16th June, 2011
The arrest and arraignment of Dimeji Bankole, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, is a pointer to the executive lawlessness of most of our elected public officers.
The charges against Bankole show just how bad things have become in Nigeria when public officers behave with impunity, moving against the laws which they had sworn to uphold.
When Nigerians heard about the scandal involving vehicles which were said to have been purchased for far above their market prices, we knew that nothing has changed. By the time we heard that television sets and computers were bought for hundreds of thousands of naira apiece, we knew it was just a matter of time before the bubble bursts.
Now the charge of obtaining an unlawful N40 billion loan is being levelled against a former public officer. If this problem is again allowed to be swept under the carpet, then we know Nigeria is in big trouble.
Daily we hear of governors, local government chairmen, commissioners and even ministers misappropriate public funds and get away with it. Meanwhile, millions of Nigerians are living on below $2 a day in the midst of plenty, while so much is being frittered away on our excuse for democracy.
When the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Sanusi Lamido Sanursi said 25 per cent of Nigeriaâ€™s budget is being spent by our lawmakers as salaries and allowances, the lawmakers hauled insults at the CBN chief. Now we know better.
The impunity with which Bankole and his fellow lawmakers misused public funds shows that more checks need to be put in place to prevent such a situation in the future.
If Bankole and his deputy, Bayero Nafada could obtain loans in the name of the House of Repressentatives and spend such on whatever they deemed fit, then we have to review our own democracy.
While we have faith in the court to see that justice is done, we need to warn all concerned of the growing enlightenment of Nigerians.
Nigerians are tired of this type of misappropriation and with the revolution sweeping across the Middle East, something someday may snap and we will end up with an unpleasant situation.
Bankoleâ€™s arraignment must not be allowed to become just another drama which turns out to be nothing.
All public officers who are known to have abused their offices must be probed and prosecuted. They must not be allowed to escape with the loot. So many things happening in government are wrong and we need to look deeper into them and find solutions to them.
Criminals in high places must be sought out and punished, and not just with a slap on the wrist.
A situation where public officers decide what salary they should receive is not only ridiculous but criminal.
These lawmakers must be brought to book. They must be made to return what they took unlawfully or got to jail. Too many things are wrong and until we begin to right those wrongs, the country would continue to wallow in poverty and ignorance.