Etteh, wounded Speaker, walks on moral stilts

Etteh, wounded Speaker, walks on moral stilts 

By Levi Obijiofor 

Friday, 28 September 2007 

Thursday and Friday last week were eventful days for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Olubunmi Etteh. On Thursday last week, one day ahead of her scheduled appearance before the panel investigating allegations of financial malfeasance against her, the nation was given an insight into the script of a major drama the Speaker had intended to perform for the investigating panel. In the document, the Speaker resorted to sophism rather than basic facts to dislodge the allegations made against her. But the document was anything but convincing. There were logical holes and incomprehensible arguments that raised further questions about the Speaker's ability to engage in informed debate.  

The document released by Etteh to the media last week was poorly constructed, logically flawed and indeed misleading. Etteh failed to address the key issues raised by her accusers. It would have helped if she had relied on unassailable evidence to shoot down the allegations against her. Last Friday, Etteh appeared in person at the venue of the investigation panel. She looked like a champion boxer determined to defend her title. In a sense, Etteh's title is presently on the line. Her supporters expect her to defend her title vigorously and successfully in order to stitch her tattered reputation and repair the damage done to the office of Speaker.  

Unfortunately, Etteh's performance before the panel, in person and in writing, has exposed her incompetence as Speaker and her lack of moral character. During her testimony last Friday, Etteh was vividly ill at ease. She consistently refused to take the blame for any problems associated with the renovation contracts. She said the appropriate units within the National Assembly should be held accountable for any lapses in the contracts. 

Whenever panel members tried to get Etteh to accept responsibility for the contracts and the hefty amount of money approved for the renovation projects, Etteh proved to be as evasive and slippery as an eel. She consistently reminded panel members that, as a certified beautician, she was not professionally qualified to determine whether the renovation contracts were justified or not, whether the processes adopted in awarding the contracts were legally satisfactory or unsatisfactory, and whether the amount of money involved was too enormous or tiny. She repeatedly took cover under the excuse that she was not a construction engineer, not a quantity surveyor, not an architect, and not a real estate valuer. But no one needs to be a professional builder to understand that N628 million was just too colossal to be approved for the renovation of the Speaker's official residence.  

By constantly shifting responsibilities to her subordinates, by refusing to accept blames for the blunders committed in the award of the renovation contracts, the Speaker has exposed her poor leadership skills and her administrative ineptitude. It is a shame that after nearly eight years in parliament, the Speaker could not yet understand the basic ethical principles and processes that underpin the award of contracts in the National Assembly. If this Speaker is in the wrong profession, it is not too late for her to return to her professional hairdressing job (no pun intended).  

Etteh is a troubled Speaker. As long as allegations of official misconduct continue to swirl around her, the Speaker will forever be distracted from her official parliamentary duties. The distraction will come chiefly from a scandal that threatens to weaken her capacity to function as an effective Speaker of the House. At a time when the Speaker ought to be preoccupied with crucial legislative matters that affect the welfare of everyone, she has been busy attending nocturnal meetings with her party supporters, answering uncomfortable questions from her legal team, and rehearsing how she would defend herself against serious allegations of financial impropriety and abuse of House policies and procedures relating to contract awards.  

It is certainly not a good evidence of moral leadership for a Speaker to be confronted with daunting allegations of corruption so early in the life of parliament. Even if Etteh wrestles herself successfully out of this mess, she would be remembered ignominiously as the woman who brought the high office of Speaker to public ridicule and disrepute. Etteh also would have damaged irrevocably the dignity and integrity associated with the office she occupies. If Etteh remains as Speaker after the investigations, she would be remembered as the Speaker whose actions led to brawling by parliamentarians. What would it profit Etteh for her to shrug off this debilitating scandal and continue in office as Speaker with a handbag full of cracked mirrors, facial masks and mascara? Only Etteh can answer this question. 

With or without Etteh, the House of Representatives will still continue to exist. But whether it would be an effective House or a disorderly House would be determined by current and future events. So far, investigations into the house renovation scandal have yielded significant but tantalising outcomes. One: Etteh's vision of herself as a respected Speaker who commands the authority of the entire House has been smashed. Two: the conflicting accounts presented to the investigation panel by Etteh and other principal officers of the National Assembly in regard to how the contracts were awarded show that corruption is clearly embedded in the definition of due process as it applies to renovation contracts.  

The allegation that the Speaker once ordered massage equipment valued at N98 million has further undermined the public rating of the Speaker. It is insensitive and an act of financial recklessness for a House leader to accord priority to massage equipment to the value of nearly one hundred million naira at a time when the underprivileged members of our society are struggling to survive. How would the massage kit help to reduce poverty or provide food for the poor? Given her background, could the Speaker afford to buy that equipment from her annual income?  

Ironically, at the panel hearing last Friday, Etteh presented herself as a prudent, careful and courageous Speaker who has had to sacrifice a lot for the sake of the nation. But the revelation made by Acting Clerk Niyi Ajiboye last week has contradicted the Speaker's claim that she is a good financial manager. Can a good financial manager see any value in a massage equipment worth N98 million, for the purpose of personal use? The Speaker is now perceived as a spendthrift (rather than a prudent woman) who is incapable of controlling her cravings.  

There are certain aspects of Etteh's testimony last Friday that did not quite add up. In one moment, she said she deserved to be garlanded with awards because she saved the nation millions of naira which she would have spent if she had taken up accommodation at a lavish hotel pending the completion of the renovation of her official residence. In another moment, she argued she had no expertise in the award of contracts. Yet Etteh admitted that she was the chairperson of the tenders' board that awarded the contracts. Throughout her defence, Etteh did not seem to realise that she was guilty of conflict of interest because she participated (as chairperson) in the tenders' board that awarded contracts for the renovation of her own official residence. In her capacity as chairperson of the board, Etteh ought not to have participated in the award of those contracts. 

Etteh is a wounded Speaker walking on moral stilts. Her image has been battered. She is now the subject of newspaper cartoons. Etteh's grip on the leadership of the House is shaky. She leads a factionalised House of Representatives, a House dogged by petty loyalties and confusion, a House in which legislative business is likely to be settled with punches and exchange of crude weapons.  

There are four aspects of Etteh that should attract close scrutiny of the investigation panel: her leadership quality, her honesty, her moral character and her financial priorities as the number three citizen of the country. House members with some degree of integrity must ensure that this particular scandal should not be resolved through "peace talks" initiated by Etteh or her political godfather Andy Ubah. If Etteh and other principal officers of the House have committed a crime, they should be punished according to the law.
 



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Re: Etteh, wounded Speaker, walks on moral stilts
Udokaamah posted on 09-27-2007, 22:59:49 PM
"If Etteh and other principal officers of the House have committed a crime, they should be punished according to the law. "

I agree with you completely.

The Speaker is irredeemably damaged. In saner climes, she would have resigned to spare the public the details of the lurid tales that are emerging. Unfortunately, this is Nigeria.

Recent reports from major newspapers in Nigeria indicate that the Speaker has in fact been indicted by the panel investigating the contract award. The Attorney General ought to move expeditiously to bring criminal charges against the Speaker based on the final determination of the review panel.

Members of the Integrity Group that uncovered this whole tale ought to be commended for being alive to their oversight responsibilities.

If any lessons have been learned from this incident, one would be to excise the office of the Speaker from any form of contract award. It inherently amounts to a conflict of interest.

98 Million naira for a massage equipment for the personal use of Madam Speaker? Is that true? God help us!!!
Re: Etteh, wounded Speaker, walks on moral stilts
OluGbo posted on 09-27-2007, 23:27:05 PM
Levi Obijiofor , I am in complete agreement with your statement quoted below ...

... "By constantly shifting responsibilities to her subordinates, by refusing to accept blames for the blunders committed in the award of the renovation contracts, the Speaker has exposed her poor leadership skills and her administrative ineptitude. It is a shame that after nearly eight years in parliament, the Speaker could not yet understand the basic ethical principles and processes that underpin the award of contracts in the National Assembly. If this Speaker is in the wrong profession, it is not too late for her to return to her professional hairdressing job..."

Sadly, it appears that Madam Speaker is trying to hold on to the speakership instead of honorably resigning.
Re: Etteh, wounded Speaker, walks on moral stilts
Kynetta posted on 09-28-2007, 01:21:34 AM
Dear Friends,

I have just read and signed the online petition:

"Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Must Go "

hosted on the web by PetitionOnline.com, the free online petition
service, at:

http://www.PetitionOnline.com/00677/

I personally agree with what this petition says, and I think you might
agree, too. If you can spare a moment, please take a look, and
consider signing yourself.

Best wishes,

kynetta aldridge
Re: Etteh, wounded Speaker, walks on moral stilts
Gentle Angel posted on 09-28-2007, 04:24:17 AM
The speaker should just resign and be done with it.
Avatar
Re: Etteh, wounded Speaker, walks on moral stilts
Nallanah posted on 09-28-2007, 04:58:55 AM
This is a great article; written with clarity and conviction. I however, will choose to differ slightly on what I consider personally should be the "way forward".

We have all read on this site and many others dotted around cyber space, the numerous and perculiar problems with Nigeria, more often than not problems associated with the leadership of our nation.It could be from the Presidency, State and local Government, and more recently in the Legislature and indeed the Judiciary. (Recent rumblings within the Attorney Generals' office).

I shall concern myself primarily with the present travails of the speaker of the house of assembly.

If Patricia Etteh is found guilty as charged then she should be punished. However, we must all search ourselves thoroughly and ask "How in heavens name WE allowed this to happen"??? The phrase "Square peg in a round hole" easily comes to mind here, and in numerous other cases dotted across the land.

It is amazing that in a land of 140 million people with so much on offer across the globe, we allow such mediocrity to rear it's ugly head time and time again!!!

We must all bow our collective heads in shame!! (Myself included!!).

How we can sit back and allow our dear country be run aground by this bunch of social misfits while we all take a "siddon look" attitude, what do we expect to happen???...a miracle? Give me a break!

We will get a Government we deserve until we all rise up and reclaim our Country back from the precipice where it hangs so dangerously.

Like they tell us in computerland, "Garbage in, Garbage out"!!

I have no political aspirations, but would gladly encourage those of that leaning who have a genuine interest of service to the people to do so. You would not let car mechanic deliver your wife of her baby, would you?....of course not!! My point exactly.
Nor would you allow a pre puberscent teenager get behind the wheel of that your new and expensive car, especially if he/she had little or no driving experience.

Let the right man or woman do the job, but we must all get involved now!! No more "siddon look". Remember Georgia about 4/5 years ago. (The people rose up against Edward Shervardnadze and drove him out!!)

Umar Yar Adua, and his gang must be told in no uncertain terms that Nigerians will no longer put up with this level of stupidity.

Enough is Enough!! I don talk my own oh!!
Re: Etteh, wounded Speaker, walks on moral stilts
Toksyleigh posted on 09-28-2007, 05:47:05 AM
Etteh should resign.... Etteh must resign honourably, Etteh must walk the moral ground......are you all kidding me? are we talking about Nigerian Politicians here?

I know I am a young man in my early stages of life, but I have lived long enough to ask you people this question: How many Nigerian Politicians in our history have ever resigned on principles, honour or moral grounds ehn? (may be Awolowo and Azikwe)?

Remember they do not make Nigerian Politicians like they used to make them in the old days (60's) where people actually have shame, reputation/name to protect, honour and intergrity.

I am not going to go into the details about the morals of our new breed of politicians because it will take days and quite frankly; I have more important things to do than bother with these thieves and shameless animals in human skins. Even Monkeys have more morals than these Babalawo's, motor garage thugs & touts, bricklayers, Butchers, spare part dealers, 419 scammers, fake degrees earning toads turned Nigerian Politicians.

One thing is for sure, you will have to shame a Nigerian Politician properly before he or she will leave office, because they are only in there for one thing and that is getting rich on the backs of all those suffering Nigerians. God help you, if you stand in their way, because if you do you will be Bola Iged and like my great uncle ( the original Abamieda) once said,

you go die for nothing
dem go carry your body go police station you die wrongfully jeje, jeje, jeje

By the way, can anybody please let me know where I can find the following statistics:

During OBJ 8 years and Yaradua 4 months rule:

1. How many bills that concerns the welfare of Nigerians were introduced in the Senate and the house and how many of them passed?

2. How many legislations concerning the rule of law, police harrassment, due process of law, individual and fundamental human rights protection were introduced and approved?

3. How many Health care , Education, infrastructure and social Security/Welfare reform bills were introduced and passed?

4. How many merriment bills for the Senators, house members and the other owners of Nigeria were introduced and passed unanimously?


I am anxiously waiting for the statistics please help me out people.

God help us all,

Goriola Abamieda.
Re: Etteh, wounded Speaker, walks on moral stilts
DoubleWahala posted on 09-28-2007, 06:21:45 AM
QUOTE:
Etteh should resign.... Etteh must resign honourably, Etteh must walk the moral ground......are you all kidding me? are we talking about Nigerian Politicians here?

I know I am a young man in my early stages of life, but I have lived long enough to ask you people this question: How many Nigerian Politicians in our history have ever resigned on principles, honour or moral grounds ehn? (may be Awolowo and Azikwe)?

Remember they do not make Nigerian Politicians like they used to make them in the old days (60's) where people actually have shame, reputation/name to protect, honour and intergrity.

I am not going to go into the details about the morals of our new breed of politicians because it will take days and quite frankly; I have more important things to do than bother with these thieves and shameless animals in human skins. Even Monkeys have more morals than these Babalawo's, motor garage thugs & touts, bricklayers, Butchers, spare part dealers, 419 scammers, fake degrees earning toads turned Nigerian Politicians.

One thing is for sure, you will have to shame a Nigerian Politician properly before he or she will leave office, because they are only in there for one thing and that is getting rich on the backs of all those suffering Nigerians. God help you, if you stand in their way, because if you do you will be Bola Iged and like my great uncle ( the original Abamieda) once said,

you go die for nothing
dem go carry your body go police station you die wrongfully jeje, jeje, jeje

By the way, can anybody please let me know where I can find the following statistics:

During OBJ 8 years and Yaradua 4 months rule:

1. How many bills that concerns the welfare of Nigerians were introduced in the Senate and the house and how many of them passed?

2. How many legislations concerning the rule of law, police harrassment, due process of law, individual and fundamental human rights protection were introduced and approved?

3. How many Health care , Education, infrastructure and social Security/Welfare reform bills were introduced and passed?

4. How many merriment bills for the Senators, house members and the other owners of Nigeria were introduced and passed unanimously?


I am anxiously waiting for the statistics please help me out people.

God help us all,

Goriola Abamieda.


ONE MILLION 'GBOSAS' TO YOUR COMMENTS...YOU HIT THE NAIL BIG TIME!!!!!


DW
Re: Etteh, wounded Speaker, walks on moral stilts
Denker posted on 09-28-2007, 06:52:35 AM
QUOTE:
I have more important things to do than bother with these thieves and shameless animals in human skins. Even Monkeys have more morals than these Babalawo's, motor garage thugs & touts, bricklayers, Butchers, spare part dealers, 419 scammers, fake degrees earning toads turned Nigerian Politicians.


Abamieda, my dear, you're blessed..you took those words from my mind..i couldn't have said them better...indeed!
Re: Etteh, wounded Speaker, walks on moral stilts
STTOPP posted on 09-28-2007, 12:00:11 PM
Yeh intellectuals like you guys are incorruptible, degree and certificate seekers like you without applicable skills are also part of the problem, in fact all Nigerian has been infected one way or another by our corrupt society. Please STTOPP the hypocrisy.
STTOPP
Re: Etteh, wounded Speaker, walks on moral stilts
JAGA-JAGA posted on 09-28-2007, 12:07:42 PM
"There are four aspects of Etteh that should attract close scrutiny of the investigation panel: her leadership quality, her honesty, her moral character and her financial priorities as the number three citizen of the country. House members with some degree of integrity must ensure that this particular scandal should not be resolved through “peace talks” initiated by Etteh or her political godfather Andy Ubah. If Etteh and other principal officers of the House have committed a crime, they should be punished according to the law".

Levi,

This is a good piece of work on the current shame going on at the hosue of rep. My advice to the speaker is to step aside immediately without waiting for impeachment proceedings which I believe would be more devastating on her.

Secondly I would like to draw your attention to the highlighted portion of your article above; Etteh as the speaker of the house of rep is ranked number four (not three) citizen after the senate president whilst the Chief justice of the federation is the 5th citizen.
Cheers!



Villagers please see below latest report from Pointblanknews.com on ETTEHGATE

EFCC Ready To Prosecute Speaker, Others

Following the reports of the House of Representatives N628 Million contract scam probe committee that indicted the leadership of the House, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is said to have indicated interest to prosecute all found wanting by the reports.

But the speaker in her desperate bid to remain in office, last night met with some top notch of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to begin a last minute move to save her job and avoid being prosecuted by the anti-graft body.

A very reliable source at the EFCC told pointblanknews.com over the phone that the body is currently studying the reports and would determine how to go about prosecuting those indicted in the contract scam.

"We have seen the reports and we are studying all the findings of the probe panel. As soon as we are done we would come up with how best to go about our business of prosecuting those involved." The source told Pointblanknews.com over the phone.

The source who prefer to be anonymous said that "our job is to fight financial crimes anywhere found in Nigeria regardless of who is invloved and we would not hesitate as soon as we study the report of the committee to invite those found guilty and charging them apprioprately according to the laws of the land."

Asked if permission would have to be sought from the office of the Attorney General before it begins the process of prosecuting those involved in the contract scam, the EFCC official stated that "we are going to work within the laws that gave us the powers to prosecute anyone found in any form of financial crimes."



However, the Speaker, Mrs. Etteh has engaged the services of some lawyers to study the reports and advise her on the next line of action to save her from prosecution. Sources hinted that soon after she met with some leaders of the PDP last night over the reports, a team of lawyers led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria whose name could not be ascertained as at the time of going to press were mandated to do a critical study of the reports and recommend to the speaker the next line of defence.

Earlier, while meeting with some PDP chieftains, Etteh was said to have been assured that the PDP caucus in the House would be persuaded in another meeting to be scheduled to save the Speaker from impeachment and prosecution.

A PDP source at the meeting told pointblanknews.com that "this is a family issue and we are going to find the best way to settle the issue and everyone would be happy at the end."
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