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After Ningi, Can We Trust These Senators?


Rufai Oseni

  1. Suspension of Senator Ningi – this appears to be a panic measure that violates the principles or representation in a democracy. It is clearly an evasive move to distract attention from the issues raised. It is also unfair for an issue of this magnitude to be swept under the carpet without a thorough investigation to prove beyond doubts to the Nigerian public, who ostensibly elected these Senators to represent them, that the Senators are not culpable. From the video clips shown by the media covering the NASS, we found it intriguing that after the suspension and as Senator Ningi was walking out of the chamber with the heap of evidence in his hands, no senator appeared to show any compunction. This suggests a conspiracy of silence in the supposedly hallowed chamber, or is it a chamber of shame. It apparently did not occur to the Senate that they were judges in their cause or worse still, they were the prosecutors and the jury at the same time. We are forced to ask the question, Distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, what is distinguishing in this behavior? Where is your conscience? What do you want us to think of you?
  2. Padding of 2024 budget – today there are mountains of evidence that massive, some would say outrageous, padding has taken place in the 2024 budget. Even as, Senator Ningi was not allowed to present his evidence, as he was shouted down and his mic was being switched of now and then, in what little he was able to expose, there were enough malfeasance and fleecing to be worried about. We may argue on the figures but Bugetit, an expert institution on budget has confirm a lot of Ningi’s allegations. It has confirmed the hiking of budget of the MDAs by N1.27T, it has confirmed that while the budget submitted was for about N25T, the budget that went out for signing was over N28T. The devil is in the details. Many of the figures in the budget were opaque and this opacity would appear to be deliberate to hide the fleecing that is buried in the budget. The senate was clearly hiding something and that is exactly the point at issue. These are public resources and the public must know what happens to their resources. Can the senate come clean by opening up and subjecting the budget to a thorough investigation? Isn’t transparency and accountability a key feature of democratic culture and processes? Don’t they have a moral and constitutional responsibility to submit themselves to public scrutiny?
  3. Constituency Project – this has been a thorny issue between the executive and the legislature. It needed not to be so but for our ‘cash and carry’ politics. The well know practice which defines the fourth republic is for legislators to be contractors of their constituency projects. The allocation of these projects appeared to be shrouded in secrecy as even the senators themselves are kept in the dark about what their colleagues are getting. It is also clear that that allocation was selfish, arbitrary, and unscientific, and all these in the 21st century. The Senate President was alleged to have amassed a humongous amount distributed across several budget lines, while some ranking senators claimed that that they got nothing. Some who appeared on television evaded direct questions as what was allocated to them. If such secrecy and inequity is practiced at the highest level of our legislature what do we expect to be the quality of our laws? If these same people are supposed to run oversight on our executive arm what do expect to happen? Can we in good conscience trust these people?



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