The Human Rights Writers’ Association, (HURIWA), strongly believes that the President of the 10th Senate, doubling as Chairman of the 10th National Assembly of the nation which will be inaugurated on June 13, 2023, must like Caesar’s Wife be above suspicion.
The central driving mantra and foundational philosophy on which the ruling All Progressives Congress sold its presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, now President, to Nigerians, was “Renewed Hope.” Nigerians bought into it and voted the Asiwaju and APC to power because it deeply resonated with the populace.
Strangely, against all logic of inclusive consultation and the imperative of taking the right first steps of building a promised new Nigeria anchored on “Renewed Hope,” the APC, allegedly with President Tinubu’s blessing zoned the Senate President’s position to the South-South and further micro-zoned it to Senator-elect Godswill Akpabio. This unconstitutional decision offends the legally binding principle of checks and balances amongst the tiers of government and is an egregious and irreparable violation of the constitutionally guaranteed principle of independence of the legislature.
As a preeminent and prominent good governance oriented human rights organisation sworn to fighting corruption and human rights abuses in Nigeria and on the continent, the Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), totally rejects the alleged choice of Senator Akpabio as a preferred candidate for President of the 10th Senate. On the scale of integrity and morality, he is the wrong choice.
As Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs of Akpabio performed woefully in the way he administered Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. He allegedly mismanaged the NDDC in the ways he handled its affairs with alleged lack of regards for extant rules even imposing a sole administrator on the entity. There were a plethora of accusations of breaches of the time tested and time honoured principles of transparency and Accountability which underpin the basis for a constitutional democracy in the 21st century.
It could also be recalled that in June 2020, the frosty relationship between the Senate and Interim Management Committee of NDDC worsened as the Senate accused Akpabio of misappropriation of funds of the Commission over the years. On May 5, 2020, a six-member Senate Ad-Hoc Committee was set up to probe financial recklessness to the tune of N40billion by the IMC of the NDDC under Akpabio’s watch.
Akpabio’s alleged corruption-laden baggage is clearly dissonant with a personality who craves headship of the nation’s bi-cameral legislature – and at odds with the Renewed Hope mantra. There are alleged humongous corruption cases against the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State which had led the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to invite him severally to its office for interrogations.
Senator Godswill Akpabio, facing corruption charges, was invited to meet with officials of the anti-graft commission, EFCC by Tuesday, May 9, 2023, over cases of money laundry and theft running to billions of naira.
Also, there were allegations of over N86 billion contract scams involving the Senator-elect and a former acting Managing Director of NDDC, Prof. Kemebbradikumo Pondei which the EFCC has been investigating.
The EFCC had also invited Akpabio to appear for questioning on March 29, but his nimble lawyer, Umeh Kalu, SAN, in a letter to the anti-graft agency claimed his client was suffering from pneumonia and cardiac arrhythmia. HURIWA strongly believes that Senator-elect Akpabio should not and is unworthy to lead the 10th NASS.
By sharp contrast, the former Governor of Zamfara State and Senator-elect Abdulaziz Yari representing Zamfara West boats a vast executive and legislative experience and most importantly lacks the embarrassing corruption baggage Akpabio is carrying around. Aside this very candidate who is eminently qualified for the high office of the head of the 10th session of the National Assembly, there are other qualified Senators who have canvassed the good governance idea that the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria be left alone to on their own terms elect their leaders in both the Senate and the Federal House of Representatives. The interference by the executive arm of government in attempting to use unfair tactics to railroad the leaders for the National Assembly is unconstitutional, illegal, unwarranted and very damaging to not just the 10th session of the National Assembly that stand the risk of losing its independence, but this will bring global opprobrium and a terrible image problem in the international community for Nigeria which in any even may portray the nation as a banana Republic.
HURIWA recalled that many analysts have argued that Senator-elect Yari’s North-West Zone provided over 30% votes of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s winning 8.79 million votes – the highest percentage of any other geopolitical zone in the country.
Besides, supporters say Yari’s political trajectory predates the merger that led to the formation of the APC itself. He has been an influential and temperate political force since the era of APP.
Supporters of the independence of the National Assembly has also added what they termed an important dimension to the unfolding political situation which is that it would be clearly unfair to the North if leaders of the three arms of government are from the South. The position of HURIWA is that no Senator should be illegally pressured or blackmailed into a capitulation that would inevitably lead to the emergence of O-Yes leaders for the 10th session of the National Assembly if the unilateral decision of President Tinubu is allowed to be actualized. This must never be allowed or Nigeria will snowball into a dictatorship or authoritarian regime similar to fascism.
“Renewed Hope” certainly does not mean recirculating alleged unprincipled, dodgy politicians to occupy very important positions.
HURIWA says no to Senator-elect Akpabio,
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko:
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).
JUNE 7TH 2023. WEDNESDAY.