As part of its usual ‘probe cum wild goose chase’, the Senate ad-hoc committee on Transportation indicted the former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih. The Senate ad-hoc committee investigated alleged corruption in the transport sector since 1999. And according to media reports, ad-hoc committee report is filled with revelations of alleged serial malpractices,
through multiple contract fraud, unhelpful connivance between contractors and government officials over the last ten years. In fact it was noted that N633 billion was spent on only 4,752 kilometres of road; short-changing the government of N47 million per kilometre of road.
It was also reported that between 1999 and 2009, the Ministry of Transportation, gave contracts for the construction and rehabilitation of 11, 591km roads at a cost of N1.7 trillion – about N87 million per km – and with only 24 per cent of the roads achieved, 64 per cent of the contract value has already been paid; about N133 million per km(!). The Senate ad-hoc committee alleged that, during Mr. Anenih’s tenure as minister, and three others that later headed the ministry in the last 10 years, multi-billion dollar contracts were awarded to contractors based on estimates and without preliminary design.
The Senate ad-hoc committee report on this brazen corruption was meant to be debated on the floor of the Senate last Thursday. However for some inexplicable reasons, discussion on the ad-hoc committee panel report was shelved indefinitely! So the question is why the sudden change in gear? Why has the Senate decided to dump the ad-hoc committee report? If the Senate was not interested in pursuing the allegations of corruption to a logical end, then why waste taxpayers money on silly probes?
This sudden ‘u-turn’ begs the question about the sincerity of this government and perhaps the PDP in the fight against corruption. The decision of the Senate not to debate the panel report forecloses the opportunity to prosecute Anthony Anenih. However, if Bode George, who is also a chieftain of the PDP, could be sentenced to two years imprisonment for abuse of office, why can’t Anthony Anenih be prosecuted for blatant corruption? Or is it that the powers that be, in the PDP are beginning to develop cold-feet because of the recent judgement delivered by Justice Oyewole?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naïve of the power and influence Anthony Anenih exerts in Nigerian politics. Mr ‘Fix It’, as he is often called, is arguably one of the strongest political godfather in Nigeria. Many have even described his recent appointment, as the Chairman of Nigeria Ports Authority as an indirect appointment of President Yar’Adua second term ‘campaign manager’.
The Senate decision reinforces the public belief that some individuals are above the law. Just as someone said, “the anti-corruption law in Nigeria is like a cobweb. It is too strong to catch the weak but very weak to catch the strong”. The action vindicates the widely held opinion that the prosecution of Bode George was a smokescreen, and that Bode George was only a victim of high level political machinations. It is becoming obvious by the day, that enemies of Ex-President Obasanjo are President Yar’Adua’s best friends.
But the six-four thousand dollar question is, who will deliver us from this cancer called ‘corruption’ that has eaten deep into the bone marrow of our nation? Every morning we wake up to allegations and counter-allegations of corruption on front pages of newspaper. We have an Attorney-General whose key performance indicator is the number of government cronies he can shield from corruption charges. The A-G performance is assessed on how many corruption charges against government cronies he can subvert under the guise of ‘rule of law’.
As citizens, it is imperative that we demand for justice on issues relating to allegations of corruption. There should not be one rule for goose and another for the gander. The likes of Bode George cannot be convicted , while bigger thieves continue to loiter along the corridor of power.
In mean time, as Bode goes to jail, Anthony Anenih continues to relax in his country home…
By Seyi Osiyemi