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It all started with Akpabio’s wankan tsarki

That Nigerians are angry over the happenings in the Senate is no longer news. And we have every right to be.  While watching the video…

That Nigerians are angry over the happenings in the Senate is no longer news. And we have every right to be. 

While watching the video of Senator Abdul Ningi’s suspension from the Red Chamber, the other day, I actually flinched any time the Senate president, Godswill Akpabio, addressed a senator as “distinguished”, while granting him permission to speak. 

It would have been better if he had called them ‘disgusting’ rather than distinguished, because that is what seems to suit them, in the lowly depths they have sunk today.

But it isn’t entirely surprising that our nation’s Senate has descended to this level. This is to be expected really, given that the man who heads the Senate, is a man with several cases at the EFCC, and his only salvation from prosecution by the anti-corruption body, was a smart move he made in 2018. 

Some of us are aware that since 2015, the two-time Akwa Ibom governor has had petitions instituted against him by his state indigenes, over theft of public funds, to the tune of over a hundred billion. Somehow he managed to make it to the Senate but these aggrieved Akwa Ibom indigenes won’t let up. 

In May 2018 he made a clever move to save his political skin. He walked over to the APC leadership and declared his intention to become a member. Of course, he was welcomed with open arms. At that time all it took for the Buhari-led APC government to grant ‘wankan tsarki’ to any corrupt politician, was for him to cross over to the ruling party. 

‘Wankan tsarki’ is the ritual bath Muslims take to cleanse themselves of ritual impurity. In the APC of the last administration, the moment so-called big-time politicians crossed over and filled out membership forms, they were cleansed of all political sins and considered pure enough to vie for any political office; within the party or beyond. Their purity is guaranteed by that single membership card. 

And that was how we got to be where we are today. A Senate president with a record like Akpabio’s had been caught napping, when he thought the planned theft of N3.7 trillion would go unnoticed by his “distinguished” colleagues.  

When Senator Ningi blew the whistle over it, and showed that he won’t be a party to such a huge crime, both the presidency; that’s the executive arm of our government and his fellow senators all denied his findings, and accused him of telling lies.

What was impressive about Senator Ningi’s assertions, was that they were not issues he sat alone or with a few Senate members to draft; it was the result of painstaking work by a consultancy firm, which studied the budget and showed the obvious case of padding committed.  

But still, the Presidency and the Senate leadership denied his charges. A few Senate members, opposition parties, political experts, civil society organisations and the media all called for an investigation into it.  

In fact, a quote that has gone viral was attributed to our ailing former president, General Ibrahim Babangida, in which he advised the Senate leadership to investigate Ningi’s claims rather than suspend him. 

But Akpabio and Co. went ahead and suspended this honest and patriotic senator.

Yet, if Godswill Akpabio is the top villain of the piece, the second place certainly goes to members of the Northern senators’ forum. It was under their auspices that Senator Ningi got the budget scrutinised and the padding case detected. But they all “forsook him and fled”, the moment their lion Akpabio bared his fangs.

This is doubly unfortunate, most of what Abdul Ningi uncovered is to the detriment of the North. These disgusting senators ought to be with their leader, no matter the heat on them. 

Unfortunately, guided by their greed, the need to retain juicy committee posts, they chose to remain on Akpabio’s side rather than stand for the North they were elected to represent. We aren’t even asking them to accept Ningi’s allegations wholesale, all we had hoped for was that they’ll insist on a probe of the whole budget padding saga. But they chose to sacrifice him at the altar of their selfish interests. 

If only we could rise against these avaricious senators by recalling them all home. Certainly, the North will be better without them as our legislators. 

The deputy Senate president was also a case in point. Despite being the number two man, in the chamber, not even he could insist on an investigation before Ningi’s suspension. How pathetic! Only Senator Kawu Sumaila stood by Ningi. History will certainly be kind to him. 

Now the word about town is that Senator Ningi might be recalled soon. The caveat being that he’ll have to apologise to the house for whistle-blowing. Can you believe this? My sincere advice to this truly distinguished senator,  is not to apologise at all and therefore not to return to the Senate. Instead, he should challenge his suspension in court, as all political analysts have said, it was illegal and against the rules of the chamber. 

As for Godswill Akpabio, the Senate president, whose biggest weakness is clearly money, it is high time the few honourable members around found a way to impeach him. All his cases at the EFCC are to do with the stealing of funds. First as Akwa Ibom governor and second as the head of Niger Delta Development Commission. 

We have also heard him speak about sharing money, at least twice since he became Senate president. With a record like this, Akpabio should be removed from his position, or else budget padding and any other funds misappropriation will remain the order of the day in the 10th Senate.  


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