The nation’s political landscape is analogous to a theatre of the absurd. Thus when you are about concluding that nothing could be more ridiculous than the theatrics you just witnessed, something more infernal erupts. The drama ensuing from the bribery saga involving Farouk Lawan, honourable legislator of the Federal Republic, and Femi Otedola, oil magnate, is not about ending soon. Many had thought that after Lawan finally and reluctantly accepted that he took the bribe, his appearance in court would be a matter of days. How wrong they were! With the appearance of four lawyers, all senior advocates, who now represent his interest, the case is sinking further into a labyrinth by the minute. The leadership of the House of Representatives too has muddled up the water further by referring the case to its Ethics and Privileges Committee, which is now creating fresh perspectives in the overall drama. While the House’s leadership continues to distance itself from Lawan’s misdemeanour, it sure has not been transparent in the way its latest committee has chosen to intervene in the bribery saga.
At one of our Editorial Board meetings two weeks ago, the issue of the legislature’s oversight functions came up for discussion. Since 1999, this is one area the legislators have tried to put the executive on its toes. The irony though is that while they raise so much hope in Nigerians, with every probe, that some light is about to appear at the end of the tunnel, each time they dash it. There was the Ndudi Elumelu-led probe of the power sector in 2007, some of the panel members ended the assignment by being charged to court for some contract scandal in the power sector. Till today, nothing has been heard of the probe report. The recent Herman Hembe-led committee on Capital Market probe has also landed lawmaker Hembe in court. And Lawan, in spite of all his theatrics, may yet have his day in court. Against the backdrop of all these shenanigans by honourable legislators, the Board decided the time was ripe to examine how well the National Assembly has performed in respect of their oversight functions. Anayochukwu Agbo, senior associate editor, was given the nod to anchor it. His report, House of Scandals, is the cover in this edition.