing to itself? The total mess, nationwide, in every facet of our lives derives from the President because he appoints men to his office to help him. The 4th President of the United States of America, James Madison said quite correctly:”The President is responsible to the public for the conduct of persons he has nominated and appointed.” Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the USA said that for the appointment of a person to public office, there are three questions you must answer: “Is he honest? Is he capable? Is he faithful to the constitution? Maybe President Obasanjo should apply the words of these two great democrats when next he makes appointments.
Aso Rock – Fountain of corruption
It was like dropping a thunderbolt when Chief Awoniyi told his distinguished audience that “ The fountain head of corruption” in the country “is traceable to the spiritual corruption flowing out from Aso Rock.” In his words, “Every Nigerian community has a proverb, which states in effect that ‘a rotten fish starts to rot from the head.’ Similarly, according to the Economist magazine of London, most of our corruptions are traceable to the Presidency. The corruption you are accused of, are merely outward manifestations of deeper corruption. “You are merely the distinguished victims of the flow of spiritual corruption fed into you, individually and collectively, and into our institutions of governance by Aso Rock.”
Characteristics of spiritual corruption
Chief Awoniyi believes that Nigeria is afflicted with ‘spiritual corruption.’ And he explains the attributes of a man who is afflicted with spiritual corruption to illustrate. “When a man is afflicted with spiritual corruption, he corrupts everyone around him. He prefers to bring near himself men who are tainted; men who are filthy and morally depraved, and easily blackmailed or manipulated. Spiritual corruption makes a leader to keep away from him the clean, the bold, the unsoiled, the prudent, the fair-minded and the truthful. A spiritually corrupt man is instinctively attracted towards impropriety rather than correct conduct. One of the ugliest attributes of the spiritually corrupt is greed – greed for power, greed for worldwide adulation, greed for wealth, greed to be chairman of everything that is “chairmanable,” greed to be seen to be author, or originator and executor of laudable projects, failing which the projects are scuttled if he sees that the glory for them can be shared with anybody else.”
Urges senators to reveal corruption in Aso Rock
Chief Awoniyi accused the Presidency of selective pursuit of corruption and challenged the senate to reveal the high corruption in Aso Rock. Pointing out that the presidency is riding high at the expense of the senators, Chief Awoniyi told them: “You had better tell the world of the selective nature of the pursuit of corruption by Aso Rock that you know about. “For instance, you were all alive when some bribe money paid to members of the Na’aba House of Representatives by the executive was dumped as evidence of corruption upon a table in the House by some of its members. What was the action taken by our anti-corruption President till today? What is the explanation for the failure to pursue and prosecute those involved in the embezzlement of huge sums of money in the Ministry of Defense? The President said he was angry that a nolle prosequi was issued in respect of the case. What was the result of his anger? It is significant that those who issued the nolle prosequi are still in his system.”
Corruption is not only about stealing public money
Chief Awoniyi told his audience to note that “corruption is not only about stealing public fund or receiving gratification.” Rather, “It is corruption and a crime to deny those who won elections their victory, and to award victory to those who lost. It is corruption to misuse the apparatus of government, particularly the security agents, to rig elections as was widely done in the general and presidential elections of April 2003. It is corruption to claim the results of such elections as mandates from the people. Corruption includes the deceit of trusting Nigerians whom you promise one thing, and do something else, corruption includes creating situations of uncertainty and stress, for the entire populace to gain selfish advantage.”
The corrupt installation of ex- senate president Enwerem
Chief Awoniyi traced the genesis of corrupt practices in the senate to the emergence of ex-senate president Evans Enwerem, saying it was “planned and executed like a military campaign.”
“It was a most pathetic experience for the party leaders at the time. “Right under their noses, bribe money in Ghana-must-go bags were ferried from floor to floor of NICON HILTON hotels to corruptly influence the election of the senate president.”
Interestingly, Chief Awoniyi said, senators of the All Nigeria Peoples Party and the Alliance for Democracy were involved. “Even senators of the two opposition parties were bought to ensure the defeat of late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, the favored candidate of the majority of PDP senators.
Since that disgraceful episode, the senate has known no peace, till today. It has become the culture to deploy executive corruption to determine the senate leadership. Today, within a period of only six years, there have been five senate presidents.”
Obasanjo has destroyed PDP
Chief Awoniyi did not hesitate to tell the senators that PDP has been destroyed. But how? Pointing fingers at President Obasanjo, he said, “Right from the swearing-in of President Obasanjo in May 1999, he gradually started to uphold a grand plan, which had been hatched soon after the PDP presidential election victory, to take over the various organs of the party.”
Chief Awoniyi says in order to achieve this plan, President Obasanjo abandoned the manifesto and ideology. As a result, “The purity of intention with which the PDP was founded as a party that would work for the internal cohesion of all our peoples and for good governance, regardless of religious, ethnicity or gender was jettisoned.”
PDP, a basket of scorpions
Chief Awoniyi described PDP as “a basket of scorpions stinging themselves to death,” contrary to the public thinking that it is “an all-inclusive party of brotherhood and friendship.” According to him, this development started with the factionalization of the party by Aso Rock. “With its co-conspirators, Aso Rock factionalized the party, and in a most cynical and patently corrupt way, imposed a party leadership that they could manipulate and blackmail to do their bidding. The founding fathers of the party looked helplessly as the ‘the Aso Rock candidates list’ became the norm for producing the leadership of the party.”
Chief Audu Ogbeh was frustrated out
While saying that even a minion put in office would revolt when he can no longer endure wrongdoing, Chief Awoniyi submits that the immediate past National Chairman of PDP, Chief Audu Ogbeh was “ the latest topical case in point.” According to him, “When Chief Ogbeh could no longer endure corruption and political immorality, he tried to initiate a change of approach to the disgraceful events in Anambra State. As you will recall, he complained and was forced out of office.”
How PDP founding fathers lost control
“The moment Obasanjo said in 1999 that all those who had invested in his electoral victory should consider their investment lost, that was the moment the party leadership should have taken him on, the leaders did not.” Considering the quality of the founding fathers of the party… it should not have been possible to destabilize the party so easily and thoroughly.” The founding fathers were ambushed and absolutely dumbfounded by the corruption of the spirit which made the kind of division possible.
The slip in the initial assessment of Obasanjo
Explaining why the founding fathers of the party did not take on Obasanjo then, Chief Awoniyi said “Some of the leaders confessed later, that they thought a softly softly approach was better than rocking the boat. Some thought that silence and coasting home with Aso Rock was political wisdom, in a climate in which any form of criticism was seen as disloyalty for which you could be denied political appointment, or patronage.” Continuing, he said “It was this naďve, lackadaisical attitude that made the founding fathers unable to put up a fight for the entrenchment of the basic democratic processes to save their party. This failure enabled Aso Rock to move from one undemocratic outrage to the next. Today, the party has no influence, whatsoever, on any acts of the executive.”
Constitution empowers legislature to investigate the executive
Chief Awoniyi reminded the legislature of their constitutional power to investigate the executive. “The powers of the legislature, particularly the investigative powers of the senate, were deliberately designed by the framers of the constitution to check any executive leader with dictatorial tendencies. Aso Rock knows even today that if the senate really got its acts together, it would be the most potent arm of government for the protection of our freedom and for checking executive misrule and all forms of improper actions and conducts.”
The presidency want to keep the credibility of the senate perpetually low
Chief Awoniyi told the senators to note that their “credibility with the Nigerian populace is abysmally low today” and warned them not to make the mistake about the fact that Aso Rock will endeavor to keep their credibility perpetually low. “It will use many powerful resources of money and propaganda to make you continue to look very bad in the eyes of your fellow Nigerians.”
Call on senators to apologize to Nigeria
Chief Awoniyi wants the senate to tender apology to Nigeria. “Repent your errors. Boldly come forward, collectively and penitently, to apologize to Nigeria for your mistakes. Renew your oath and resolve to serve our dear country…. Purge yourselves and work to save this beloved country from absolutism of the executive. As you go to the senate every morning, let your motto be: This nation must be saved, no matter what.”
Obasanjo’s broadcast on N55 million senate bribery scandal
Chief Awoniyi told the senators to “reflect on the glee with which your crisis in the senate were announced at prime TV time. The body language displayed that night was that of a man gloating over the collective fall of those he regards as mere minions with whom he had once worked harmoniously. Now he has got them precisely where he wanted them. The broadcast for him was a joyous occasion because it was good for his anti-corruption image at home, but better still abroad.”
Chief Awoniyi argues that “What we have seen is just the beginning. Much worse is to come, and unless you the legislators protect and defend yourselves and restore the people’s confidence in you, you will not be able to protect our country from tyranny and spiritual corruption. Let none of you think that because he is not under attack now, he is safe and can save himself by continued cooperation with the executive sins. Your turn will come singly or collectively.
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