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Tuesday, 15 August, 2000, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Nigeria: old wine in new bottles?
Nigeria's senate president, Chuba Okadigbo, has been impeached following a damning inquiry into corruption and mismanagement in the Upper House.
The deputy senate president and another senior senator have resigned after being accused of gross abuse of public office.
Does this mean that nothing has changed since the introduction of civilian rule in Nigeria? Or is the senate inquiry and its after-effects a sign that corruption will be tolerated no longer?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Ade Daramy, UK
Stealing of public funds is 'normal' in Nigeria. It is only those who have offended the 'establishment' that are sacrificed on the altar of the war against corruption. This is not the first and will not be the last case of stealing. I see the Okadigbo case as a decoy to divert the world's attention away from the bigger thieves that we all know.
Impeaching Okadigbo is just the first step. He should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and made to spend some time in one of Nigeria's infamous prisons. I am confident that he would learn after spending some time in our jails. It's a great day for the thousands that died for the restoration of accountable government in Nigeria.
Zainab I Bello, USA
It is highly ridiculous and incredible to learn of the recent corruption perpetuated by some highly respected members of the senate. It is incredible and worrisome, most especially when one remembers that nothing seems to be functional in Nigeria, i.e. electricity, good roads, pipe-borne water and all the good things of life which millions of Nigerians are yearning for. It is therefore amazing that, instead of deliberating on how to move the country forward, all those law makers deliberate on is how to enrich their pockets.
The secret to a better Nigeria and a better Africa, is to get rid of all greedy and corrupt leaders in every level of government. Until we get rid of all I mean all "self-seeking" people in our government, the citizens will continue to suffer.
Nothing has really changed in Nigeria. The only change is the name of the political parties. All those who helped in bringing Nigeria to her knees are the same people in power. Who among them if tried by the Sharia law will not have both arms and legs amputated. All these guys were the former politicians or discredited military officers. Was it only Abacha who stole? What about the former presidents, governors, ministers, military officers etc who embezzled Nigerian funds and hide behind the scene to stage manage our `democracy. `
Igbo Victor, USA
Nigerian leaders and the people are sleepwalking, and when they woke up, the nation's treasure would evaporate. At this point, there is no hope for Nigeria, perhaps, when the people wakes up, they would realise their mistakes of bad judgement by taking chances with the Nigerian politicians of the old British school of politicking and corruption.
Nigeria is a blessed nation, endowed with the all the necessities that qualifies a rich nation. But corruption is a big set-back to this wonderful country. It is time for us to arise and fight against this deadly thing before it engulfs the whole nation totally. A severe investigation should be introduced to curb corruption, not only in senate including other branches of government.
We are a long way from a new beginning. There is massive corruption going on in the Senate and the House of Reps. It is easy to find a scapegoat. Those that are indicted ought to be tried and sanctioned. The probe should extend to the executive and should be turned into an annual event. Nigerians should rise up against their corrupt leaders for it is long overdue. Impeaching Okadigbo is a step in the right direction and we hope that this is only the beginning.
This is a sign of good thing to come if it can be kept up. His impeachment would send a strong message to all Nigerians that we are not ready to condone corruption anymore. I would like other government offices and private companies alike to follow this example. As for Okadigbo, the Nigerian police should investigate him for corruption and if found guilty with any wrongdoing, be brought to justice.
It is gladdening to see that Nigeria after 40 years of independence is embarking on the implementation of public accountability. Holding public officers accountable and responsible for their actions. No more sweeping of bad deeds under the carpet.
Okadigbo and the other culprits simply have to tried in the Nigerian court of law and imprisoned in Nigerian prison. This will send a strong message to the others that a new order is now in place. I hope Obasanjo will have the will to implement the newly passed anti-graft law.
The recent ugly episode in our senate points to the fact that materialism and corruption have eaten deep into our people's lives. Nigeria really needs divine deliverance. We have really come a long way and we have a long way to go. I strongly believe that Nigeria will definitely know the path to progress. The unfolding drama in our senate is a serious pointer to this. The war against corruption has truly begun and it must continue. Nigeria must survive.
is taking a firm grip in Nigeria. The latest development is a sign for positive change.
At last Nigeria is beginning to wake up to the reality of corruption. The sooner this sort of accountability spreads as far as the Police and government staff the better.
Unfortunately, a good man succumbed to the greediness of Nigerian politics. Okadigbo is a good man and history will vindicate him. He was setup and he felt for the trap. I hope he will serve again in a different capacity.
The culture of corruption will take years to destroy. The important thing is to secure democracy and keep working on accountability. Civil society groups have the most responsibility here. But I urge patience - this is long term work.
If Nigeria is really changing, one would want to see all the guilty senators face trial and all the stolen money refunded. Then and only then can one say that Nigeria is beginning to change.
For a country long ruled by corrupt military officers, it is not surprising that people like Okadigbo found their way to the corridors of power. The beauty of genuine democracy is that they will not be able to cover their evil deeds. Okadigbo's fall from grace shows that our democracy is working. May the ghost of all those who died in the course of fighting for our democracy continue to hunt other "Okadigbos" who are yet to be discovered.
Once the legislature and the executive are closely linked, there is bound to be such dishonesty. A total separation of these two arms of government will eradicate this.
It's time for Nigerians from all corners of the country to forget all the ethnic wrangles and tackle this endemic corruption that has been a stumbling block to the country's progress and achievement of greatness among the world community
The present administration has a lot on its plate to address. The country has disintegrated into religious upheavals and high death tolls, more than those who died during the reign of Sani Abacha, resulting from people's desperation in making ends meet from the risky fetching of oil.
Thus, Obasanjoreally needs to start working, as I see his first months in power as being a "period of adjustment". He needs to be stern and have a good vision if the people of Nigeria are to enjoy the wealth of the nation.
Nigeria is going through a self-cleansing process. It will take some time for things to calm down.
Mambu Kawa, Sierra Leone/ USA
Isn't it a shame that one cannot pick up the telephone to call Nigeria nor can one send mail to the country with confidence? Yet, elected officials can give themselves a $225,000 Xmas bonus which is many times their official salary and then try to justify their actions. Only in Nigeria!
The action of the senate, which decided to probe itself, is highly commendable. However this should not stop at the senate alone but be extended to the other arms of government.
Correction please, Mr/ Ms Shimels Tsegaye (Ethiopia). Dr. Chuba Okadigbo was not Nigeria's civilian president but senate president. In the history of democracy in Nigeria, a probe of this magnitude has never happened before. It is a great change for the better!
Adonis Macauley, USA
Okadigbo is a very big disgrace to his party, his political camp, his family and Nigerians in general. He should be prosecuted to send a message to others like him that the days of corruption are finished in Nigeria.
No individual is bigger than the nation. The National Assembly is not a single individual's possession, it is a living institution, which must be respected and held in high esteem. These senators have lost the trust and integrity of the Nigerian people.
It would be improper and very misleading to conclude that nothing has changed. In fact, a lot has changed. It would have been unheard of under previous regimes, military or otherwise to have senior members of government being called to question, let alone being dishonourably removed from office.
If we continue to beat continuously into everyone's head that Nigeria is corrupt and nothing good can come out it, sooner or later, it becomes a fait accomplice.
Everyone buys into it, and no one makes an effort to better the situation.
Give Nigeria a chance to learn from her growing pains. I wish that country the very best.
Henry Williams, New York/ Sierra Leone
I thank God for Senator Idris Kuta for rising to the challenge of stopping the evil Chuba Okadigbo. Okadigbo should be jailed as that is where he belongs.
Nothing much has changed, not for the better, anyway. While the legislature is fraud-ridden, the president, having provided no leadership on the explosive Sharia issue and the Babangida fraud issue has seen fit to obliterate the little town of Odi. In between, he has also found plenty of time to meddle in the leadership struggles of the Senate and the House of Assembly
This is the best thing that has happened to Nigeria. Henceforce, the masses shall not be deceived by public officers.
The insatiable quest for material wealth now asserts itself everywhere. If Chuba Okadigbo and his crew are indeed guilty of the sins for which they have now been impeached, I recommend that they be sent directly to jail, for betrayal of trust and for disgracing the proud Honourable members of the Legislative Arm of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Adebayo Akinsete, Nigeria
Mr Okadigbo was elected into the position of Senate President, which requires him to maintain a certain level of comfort that should at least be on par with other African leaders. Would the people of Nigeria wish that their President lived in less affluent surroundings than those leaders of poorer African nations? Of course not. Chuba Okadigbo was upholding the status of Nigeria and accusations of fraud are levelled at him by those jealous of his prestige.
The "Third Republic", abruptly came to a disgraceful end under the leadership of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, because of pervasive and endemic corruption within the echelons of power and the civil service. Mr Okadigbo has proved to us once again, that, he is a man of the past. People like him cannot escape the hands of the Rule of Law if Nigeria is to prosper.
Mr Chuba Okadigbo is the first civilian president after several years of military regime. Civilian government is relatively new for Nigeria and Nigerians have a lot to learn from other democratic countries. During the learning process, it is obvious that the learners, Nigerians, may miss a lot of important values but they are moving towards a better future.
As long as you have the old brigade in charge, Nigeria will never change. The current leaders of the Nigerian public have at one time or the other served in previous governments. I believe it's time for the millions of jobless young graduates to be given a chance to serve their nation.
My memories of common folk in Nigeria are warm. A wonderful, vital mix of peoples; ready with a smile and a joke, and industrious when allowed and encouraged to be. What a tragedy for a country to be plundered so contemptuously by its own rulers.
George Mutua, Kenya
It has been quite a while since the change of guards, and Chuba has had his share. Oust him and another will come in to continue the looting. That is the vicious cycle of African leadership.
Nigerians have yearned for democracy since 1984. It finally came after 19 years. One would have thought that after the brutal bashing of our economy and national psyche, we would all join hands together to make Nigeria even greater than before.
But some people obviously have other ideas. Mr. Okadigbo has raped this nation with this nefarious act of his. When he was asked about the findings of the probe, he, as any typical Nigerian politician would do, dodged the questions by saying that the probe was orchestrated and the members of the panel were concocting stories. Previously, he had said that he deserved his "Christmas bonus" of $220,000 by virtue of his position and office.
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