Katsina 11billion Naira Bailout: Logical Trial of Integrity

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Baba-Bala Katsina

MasariSince Katsina State Government made up its mind to join the league of states that are due for the CBN’s bailout fund following the president’s human directive, it continues to generate reactions from the people of the state and other Nigerians. Premium Times, one of the online most popular newspapers, published a story about the subject with a sensational headline that the editors know would elicit serious public outrage. The headline reads “How Katsina governor, AminuMasari, lied to Buhari to get 11 bn bailout”. Senior special assistant, media, to the governor fired the first shot. In his response to what he termed “…a paid advertorial that ran on page 59 of Daily Trust newspapers of Monday September 7th 2015”, he rather has confounded the situation by making the argument pretty logical; forgetting the fact that the public use logic to argue government decisions.

Still, at this point, some of us exercised restraint and waited for the governor’s sagacious senior assistant (new media) MaiwadaDanmalam whom we respect much in the Social Media Community to share with us more about the government’s side of the story before we go public with our opinion. A day after, Maiwada, as his colleague, was also, in his explanation, logical; thereby opening floor for logical debate about the whole saga.

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Maiwada wrote “In a letter written to CBN the Accountant General of the state requested the said sum clearly stating it’s for pension and gratuity. Unfortunately, however CBN rejected the request on the ground that the bailout is specifically for salaries and unless the Katsina’s request is for salary it will not entertain it.” What did Katsina do then “It was concluded that the state should seek for the loan on the stipulated terms of the CBN… ” This is explicitly logical you will agree with me!

To begin with, the subject of the letter according to the media aide was earlier about pension/gratuity and then changed to salaries in order to meet the CBN’s conditions. Why would Katsina State Government want to collect a loan in the name of salaries and pay outstanding pension/gratuity instead? Is there no question of integrity here hanging no matter the excuses? If the government can change the subject for the reason given, it will as well be right for the people, logical as they always choose to be in any given argument, to be subtly doubtful of the government’s sincerity; if it will actually use the money to pay the outstanding pension/gratuity. Does this therefore reaffirm Premium Times’ claim that the government lied to the Federal Government, CBN and the rest of us, the poor people of Katsina? Did the change mantra not include telling the TRUTH? I mean the PLAIN TRUTH?

Meanwhile, he said, “Katsina then went back to drawing board and the result was” logically it sounds “if Shema could recklessly and mercilessly accumulate such huge pension/gratuity bill,“ wait for it “what is wrong in classifying the liability as salary” and then here comes the integrity test “if that will give Katsina State the opportunity to join the list of the states being bailed out by the CBN”. Two wrongs they say never make a right. Not even in this circumstance.

And then this, “however CBN rejected the request on ground that the bailout is specifically for salaries and unless the Katsina’s request is for salary it will not entertain it”. What does this mean? That the apex Bank will go ahead and grant the loan request despite its foreknowledge that the state did not qualify for the facility? And president has given directives and according to the CBN is restricted to states with salary issues; does that also mean that every state having any kind of financial problem can apply and get the loan under the pretext of salary as against the president’s order? Reputable as CBN is, logically, if this turns out to be the case, its huge integrity in the eyes of Nigerians will understandably shrink.

Nigerians took president Buhari serious, trusted him, and so believed in whatever pledge he made. Then he always talks tough on transparency, rule of law, fight against corruption; and, more importantly his resolve according to many reports, as his actions prove, to work and mingle with people of high integrity. If therefore he gives directives that a bailout fund should be set aside for states to pay salaries, and then a state wrote under a guise to get the loan for another purpose and CBN goes ahead to honour the request and it becomes public knowledge that there is breach of order, will they, the people, not watch with curiosity what the reaction of the president will be? In this case his integrity will seriously be at stake. CBN should act wisely because OlisehMetuh, the chief wailer, is watching with keen interest. Imagine if president Buhari wasn’t mindful of his integrity and went ahead, when asked about the recent improved electricity supply, to give himself the credit, will it not have today became a national embarrassment?

There are also many things that the government did not explain to us on this loan which we must however ask questions about, failure to answer which will lead us to reach a logical conclusion about the government’s integrity in this whole loan of an issue. One intriguing thing is; has the money ever being budgeted for that purpose but stolen by the officials of the immediate past administration? Though Maiwada educates us about it but let us for a minute be logical: If the money were stolen as alleged, when then the state went back to drawing board when CBN turned down it request, didn’t it think of inviting EFCC or going to court to recover the money even if the process will take a year and then use the recovered money to pay the pension/gratuity since they were meant for that? We will also demand to know the number of the pensioners; their names; the ministries they worked before; and, dates of their retirements. Logically, some people think the sum to be collected as loan is much. But with details about the pensioners, we will be able to ascertain if actually the loan is not way much lower than the quoted sum.

You have the option of going for loan when you have well-designed policies and what is in the government’s coffers will not be enough to implement them. Even at that the facility if collected is expected to be invested in a productive venture that will generate some profits for the government to at least enable it to service the loan.  How long will it take us to repay the loan, and what will be the source for the money? If the same public fund is going to be used, with accumulated interest no matter the margin then the loan is counterproductive. We could recall when Shema built a new government house and we rant, he defended himself that the money are the profits made from Katsina investment; doesn’t this government have something to learn here?

And this is an emergency as Malam posits “For that Governor Masari made the issue of unpaid pension/gratuity one of his major campaign promises”. How does payment of pension and gratuity become a priority of a government which inherited according to it an economy in teeters? Will FIXING THE STATE’s ECONOMY through designing a(n) idea/knowledge driven policies be better? When he was campaigning and made this one of his priorities, had he thought of developing a plan of getting money to keep to that promise? What if there is no such issue as bailout; will it then be considered he had made an empty campaign promise? By the way, I think Katsina people will find Masari’s making of this his priority too outlandish. If the governor, the speaker, the state Account General, and any other person who was in the know this is happening and didn’t foresee it could tarnish the image of the president, the governor and the state and did not call the attention of the governor, then, in Katsina, in Nigerian parlance, we have entered a “ONE CHANCE” vehicle. Wherever Shema is on this earth and is following keenly the development in Katsina must be hiding a mischievous grin. Allah RayanJaharKatsina

Baba-Bala Katsina

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