Sunday, February 19, 2017 3:51 pm
By Bolanle Bolawole
The South-west governors met in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital, last Monday to carry their economic cooperation and integration project forward. All the governors in the zone were in attendance; saves for Ogun state’s Gov. Ibikule Amosu, who was represented by his deputy, Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga. Stormy petrel and last man standing, Gov. Peter Ayo Fayose, was the host. Listening to the governors lament one after the other the bad times the region had fallen into after the Obafemi Awolowo glorious era, and their bemoaning of the brazen marginalization of the region by the Federal Government, I was left in no doubt that a new wind of change could very soon blow across the region. The governors are closing ranks; their eyes having opened to the grievous harm partisan politics has wrought in their midst.
Three events were symbolic of the new realisation sweeping the region: APC and PDP governors closing ranks, with Fayose of all people hosting the group; then there is the presence of Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode. Previous Lagos governors had spurned Oodua. Gov. Segun Mimiko, who was rounding off his tenure in Ondo state, made time to attend; in the past, he would not be seen in such company. The South-west smarts from very many atrocious put-downs by the Federal Government; the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s being the worst in recent history. The governors’ shrill cries of agony were heart-rending as they listed one instance after another of how the region had been given the short end of the stick.
Add to this the seizure of Ekiti’s budget support facility for January, a scantily-concealed plot to clip Fayose’s wings and truncate his rising profile. When we compare Fayose’s and the Federal Ministry of Finance’s narratives on this issue, it does not require outstanding intelligence to note that Fayose’s was more plausible. When governments fail to think through an action, like the Finance Ministry in this instance, they make themselves a laughing stock. Even if you seek to victimise, you should be clever about it; put on your thinking cap even when you play politics.
It took one full week after the facility was seized – and after series of un-replied and unanswered calls, an un-acknowledged letter written by the Ekiti governor; unfulfilled promises by the Finance Minister; a press conference by Fayose; and a visit to the Finance Ministry headquarters in Abuja before they could volunteer a reason for their action. Sickening and silly! The FG’s narrative i.e. that Ekiti failed to comply with some guidelines, was clearly an after-thought; especially since the state had enjoyed the same facility in the past seven months. Had the reason adduced been actual; why did they not promptly announce it instead of the hide-and-seek game they amateurishly played with Fayose on the issue? Impunity must by all means be resisted. It is Fayose today; it will be someone else tomorrow.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s criss-crossing of the South-south and South-east on peace mission, though belated, tried to achieve what Buhari neglected. APC\Buhari inherited a peaceful Niger Delta and Igboland but squandered the peace. The consequences have been catastrophic: Over $10 billion dollars in lost oil revenue, not to talk of other collateral losses in bombed facilities, lives and limbs as well as the billions committed to troops patrolling the area. It is safe to say what Buhari wanted was, dominate the environment by force of arms, to quote IBB; a “diktat” of sorts. If Osinbajo stays long enough as acting president to implement what he is going about promising, he may succeed but what if Buhari returns tomorrow? Osinbajo’s trouble-shooting in the area, however, has its own drawback.
His response to Gov. Rochas Okorocha’s wail (the wailing wailers’ tribe is growing!) of marginalization of the Igbo was insincere, to say the least. Katsina or Kano or Kaduna may have only Minister of state like Okorocha’s Imo state, but how about all the critical posts of power in the Presidency and other parastatals that they command? And what is the use of Okorocha having the ear, even ears, of the president if it does not translate into deliverables for his people?
Like Okorocha, the South-west governors at their Ado-Ekiti meeting had tales of woes to tell: In the way the Federal Allocation formula is skewed to favour the North; in the unfair percentages of VAT distribution to short-change the South-west; and in the allocation of projects in the national budget; to mention but a few. They groaned about the quantum of resources lavished on the North under various guises; and the billions sunk on irrigation, water resources, dams and storage facilities in the North to the chagrin of the South-west. It is not Okorocha alone that is complaining of lack of Federal presence; the South-west governors also did in Ado-Ekiti. For instance, in the 2017 budget under consideration, Fayose said only a paltry N250m was allocated to the Akure – Ado-Ekiti road, whereas other states, especially in the North, got numerous projects running into billions of Naira.
How fair is this kind of system and how can it engender love or build patriotism? An advert placed in the newspapers by the course mates of the late Rivers state Commissioner of Police, CP Francis Mobolaji Odesanya, was intriguing in this respect. One of the course mates had risen to become DIG; I think 10 are now AIG; majority are within the CP, DCP, and ACP bracket while a few were still at the Superintendent level. The DIG and AIGs, going by their names, were all Northerners; the best the Southerners had attained is CP. Nearly all of those in the lowest ranks are Southerners. This is how the marginalization of the South is said to permeate all other armed forces and MDAs. We only need to look at the configuration of the Buhari administration to understand how this can be so. Sad to admit, however, is this: While Northerners take care of theirs; Southerners stand akimbo and look askance. For instance, why can’t the top Ekiti sons in Abuja attract more Federal presence to their people? And what role have they played in the seizure of the Ekiti funds in question? It is time Yoruba leaders pay heed to Hubert Ogunde’s “Yoruba Ronu”.
Talking Buhari, the circus show around the president’s health continued unabated last week. Instead of the president returning as was advertised by presidential spin doctors, he remained marooned in the UK. No one knows when our president is returning; the president himself has no clue; only his medical doctors can tell. This is humbling. The president of the most populous and powerful Black nation holed up in London, having no power or control over his own movement, and everyone going there to watch and take photographs with him as if he were Santa Claus! These days, they troop to London to see, not the proverbial Queen but what looked to me like a shrivelled and padded president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria! Meanwhile, back at home, controversy rages around a seriously- padded 2017 budget. The padding this time around is worse than that of 2016. Where is the Buhari, who had sworn to deal with budget-padders?
In the letters he transmitted to the National Assembly, Buhari purported to be ill but presidential propagandists have said he is not. Jesus Christ said he that is not ill does not need a physician; so, if Buhari is not ill, why is he seeing a doctor? Why are doctors performing numerous tests on someone who is hale and hearty, chatty and witty, humorous and truly himself? If he is not ill, what results of medical tests is he waiting for and why is he being detained in London by doctors? Buhari is home sick, we have been told, but he cannot come home all the same! His wife has returned home; she will now be alone in the kitchen, the sitting room and the other room while Oga uses tonnes of mufflers to keep warm in London. Hey! What the heck is going on here? It is obvious they have not told us the truth. The “they” here are those former CBN governor, now Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, referred to as “vested interests”.
We can also call them “entrenched interests”. Nigerians know them better as “cabals”. They may or may not hold positions in government but are people close to the man in power as relatives, friends, political and business associates, mullahs or pastors and who, as a result, exert a lot of influence on him and, through him, exact themselves on the society at large for personal gains. The operative words here are “personal gains”.
Like Emir Sanusi posited, vested interests hold this country hostage and prevent it from attaining its true potentials; they pervert the system for personal gains and ruin the institutions of government. Who are those around Buhari in London? As far as I know, no top government official is there with him; none of his spokesperson is there; none of the many medical doctors in this administration is there; none of the Ministers of Health is there. The president is in a foreign land but none of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs is there. Worse is that none of these top officials have spoken directly with Buhari. Whatever they have told us is mere hand-outs from vested interests, entrenched interests, and cabals.
That is why all the effort to convince Nigerians that all is well with the president has fallen flat on its face. A president who could engage President Donald Trump in telephone conversation ought to be able to talk to his own people. All those going to see Buhari have been carefully selected; they are cabals, vested interests, and entrenched interests; people who will not rock the boat, except their own selfish interests are at stake; they will not tell us the truth, either. But, if I may ask: for how long, these shenanigans? Like we said here last week, what is rumbling in the bush is surely coming to the main road. No need going to London to look for it; wait patiently for it here!
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