Let me say it straight away: Nigeria’s load of glitches like endemic corruption, hunger, poverty, disease, unemployment, disunity, and stunted growth are the products of our crooked, inept, and morally-bankrupt leadership. Unfortunately, some prominent Nigerians have reduced the solution to all these anomalies to restructuring.
These people have been going about this clamour for restructuring as if it would solve all the problems bedeviling this country without addressing the vital issue of how to exit leadership failure. The erroneous impression they have been creating is that once we restructure, everything will start working well. Are they saying that once we return to regionalism, corruption and poverty will become history in Nigeria? Are these advocates saying that once the regions have more money and power is devolved to them, there will be jobs for our people, quality healthcare/public schools, good roads, access to public water supply, decent and affordable housing, and the rest of the good life? This envisaged Eldorado is a delusion.
This talk about regionalism is preposterous. For me, our 36-state structure is not responsible for our backwardness, but governance failure. Advocates of regionalism should perish the thoughts. What we need to restructure is our “unitary constitution”, so that we can practice federalism as done in the United States where we borrowed the concept. I am convinced that our 36 states should continue to exist, while those desiring to merge should be constitutionally allowed. Yes, power devolution and fiscal federalism are also desirable. However, we must first address how to put an end to rogue leadership. It is also pertinent to note that all sections of the country would have to be carried along in a constructive manner in order to attain this true federalism dream. Compelling arguments should be decently rationalised to ensure that our constitution is amended along this line in order to reduce agitations and marginalisation. In the long run, every section of the country stands to benefit from power devolution and fiscal federalism. Above all, it will help to preserve our federalism and strengthen our unity, as can be seen from the American example. We should also note that if we want to make progress in this bid for true federalism, this idea of portraying a section of the country as parasites must stop. Nigerians must act as allies in this bid for true federalism.
It is heart-warming that a man of Professor Pat Utomi’s status has joined in punching holes in the erroneous avowal about restructuring. “Restructuring alone would not solve Nigeria’s development challenges,” declared Utomi. He added: “Empirical evidence showed no correlation between more resources and development in the country. Some states with fewer resources are more developed than some resource-rich states. The belief that the states would do better with more resources is a myth. Only those states that make the people the core of their government would develop.”
Let’s go back to our crooked system that often throws up touts as leaders in our dear nation. The truth that must be told is that touts and miscreants have been dominating elective positions in our dear country after clueless military boys truncated the First Republic. This is why we have been experiencing massive corruption and stunted growth. If we give these touts more money and more power, they will become more corrupt and more power drunk. The battle against miscreants emerging as our leaders is one that must be fought if this country is to profit from the fiscal federalism and power devolution we dream of. Addressing the issue of reprobate leaders would require a thorough surgery. Genuine patriots must rise up against defective sections of our electoral laws and insist on appropriate amendments in order to deter touts and miscreants from emerging leaders. Decent people are being deterred from contesting elections because of ambiguities in our laws, particularly campaign fund issues. Unrestrained spending on campaign and election by miscreants is a big drawback and encourages emergence of these gangsters. Election spending and donations must be legally controlled. The issue of independent candidacy must also be placed on the front burner to tame the knavish character of our political parties.
The Powerful Chap Called Babachir Lawal
The suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, is perhaps the most powerful chap in Nigeria right now. He has fraud allegation running into billions of Naira hanging over his head, yet, not even our anti-corruption Czar, Muhammadu Buhari is prepared to open his kinked books. Two different committees are believed to have indicted Lawal, yet, he is still walking around grandly. The almighty Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is apparently so scared about moving against him. The Senate had earlier indicted him, with very little to show thereafter. This legendary grass cutter seems to have everything under control. Even the reports indicting him are suspected to have been eaten by rodents. The suspended Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke, whose investigation was fused with that of Babachir by the Presidency, is also benefiting from the powers of the fabled grass cutter. Both reports look unlikely to see the light of the day. What a way to fight corruption with deceit, hypocrisy, and double standards.
Yes, Babachir looks untouchable, but Nigerians will never forget the damaging report about his role in the looting of the funds of the Presidential Initiative on North East. From the report of the forensic audit of the activities of PINE by the Senate, the case against the SGF remains weighty. Evidently, he allowed his personal interest to override his official duties. This is against the rules in the public service. The forensic report showed that Rholavision Engineering Limited, a company, with the suspended SGF as Director was awarded consultancy contract by PINE. It emerged further that Josmon Technologies, a firm that was awarded contract by PINE, paid the money into the bank account of Rholavision Engineering.
In the course of the public hearing on PINE activities, its key officers could not convincingly account for the N2.5 billion released to them to tackle the crisis in the camps of the IDPs. The transgression of Babachir is a further confirmation of Buhari’s skewed war against corruption that I have been talking about all the while. May Allah save Nigeria.
Plight of Ekiti Civil Servants
Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has been making intemperate and misleading remarks about the unpaid salaries to Ekiti civil servants. He was even quoted recently saying that he owed the workers “just four months salaries”. Haba! Fayose considers four months of unpaid salaries as meager? This is heart-wrenching. For the record, Fayose owes some civil servants as much as eight months. I am sure that he did not for one single day stop his own entitlements and the contentious security vote. According to the Ekiti State chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress, “different categories of workers in Ekiti are being owed between five and eight months.”
Breaking down the level of indebtedness of the government to the workers,the State Chairman of the NLC, Ade Adesanmi said: “The state workers’ benefits are in different
categories thus: pension, gratuity, deductions and salary.
As we speak now, civil servants are owed five-month salary arrears; local government, eight months and
institutions getting subventions like College of Education Ikere, College of Heath
Technology Ijero and Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, are owed
seven months’ arrears.
“One cannot but talk about the plights of the pensioners, because one day, we will all retire, either on account of age or length of service. As of now, pensioners are being owed five-month arrears while gratuity has not been paid since 2012 when Kayode Fayemi was in the saddle.”
My dear Fayose has thoroughly derailed. Governors like Fayose who give prickly excuses for not paying salaries are not worthy of their offices. Their usual story is dwindling federal allocation. So what? Nigerians are tired of governors who can’t think out of the box. Leaders who don’t know how to raise funds to run their states have no business remaining in office a day longer. Instead of focusing on tackling the challenges in Ekiti, Fayose is busy pursuing a pointless Presidential ambition; obviously with state resources. This is happening in a state where civil servants have been turned into paupers. This Ekiti governor is taking his jest too far. I sincerely hope that those close to Fayose will call him to order.
Ibe Kachikwu, Please, Assert Yourself
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, is a big disappointment in his battle against the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru. Kachikwu, who was appointed the Chairman of the NNPC Board, with powers of the board clearly spelt out, is now asking President Buhari to come and help him do his job. The federal government has almost over 900 agencies with boards. Just imagine the chaos, if the chairmen of these boards are all running to Buhari, to help them run their agencies. This fraidy-cat called Kachikwu is busy writing petitions to Buhari, to help him curb Baru’s alleged insubordination and corruption, instead of taming the monster. Is Kachikwu unaware that the board of the NNPC has the power to discipline Baru? What action did the Board of NNPC take when it discovered that Baru was acting unilaterally? Baru should be the one running to Buhari, if Kachikwu had affirmed himself as the NNPC board Chairman. The NNPC GMD simply took advantage of this minister’s sloppiness to take key decisions without the Board’s approval.
I have given up on Kachikwu and his NNPC Board. As for Buhari and the NNPC, I reserve the story for another day. I sincerely hope the Senate will help tame Baru who has become power drunk because of his closeness to the seat of power. He does not submit to oversight regulatory mandate and supervision. This has resulted into several clear cases of corruption, which the Senate must further dig into as soon as the approved probe of Baru commences. A good example here is the award of contracts running into billions of USD exclusively by Baru, without due process. Some of them include crude term contracts valued at over $10 billion; DSDP contracts valued at over $5 billion; the AKK pipeline contract valued at approximately $3 billion; various financing allocation-funding contracts with the NOCs valued at over $3 billion and various NPDC production service contracts valued at over $3 billion.
The senate must take seriously Kachikwu’s allegation that in over one year of Baru’s tenure, no contract was cleared by the NNPC board, despite legal and procedural requirements that all contracts above $20 million would need to be reviewed and approved by the board.