Within the past week, there have been a number of scandals and mini-scandals that have emanated from the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to warrant the collective disgust and ire of all Nigerians. Firstly and most prominently, news emerged that a Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye, had falsely presented his academic qualifications, including seven degrees purportedly earned from Harvard University and London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE) among others. When challenged on the matter, Melaye in his bombastic style, refused to present credible evidence to defend his academic credentials, but resorted to death threats against his accusers, despite being publicly denied by both Harvard and LSE. On Tuesday March 28th, 2017, Melaye attended Senate hearings wearing an academic gown and cap in an apparent boastful challenge to his accusers.
During the same week, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who has barely had a scandal-free week since assuming office, was once again the subject of an investigation: this time, it was about the fraudulent importation of a Sports Utility Vehicle with fake documents. In response to both Saraki’s and Melaye’s scandals, another senior Senator, Ali Ndume, had asked the Senate to conduct proper investigations into the issues, but was rather faced with an immediate six-month suspension from the Senate for “subjecting the senate to ridicule”. Despite mounting public interest in the issues, the Senate Ethics Committee instantly absolved both Melaye and Saraki of any wrongdoing, leaving Nigerians wondering where the truth lies.
As though on cue, it was reported during the same week that another Senator, Andy Uba, had doctored his secondary school graduation certificate issued by the West African Examination Council. All these have emerged at the same time that a spirited group of Nigerians has mounted a campaign to scrap the Nigerian Senate on account of the exorbitant cost of operating a bicameral legislature and poor evidence of the Senate’s relevance.
On Saturday April 1st 2017, it was reported that the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, had led a delegation of top politicians and monarchs to plead with Senator Bukola Saraki for leniency on Senator Ali Ndume’s suspension. If indeed Senator Ndume was suspended from his duties for a justifiable reason, it is curious that Senator Saraki would entertain other politicians in his residence to plead on his behalf. The entire situation reeks of a blatant disregard for the established institutions of governance and points towards vendetta.
Future Africa is extremely concerned about the shameful manner in which the Nigerian Senate has conducted itself this past week. At a time when the country needs strong moral leadership with clear dedication to resurrecting the weak economy and restoring public confidence, it finds itself crippled by a group of inept men and women whose desire for personal aggrandisement and wanton display of braggadocio supersedes their interest in governance. For aspiring public sector leaders, there are no positives to be taken from this utterly shameful display of the Nigerian Senate. Nigeria must do better. Nigerians deserve better.
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