A critical and objective look at, and appraisal of the state of the Nigerian Nation at this moment reveals fogginess and confusion as the country remain in that situation where the poor ordinary working and toiling people which constitute the majority are writhing in pains almost on all plains; with a rich ruling class and their underbellies that are impervious to this reality and apparently does not ‘give a damn’.
More than 8 months after the inauguration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal government, it is pertinent to come to terms with what is real and what is fad or farce. The worst thing may not be so much about where we are coming from but much more about in which direction we are going, we dare say. And the way things stand, Nigerians are more concerned with the direction the Nation are moving. The ordinary Nigerian wants to be able to feed; to be sheltered, to be gainfully employed, to be educated, secured and to live in harmony, as simple as that!
Starting with the brouhaha over the Nigerian 2016 Budget; the episode has brought to the fore what the ‘sceptics’ and deep discerners have espoused about the APC led Federal government on its capacity to deliver on the mantra of change upon which it rode to power on one hand and total insensitivity for the fate of Nigerians whose life are directly affected by the intrigues, unwarranted disagreements between Arms of government, buck-passing etc. by the government over a document that is so fundamental to National planning on the other hand.
The so-called ‘Budget of change’, in spite of the anti-corruption stance of the APC government has turned out to be a budget of corruption; it has revealed several ‘paddings’, ‘inflated figures’, hidden thievery, bare-faced and audacious thievery inclinations, bloated and unnecessary expenses. In all these, all the Arms of government, civil servants, bureaucrats and career politicians are involved; the Presidency came up in the budget with its tomfoolery that it needs to spend 4.8 billion naira on Aso Rock VIP Clinic; the Legislators insist they must ride in luxury cars that will cost billions of naira, and 795 million naira million naira website upgrade for the Solid Minerals Development Ministry even though the Ministry claim that the ‘’WEBSITE UPGRADE’’ is to be done through the deployment of an Enterprise Resource Planning solution across ten agencies does not attest to frugality that the government lay claim to as a virtue.
To think that a budget is a planning instrument for the development of society and witnessing the intrigues playing out over such an important document for National planning, it is no gainsaying to assert that this scenario is a not a departure from the agonising past and non-readiness to abandon the ways of the old that Nigerians vehemently voted against in 2015. The issues that are significant; that can transform the excruciating condition of living of the poor, working, toiling and oppressed masses are not even on the ‘scale of preference’ in the so-called ‘Budget of Change’!
We condemn in entirety these proposed outrageous and frivolous spending, we call on the government to prone down their expenditure in line with what it preaches! There are more pressing needs before us as a people and country that should be prioritized above frivolities and wastage in terms of the scale of preference of our challenges.
With the present economic crisis; the free fall of the naira against the dollar; the plummeting prices of crude oil (Nigeria’s economic mainstay) globally, we believe it is dialectical that the spending of government should be frugal and prudent.
That unemployment, poverty, infrastructural decay with the education and health sectors in quagmire amongst other challenges pervades our country is like stating the obvious. That our country got to this stage of precarious existence is directly linked to corrupt and sharp practices including misappropriation, embezzlement, extravagance, Contract cost inflation, and misplacement of priorities is also stating the obvious.
It was in recognition of the situation of the country and the prerequisite need for fundamental change in their situation of existence that Nigerians voted massively to elect the present government to move the country out of doldrums by abandoning the culture of malfeasance in government and corruption.
While Nigerians are expecting humane treatment; the government have conspired against the poor, working and toiling people to increase the sufferings of the majority by jerking up the tariff on electricity by 45% in a reality where Nigerians in their majority do not get supply of electricity and are not metered! This is in spite of public outcry against hiking the tariff, a government that rode on the crest of public outcry and anger against a hitherto existing rot has turned out to be so un-listening, what a contradiction we dare say!
We make bold to say with every sense of responsibility that it’s the PHCN, the DISCOs, NERC that owe Nigerians money and apologies for not rendering services that they received money for and continue to receive money for, albeit, forcefully. Therefore we reject this hike in electricity tariffs in totality, we demand that, power supply should be made available and accessible to all and a billing system that will be transparent, reasonable and commensurate to consumption.
We lend our voice, support and solidarity with every oppressed Nigerian; we are saddened that even Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Boko Haram ravaged region in North East, Nigeria, who are yet to get over their trauma can still become victims of the death they struggled to escape under the watch of government, it a real shame that government cannot protect IDPs; we condemn the massive sack of workers by Governor Rochas Okorochas of Imo state and commend the Labour and Civil Society organisations for rising up and standing firm against irrationality!
We remain recalcitrant in our stand to stand against corruption, we strongly support the anti-corruption war of the government; we commend and celebrate the wins so far. We reiterate our disgust for corruption. On no account should the anti-corruption war be abated; diligence in investigations and probes, diligence in prosecution and punitive against corrupt elements to serve as deterrents to others must continue. Enabling laws to facilitate the enabling environment and funds must be availed for all anti-corruption agencies to strengthen the on-going anti-corruption war.
CACOL identifies with the positions of the EFCC and President Buhari on the factors encumbering the anti-corruption drive in terms of the roles of some lawyers and the Judiciary. It’s a truism that no matter how glaringly evident the crimes of some class of people are; some of our lawyers do wilfully abandon morality for monetary gains hiding behind what they describe as ’professionalism’ or ‘am only doing my job’. If we are not to play the Ostrich and be realistic, Nigerians have witnessed several cases of corruption where culprits exploit corrupt tendencies in the Judiciary system to facilitate their escape of justice or to get the ‘slap on the wrist’ kind of judgement. Recognising a challenge in the process toward achieving a goal is being honest with oneself; a sign of strength and commitment to the achievement of the goal.
We situate the recent appearance of 90 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) in a show of shame in court behind their colleague, Rickey Tarfa, who is being charged for wilfully obstructing justice by preventing the arrest of two suspects by the EFCC as a very good example that strongly buttresses the position of the EFCC that some lawyers do not only aid and abet corruption but they tutor corruption criminals on how to escape justice. Even, the presiding Judge in the case described the appearance of the SANs as ‘’tantamount to harassment and intimidation’’.
The government must be told and emphatically too, that when government forces the poor to bear the brunt of the malfeasance and insolence of governance as perpetrated by the ruling class and their cronies, it is nothing but CORRUPTION!
We call for more funds to be deployed into Education, Health, Security and Power sectors, and infrastructural development beyond Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for legislators, Aso Rock Clinic renovation and horrendous feeding expenses, Website Upgrades, a Presidential Fleet with 10 jets and some many other frivolities.
Government should fulfil the very reason why it was instituted in the first place! The primary question to pose; is to ask, what is the general and specific purpose of governance or of government? General in the sense of why do we as a society need a government and what kind of governance do we need in general? And specific in the sense of what is the specific goal, objective and socio-economic program of this new regime, this new government? Government is a social contract between the governed and the government as espoused in Chapter 2 of the Nigerian Constitution explicitly. The government is supposed to (constitutionally empowered) to harness the resources of the society for the provisioning of social welfare for the (majority) people, including their security and harmony.
We say no to deceit, we say no to dishonesty. For us, corruption is ‘any act of dishonesty’. Name, Nail, Shame and Shun corrupt leaders anywhere, everywhere.
Mr. Wale Salami
Media Coordinator, CACOL