“But like I always say,you cannot fight corruption successfully without exemplary leadership.If you have leaders who refuse to declare their assets,and if you have leaders who protect corruption,definitely corruption cannot go away.”Hon Adams Jagaba,THISDAY December 10th,2012.Pg 21.
Government in it’s efforts to restructure education sector has done a lot.Many thanks to Professor Ruquayat Rufai and the minister of state for Education-Hon Ezenwo Nyesom Wike.These duo must be commended for all their efforts at sanitising our educational sector.Many thanks for the free textbooks and library materials for some of our public schools and the unique iniative of employing the services of the State Security to prevent diversion. Our University are doing better than they were in 2010.At least,we have declining ASSU strikes and that of SSANU(except for recent threats).But what comes to mind are those new Universities promised by GEJ during 2011 electoral campaigns.Where are they Mr President?What level of funding has been channelled to achieve this promise?What about UNILAG and MAULAG?Hope Mr President would rememeber to allocate funds for the rebranding of UNILAG in 2013.(This President no go kill person with laughter)
It will interest all you critics that Mr President transformation agenda in agriculture is now yielding fruits.We now have cassava bread all around the nation.Even Mr President now feeds on cassava bread on a daily basis.Though one has to acknowledge the efforts of Bankers’ Committees on Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing Agriculture Lending(NIRSAL) to provide funds for farmers and various state governments contributions to promotion of agriculture in order to diversify our economy.Mr President has character of making policy pronouncements even when he hasn’t really understood the complexity of the policies and time lag for their achievement.
I can’t remember if I have come across any news about funds granted to Agricultural Institutes in the country for research purpose on improved yields and ground breaking agriculture innovation yet it’s expedient for the FEC to allocate billions for banquet hall.Who cares if Nigerians die of hunger in the future?May be,God will feed Nigerians with manna like He did to the old testament Israelites as Mr President
sought at the Redeemed Christian Church of God(RCCG) 2012 congress.
Mr President in presenting 2012 fiscal year to the National Assembly was quoted as promising thus-“I wish to reiterate here that the principal objective of my administration’s fiscal policy in the area of tarriff and trade is to promote industrialization and the growth of the economy and above all,to generate employment for Nigerians.”
But everyone is a living witness to the path taking in achieving this promise.
It is more amazing that with all the promises of reducing the allocations to recurrent expenditure,the passed 2013 budget though has insignificant 3% reduction in recurrent expenditure from 71.47%(2012) to 68.7%(2013) in order to up the capital expenditure from 28.53%(2012) to 31.3%(2013).The truth is that government refused to tread the path of development that would truly drive industrialization that Mr President spoke about, when necessary steps were not taken to reach out to National assembly to look into the various Laws that set up some of the agencies,parastatals,commissions which duplicates the roles of one another;as recommended by Orosanye committee.It will be right to point out that our Laws are responsible for the high personnel costs,hence high recurrent expenditures.Any wonder why there was serious depletions in external reserve from $43 billion in 2008 to $30 billion as at January 2012 though this has grown slightly by December 2012 to over $40billion according to Dr Bright Okogwu of Budget Office,the question remains wether it’s enough to finance 36 months import let alone take care of 5 years foreign exchange needs?
According to Mallam Nasir El Rufai, “By 2007, the Yar’Adua-Jonathan government inherited vast foreign reserves ($43bn), on-going power projects (NIPP-$5bn), new rail systems, from Lagos to Kano ($8bn) and Abuja Metro ($800 million); an Excess Crude Account, ECA, ($27bn) – in short, a basis to hit the ground running, complete on-going projects, initiate new ones and continue addressing Nigeria’s infrastructure deficits. Alas, after $200bn had been earned and spent, that did not happen. What happened?”.I guess the answer is similar to the quality of piece of advice that Mr President gave to his former boss when he was Vice-President and Chairman of National Planning Commission.It’s simply cluelessness and gutlessness.
Another area of interest is how personnel costs increased from about N600 billion (including the National Assembly) in 2007 to over N800 billion in 2010, and then N1.6 trillion in 2012.It is partly attributable to some of the retired-but-smuggled-back-public servants as posited by Mallam Nasir El Rufai!
The administration, in the past one year has been especially visible in its large travelling contingents, indiscriminate setting up of committees, huge budgetary allocations to Aso Rock Presidential Villa, stealthily conducted media campaigns and depletion of funds in various specialised accounts of the federal government.
Recall that Mr President at heat of Fuel Subsidy Removal protest promised to eliminate wastes and especially instructed that political office holders’ take-home pay be reduced,nothing of such as happened and instead the President appointed a new Special Assistant on Youth Affairs, and Dr. Doyin Okupe as his new Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs. The President already had a Special Adviser on Media and Strategy and another Special Adviser on News Media.
While querying the number of aides appointed by President Jonathan and their designations, Obong Effanga, Governance Coordinator, ActionAid Nigeria, noted that there are too many duplications in the jobs assigned to the appointees. On the appointment of Dr. Tunji Olagunju as Special Adviser to the President on NEPAD and Dr. Pius Olakunle Osunyikanmi as Special Adviser to the President on International Relations, Effanga noted: “Apparently, these two offices could have been handled by a single person. Besides, why do we have to appoint a special adviser to the president on these when there is a ministry of foreign affairs with more than one minister, permanent secretary, directors and possibly a department in charge of NEPAD?”
Obong Effanga Continued by saying that some of the appointees and their portfolios, are even downright ridiculous. “Mrs. Sarah Akuben Pane, Special Adviser to the President on Social Development. One is too stumped to even comment on this. Mrs. Sarah Jibril, Special Adviser to the President on Ethics and Values. What a joke! Who even monitors what (if any) work, some of these appointees have been carrying out?” wondered Effanga, who added that the special advisers “would ordinarily have their own personal assistants and other aides”.
The President had also come under fierce criticism late last year after he submitted the 2012 Appropriation bill to the National Assembly following what many saw as huge, unnecessary and frivolous allocations for the National Assembly.GEJ had in the bill proposed to spend N477 million for “foodstuffs and catering materials supplies” for the President’s office, and another N293 million for refreshment and meals for his office and home.
Also in the same budget, N45.4 million was set aside to be used for purchasing kitchen equipment for the President’s house. Vice-President Namadi Sambo’s refreshment and meals, as contained in the proposal, were to cost N20.8 million; N104 million was allocated for the VP’s foodstuffs, catering and material supplies, while he will spend another N6.2 million on cooking fuel. On vehicles, the Presidency, also in the 2012 budget proposal, allocated N280 million for two Mercedes Benz armoured S-guard vehicles, N144 million for assorted utility vehicles, N18 million on Toyota Hiace bus, and N77 million on other cars to be added to the presidential fleet. The President suspended the procurement of the vehicles following controversy generated in the media over the issue. But the feeding budget of N947 million, the most controversial of the allocations, was only reduced to N857 million, which many Nigerians say did not go far enough
The Senate Committee on Public Accounts has also been investigating the withdrawal of billions of naira from the Natural Resources Account of the Federal Government. The account is funded through allocation of 3 per cent of funds accruing to the Federation The fund is expected to aid the three tiers of government to develop the natural resources in their areas as a means of diversifying the nation’s revenue. But the Senate Committee’s investigation of the management of the account revealed that it has virtually been turned into a slush fund by the Jonathan administration.Please come 2015,Mr President you must contest.
Yet, another recent report revealed how the sum of N36 billion in the Stabilisation Account was depleted to N11 billion in five months spanning January to May 2011. The account, which is funded by 0.5 per cent of funds accruing to the Federation Account, had a balance of about N120 billion in August 2010 but was depleted to N37 billion by October 14 of the same year.
All the foregoing is to call our attentions to irresponsibilities going on in high places which some folks campaigned that we should all keep blind eyes to,on the premise of religious and sectional sentiments.When Mr President and Co-ordinating minister of economy talks about economic growth or transformation agenda,you should understand what they mean. But you can remind them that developed nations like India and China only spends 12% of their income to run government while USA spends only 10% of her income on same.
In the area of anti-corruption,this administration has seriously worked hard to ridicule whatever anti-corruption means in the estimations of sane citizens.The list is endless from Dimeji Bankole’s House loan scandal to subsidy thieves who should be languishing in jail by now in sane societies to Farouk Lawan-Otedola drama.Lest I forget,Malabu oil scam in which the President was said to have ordered in August 2011,the payment of $155 million to Malabu account owned by former minister of petroleum resources-Dan Etete-without the knowledge of Minister of Finance, is yet to be resolved.Rogue bankers are still enjoying patronages from the high places.Who has forgotten the shameless celebration of corruption when chief Olabode George came out of prison?What about the ceaseless and brazen insults on the intelligence of Nigerians with the retention of Minister of Petroleum Resources under whose care, the un-imaginable subsidy malpractices were perpetrated.
When NNPC and only four other importers were responsible for the importation of fuel,the subsidy sum never climbed =N=400billion.It was just =N=261.1billion in 2006,=N=278.8billion in 2007,and =N=346.7billion in 2008 and now to over =N=1trillion even with partial removal of subsidy.Yet all government could glib about is dirty records with nothing substantial to show when Transparency International(TI) Corruption Perception Index rated Nigeria as the most corrupt in Africa or 35th in the World.
Ours is a government that does everything immediately or remotely to protect anyone guilty of corrupt practices as long as the person embraces this government.Though Honorable Minister of Information –Mr Labaran Maku- regaled the government’s achievements in the fight against corruption in which he stated the efforts the government was making in prosecuting fraudsters implicated in the fuel subsdiy scam,investigation into pension fund scandal,the geometric audit of ministries,departments and agencies(MDAs),and curbing of graft in the supply of fertiliser and seedlings to farmers;yet House Committee Chairman on Drugs,Narcortics and Financial Crimes,Hon Adams Jagaba gave a more damning verdicts on GEJ-led government when he stated that TI did not do their work dilligently in rating Nigeria better than last year.He further stated that political will to fight corruption is lacking from the Mr President.
Hear him “As far as I’m concerned,there is even some politics being played in this report because corruption has reached a climax in Nigeria.If you go by our ranking last year,Nigeria is actually getting worse not better….But like I always say,you cannot fight corruption successfully without exemplary leadership.If you have leaders who refuse to declare their assets,and if you have leaders who protect corruption,definitely corruption cannot go away.” “In every administration,people read the body language of their leaders and take a cue from there.The day the war against corruption will start is the day our leaders change their body language…”
The recent sleaze un-covered by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu’s Presidential Task Force on Oil Revenue and the drama that ensued(premeditated it seemed) from two members of the committee to rubbish the report was instructive. What is disappointing about GEJ’s commitment regarding corruption is that the same President that said “Although the time is short,like a determined athlete,we need no more than a hundred metres to make our mark on the sand of good governance”(November,2010) is the one dithering on bold steps to stem the tide of corruption.
Critics also reminded us of the AA oil owned by one Mr Aliyu from kogi state and the CBN landed property deals that saw CBN parted with several billions running to over =N=20billion which helped the company and the man;settled Skye Bank’s loan debts.What was scandalous about one of the deals was that the same government sold the land for less than =N=1billion few years when selling NITEL property.Information had it that about $1.2million was channelled into Mr President’s 2011 campaign through one of the serving ministers.The same minister’s company was said to have been indicted by Farouk Lawan’s committee on Fuel Subsidy.You wonder where Neighbour-2-Neighbour campaign part of GEJ got their slush funds from?You can tell now.
Morning shows the day.Late 2010,the whole of 2011and 2012 have shown what GEJ’s socio-political philosophies are.Nigeria deserves better.GEJ does not deserve to rule beyond 2015.Let every young (wo)men be prepared to mobilize friend(s),neighbour(s),brother(s),sister(s),cousin(s) etc for the task of throwing GEJ out of Aso Rock.Just like Daniel Kanu of Youth Earnestly-Ask-for-Abacha(YEAA)fame, someone will come up with Youth-Earnestly-Reject-Jonathan(YERJ). It would be a great idea.All patriotic (wo)men must begin to sing the gospel of ENOUGH-IS-ENOUGH to government by Trial and Error.Let all those whose shoes have been taken away by inhuman policies begin to take a walk of destiny now by engaging in political goodnews that TRIBALISM,SECTIONALISM and RELIGION do not deliver daily bread to anybody’s table nor shelter over anyone’s head.Only good leadership with the true fear of God does. what do you think?
Olatona Olabode works with Kingzcrown Consulting,Abuja
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