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Friday, 9 September 2011



By Emmanuel Onwubiko

With few months to the 2011 elections, politicians holding public offices in the states especially the governors who are serving out their last constitutionally allowed second tenure are already dusting up their files and preparing their hand over notes. With the cry by most Nigerians across the 36 states of the federation that eleven years of return of democracy has not significantly improved their living conditions because of the overwhelming effects and consequences of corruption by political office holders, it is believed in some critical quarters that some corrupt governors are also busy doctoring the necessary financial transaction papers so as to block the tracks and gaps of economic brigandage with a view to making it impossible and cumbersome for the two anti-corruption agencies namely the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to effectively bring them before the competent courts of law and obtain quality convictions for the horrendous financial crimes they have unleashed on their people in the last eight years.

Even as some analysts are already calling on the two anti-graft agencies to be proactive and ensure that the operatives beat these corrupt political office holders to their game, another dangerous signal emerged recently that about five of the 36 states of the federation are surviving on financial life support meaning that these states cannot meet their statutory financial obligations without resorting to collecting overdraft facilities from the commercial banks.

Quoting an impeccable source at the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC), The Guardian reported on Monday June 7th 2010, that the affected states’ situation had become so “precarious” with some of them unable to pay their workers’ salaries in the last three months. The competent source in the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) which is a forum where national revenue belonging to the three tiers of government are shared monthly, told The Guardian that the affected states, four from the North central zone and one from the South-South region were grappling with their budgetary commitments and payment of their workers’ salaries.          

The situation is allegedly caused by the inability of the Federal Government to realize the postulations that formed the 2010 budget in terms of oil price bench-mark and the estimated oil output, which are being reviewed downward. The development has negatively impacted on government’s revenue with the attendant “assault” on the Excess Crude Account, which has been depleted to about $4.8 billion against a backlash of criticism from some Federal Government officials who could rather that states be more prudent and cut down on excessive spending and leave the account for the rainy days.

Critical questions that arise from the above unfortunate facts are - what is the quality of transparent and accountable leadership in those five states of the federation that have virtually collapsed because of the paucity of Federally shared allocations? And secondly, why are the states unable to formulate and implement effective measures for the enabling environment to be created for the private sector to thrive in their states and why on earth are they unable to raise their revenue profiles from internally generated sources?

The simple answer to the above posers is corruption on the part of the political office holders which makes rapid development of infrastructure impossible in order for the private investors to be attracted to do business in those states.

President Good luck Ebele Jonathan also concurred with the above answer we provided for the posers we constructed above.

The President who spoke at the first Presidential Retreat on the implementation plan for vision 20:2020 and public private partnership framework for infrastructure development in Nigeria identified greed and corruption as the major stumbling block to the nation’s development. His words; “Greed of which corruption is a part is the main stumbling block that stems our growth. If people are greedy, even when they are in the private sector, they tend to inflate the price. All these retard our development. It is not just corruption that someone in government misappropriates funds. But we use the word corruption to describe some other corrupt acts by some people, which I believe are the greatest part of our underdevelopment”.

President Jonathan stated further; “We must look at our procurement process. If we must move fast, because whenever I travel out of this country to another and I happened to see some infrastructural development, I always ask about the cost of execution. And sometimes the cost I am told is three times less of what we are charged in this country. “That is one of the reasons why in the last FEC meeting we set up a committee to look into our procurement because if we do not review our procurement money that will give us three times the price of something but ended up giving us only one. For instance, money that will give us three vehicles we end up getting one; money that will give us three dams, we are getting one. Money that will give us 30 kilometers of road we are getting 10. Then our visioning will not materialize”.  

Long before the emergence of the current president, a world renowned literary guru Professor Chinua Achebe once wrote in his book “The Trouble with Nigeria” that the trouble with Nigeria is the gross incompetence, ineptitude and corrupt tendencies of our leaders and that there is nothing absolutely wrong with our environment or clime.

It is therefore safe to assume without any fear of factual contradiction that it is corruption by these governors that led to the near-financial collapse of the five states and also the monumental crisis of poverty and underdevelopment all across the 36 states of the Federation. The other day a frightening statistics emerged that there are 90,000 commercial sex workers roaming the streets of Ondo state even as the Niger state government recently constituted a committee to undertake a head count of the number of street urchins, beggars and the homeless persons roaming the streets of that state. These are grave signs that corruption by political elite has unleashed a coordinated regime of poverty and insecurity on the majority of our population.

The worst kind of politics whereby state governors who are in the last phase of their last constitutionally allowed second tenure are already preparing their cronies, blood brothers and sisters to succeed them when they quit public offices next year is the most reprehensible, obnoxious, vexatious and compellingly condemnable development that Nigerians of good consciences must resist.

For an out going state governor to unduly manipulate the electoral process using the proceeds of political crime to influence the out come of next year’s governorship polls to make way for the emergence of his crony as his successor, is the worst political crime against humanity which must be rejected because it portends danger to our democracy and will inevitably institutionalize a regime of nepotism which in effect will transform some states to mere family assets. This act is abominable and retrogressive even as this political scenario if allowed to happen will inevitably project Nigeria in the eye of the international community as primitive and politically unsophisticated.

Why will an outgoing state governor openly or surreptitiously work for the undermining of the political process to make way for the emergence of his brother or sister to succeed him as governor? The simple answer is that there is something fishy and smelling that the outgoing governor believes that only his anointed brother or sister successor in office can clean up or hide under the carpet to escape the prying eyes of the law enforcement agents.

Two states are already in the news that the outgoing governors are preparing their siblings to succeed them and these are Kwara and Borno States. In Kano state, the outgoing governor Ibrahim Shekarau who is the most divisive politician ever to emerge from that side of the country has openly anointed his crony, former local government Affair’s commissioner Sagir Takai to succeed him as governor next year. There are apprehensions that the governorship election in Kano may not be free and fair because the outgoing chief executive may manipulate the process to favor his anointed ‘man-Friday’.

Kano people being some of the most politically sophisticated persons in Nigeria are expected to give the out going governor a run for his money. In Kwara, the governor’s sister who is a sitting senator, Gbemisola Saraki is eyeing the position of governor even as her brother the outgoing governor is eyeing her Senate seat. Is Kwara a family asset or what? Only last year, the strong man of Kwara politics Dr. Olusola Saraki, the Oloye of Kwara state, said that he knows who will succeed his eldest son (Dr. Bukola Saraki) as governor in the 2011 election. It is the belief of most politically savvy analysts that the overwhelming influence of Dr. Olusola Saraki, may be broken if he insists on foisting his beautiful daughter as governor to succeed his eldest son.

In Borno state, the outgoing Governor Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff is beating the political drum for his younger brother Mala Sheriff to succeed him as governor of that state in next year’s governorship election and most people are afraid that with the intimidating amount of cash at the beck and call of the outgoing governor, the election may be hijacked to favor his anointed one.

It is not the submission of this writer that the governors trying to foist their siblings as their successors are guilty of financial crimes, but it is my argument that if this unfortunate trend is allowed to be actualized in next year’s elections, then Nigerian democracy would have taken a serious dive for the worst and indeed the democratic future of Nigeria will be doubtful.

Those preparing to commit the mistake of imposing their blood brothers or sisters to succeed them must remember what T.H. Green in his book “Principles of political obligation” wrote that; “In those levels of society in which obedience is habitually rendered by the bulk of society to some determinate superior who is independent of any other superior, the obedience is so rendered because this determinate superior regarded as expressing or embodying what may properly be called the general will, and is virtually conditional upon the fact that the superior is so regarded. It is by no means an unlimited power of compulsion that the superior exercises, but dependent upon the sovereign conforming to certain convictions on the part of the subjects as what is for the general interest. The sovereign is able to exercise the ultimate power of getting habitual obedience from the people in virtue of an assent on the part of the people. This assent is not reducible to the fear of the sovereign felt by each individual; rather it is a common desire to achieve certain purposes, towards which obedience to law contributes; (see T.H Green, page 96-97)”. 

What the above authoritative comment by Green shows is that it is possible for the people to wage popular mass action to protest the attempt by these governors to subvert the political process so as to impose their choice or anointed successors.

*          Onwubiko is with Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria.                    


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