By Ebongabasi Ekpe-Juda
While it is possible that one can say one thing while meaning another thing entirely- the case of watch my lips and not my mouth; the recent comments of the President-elect is making some of us very uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because we expect a radical departure from the ugly past! However, two comments made by Buhari so far seem not to inspire such expectation of a radical and clean break from the past. As I noted in my article – “Setting agenda for the new government”, Nigerian voted for Buhari as it were because they are fed up with the current status quo, particularly as it affects the running of government particularly as it affects money matters, and they desire a positive change, which happens to be the APC’s sing song or byword. At this point in time, it should have become obvious even to a casual observer what to expect from the incoming government of the retired but not tired general. But when statements like “What has been done cannot be undone”, a statement he made at the inauguration of the transition committee of the APC serving party and by extension serving government as the President- Elect want us to see them, leaves too much to be desired. Does it then mean that the incoming government wants to continue with the status quo?
While we don’t expect the incoming government to go on wild goose chase, it most investigate the deeds of the past governments, if it wants to be taken seriously. A statement like, “Needless to repeat, that your Committee – and indeed our government – are not on a witch-hunt or engaged in fault-finding” is very misleading to the progressive minds who supports and voted for you. It makes us feel you will not be different from them. You must investigate the past governments to see what made them to fail. You cannot afford to close your eyes to the sordid and very embarrassing but colossal failure in power sector. I am not going to set another agenda, since I already done that, but as I stated in my agenda for the incoming government, that a friend attended a World Bank conference in Dakar Senegal on power generation and distribution in sub Sahara Africa, and a World Bank expert stated that with Eighteen Billion Dollars, West Africa can generate electricity for the sub region and for export. Ironically, Obasanjo alone spent that amount and we are still in darkness till date. Jonathan has also committed enormous resources into that sector and the condition has not improved despite all their promises with datelines and quantity to be generated, which tells the sad story of maladministration. Mr. President-Elect you must probe past governments, otherwise it will be business as usual. How are you going to tackle the power situation if you don’t probe the spending in that sector and indeed punish those found to have stolen our common patrimony? How would you know what the impediments are?
While am not again setting an agenda, but Mr. President-Elect are you going to close your eyes to the fraud that was termed “Aviation Intervention Fund” in the Obasanjo and Jonathan’s government? Are you going to close your eyes to the fact that somebody was given Thirty-Two billion naira to reinvigorate the Air Nigeria and he collected the money and went and establish a bank in Ghana and Sao Tome while the airline business for which the money was meant for closed shop with unpaid salaries and unremitted pension contribution of the employees? No Mr. President-Elect you cannot close your eyes to such myriad of fraud. What has been done can be undone. That type of money can be refunded with interest, since it was not used for what it was meant for, but put into something that generated interest to the person. It is an economic crime and it must not go unpunished, because it is misappropriation of public fund. You will have to find out why that airline went under with such massive government support. That is what we mean by change. That is why we voted for you. Mr. President-Elect we voted for you simply because we expect that you will come and right the wrongs of past administrations. In fact, GMB, we expected that once you were announced the winner of the presidential election, that some Nigerian will relocate for the fear of you. But your body language is making them stay put. I don’t think they are staying put because they want to confront or thwart you, but more because they believe that you are not going to do anything adverse to them. If that is so, then note Mr. President-Elect that you have failed before you even started. People are saying that with the likes of Tinubu as you financier that your wings have been clipped. If so you have failed us. Can you sincerely decide not to investigate the fiasco that was tagged “Immigration Recruitment Exercise” in which so many innocent Nigerians died needless death? Can you imagine the monumental fraud that happened therein? If not for any other reason Mr. President-Elect, for sake of the innocent Nigerian that died in the process, you must investigate and find out what happen both to serve as a deterrent and to stop further occurrence of such act.
All these things happen because people acted with impunity. If you don’t deal with perpetrators of the crime of impunity, you are not going to go too far. You need to note this is a civilian democratic regime. It is said that the way you make your bed is the way you will lie on it. The outgoing government told us and your VP-Elect collaborated it at one of the town hall meeting, that four hundred barrels of crude oil is stolen every day, are you by implication saying that you will not probe such massive fraud? Is it possible for you to close your eyes to such massive bleeding of this country’s God given resources, when all the Ghana exports in just one hundred and twenty barrels of crude oil daily? Then Mr. President-Elect, you would not only have legalized bunkering (a thing you fought against very seriously when you were a military head of state), but would have covered up the most heinous crime against the nation state. In that case, you are not better than the outgoing government.
You are well aware that in the last sixteen years, the successive governments gave out contracts for rehabilitation and reconstruction of the majors roads, monies paid out to contractors who never did a thing. Are you also going to over look such criminal acts? Then why did we vote for you? Equally the same, you must have known that states government collected huge sums of money from the federation account, and have nothing other than abject poverty on the land and mounting debt profile to show for it. Will you also close your eyes against such massive fraud, in the guise that nothing can be done about it? No sir, something can be done about it and must be done about it. What should happen is that as people send you petition, you forward same to the relevant agencies of your government that you would have reinvigorated and given teeth to not only bark but to bite as well. This is so because you cannot know all, unless you have been religiously keeping accurate records of the happening in government since you were planning to rule this country.
You would remember that some time ago, tones of money was brought into the hallowed chamber of the senate, that it was money meant to bribe the senators. This was how the senate you are going to be working with was corrupted. Needless to say that you have to beam your search light into the national assembly. Why should the Nigerian lawmakers be the highest paid in the world, when the citizens are not able to afford two square meals a day? Even them the law makers can be made to return the excess money the milked the country. Do you remember that there was the subsidy probe, and law makers were implicated in the scam, by demanding for and receiving bribe? Are you not going to do something about such disgraceful act? In that case, you would not be better than Jonathan who said that you jailed Nwaobodo for stealing small sum of money. In that case, yours is not a corrective regime we were looking for. You don’t want to make us to believe that by saying that, you all are the same, that political party you stood election on their platform is as bad if not worst of the one we have just sent parking. That would be disheartening and will be a sure incubation for a people’s protest that will not spare even you. The question is have you changed so soon, or have you been sucked into their mold? What kind of governance are we to expect from you come May 29th? The same ten and ten pence? Don’t let the people through their hands up in despair; it would not be good for you. You are giving us the type of signal we do not want to see.
Ebongabasi Ekpe-Juda is a Medical Sociologist, Security Consultant, a social commentator and the author of the books – The Bewitched Church; and- Issues in Security Awareness.
“To fear the world US has led for the better part of a century, abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe and refuse the obligations of international leadership… for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solving problems is unpatriotic. “
-US Senator John McCain(At National Constitution Centre in Philadelphia)
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