A representative of the Crusade for Justice, Richard Nwankwo, believes that the reports of corruption in the Nigerian oil sector and the abuse of funds levelled against the Petroleum Minister are products of corruption in the entire Nigerian system.
Speaking on Channels Television, he said that there was a bazaar going on in Abuja, as “there have been several instances of massive corruption.”
The House of Representatives had mandated its committee on public accounts, to probe the alleged reckless spending of over N10 billion by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deziani Allison-Madueke for air charter services, and Mr Nwankwo refused to take them serious.
He said that the National Assembly itself lacked the moral justification to investigate corruption when they are also corrupt. He cited the $620, 000 bribery scandal still hanging on the neck of a member of the House of Representatives, Farouk Lawan, as one of those that disqualifies the National Assembly from investigating the NNPC or the alleged abuse of funds by Mrs Allison-Madueke.
When reminded that some of the cases involving the lawmakers were still in court, the legal practitioner said that this was no guarantee that the House was seeking true justice, considering how long the cases have been lingering without signs of being close to its conclusion.
He expressed belief that if indeed Nigeria wishes to truly fight corruption; all corruption cases must be tried on a day-today basis and brought to conclusion without the usual unjustifiable delays. He feared that all those cases in court, involving lawmakers would not be concluded before the election and they would be forgotten.
“There are a lot of latter day born again activists in the National Assembly”, he said, adding that but none of them has ever come out to tell Nigerians how much they were earning, let alone admit that these monies were too much, despite complaints that they were consuming too much of the country’s resources.
Nwankwo advised that Nigerians cannot afford to look at agencies like the NNPC or the Petroleum Ministry in isolation. He insisted that there is an existing culture of corruption, explaining that the system has a structure of how they do things which has been customary in the mentality of the people within the system.
He said that the system of operation within the NNPC has been the same way for decades, as it has become their in-house style, and to fight it, there has to be a strong political will.
He said, “If you are operating within the confines of these institutions, you must be above board” and once the National Assembly is guilty of some of the corruption allegations against the Minister and the NNPC, they cannot tackle the issue.
The National Assembly was said to have acknowledged that the NNPC has a right to use a private aircraft, and Nwankwo would not oppose this, but he said that allegations of ‘Waste of Resources on the Arbitrary Charter and Maintenance of a Challenger 850 Aircraft for Non-Official Use’ against the Minister of Petroleum are indeed cases of corruption, which should be taken up.
He noted, “A leader must be forensic and result minded.”