The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Coalition, Nigeria and Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC) express a measure of relief that the House of Representatives’ ad hoc Committee on the investigation of subsidy regime between 2009 and 2011, has finally turned in its much awaited report. The report, as anticipated, revealed the endemic corruption in the management of the subsidy regime in particular and the Nigerian oil sector as a whole. Having followed events as they unfolded during the Committee Hearings, we are not in any way surprised at the quantum of sleaze and underhand deals uncovered by the Faruk Lawan-led House committee. In fact, we are convinced that this is just but a tip of the iceberg.
The Published What You Pay (PWYP), Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC) and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) is aware from media reports of the Committee’s claim on the one hand, that they came under serious pressure from government, marketers and other quarters to whittle down the report and by marketers on the other hand that the report was doctored by the Committee to satisfy certain interests. These, notwithstanding, the fact remains that we have in public domain a report that contains enough information to challenge our collective resolve as a nation to fight corruption and entrench transparency and accountability in our national life.
CISLAC, PYWP and ZCC recalls that in the wake of the crisis generated by the government’s withdrawal of subsidy, earlier in the year, the coalition of civil society and Labour had insisted that the issues surrounding the scandalous figures bandied around as the cost of subsidizing fuel were more as a result of corruption, patronage, mismanagement and inefficiency than the disbursement of those amounts as actual subsidy. The outcome of the Committees investigation and its report, which are all offshoots of the subsidy protests, is a vindication of our position and indeed reinforcement of the position that Nigerians were right.
We commend the members of the Committee for ensuring that the report was released and placed in public domain, demonstrating some commitment to at least redeeming the image of the legislature which would have prevented these unacceptable scenario in the first place, had they stood up to their duties by exercising constructive, proactive and effective oversight on the respective Agencies within the sector. We however remind them and all the members of the House of Representatives that the release of the report is only the beginning of the arduous task ahead. We note their resolve to follow through to ensure that the recommendations made are implemented and encourage them not to yield to any form of pressure or inducements to back off.
CISLAC, PYWP and ZCC call on the Lower House as they commence the debate of the report in plenary to know that all Nigerians are watching and destiny beckons on them to live up to the high level of integrity, objectivity and trust for which the legislature as an institution is reputed globally. We remind the honourable members that the electorate expects them to act honorably by doing justice to the report and ensuring that fairness, justice and truth prevails during their debate and deliberations.
We remind them of several previous probes which reports either never saw the light of day or had the involved legislative committee entangled with accusations of graft and ignoble behavior and the damage this had done to our collective efforts to fight corruption, the reputation of the legislature and our image as a nation and call on them not to squander another opportunity to revamp these. The initial responses of rebuttals and media campaign tending toward blackmail and the acknowledgement that persons known to have supported the election efforts of the ruling party are among those indicted, is for us an indication that there are high level interests involved and some parties will stop at nothing to stifle the
process and render the report ineffective in the end. We call on the House of Representatives to place itself on the right side of history for posterity to applaud by resisting every form of intimidation, arm-twisting or inducements to pervert the course of justice.
CISLAC, PYWP and ZCC call on the individuals and heads of agencies indicted by the report to tow the path of honour by immediately resigning their appointments to give room for the conduct of the further necessary investigations that will clearly determine their culpability or otherwise.
We call on the Presidency to let the law to take its course by allowing the relevant anti corruption institutions conduct full scale investigations as may be necessary without obstruction or attempts to shield any persons. The President should know that this case is a litmus test for him and his administration’s touted resolve to fight corruption as there has not been much to show in this direction since his assumption of office. The presidency should not interfere and allow the relevant institutions to ensure that anyone found wanting on account of the fuel subsidy management is allowed to face the full wrath of the law.
We call on the relevant anti corruption agencies to exercise due diligence, thoroughness and professionalism in the conduct of investigations so as to gather the requisite quality and quantity of evidence necessary for effective and successful prosecution of cases as may be necessary. We also call on the judiciary to ensure promptness and expedite justice while ensuring strict application of the law in a progressive and socially acceptable manner that furthers the course of justice and adherence to the rule of law.
CISLAC, PYWP and ZCC call on all stakeholders, the media, civil society and indeed the courageous citizens who earlier in the year, defied the scorching sun, teargas and even bullets to protest against the withdrawal of fuel subsidy which is now being justified, not to relent but remain vigilant until those who by their mismanagement and fraudulent actions, pushed us to the streets, are brought to justice and made to refund their loot to the national coffers.
The blood of our fellow comrades killed in Lagos, Kano, Ilorin and elsewhere, should not be spilled in vain. In fact, prosecuting all the guilty persons in this case and recouping all illegal payments, would be befitting tributes to those departed comrades.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) Faith Nwadishi National Coordinator
Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Publish What
Advocacy Centre (CISLAC ) You Pay (PWYP Nigeria)
National Secretary, Zero Corruption Coalition ZCC)