To many National Assembly watchers, at least from the outside, Farouk comes across as one that has taken politics as a vocation, much like other people choose —Law, Journalism or Teaching as a profession- and through commitment stay glued to them. His profile at the National Assembly rose sharply when he became the leader of the integrity group— a loose group of assembly men and women that championed the crusade that removed Patricia Ette as speaker for spending to renovate her accommodation when the fund was yet to be approved as budgeted for. Patricia Ette lost her seat but Farouk earned himself a meteoric rise in national prominence as he appeared on national television to argue one moral standpoint or the other. In a law making forum that had long been written off as too steeped in scandals, Farouk exploits as an assemblyman seemed to bring some sort of fresh air of probity and accountability. He was soon to surpass himself with his virtuoso performance as the chairman of the House committee on fuel subsidy management. As he deftly handled one lurid and compromising revelation after the other which contributed to confirm what has been long apparent to discerning minds that the oil sector and the bogie of fuel subsidy was a putrefying cesspit of unconscionable sleaze that has been used to humble Nigeria and her people.
While the proceedings of the probe lasted, Nigerians saw how the oil sector was run with heedless disregard for the rules of procedure on contractual agreement and outlay of funds. His committee managed to show that Nigeria was in hock, or worse still, has been mortgaged to oil magnates by those purportedly elected to manage its affairs and they are not about to let go of their nefarious preoccupations as long as they are in charge. And just when the call was getting strident that the report of the subsidy probe be acted upon, suddenly the exemplary work of the committee on fuel subsidy was been plunged into a quandary and all its suppositions and resolutions called to question.
This was achieved through calling Farouk Lawan’s character to question by alleging that he asked for and collected some handsome 600000 dollars from Chief Femi Otedola, the chairman of Zenon oil ostensibly to influence the outcome of his committee report. The whole lurid detail of allegations and denials are out in the public square, as it were. Meanwhile Farouk’s seemingly, impeccable public image of probity and incorruptibility carefully cultivated from earlier exploits have been shredded into bits, he has now been shown to be just like everyone –easily made to compromise his position on the altar of filthy lucre. And so what many had thought was a promising career in public service with every prospect of possibly culminated in some higher office some day has all gone up in smoke, out of sheer inordinate greed.
Most painfully however is that the fall of Farouk exemplifies the perennial inability of people in leadership positions, who by dint of their positions could be said to be rich and well endowed, succumbing to inducements, no matter how surreptitious and of selling their conscience to the highest bidder, even if what they are selling is the very soul of the nation. Having been in the House since 1999, Farouk is sufficiently rich to pour scorn on any attempt to make him compromise his hitherto sterling record in the National assembly. So why did he fall for the bait?
Farouk Lawan has been relieved of his positions from the House committees he is serving on, and appropriately so too. The whole bribery saga, even while the truth is still being established has taken from him the right to continue to sit in on deliberations of committees. It is a tragic and fatal fall that had better be a lesson to other members of the National Assembly and many others holding big positions. Having said that, however, the report of the fuel subsidy should not be put aside, as the power, pension and the capital market probes seem to have been done with. Doing so would not only serve the vested interests that set up Farouk, exploited the insatiable hankering after undue gratification that has become the banana peel for many Nigerians, but also it could be huge disservice to Nigeria in its attempt at correcting the maladministration of its affairs.
A familiar pattern has emerged now about probes, which is that as soon as they are completed some scandal arises about the conducts of the personalities that undertook the assignment, casting doubt on the outcomes of the probes themselves. Ndudi Elumelu and Herman Hembe are battling to clean their names that were besmirched in the aftermath of the probes on power and capital market respectively. These scandals are made to become the reasons for keeping the probes in abeyance, notwithstanding the fact that salient issues that need urgent attention have been raised in the probes. If this attitude continues, Nigerians would come to see the whole oversight function that give rise to these probes as mere hogwash and a waste of everybody’s precious time. The whole process would be seen for what it is:- a cynical and callous papering over of the insidious manner national affairs become. And if it persists soon governance would be seen as a grand scheme to just abet and condone wrongs that are perpetrated by powerfully people. In such a situation no one should be surprised when individuals and criminal groups begin to act as if there are no laws.
All said, as the saying goes, it takes two to tango. According to the law both the giver and the taker of bribe are culpable and are both guilty before the law, so when the fact are established the security agencies that have been overly eager to hang Farouk should not conveniently forget that whatever he may have taken was given to him by someone. After all, what is good for the gander is also good for the goose.