Political and legal experts have expressed worry over the Federal Government’s several investigative panels without tangible results brought back to the public.
The experts said the panels which are supposed to bring public office holders to account should be more transparent to the Nigerian public.
“Over the years, the government has set up probe panels which only made the news, gathered the reactions and agitations of Nigerians for a short while and fizzled out.
It is not surprising though that those who are heads of these panels end up being charged with corruption themselves at the end of the day.
President Muhammadu Buhari set up a panel to look into the allegations against former Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, but till now, no concrete decision has been taken by the government concerning it.
In July 2020, panels were also set up by the Senate and House of Representatives to probe allegations of massive misappropriation of funds in the Niger Delta Development Commission.
Some people on social media thought the matter would not just end with the removal of Pondei and other key officials, but would go on to expose the corruption in the system, and punishing culpable ministers and top political office holders.
This trend, analysts observe, not only portends danger to the country’s quest to rid corruption but it also stifles its socio-economic development.
Speaking with SaharaReporters, a political analyst, Ambrose Igbokwe, said panels set up to probe corruption are actually made up of corrupt individuals who end up in corruption allegations and the cycle continues.
He said, “It is a joke. Let’s ask the people who were probing the pensions, Abdul Rasheed Maina and others ended up being involved in corruption too so those panels are there to take their own part of the cake not to actually investigate for correctional or amendment purposes.”
Igbokwe believes that the people at the helm of power see electioneering, politics and governance as a business, hence the failure of the investigate panels except some fundamentals are addressed.
“We don’t even know how much revenue the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation gets; it is when they get the revenue, they remove the operational cost and whatever illegal cost. If institutions like the NNPC and other institutions that make money on behalf of the country spend it and give balance to the treasury, then we are finished,” he added.
The Head of department, Political Science, University of Nigeria, Professor Jonah Onuoha, told SaharaReporters that most of the investigative panels are used by the government as diversionary tactics.
He said, “They’re used to diverting people’s attention from the main issue. So, people would think something is being done and at the end of the day nothing happens. It has been a recurring feature since 1999. When something happens, a panel is set up, people think something will happen but nothing happens at the end of the day.”
The professor added that such acts must be condemned, while urging Nigerians to be proactive and ask questions rather than sit with what they’re being fed with.
“Nigerians are not asking questions. As soon as their attention is diverted, that’s all.”
He suggested that once such panels are set up, Nigerians should insist that the panels should submit the report and ensure the reports are being implemented.
“As soon as they set up the panel, nobody goes there anymore, even when they submit a report, nobody previews it, nothing is just happening and it is terrible. Nigerians should hold the government accountable because the government takes the citizens for granted,” he said.
On his part, a lawyer, Charlie Ugwu, said the issue of setting up “failed” panels has been a recurring issue that had made the Nigerian people to lose interest in the government.
He said, “Many times issues come up, you hear that a panel has been set up to do some things but that is just the end. For the NDDC issue, remember that the Speaker of the House of Representatives threatened to sue Akpabio and indeed they had given instructions to the clerk to get a lawyer to sue Akpabio.
“Also, Farouk Lawan was chairman of the former committee on education, remember when he, a member of the committee that investigated subsidy, when he went to take some money from Otedola and there was an operation on him, he was caught with raw cash. That matter has not gone anywhere. It is unfortunate and that is what erodes the interest of the public in our government and governance.”
He added that the oversight functions of the National Assembly had been used as a means of extorting money from both the National assembly and those under probe.
The lawyer said it is a pity that Nigerians are in this kind of situation, where laws are not obeyed and rules are not respected.
He said that the Nigerian people are powerless and that the leaders take advantage of this.
“Nigerians know that after the falling down of Pondei, the Speaker came and said that the man would not be interrogated again and that was the last, all he needed to do was just faint and that’s all. He fainted into freedom.”
Suggesting the way forward, Ugwu said that the issue is likely to continue except there is a change in the recruitment system.
“The way we recruit leaders in the country is what produces people in the National Assembly who behave the way they do. The good people are not interested in politics because they say politics is a dirty business; we leave it to charlatans and we now see thugs as lawmakers.”
SaharaReporters, New York