By Dele Sobowale
“Buhari has driven corruption under the table” – Lai Mohammed.—DAILY INDEPENDENT, January 2, 2020, p 13.
Wonders never cease.
Just as I thought that Lai Mohammed and I will never agree on anything, the Minister of Information and Culture gave me an unexpected New Year present – although not as he intended. But one must accept pleasant gifts from the FG — even if it was accidental.
Lai Mohammed and I parted ways, as co-progressives, since his days as the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, when he and Olisa Metuh, his counterpart in the Peoples Democratic, Party, PDP, drenched the pages of Nigerian newspapers with rumours, half truths and absolute falsehood with reckless abandon. In an article titled, ‘M&M: The Two Most Dangerous Men in Nigeria’ in 2013, I listed several whoppers the two released without remorse just to win votes for their political parties.
As Minister of Information during the first term, Lai would be remembered for telling Nigerians that the “President is hale and hearty” when Buhari first went to London. Buhari eventually returned and his first words to reporters were “I have never been so sick in my life.”
On another occasion, the Minister had visited Borno State under heavy security and had announced that “Boko Haram has been decimated”. That was in 2016. Decimated Boko Haram is still terrorising parts of Borno and sacking army barracks and sending soldiers fleeing for dear lives till today.
On January 1, 2020, the Minister told the truth in the one sentence above (title). Psychologists will call what he said a Freudian slip. It was not what he meant to say. But, it was the absolute truth. “Buhari has driven corruption under the table.” Additionally, the APC has not only driven corruption under the Aso Rock table, it has also covered it with heavy velvet table cover to hide it more from view. Lai failed to add that small bit. But since the man has suddenly become my friend, I must help him out and provide the additional information.
The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, was eventually relieved of his post almost two and a half years after allegations of corrupt practices involving contracts associated with Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, were made. Almost two years after the first allegations, the case is under a very large table at the Rock. At the rate the prosecution is going, the matter might outlast Buhari – if he departs in 2023 as it is now being advertised. We were alive when Abacha, Buhari’s friend and benefactor, promised not to participate in the transition programme he started. We know what happened. Two people you cannot trust – politicians and African Heads of State.
Remember the promises made to identify and punish those who allegedly padded the 2016 and 2017 budgets. Nearly N200 billion was said to be involved in the two budgets. Till today, nobody has been identified or punished. That matter is also under the mahogany table at the Rock.
No honest government will allow the accounts of its Ministries, Departments and Agencies to go without being audited. Certainly, no government with any reputation to protect will condone its officers’ refusal to answer audit queries. No single MDA has had its accounts audited under Buhari. Aso Rock is setting a bad example for others to follow. Its accounts have not been audited since 2015. Whatever had been done with our money had been swept under the table.
There is no need to list seriatim all the matters under that table. I just want to thank Lai for telling the truth.
KWARA AND ZAMFARA AS METAPHORS FOR WHY NIGERIA CAN NEVER DEVELOP
“In every community, there is a certain class of people profoundly dangerous to the rest. I don’t mean criminals. For them we have punitive sanctions. I mean the leaders. Invariably the most dangerous people seek power” – Saul Bellow, Nobel Prize Winner in 1976, VBQ p 124.
Kwara State is front page news today but for the wrong reasons. There is no new or imaginative heart-warming socio-economic development going on worthy of the front and middle pages of all the nation’s newspapers. Instead, what had forced Kwara to the top of our consciousness was the demolition of a building which should have been left alone. Before going further, let me declare that I have always deplored the privatisation of Kwara State by a family. The last election, which brought a semblance of correction, was a step in the right direction for the state. No longer can anybody assume that a name was sufficient to get elected or appointed to high office in that state.
That said, however. I totally deplore the sort of vendetta politics now on demonstration which will introduce life-long enmities and reprisals into the state politics. Because there might be a need to write on this subject again, I will end for now by asking only one question.
“TIME IS LONGER THAN ROPE” –Nelson Mandela.
Africa’s greatest leader so far wrote a book with that title which was smuggled out of prison when the entire world had assumed he would die in jail. We know he became his country’s President and forgave all those who persecuted him.
To the best of my knowledge, the late Oloye Bukola Saraki and the present governor of Kwara State never had any personal dispute. Perhaps someone older in the governor’s family did. But that must have been decades ago. Now that the governor, for reasons known to him, demolished Oloye’s house, has it occurred to the governor and his supporters that the very next time another Saraki or someone close to the family becomes the governor of Kwara, ALL the buildings owned by the governor’s family are at risk?
He cannot serve more than eight years. But he had set rolling a series of family feuds which might outlast him – even if he lives to be 120 years.
Again, that said, I strongly believe the matter requires mediation. I am happy to know that President Buhari has stepped into the matter. That is commendable. But, the President should attempt to go beyond dousing tensions at the moment to bring a permanent end.
The governor has created for himself and his administration unnecessary distraction at a time when his state, like all 36, need cohesion irrespective of political affiliation to make solid progress. Funds are now being wasted to solve a problem which should not have occurred in the first place.
ZAMFARA REFLECTS TWISTED FEDERALISM – Idowu Akinlotan, NATION, Sunday, January 5, 2020.
What follows is based on Idowu’s article which jolted me like a severe electric shock. Akinlotan is only one of about four columnists whose statements I can accept as reliable information. The others include Azubuike (Azu), Eric Teniola and Tatalo Alamu. So, most of the credit for what follows belongs to Idowu – not me. I have merely added the touch of the economic/financial analyst to help Nigerians understand Idowu’s submission better. It is a tale of horrors.
“After accusing the APC…of causing Zamfara’s ‘total failure’, Mr Matawalle [the State Governor] promised to turn the state from penury to Eldorado”.
Eldorado is the place to start. The governor probably does not know the meaning of the word; it is doubtful if anybody in Zamfara does. But like most of the malarkey our governors dish out to their people, it just sounded good to his ears. The PDP governor then proceeded to build his “Eldorado” in the typical Nigeria way. In his first budget to the state’s House of Assembly, he proposed to build a new Government House for N7 billion. “Additional Reports suggested that the state would be committing about N1.1 billion to build a new Hajj Camp and N1 billion to renovate some emirs palaces.”
In short, close to N10 billion out of this year’s budget is not going into education, reducing the number of kids out of school in Zamfara, improving health facilities, protecting most of the people who voted this man in as governor. The N9 billion, which is now going to be spent to make life easier for the rich, will pay the Minimum Wage for 25, 000 Zamfara workers. The N7 billion proposed foe new Government House can pay 20, 000 workers Minimum Wage.
That is the sort of El Dorado and his accomplices in the PDP government want to create.
ANOTHER SOUTHERN BURDEN
Zamfara is one of the northern states which are parasites on southern states. Close to 90 per cent of the state’s revenue is derived from federal allocations – meaning from oil-producing Niger Delta states and Lagos. We drink beer in Lagos and pay Value Added Tax, VAT. But because of Sharia, beer drinking is forbidden in Zamfara. Yet, they collect their share of beer-VAT money (bloody hypocrites that they are) and apply it to build Hajj Camp instead of taking care of their people and reducing poverty. Can any person tell Nigerians how renovating emirs palaces, building new Hajj Camp and spending N7 billion on a new Government House will reduce Zamfara’s contribution to the Misery Index – illiteracy, maternal and child mortality, unemployment, poor housing, poor health facilities, death traps called roads and absence of potable water supply?
Southerners are forced to labour only to observe the revenue from our collective effort going North to be wasted by governors – PDP or APC – whose sense of priority is shocking. If they are not creating unnecessary tension in their states, resulting in fund being spent on advertorials to defend the indefensible, they are boldly throwing the funds they have not generated into sh*t holes up North.
How on earth can Nigeria develop with so many northern states holding back development in the South?
NOTE: The book, IBRAHIM B. BABANGIDA 1985-1992: LETTING A THOUSAND FLOWERS BLOOM, available at CSS Bookshops, VANGUARD Abuja Office and MM2 as well as GATT Aviation airports in Lagos. www.delesobowale.com