By Rose Moses
While most Nigerians tend to blame the Federal Government for everything that is wrong with the country, state governors, local government chairmen and representatives at various levels, who should majorly be held responsible for most of the decay in states and communities, ironically, are left off the searchlight.
This was the case during President Goodluck Jonathan’s time in office, where state governors, who never defaulted in the constant trips to Abuja for their monthly allocations, busied themselves blaming, and actually in some instances, instigating their people to heap all the blames for leadership failure on the Federal Government. That also is the case today.
In other words, while the people are busy directing their anger at the Federal Government for even such things as non-payment of primary school teachers salaries, for instance, leaders at state and local government levels freely carry on, with reckless abandon, the looting of the commonwealth. They become lords unto themselves and over the people that elected them to serve. Indeed, what we have in most states are emperors, who are lords unto themselves and over the people that elected them to serve.
And because things aren’t usually very normal in Nigeria, it doesn’t come as a surprise when wife of a local government chairman goes about blasting sirens and terrorising the community, just like her husband.
In major cities like Lagos actually, where heavy vehicular traffic is usually the order of the day, you must find how to give way to these politicians and their escorts if you unfortunately find yourself on the road same time with them. God help you if you’re unable to do so.
Governor Tanko Al Makura of Nasarawa State was once reported to have watched from his car while policemen on his convoy known in local circles as “Kill and Go” for their ruthless methods, descended on a car driven by a young lady for allegedly standing on the way of his convoy. They used the nozzle of their rifles to dent, perforate and scratch the body of her car, before dragging out her brother, beating him to a pulp.
The governor actually told the lady he described as a prostitute to simply ‘go to hell’ when she appealed for his intervention in the pouncing of her brother by his men.
Abia State House of Assembly Speaker, Chikwendu Kalu, in June this year, reportedly ordered some policemen in the state to shoot at officers of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) on patrol. Reason? They stopped the Sport Utility Vehicle his wife was travelling in along the Umuikaa/Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway.
In fact, the speaker’s wife was said to have joined the policemen to beat the hell out of the FRSC officers.
While T.A Orji a.k.a Ochendo Global, held sway as governor of Abia, his son, Chinedu Orji a.k.a Ikuku, who was relatively said to be de facto governor, usually moved about in very long convoy of vehicles, wielding tremendous political power.
He was in the habit of forcefully dispersing shoppers from wherever he was shopping in the state, until the day he, along with his aides, descended on a Lieutenant Colonel that refused to be so intimidated.
The army officer, not in military uniform at the time of the incident, was already in the shop before Ikuku came ordering every other shopper out. He ignored his order and was subsequently pounced upon by the Ikuku squad.
Interestingly, that incident landed the sitting governor’s son in a foreign hospital, paid for, of course, with tax payers’ money, as he was later beaten black and blue by colleagues of the officers that swiftly responded to his phone call.
All over the country, similar cases of intimidation and harassment by members of the ruling class, their families and cronies against the people they swore to protect, abound.
They are not only denied their basic rights, impoverished to the extent they hardly ask questions about their commonwealth, they are also owed salaries for their work in upward of six months.
Despite collecting bail-out funds and Paris Club refunds, which all the state governors have been collecting in present dispensation, Benue State Government, among others, has not paid salaries, pensions and gratuities, resulting in squalor or even death.
Which brings me back to Abia, where Gov Okezie Ikpeazu is yet to reconstitute his cabinet, months after he dissolved it. But that is not the issue, after all, this is nowhere near the record already set by Ogbeni Rauf Arigbesola of Osun state.
What is totally unbelievable is allegation that even when Okezie had his cabinet intact, there was hardly any commissioner with a subvention. They were all said to be staved of funds, even when they duly signed for the money.
And the question is: What happened to the subventions duly signed for by the commissioners?
The answer may well be located in the same place, way and manner most governors are said to handle local councils’ allocations in their respective states.