By Emmanuel Aziken
One of the indignities that Nigerians have continued to suffer since the advent of our “fledgling democracy” is the impunity with which elected public officials assault our sense of propriety in the use of our common patrimony. Particularly revolting is the personalisation of government property by elected office holders who make no qualms branding government projects in their own images.
It is especially a sordid story with our governors. The governors have the effrontery to brand government buses purchased either for public transportation or higher institutions in their names.
This desecration of public assets has now degenerated to the disgusting and criminal point where legislators label constituency projects executed with public funds as projects donated by them.
It is such a repugnant move that fouls the essence of representative democracy for a public official to project his ego with projects executed with public funds.
The latest of such assaults on the populace was the event in Owerri where Governor Rochas Okorocha’s otherwise good gesture in philanthropy was purveyed on the public purse. The two-day visit of the South African President Jacob Zuma was to all intents and purposes, aimed to foster collaboration between the two foundations run by Zuma and Okorocha.
That the visit was a private visit was well stated by the visitor and underlined by the strict absence of his Nigerian equivalent, President Muhammadu Buhari.
It is in the light of this decadent behaviour that many had looked forward to the All Progressives Congress using the moral quotient of President Buhari to stem this indecent assault on public morality by political office holders.
However, indications are that those expecting a corrective move by the president are bound to be disappointed given revelations that the president is himself also set to infringe on that sensibility.
After more than a year of suspense, the APC is set to hold a meeting of the National Executive Committee, NEC of the party at the end of the month. That ordinarily should be good news for those who had clamoured for the ruling party to get its acts together.
However, the disappointment is that the meeting is to be held in the tax payer funded Presidential Villa! It’s beggars belief that a partisan political meeting of that sort should be celebrated in the Presidential Villa which is maintained by public money.
Buhari is not the first to do so. His predecessors, notably Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar‘adua and Goodluck Jonathan hosted almost all meetings of the national caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the Presidential Vila. However, that does not make it right given the vows of change and accountability that the ruling APC made in its bid for power.
Even more remarkable is the fact that this correspondent cannot recall the PDP even holding a NEC meeting in the Presidential Villa. Pray, who is going to pay for the water, refreshment, the security and all the other incidental costs of holding a purely partisan political meeting in the Presidential Villa.
The decision to host the APC NEC meeting in the Presidential Villa is indecorous and an assault on public accountability. A high-level aide to the president this correspondent sounded out seemed oblivious of the development and was at a loss when asked if the president was paying for the cost of the meeting.
It is obvious that the president may be oblivious of this indiscretion which borders on corruption obviously because of lack of proper counsel. Given Buhari’s celebrated abhorrence for corruption, it is expected that once it is brought to his attention that hosting political meetings in the Presidential Villa borders on corruption that he would shift the venue.
This is because Nigerians elected Buhari to change the music not to dance to it.