Don’t approach a goat from the front, a horse from the back, or a fool from any angle–—- Jewish Proverb
SOME of our leaders, especially the Governors, fit aptly into these three kinds of persons in this proverb. Some of them are like goats, and must not be approached from the front, because they will simply beat a u-turn and speed off.
You will then be left to pursue them and you will never win when it comes to money matters. Federal Government knows them and is aware that it will be an uphill task to recover money from them.
A good number of these Governors must not be approached from the back, because they are smart and skilled in what they do- take the people’s money and put up a poker face. These are the ones who do everything to create the impression of extreme wealth, in fact some of them will want their people to believe that they are richer than their states.
They are fast in every sense, and like the horse, if you dare approach them from the back, they simply gallop out of sight, in a moment. The President knows them too, as some of them are his party caucus members.
Many others among the Governors should not be approached from any angle, because like the fool, they will always put up strong and spirited resistance, in spite of overwhelming evidence and circumstances against them.
Impunity reigns amongst these ones, they think and act as if they will remain Governors with constitutional immunity for life. Federal Government knows them but can’t just figure them out.
The President for two reasons, namely to buy time from Nigerians in order to organise his cabinet and grapple with the myriad of issues associated with the settling down of his government after being sworn in, and to actually alleviate the suffering of the workers of the country, approved the release of workers’ salaries bail out money to the states.
The money was to be used by Governors to pay workers’ salaries arrears that had accumulated, majorly because they had dipped their hands into states coffers and helped themselves to organise elections.
When we remember that it is the misappropriation or misapplication of money meant for arms, that has landed series of PDP stalwarts in the net of the EFCC, since Buhari came to power last year, then the real purpose of this bail out money will become clearer, and a justification for the kids gloves with which the Federal government is handling the culprits.
The President needs the Governors to coast through the security challenges from Boko Haram, Fulani Herds men, the Niger Delta militants, religious intolerant groups in the north, all these in the face of excruciating economic hardship for the common man, thrust upon the country by the dwindling earnings from oil, and the deliberate go slow method of Mr. President.
It has taken him one full calendar year to get a Budget approved and come to grips with how to govern and run the economy, and he cannot afford to push the Governors hard, and they all know the game, hence the frittering away of the bail out money with impunity as they have done.
According to Saturday Vanguard of the 23rd April 2016 at page 3; of the 21 states reported upon, a total of about N100 billion of the bail out money cannot be accounted for by 19 states.
Niger and Ogun states only, presented clean slates, while Nine others, namely Adamawa, Cross River, Katsina, Gombe, Nasarawa, Osun, Imo, Enugu and Kebbi States are holding almost over N80 billion unaccounted for.
It has become obvious that our President had gone to China to borrow money substantial proportion of which could be fished out from Governors’ purses back home.
The case of two states stands out. According to the ICPC, of particular concern is the case of Zamfara State which applied for N32.5 billion, but as at the time of collecting N10.billion from the Federal government for workers’ arrears, the state was reportedly not indebted to any of its workers. But after receiving the cash, the state government made overtures to its House of Assembly which approved the use of the money for the settlement of indebtedness to contractors and other purposes.
Laws for Financial matters and rules, are enactments of strict application. Money meant for workers salary have found its way into contractors’ pockets. It is misapplication, or mis appropriation of funds, a punishable offence.
But Zamfara state is the headquarters of Sharia Law in Nigeria, and as far as that goes cannot be held culpable, for lack of political will.
In a different dimension of mis use, Imo State which collected the sum of over N26.806 billion from CBN, paid the amount into two commercial banks, and transferred part of the money into uses not related to workers’ salary.
The ICPC said it discovered N2 billion was lodged in a Government House Account, N2 billion paid into Imo State Project Account, while another N2 billion was lodged in a Micro Finance bank and a “Management Fee” of whopping N21 billion paid into an unspecified account out of the bail out fund received by the state.
Some body has taken what belongs to another, but no one is shouting Thief Thief, Holam Holam! Imo State is the only APC State in Igbo Land, and again for lack of political will nothing will happen. Buhari needs APC to have a strong foot hold in that part of Nigeria, and the Governor knows it.
Fact is that Imo State owes over five months workers salary, and pensioners are dying by the droves due to non-payment of their gratuity by government. It is unconscionable!
Imo state alone is holding over 25 percent of the total bail out money that is unaccounted for. It is simply wicked to hope to propagate a political party in this manner in Igbo land. Imo and Zamfara states are not helping the fight against corruption of Mr. President, as they fuel the impression that the bail out money was a bribe.
BY Clement Udegbe