NASS and the cor­rup­tion fight

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By Austin Asadu

Ever since the launch­ing of the laud­able an­ticor­rup­tion war by the Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion and even be­fore, cer­tain el­e­ments of soce­ity have al­ways cyn­i­cally cal­cu­lated that they can piggy back on the shoul­ders of the anti-graft cam­paign in or­der to ad­vance their in­or­di­nate pe­cu­niary in­ter­est thus cast­ing a shadow on the over­all goal and pur­pose of the war against cor­rupt prac­tices and malfea­sances.

Granted that the present an­ticor­rup­tion bat­tle is ger­mane in or­der to bring much needed san­ity and pro­bity to the con­duct of gov­er­nance and ad­min­is­tra­tive af­fairs in the na­tion’s pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors, it must be how­ever stated the way and man­ner the anti-graft war is con­ducted will go a long way on en­sur­ing its trans­parency, cred­i­bil­ity and dura­bil­ity.

If thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion is con­ducted by the var­i­ous agen­cies charged with tack­ling cor­rup­tion e.g. the EFCC, ICPC, the DSS, the Nige­rian Po­lice Force amongst oth­ers, be­fore they ap­pre­hend sus­pects or those that have run foul of the law, in­deed, this means that at the end of the day, in­dict­ments and con­vic­tions would def­i­nitely be the end game and nunc dimit­tis for the var­i­ous light fin­gered drama­tis per­sonae in­volved.

This would mean that the anti-graft agen­cies would end up scor­ing over 80 - 90% suc­cess in con­vic­tions and fur­ther shore up the over­all im­age and per­cep­tion of the anti-graft cam­paign in the eyes of the some­times skep­ti­cal Nige­rian many of whom are used to the usual me­dia hype sur­round­ing cor­rup­tion cases, only for the cul­prits or sus­pects to be left off the hook on tech­ni­cal­i­ties or plea bar­gain grounds.

When the con­vic­tion rate is high in pro­por­tion to those ar­rested and pros­e­cuted, the pub­lic con­fi­dence in the anti­graft cam­paign will also rise com­men­su­rately and with it, the added co-op­er­a­tion and syn­ergy de­sired to tackle the hy­dra­headed mon­ster de­ci­sively and tena­ciously. How­ever where the pro­por­tion of those con­victed is low rel­a­tive to the propen­sity of ar­rests or pros­e­cu­tions, the pre­vail­ing feel­ing among the pop­u­lace will be that the anti­graft cam­paign is merely a pub­lic re­la­tions stunt meant to hood­wink them, all sound and fury sig­ni­fy­ing noth­ing at all.

Which brings to the fore, the grave is­sue at hand that is the ten­dency of cer­tain ques­tion­able el­e­ments of so­ci­ety who un­der the guise of fight­ing cor­rup­tion, spread pe­ti­tions, com­plaints and pub­li­ca­tions, many of du­bi­ous ori­gin, al­leg­ing that cer­tain pub­lic agen­cies, paras­tatals or gov­ern­ment de­part­ments are en­gag­ing in cor­rupt or cor­rupt prac­tices. While the pe­ti­tions al­lege financial im­pro­pri­ety in the rel­e­vant agen­cies or MDAs named, the very na­ture or sub­stance of the pe­ti­tions tend to ex­pose the orig­i­na­tors as either out on a mis­sion of vendetta, score-set­tling or black­mail­ers out to ex­tort money from pub­lic of­fi­cials who may be sen­si­tive to un­due pub­lic­ity or me­dia sen­sa­tion­al­ism that may not bode well for their of­fi­cial or pri­vate ca­pac­i­ties.

In fact, the du­bi­ous pe­ti­tion­ers and black­mail­ers par ex­cel­lence may have found their way to the na­tion’s apex leg­isla­tive in­sti­tu­tion, the Na­tional As­sem­bly go­ing by some of the sen­sa­tional pub­li­ca­tions that are go­ing the rounds about the sup­posed ex­pen­di­ture/ in­come pro­file of the in­sti­tu­tion. Scream­ing head­lines about the sup­posed gar­gan­tuan funds ex­pended by the Na­tional As­sem­bly and the al­leged jumbo pay brouhaha of the fed­eral leg­is­la­tors only serve to mask the real in­ten­tions of the spon­sors of those pub­li­ca­tions; to tar­nish, black­mail, ex­tort and rav­age the NASS man­age­ment, and fed­eral leg­is­la­tor’s im­age, rep­u­ta­tion and resources as the case may be.

It is in­deed per­plex­ing that the Na­tional As­sem­bly should be the tar­get of this dis­tress­ing smear cam­paign given the fact that it’s op­er­a­tions and fi­nances are one of the most scru­ti­nized and most cat­a­logued in the world if re­cent sta­tis­ti­cal rev­e­la­tions by sundry pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor watch­dogs are any­thing to go by. The an­nual bud­get cap­i­tal and re­cur­rent ex­pen­di­ture pro­file of the Na­tional As­sem­bly are in the pub­lic do­main for all to see while it’s con­tracts, ten­ders, pre­qual­i­fi­ca­tion and pro­cure­ment pro­file con­form tremen­dously with the re­quire­ments of the Pub­lic Pro­cure­ment Act as many pub­lic pol­icy ex­perts leg­isla­tive aparatchiks as well as the rel­e­vant global par­lia­men­tary bod­ies have at­tested to.

In fact the NASS ad­min­is­tra­tion un­der the tute­lage of the Clerk to the Na­tional As­sem­bly Al­haji Sal­isu Maika­suwa has been ac­claimed as one of the best-ad­min­is­tered par­lia­ments in the world ac­cord­ing to the Leg­isla­tive Re­search Bureau and nu­mer­ous leg­isla­tive think-tanks.

There­fore, the di­ver­sion­ary and dis­trac­tionary ac­tiv­i­ties of the in­or­di­nate black­mail­ers and their fel­low trav­ellers should not be con­doned and must be thor­oughly sanc­tioned by the se­cu­rity agen­cies for the over­all cred­i­bil­ity and dura­bil­ity of the laud­able anti-cor­rup­tion agenda of the Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Austin Asadu wrote in from Abuja

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