TOPIC: INTEGRITY; ESSENTIAL FACTOR FOR EFFECTIVE LEGISLATION AND BUILDING A VARILE NATIONAT SHERATON HOTELS AND TOWERS, LAGOS 23RD MAY, 2019.
When I first took the oath of office for the National Assembly in 2007, I swore to perform my functions ‘always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well- than being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”. The title given to me to speak about is the very oath of office I have taken repeatedly. It is the DNA of the legislator. It doesn’t get more essential that.
As for the effective Legislation building a virile nation, it is the coming together of chromosomes from each parent that brings forth new life. In a similar way, the various different peoples of this nation send their own representatives bearing the unique cultural, social DNA of their constituency to combine with other representatives bringing their own equally unique cultural, social and political DNA to mingle in the legislative womb of the nation and produce purposeful legislation to build and sustain a strong nation.
I have tried to avoid using the word virile. It has overtly erotic connotations more easily associated with Viagra than integrity. I do not wish to court any man’s trouble by insinuating that any of my legislative brethren need any blue fortification to fulfill their legislative duty in the red or even green chamber. But it does make me wonder what the man who came up with this title was really thinking about when he used the words ‘integrity’ and ‘virile’ in the same sentence. The great psychiatrist Siegmund Freud once remarked about what really is on a man’s mind is sex. Indeed, one US Senator … stated that “Politics is just like sex. You don’t have to be good at it to enjoy it.”
But don’t mistake my joking for lack of seriousness. While virile may not be a word I would use in conjunction with Integrity, especially in this setting of august wordsmiths whose faith in Christ brooks no debauchery. No, as the theme of this 7th Annual Integrity Award shows, “integrity is everything.” Indeed, Jesus Christ himself personified integrity and the purpose of law. We all know the scripture that Christ came to fulfill the law. And what is that fulfillment that we should love God Almighty with all our heart, soul and might. And, we must love our neighbor as ourselves.” Whether we are legislating for the Disability Act or the Appropriations Bill, we are and must remain true to the calling of fidelity to the law and the people. It is an oath we swore before God.
I am convinced that the strength of a nation rests on the weaving together of tiny fragile strands of individual threads from all over the country that make up the tightly woven rope that is the national assembly. A rope strong enough to carry the weight of history and the burden of expectation for the lives, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of 200 million Nigerians. Without individual integrity those fragile strands are easily broken. Without institutional integrity the rope is not strong enough to carry weight of history and the burden of expectation. It will strain and unless the lack of integrity is rectified, it will ultimately rot, fray and break.
So, you have to start with integrity on an individual basis, continue with integrity on an institutional basis and the results will show in the legislation and the lives of the people we in the National Assembly serve.
The lack of integrity is essentially dishonesty. If the integrity of the individual representing each fragile thread is questionable, the institutional integrity can only be as strong the questionable integrity of the weakest thread. So where to start on this journey of integrity? In order to have a strong and virile legislature and purposeful legislation, you need people of integrity representing you in the house and senate.
In selecting these people, I urge you to follow the advice of Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world and one of the most successful investors ever. Known as the sage of Omaha, He said “In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.” So, if you don’t want representatives in the national assembly that will kill you and your future, follow Warren Buffet’s advice.
A typical example of Legislative dishonesty and recklessness is the attitude of Senator OvieOmo, Agege when he led tugs and hoodlums to desecrate the hallowed chambers of the senate by stealing the mace of the senate which symbolizes legislative authority. His lack of legislative integrity led to democratic sacrilege and abominations. This is what a legislator with integrity should not do and does have a negative concomitant effect on Nation building and prosperity.
My late mother was as sagacious as Mr. Buffet. She used to counsel me. She would tell me remember the son of whom you are and always stand for the truth at all times.
She would remind me where I came from. Who got me to this position, and who I serve? For the many lessons I learnt at the feet of my mother, and the many wise sayings she taught me, I owe an eternal debt of gratitude.
It was her wisdom that has informed the causes I champion. I have sponsored over 80 Motions 40 bills, the highest in the history of national assembly before the house and senate.
But three of my proudest achievements and which I believe demonstrate the institutional integrity of the National Assembly are – the defiance of the senate in the face of intimidation by DSS who stormed the Senate to forcefully effect leadership change illegally. The resilience of members of the National Assembly against that precarious and irresponsible attitude of the security agencies portrays the institutional integrity of the National Assembly against the forces of darkness and democracy at large. Democracy should continue to the government of the people, by the people and for the people, never should we allow the wicked agents of state to change Democracy to Greediocracy – Government of the greedy, by the greedy and for the greedy. Legislators world over must demonstrate capacity in the face of obvious obscurity and the present perilous times we are facing in Nigeria. In an unjust society, silence is a crime. Truth, total truth, absolute truth must be watch word of a legislator with integrity. Afterall, if we speak the truth we would die, if we lie, we would die, I Dino Melaye have chosen to speak the truth and die. Today, I have been arraigned by the Federal Government and Police in 12 courts, the highest legal and psychological assault on any Nigerian dead or alive but I have conquer fear and for me the battle to preserve integrity and redeem our country from Gerontocratic leaders, economic cankerworms and financial scavengers is a battle of no retreat no surrender. I advocate for a new Nigeria where no Nigerian is more Nigerian than any other Nigerian.
The second is the passing of the Petroleum Industry Administration Bill. Until this Bill came to the Senate it had languished as a legislative orphan, passed around, named and repackaged. As a responsible institution, realizing the importance of this to the nation, we took the task of working across party lines to deliver this bill for Mr. President’s assent. Sadly Mr. President chose to veto it. A bill that affects a sector that produces 90% of government revenues. A Bill that had not be been passed by any assembly since it was first introduced in 2007. A bill that could unlock billions of Dollars in foreign direct investment in Nigeria that could generate employment and wealth for Nigerians and our teeming youth. WE passed that. We did the needful for the nation. It was national integrity at stake. And it was institutional integrity at work.
We pray that Mr. President changes his mind, so that a predictable regime can now reign in this the most vital sector. National psyche and ethic have done the job the people voted them to do.
Thirdly, is my bill on jungle justice which has been assented to by Mr. President in December 2017. A bill that won me international accolade and recognition. With the signing into law of that bill, people with gun wounds can no longer be rejected for treatment in all hospitals across the land. It also cure directly the application of jungle justice and extra judicial molestation and killings.
To round up, I have sought to demonstrate the importance of earnestness and purposefulness as components of integrity in a legislative setting. These two qualities are what gives nation building virility. It is something to live for and aspire to. Any national assembly that can produce laws and pronouncements has done the job the people voted them to do and the gratitude of citizens yet to be born.
Finally, every Legislator must decide to either work in the light of creative altruism or would perish in the darkness of relative selfishness. We must eschew fear and put on the garment of courage and integrity in the application of Legislative responsibilities. Legislators must learn to show capacity and capabilities rather than running to save heaven (APC) to averts MAGU and EFCC. Integrity remains the master key to good governance and nation building. We have no other country but Nigeria so we have to defend her and preserve her integrity. We must also remember that every Legislator will account to God what you did with the mandate solely given to you by God and the people. There will be a day of reckoning by both God and Man. I urge Legislators at all levels in this country to obey first the Bible and the Quran before obeying the constitution of Nigeria, this way integrity will naturally flow in the dealings of legislative business in Nigeria.
Thank you for your time, God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Senator Dino Melaye (SDM)