• Decry deliberate attempt to ridicule National Assembly
•Say there is total collapse of governance
By Adedayo Akinwale
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has issued four-week ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari to provide security for Nigerians and commence proper cleaning of what it called the embarrassing corruption cases in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) or it will invoke relevant sections of the constitution and commence impeachment proceedings.
The Leader of the caucus in the House, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, in a statement issued Tuesday said there was total collapse of all governance and structural systems in the country due to bad or near absence of governance.
He also said that the events of the past few weeks had shown that there was a deliberate and calculated blackmail by the Executive to ridicule the National Assembly and bring the parliament to disrepute.
Chinda added that the behaviours of appointees of the Executive arm were mere smokescreens to create a diversion from high level of corruption in the executive arm.
The caucus leader stressed that the three arms of government were empowered to work in sync, within the bounds of the basic law, and deliver on the responsibilities and mandates assigned to them by the Constitution, adding that no one arm is superior to the other.
He said the Executive arm had gone about like the Leviathan, taking the legislature and judiciary prisoners, saying this should not be so in a constitutional democracy in which the Constitution is held out as inviolate and inviolable.
Chinda noted that to hijack other arms of government, supplant them into obsequious rubber stamps arms was to subvert the Constitution.
The lawmaker said the institution of the National Assembly, made up of its members, was higher and bigger than the members themselves and remains the symbol of democracy. He added that its independence should not be negotiated under any circumstance whatsoever.
He said members of the PDP Caucus cannot watch from the sidelines as if nothing was happening when the tenets of democracy were being subverted and the Constitution desecrated.
Chinda stated: “The events of the past few weeks, chiefly orchestrated by unconscionable officials of the Executive arm of government who continue to show disrespect for the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the ethos, notions and governance practices that shape constitutional democracy, underscore the blackmail.
“It is too glaring that there is a deliberate and calculated blackmail by the Executive to ridicule the National Assembly and bring the parliament into public odium. The odious events of the past few weeks, chiefly orchestrated by unconscionable officials of the Executive arm of government who continue to show disrespect for the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the ethos, notions and governance practices that shape constitutional democracy, underscore the blackmail.”
“In light of the foregoing, we give the Executive four weeks to provide security to Nigerians and commence proper cleaning of the embarrassing and notorious corruption cases (EFCC and NDDC) or we shall revert to the relevant sections of the constitution and commence impeachment proceedings in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
The lawmaker recalled that on 16th July 2020, a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour walked out on the House Committee on Diaspora unprovoked.
The caucus leader also recalled that the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo, who appeared before the joint ad-hoc Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity walked out on the Committee over disagreement that arose between him and the Committee .
According to him, “Keyamo’s 774,000 public works jobs are ATMs directed at siphoning money from the treasury akin to the school feeding programme of pupils at home. No more. The beneficiaries are to earn N20,000 for three months totalling N60,000.00 and N58billion has been voted for these phantom jobs? How else can we explain a non-sustainable scheme, with no end value, that has no multiplier effect on local economies across the length and breadth of our country? What is N20,000, a sum far below the minimum national wage, when inflation is galloping at 12.56% and nearing 15.18% for food prices alone? Keyamo is clearly running the public works’ job, built on effusive sound bites, with the intention to fleece our country.”
The lawmaker reminded the learned SAN that it was unlawful to pay any Nigerian Worker emolument below the statutory minimum wage which his ministry ought to implement.
Chinda also said that few days ago, the Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Daniel Pondei, walked out on the Committee of the House charged with the responsibility of investigating the financial scandal that had rocked the Commission, adding that regardless of his reasons, a walkout on the parliament was inexcusable.
The PDP caucus leader noted that if the totalizing and unconscionable behaviours of members of the Executive arm enhance governance in the country, the position of the parliament would have been made tenuous by the fact of the good governance that their misbehaviours enthrone; but said it’s not the case.
Chinda added: “There is a total collapse of all governance and structural systems in the country due to bad or near absence of governance. We groan under a government where armed robbers have now seized our highways; operatives of the State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Forces have taken over the streets of our towns and cities, killing and maiming Nigerian youths.
“Worse still, security is at its lowest ebb. Terrorists, kidnappers and bandits have taken over vast ungoverned swathes of our country. Katsina, the home state of the Commander-in- Chief is on its knees. In fact, everywhere is unsafe in our country. The internal security of the country has been compromised as Boko Haram continues to inflict violence and death on Nigerians, while President Buhari continues to sound like the broken record.”
The caucus leader noted that there was something more sinister going on that the behaviour of Pondei seeks to mask, stressing that never in the history of the NDDC has corruption reached the peak as it is today.
He said according to revelations already in the media, N81 billion was squandered alone between January and June, 2020, with an individual paid $1 million from NDDC in what appears as forensic looting of the NDDC coffers; yet, Pondei rather than be sober and repentant, had the effrontery to walk out on the Committee charged to look at the books of the Commission.
Chinda insisted that all these drama were moves to change the current narrative of bad, corrupt and inept governance and turn the attention of Nigerians away from the main issues of unpardonable deceit and deep rooted corruption that bedevil this government.
He said this was a clarion call on the leadership of National Assembly to take back its independence from the Executive and desist from making such statements as “I will approve whatever GMB asks for”; “better to be a rubber stamp and get what we want.”
Chinda commended the growing activism and independence of the judiciary and urge it to reject acts of intimidation directed at judicial officers and uphold justice at all times.