There was hoopla when the government of President Muhammadu Buhari announced the list of the chairmen and members of the boards of parastatal-agencies recently. The number of the dead named as chairmen of board and the number of duplications recorded caused the alarm bells.
Notwithstanding the awkward development, some have seen something good to it all. The precision with which the dead were accounted for in that appointment shows the dexterous capacity of the government for accountability after all; even if it is all about the dead.
That precision was further demonstrated when figures of the dead started rolling in from the Benue killings, the Taraba killings and the massacres in Zamfara. The social media feasted on the scary statistics in different ways. But one that struck was the announcement by the association of the dead, thanking the Buhari government for involving its members in governance. One of the posts recognised that as evidence of life after death.
It is, however, sad that emerging trends are daily showcasing the government’s aversion for accountability, especially when it concerns the living. Incidentally, accountability was a trumped up issue in the 2015 electoral contest. But consistently, the government is beginning to show its abhorrence for accountability and the trend is fast showcasing that change mantra as misconceived, packaged or overrated.
Upon his assumption of office in 2015, President Buhari and the APC made a meal of the state of the economy. Though the website of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as at May 28, 2015, indicated that
Nigeria’s foreign Reserve stood at $29.61 billion; the new administration lamented its fate. It claimed to have inherited a totally empty treasury and a broken down house. Even at that, there was also the sum of $2.1 billion in Excess Crude Account.
The nation sympathised with Buhari especially on account of the falling prices of crude at the international market at the time. Within months, the Foreign Reserves came down to below $24 billion and oil hit $27 per barrel. Heat waves circulated around the economy and there was recession. That recession was blamed on the failures of the past administrations to “save for the rainy day.” And you got the wink that once things stabilized by design or divine, the new government would display the first class accountability.
For more than a year now, oil prices have rebound, selling at $70 per barrel at a stage. The Niger Delta Creeks have been quiet, thus paving the way for ease of oil exploration. Yes, the government has announced an upsurge in the Foreign Reserves to about $40 billion as a result of upscale in crude prices, but that appears the end of accountability.
Successive incidents in the polity have showcased government’s disregard for the word accountability. We were told that the 2017 budget and the 2018 version which is in the works have no provisions for subsidy claims. But the NNPC announced without fuss last week it has spent over $5.8 billion to tackle fuel scarcity between November 2017 and early 2018. The Corporation also said it has incurred a loss of N1.7 trillion on fuel imports so far. Those funds were not budgeted.
Again last week, the House of Representatives had to halt a $1.8 billion contract for Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) for the nation’s four refineries as the Representatives could not understand the basis for continuous pumping of public funds into the moribund refineries. And to think that TAM contracts have remained a recurring feature of planned revival of these refineries. Still on accountability for the living? Check out the manner of recall of the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, who was suspended in respect of an investigation caused into the expenditure of over N900 million belonging to the scheme.
Apart from that, reports also indicated that the Ministry of Health was also looking into some expenditures totalling about N10 billion in the NHIS. Rather than call him to account, Yusuf was rewarded with a recall.
The nation under Buhari looked to have attained an inglorious height in lack of accountability (for the living) with the unfolding kidnap saga in Dapchi, Yobe state. Last week, some gun-toting operatives of the Boko Haram sect stormed the Government Girls Technical College Dapchi, Yobe state, carting away some yet to be identified number of girls. Initial reports indicated that out of 936 female students, many of whom ran into the bush upon hearing sporadic gun shots, 810 returned while 46 were missing.
Another report indicated that the Army was able to repel the attack on the school and yet another indicated that all the girls were recovered by the Army. Again, another report indicated that 94 students were missing still missing as at Tuesday. The last of the information indicated that no fewer than 111 students are missing as a result of the insurgents attacks. Really a confused state of things, leaving the parents and relations in mystery. After the depressing Chibok girls’ saga, it looks stranger than fiction that an incident of such magnitude would repeat itself in similar fashion.
It is a scandal of unimaginable value. Chibok was said to have caught everyone by surprise, but that the same incident repeating itself is nothing but absurd. After Chibok, it should not be heard of that a school in the troubled North-East is left without adequate security, but this is what we are witnessing.
Sad enough, rather than demand accountability from the executive, the representatives of Yobe State in the Senate are about political pillars and factions. While Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan and
Senator Bukkar Abba Ibrahim are all for political correctness on this, Senator Hassan Mohammed (Yobe South) was ready to hit the bull’s eye. Whatever the actors think, the emphasis should be on the living, rather than the dead. The Dapchi girls and others deserve to return home alive.
Disclaimer: This article is entirely the opinion of the writer and does not represent the views of The Whistler