Help Nigeria Move Forward With Senator Rochas Okorochas Principled Anti-Corrupt Approach To Screening Of Mini – The Nigerian Voice

The corruption of the Senate was in view some hours ago as Nigerians witnessed an unusual form of senatorial conduct during the screening of ministerial nominees.

I don’t mean the kind of corruption that regularly sends public officials like legislators and executive officers to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) due to charges of bribery, embezzlement, and misappropriation of public funds.

I’m referring to corruption as procedures that involve the explicit or implicit violation of norms of conduct by supposed entrusted lawmakers who should be impartial in their decision-making work.

Senator Rochas Okorocha (APC: Imo West) during the screening of ministerial nominees was not allowed by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to directly interrogate a ministerial nominee under screening. Ironically, the ministerial nominee, Goodluck Nana Opiah, according to Okorocha, comes from his constituency in Imo State. I need to point out that I know none of these men, nor have I dealt with them in any capacity now or in the past. I am only here to give a psychological picture of what democracy should become in Nigeria.

It is very important that the current constitutional, presidential, legislative, and senatorial systems in Nigeria were mainly adopted from America’s Constitution. Whereas part of the senate’s tradition of unlimited debate has it that no senator can be disallowed to speak and pose questions to nominees.

In a more democratic manner, Okorocha countered and tried to educate the senators present during the screening irrespective of the so-called agreement reached in the chamber’s closed-door session, pointing out that the minimization of questions and the syndrome of “bow and go” are anti-democratic practices.

Beyond screening these recent nominees, Okorocha believed that as part of a non-schizophrenic or primitive approach to screening ministerial nominees, he wanted to apparently ask questions that reflect not only on his constituency but also on the plethora of problems plaguing the country.

Taking nominees to task becomes more important, especially when the presidency sends nominees to the Senate for screening and confirmation in a schizophrenic or confusing manner, meaning with no identified portfolios that the potential ministers are supposed to occupy.

The likes of Okorocha believe that in order for the young democracy to move forward, ministerial nominees should openly go through a rigorous confirmation process.

During a debate on nominees or other vital matters, it is worth knowing that every state and senator has an equal voice in the Senate, and in the case of what happened between Lawan and Okorocha, it is worth knowing that senatorial courtesy allows senators to ask detailed questions about nominees from their home constituencies.

Certainly, there could be concern that a senator might block nominees from their home districts, especially in a troubled society marked with sentimental, ethnic, and religious divides and negative competing elements. However, it is still a senator’s right to speak to issues other than emotions. Just listen to what he or she is going to say.

No current Nigerian is oblivious to the fact that there is ‘bad blood’ between Okorocha and the current Imo State governor.

On the basis of parliamentary fairness and with the permission of the Senate president, a senator should ask direct questions of a nominee. In this matter, the Senate President had allowed another Imo state Senator to speak defensively, so why disallow another, such as Okorocha, from making comments even if they were differing questions?

Nigerians should not be allowed to have the perception of autocratic abuse going on in the national assembly or elsewhere.

We are still a democracy, no matter how disturbed. Even when inside the parliamentarian chambers, just like Okorocha’s legal position, are full of men and women with unfinished and current fraud cases and misappropriating public funds under a weak criminal justice system, each senator must assume duty to their constituent and nation in terms of service.

It is only in a schizophrenic or troubled democratic environment where systems are mired in confusion that allows for potential ministers who are to drive national policies to be allowed to take office even when they are not faced with hard questions that could determine the quality of people that will take charge of the economy.

As long as the people allow an environment characterized by incomprehensibility, confusion, and erratic or undemocratic behavior, improvement, and progressive performance in every sector—economy, education, youth development, energy, and power—and others suffer.

In a society where self-interest trumps public interest, knowing what nominees will bring beyond their past histories before they are confirmed ministers makes the country less disorganized, unreal, and confused, and less safe and sluggishly progressive.

It is a fact that more Africans, including Nigeria, live in entirely or partially authoritarian societies today than at most points in the last few decades. Let’s hope in the next presidential administration and national assembly in Nigeria, along with Senator Okorocha’s thinking, democratic norms and consolidating democratic practices slowly get enshrined in Nigeria. This is my fantasy.

John Egbeazien Oshodi, who was born in Uromi, Edo State in Nigeria to a father who served in the Nigeria police for 37 years, is an American based Police/Prison Scientist and Forensic/Clinical/Legal Psychologist. A government consultant on matters of forensic-clinical adult and child psychological services in the USA; Chief Educator and Clinician at the Transatlantic Enrichment and Refresher Institute, an Online Lifelong Center for Personal, Professional, and Career Development. He is a former Interim Associate Dean/Assistant Professor at Broward College, Florida. The Founder of the Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi Foundation, Center for Psychological Health and Behavioral Change in African Settings In 2011, he introduced State-of-the-Art Forensic Psychology into Nigeria through N.U.C and Nasarawa State University, where he served in the Department of Psychology as an Associate Professor. He is currently a Virtual Behavioral Leadership Professor at ISCOM University, Republic of Benin. Founder of the proposed Transatlantic Egbeazien Open University (TEU) of Values and Ethics, a digital project of Truth, Ethics, and Openness. Over forty academic publications and creations, at least 200 public opinion pieces on African issues, and various books have been written by him. He specializes in psycho-prescriptive writings regarding African institutional and governance issues.

Prof. Oshodi wrote in via [email protected]

Disclaimer: “The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.”


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