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Since the conclusion of the 2023 general election, Nigerians have been faced with the ugly spectacle of political actors struggling and scheming to occupy leadership positions in the 10th National Assembly without articulating a coherent vision.

Various names have been thrown up, with political groups criss-crossing the country to sell their candidature to governors, traditional rulers and other members of the elite class.

Following the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the February 25 and March 18 polls, the leadership of the party adopted candidates for the top positions of Senate President/ Deputy Senate President and Speaker/Deputy Speaker.

However, the fact that the party does not have a majority in the House of Representatives while also facing dissent from some of its own lawmakers-elect in the Red Chamber has made the race more intense, with various aspirants allegedly trying to seal political deals that would assure them of victory.

While the race for leadership positions in the National Assembly is a normal routine, the baggage of corruption associated with many of these aspirants calls for concern.

This is not a laughing matter; it is just as serious as the question of Nigeria’s survival as a nation and the prosperity of its people.

To be sure, not all of these aspirants have been convicted of a crime in the law courts, but the fact that they are under probe for corruption and malfeasance should have curtailed their ambition until they are proven innocent and discharged and acquited.

The reverse is not good for Nigeria’s image.

How do you put people with compromised records in office? It means that people with clean records are not even being encouraged to put themselves forward.

It seems that the country has not yet learnt any useful lessons about the place and centrality of integrity to public life, especially with respect to leadership positions.

The idea of top aspirants for leadership positions in the National Assembly being persons with integrity questions hanging on them without their political parties and Nigerians in general expressing disquiet about this is utterly reprehensible.

How could it be that people with pending corruption cases are the ones mostly being pencilled in for the highest offices in the National Assembly? 

The optics, in spite of the much ballyhooed corruption fight of the President Muhammadu Buhari government, is terrible.

The impression has been created that the surest way to paper over any corruption allegation within the body politic is to seek higher offices, perhaps as a backhanded reward for the corruption tag.

This evidently sends very strong signals that the country is not just incapable of fighting corruption, but is in fact ready to celebrate it and keep revelling in it.

Yet the leadership in the country pretends that it is interested in foreign investment and is keen to attract them in order to improve the economy. Only that we do not know of any serious investor, except ones also favourably disposed to corruption and seeking an opportunity to further extend their corrupt tentacles, that would want to venture into the visibly corrupt environment being presented in Nigeria.

To be sure, the integrity question is not limited to the legislature. The fact is that many of the members of the incoming executive arm of government have corruption allegations woven around them in the most despicable manner. It simply defies logic that corrupt persons who have been rewarded with public office through Nigeria’s crooked leadership recruitment process would suddenly turn saint and utilise public funds to turn around the fortunes of a populace. There is no evidence that public office does redeem lawbreakers.

More unfortunate is the fact that with the current deluge of integrity-challenged people in the public space, many of those with clean records would not want to offer themselves for public service, thus depriving the country of integrity-conscious leaders.

We hope that these persons with integrity questions and those sponsoring and supporting them will soon realise the futility of their macabre dance, as the overall weakening of the moral fibre of the society and the resultant lack of quality progress and development will affect all, including they themselves.

Nonetheless, the higher responsibility is for the general public to be much more discerning in voting and electing quality leaders and shunning those with integrity questions.

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