In the realm of politics, when a man only sees himself as the centre of attraction and believes with arrogance that his actions are always right, then, he is yet to come out of his induced fantasy island.
Just recently in his Easter message, immediate past Governor of Rivers State and the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi called on Rivers people to fix the problems of the state irrespective of party affiliations. He also called on Rivers people to pray for forgiveness and stressed that the state is always in the news for the wrong reasons.
However, a critical look into the message as a whole leaves much to be desired, as his actions from 2015 during the twilight of his administration to date have not left anything encouraging to the discerning mind.
In May 2015 as a sitting governor, he refused to set up a transition committee to handle the handover process of the reins of government to his would-be successor, Chief Nyesom Wike and left the Government House porous and unsafe which resulted in the vandalisation and massive looting of government property.
Furthermore, his utterances from that period down to the just-concluded 2019 general elections heightened the security situation in the state in which many lives were lost.
Up till now as a former governor of the state who ruled for eight years and a serving minister, he has not deemed it fit to send message of condolence nor visit the families of those who died in the just-concluded general elections.
Yes, there is need for reconciliation, building a better society and putting an end to gangsterism and the security problems in Rivers State. But the solution does not lie with the common man on the street alone, but also the elite of which he, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi belongs.
Security-wise, the last presidential election in Rivers State was so bad that the people of the state wished that if that was how elections were to be held, then, nobody is safe any longer ….and the problem could be traced to the role played by him.
So, when his message harps on forgiveness, we believe that the former governor should also lead by example by first of all paying a brotherly visit to his successor, Chief Nyesom Wike at Government House in Port Harcourt.
In every democratic society, there are always disagreements between political parties, individuals and interest groups, yet the problems are managed in a civilised way but in most parts of Africa and especially in Nigeria, this is not always the norm as those who lose out in the quest for power are mean and vindictive for the rest of their lives thereby creating more problems for the society.
Some examples will suffice. In Kenya, shortly after independence, President Jomo Kenyatta and his greatest opponent, Odinga Odinga were always at loggerheads. In Ghana, Guinea-Conakry, Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria, Angola, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Malawi, etc, political opponents were either jailed, killed, victimised or sent on exile. Where these did not play out, a civil war erupted; all because of irreconcilable differences or greed for power.
In essence, for peace to prevail in Rivers State, Amaechi should imitate the example of the Late Joshua Nkomo of Zimbabwe who despite losing out in the election of 1980, later reconciled with Robert Mugabe all in the interest of peace.
What the people of Rivers State need is peace and this can only come about if those who lost out in the power struggle in the state heed the call of Governor Nyesom Wike to join him in ensuring the speedy development of the state as well as building and sustaining the existing peaceful environment.
The bickering and acrimony due to political differences had gone on for too long and what is needed now is new direction devoid of pettiness by all political gladiators.
Rivers State belongs to all of us, and we should see ourselves as Rivers people first before we can be categorised as members of a political party.
From 1999 to date, Rivers people have lost prominent sons to political differences and those that pilot our affairs should sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk on how to develop the state. The challenges we face as a minority are quite enormous. A lot of young people are without jobs, most of the manufacturing companies have left the state over ten years ago, no new one have replaced them for now.
What we should all work towards is how to ensure that more investors are attracted into the sate to ensure that the teeming unemployed population is reduced to the barest minimum.
Amaechi has made his call but that is not enough unless he marches his words with action. For him to be taken seriously, he should not hesitate to make the first move and tell all Nigerians that he is now a statesman and has grown beyond the partisan level of politicking, this is because when the founding fathers of Rivers state fought for its creation, they did not envisage a situation whereby prominent sons and daughters of the land will have disagreements at the detriment of the state.
As a Minister of the Federal Republic, his tenure will one day elapse, then, after that what next? For the people of the state to hold him in high esteem despite the problems associated with his style of politics, now is the time for him to do the needful by visiting Governor Wike and have either breakfast, lunch or dinner with him and hold a joint news conference that all is well; it is only then and then that we will know that his call for reconciliation and forgiveness is truly from the heart and not just a political rhetoric.
Still On Security Votes
When Mr Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), spoke at the induction programme for returning and newly-elected governors, he did not mince words in accusing governors of misusing security votes.
He alleged that some governors deliberately fuelled insecurity in their states just to collect more money as security votes.
He noted that some of the governors “now covertly promote insecurity as justification to inflate their security votes.”
Magu also alleged that there was a link between corruption, banditry and terrorism.
His allegations were contained in a paper, titled, “Imperative of Fighting Corruption/Terrorism Financing in Nigeria.’’
Magu told the session that a debate on the legality of security votes enjoyed by the governors was ongoing.
“We have also seen evidence of theft of public resources by some state governors, cashing in on the insecurity in their states.
“Insecurity has also offered the required oxygen for corruption to thrive as evident in the $2.1bn arms procurement scandal involving top military commanders both serving and retired.”
A study carried out by the University of Nigeria, agreed with Magu on the abuse of security votes.
The study is titled “Legitimising Corruption in Government: Security Votes in Nigeria.’’
It was authored by Obiamaka Egbo, Ifeoma Nwakoby, Josaphat Onwumere and Chibuike Uche, of the Department of Banking and Finance, University of Nigeria.
“The tendency among Nigerian politicians, particularly the executive arm at the various levels of government, to manipulate security issues for political and economic gains is widespread.
“This has been fuelled by the abuse of security votes, an ‘opaque fund’ reserved for the executive which is not appropriated, accounted for or audited through the legislature.
“ Sometimes, a state governor could (mis)appropriate as much as N100 million monthly as security vote.
“Such slush funds are channelled into the secret funding of militias and gangs of government enforcers.’’
The appropriateness or otherwise of security votes was at the centre of discourse at the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) second Quarterly Anti-Corruption Policy Dialogue Series.
The dialogue focused on Accountability for Security Votes.
ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, who spoke, agreed with Magu that security vote is an easy and attractive route for stealing public funds.
According to him, it is also a veritable avenue for abuse of public trust, escalation of poverty and underdevelopment and ironically the escalation of insecurity.
“It has pushed up insecurity somehow, that is not to say we do not need security vote.
“In the 2019 budget as appropriated, for example, 162 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) had money appropriated for them as security votes.
“These MDAs span boards, centres, committees, ministries, commissions, councils, hospitals, schools, law enforcement agencies, obviously the armed forces and intelligence offices.”
Owasanoye said that the number and categories of MDAs given security votes, suggest that something was wrong with the parameters for determining those who are entitled to security votes.
“This then provokes some question as which MDAs are entitled to security votes and how should security votes be accounted for?
“It is clear from our present approach, that we do not have any rational principle being followed at the moment.
“If there is one, I will be happy that my ignorance will be diminished and removed,” he said.
The chairman explained that it was clear from the current approach to budgeting for security votes, that no principle was being followed.
He said that this is clear from the quantum and range of sums appropriated in the 2019 budget for MDAs, where the lowest amount for security vote was N3,600, while the highest amount was N4.20 billion.
“What on earth can anyone do with N3, 600, and I am not talking of an individual.
“If the N3, 600 is the security vote of an individual, most likely it will take him from somewhere to his house. That is the safest place to be.
“But what on earth can an agency do with N3, 600 as security vote, as appropriated?”
With this disparity, what then should security votes be used for?
Owasanoye opined that it was pertinent because MDAs with budgets for security votes also have separate budgets for other security related matters, such as the production or procurement for security or defence equipment.
“In the case of defence and core security and law enforcement agencies, some of these items and the votes are undoubtedly justified. But the quantum and use is open to scrutiny,” he said.
He, however, explained that it was apparent that security vote was not for any of those other security items mentioned, because they were often separately covered in the budget.
“There is the erroneous impression that security votes are not being accounted for with our recent experience as a country, that almost lost a geo-political zone to insurgency.
“Whereas billions of dollars were appropriated for security, but diverted by corruption to matters like engaging prayer warriors demands that we reflect very closely and ask ourselves whether we can afford to continue on the same trajectory of lack of accountability for security votes.
“We need security votes; we should give the votes to those who deserve to have security votes and we should demand some framework for accountability,” he said.
On his part, Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said that security vote was subject to audit and “if it is not done, it is wrong”.
He said that the votes were not votes for defence and were also not meant for the armed forces.
“Strictly speaking, if you look at security votes in the true context, it is not meant to tackle insecurity.
“We have funding for Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces. If you have budget lines for these services and organisations, then why security votes?
“However, it can be used for security; but it is not meant to solve insecurity,
“There are other votes which are constitutional which include the contingency fund,” he said.
Buratai explained that even though there was security vote that was generally applied, it must follow the Public Procurement Act 2007.
The chief of army staff said that if security vote was made constitutional and proper guidelines set out on utilisation, the issue will be laid to rest
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, described security vote as the budgetary or extra budgetary allocation ostensibly for security, received by the President, Governors and Local Government Chairmen.
This allocation he said, is spent without legal obligation to account for how it is spent.
Fayemi said that security votes have not been widely accepted by citizens, because of the assumption that such funds are being abused by state governments.
He said that the problem really is not about the security vote but about its usages and the character of the people administering it.
“Security votes attract more attention because of the seemingly non accountable nature of the expenditure under the budgetary provision.
“There is widespread belief that the appropriation of security votes in Nigeria is unconstitutional and thus illegal.
“This is not correct because in the Nigerian constitution, the executive is entrusted with the responsibility of preparing a budget which is then sent to the legislature for ratification.
“The fact that huge amount of monies are routinely being budgeted and expended in the name of security vote does not make it an illegal practice
“The act of approving any sum allocated to such a heading, covert or overt, legalises the concept. The insinuation that such money is not budgeted for is not true,” Fayemi said.
Like Magu said, the legality or otherwise of security vote is ongoing, and must continue until it properly defined. The earlier the better to avoid misuse and diversion of public funds in the guise of security vote.
Sharang writes for the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Grudges Not Healthy For Our Music Industry –PMAN President
Voombalistic Uncle P, National President, Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), says grudges among Nigerian musicians is not healthy for the music industry.
Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) is an umbrella organisation that guides, protect and promotes the interests of musicians in Nigeria.
Dr Obi Okwudili Casmir, popularly known as Voombalistic Uncle P, who spoke with our source in Lagos, advised musicians to shun grudges to avoid resentment in their relationships.
“Grudges amongst musicians is not healthy for our industry and will only create further resentment in their relationships as musicians and may affect what we represent or present to the public.
“Being emotionally immature when composing or writing your songs means you can not control your emotions or reactions towards your colleagues.
“Having quarrel is a fact of life amongst best of friends but you don’t take it too hard on yourselves because it might graduate to what happened in the case of 2pac and Biggie.
“I advise we settle our differences internally if we have any, rather than taking them to the studio and then streets/homes. That doesn’t project us in good light,” he said.
It was gathered that Nigerian rappers Jude Abaga popularly known as M.I and Olanrewaju Ogunmefun (Vector) are currently expressing grudges against each other in songs which had been trending on social media platforms.
The grudge, which reportedly began over supremacy in the rap category of the music industry, has being described as publicity stunts, while some saw it as real disagreement between the two rappers which had been brewing over the years.
Rescind N5,000 Fee For National ID, PDP Tells Buhari
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, charged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to recind the N5,000 fee for national identity cards immediately.
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the new fee is repressive and an attempt by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to further impose hardship on the citizens.
The opposition party noted that the idea of an ID card fee is offensive to the sensibilities of Nigerians, as it amounts to stripping Nigerians of their constitutional rights in their own country..
“Our party holds that issuance of national identity card to citizens, as an obligation of the state to its citizenry, must remain free as established by the PDP. The N5000 levy must be immediately rescinded before it triggers restiveness in the nation.
“Already, the fee is generating tension in the country as Nigerians have continued to register their rejection in the public space.
“The PDP notes the increasing penchant of the APC administration to impose all sorts of taxes on suffering Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has signed five bills passed by the 8th National Assembly into law, Mr Umar Yakubu, his Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives) has said.
Yakubu who made the announcement at a news conference last Wednesday in Abuja, said that the Acts were to ensure good governance in the country.
The bills include the Obafemi Awolowo University Transitional Amendment Act, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi Amendment Act, the University of Maiduguri Amendment Act, the National Fertiliser Quality Control Act and the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology Establishment Act.
Health5 days ago
Health Benefits Of Sugarcane
News3 days ago
Buhari vs Atiku: Reps List Seven S’Court Justices To Determine Case
News5 days ago
2023 Presidency: Peter Obi Cries Out Over Suppression Of Igbo
Sports3 days ago
Reactions Trail Super Eagles, Brazil Friendly Match
Featured5 days ago
Super Eagles’ Future Very Bright -Rohr
Politics5 days ago
Of Governance And Clamour For Unicameral NASS
Sports5 days ago
Federer Still After Elusive Olympic Gold
Politics5 days ago
Dickson Dismisses APC Candidates As Militants, Terrorists