Deficient leadership of OBJ/PDP: Options for Nigerians


Inyang Princi  

This circus that is unfolding in Nigeria should be a thing of concern to everyone. Since the inception of Obj administration, there has been one drama after another. The corruption that riddles Obasanjo administration has been in existence for a while as we all know, and it is still on going. Suddenly, OBJ having demonstrated a lukewarm attitude all along now wants to appear tough in enforcing a no tolerance policy. Here is what has happened in my view. The International Aid Orgs in America and the EURO that he's been approaching for aid have clearly turned him down on account of corrupt practices by members of his govt.   The foreign govts Obasanjo has been courting for international aid also most likely threw in a condition that unless they see an improvement in efforts to control the catastrophe, no aid in loan guarantees, debt write offs, or cooperative assistance would come his way. So now, OBJ is forced to crack down a little.   The other day, one House Rep from the north publicly ridiculed his peers in the house. He said majority of the Reps and Senators are an embarrassment to the Nigerian people. That the debates on the house floor were like beer parlour discussions, lacking intellect and void of any quality initiatives and purpose. I have known this all along, however, it was the first time someone in that position and clique made that admission publicly. His punishment? Well, he received a two week suspension for his 'errant' commentary.    

Here is the thing though, aside from all this recent firings, head rollings and Shebangs from the Presidency, Obasanjo's handling of other similar cases are suspect. For instance, the Ngige/Uba scandal in which OBJ's role has not been fully addressed, has been treated very unprofessionally and wishy-washy.   Then came the Governor Dariye money laundering and racketeering charges brought against the Governor by a foreign country. OBJ's administration was silent on this embarrassing scenario forever. When it became apparent that the British authorities weren't going to let this slide, Obasanjo's  government decided again (after the fact) to appear to be doing something about it.   But here is what OBJ did. He set up a piece of shit committee to investigate the issue. He called it the Donald Duke Committee. Why OBJ would set up a committee headed by another same party Governor to investigate a sitting Governor of the same party facing  multiple allegations of money laundering and racketeering remains mystery. Why should Duke be heading an investigating committee? Is he some famed detective with extraordinary case cracking skills? Is he an accountant with expertise in book keeping and audit? Is he a financial crimes specialist? I mean what is the logic behind this appointment or this committee in the first place?   Ok, just out of curiosity, is Gov. Duke of Cross River State idle? Does he not have a job to do managing the affairs of his state? Is chairing an investigative committee while governing a state part of his job description?   If the EFCC was set up for the purpose of investigation financial crimes involving public servants, why not just commission them to handle the Gov. Dariye case as they've done other cases? Why set up another redundant commission headed by a serving Governor? Is this not questionable and quite frankly a waste of tax payer money?  

Unfortunately, OBJ's logic and that of his PDP (Poverty Distribution Party) associates in this case and in the Ngige/Uba case is that these troubling and shameful developments are internal party issues and as such does not concern the Nigerian public. Here is where it becomes painfully obvious that these people are quite frankly out of touch with reason. Their irresponsible actions do indeed concern the Nigeria people. For one, the Nigerian people supposedly elected them into the public offices they occupy with the hope, confidence, and assurance that these shameless ignoramuses would represent public interest above all things. What has happened instead in these cases, has been a flagrant abuse of office and authority. They have violated laws and breached the oath of office that they swore to uphold, and as such are answerable to the public and subject to criminal prosecution.   So in reality, they are answerable to the people, not the party. The people, not the party voted for them during the election, and what they represent first and foremost is the PEOPLE'S interest, not the Party.  

So I do not understand where OBJ and PDP come off each time and assume jurisdiction over defaulting public servants with PDP membership claiming it is a party affair. IT IS NOT A PARTY AFFAIR. IT IS A PUBLIC MATTER. THAT IS WHY THEY ARE CALLED PUBLIC SERVANTS. I am hoping GOVT 101 or Political Science is still being taught in Nigerian Universities and colleges, because no one seems to have a clue anymore.   Until Nigerians begin demanding for accountability from its public officials, this foolishness will persist. Obasanjo administration has no control over anything. Corruption trickles down from the top to bottom. At this point in our nation's history, there are no standards in regards to quality of persons that occupy public offices. The bar has been so terribly lowered that mediocrity exists everywhere. Of course the end result is more mediocrity and a perpetual merry go round in the field of ignorance as we currently experience.  

On the other hand, Nigerians have to want change. You cannot force change on people. They need to reach a point where they say ENOUGH. Nigerians need to assume responsibility for their future. Part of that responsibility is saying NO to deficient persons seeking to influence their votes and support with cash handouts and incentives during elections. Part of that responsibility is in reviewing the history and track record of each candidates before making decisions and casting votes. Part of being responsible is to demand for things to be done the right way, and never wavering or compromising on ones principles.   The Nigerian people need to understand the concept of choice. They need to understand that choices they make today has a direct impact on their lives tomorrow or in future. Choices are very important because they affect the quality of our lives forever. Think about it for one second, when people seek employment, they always go through an interview process. All employers looking to fill positions require certain qualifications and would pre-screen candidates and only select the best candidate that meet the criteria of what they are searching for. The standard placed on a potential employee during the interview process is often quite high, and that prospect aside from having an impressive resume and past experience level needs to make a super impression during the interview in order to give himself/herself a chance.   Depending on the kind of job, the interview process can become even more rigorous and extensive. If it is for a job that involves an employee having access to large sums of money, sensitive materials, or significant resources, the interview would often require more detailed background checks like criminal history, family history, financial records as in credit information, past employers, performance at previous jobs, references, stability, awards and innovations achieved prior, etc. All of these are important factors that helps an employer narrow down potential prospects and select the right candidate for the job.  

As a nation, Nigerians should scrutinize their potential representatives and leaders using the above formula. If private enterprises can go this length in selecting employees, what standard should we as a people then use in selecting those whom we will entrust basically with our lives, our future, the lives and future of our kids and families?  If we are to entrust someone else with such a huge responsibility, we better well make sure that that individual or those individuals pass the ultimate test.  When we take such  decisions very seriously and critically investigate the track record and past history of those we want to entrust with our future, then and then alone will our future begin to make sense because when we select the right people, the right decisions and the right choice are more likely to be made.   I saw recently at Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos where Customs officials harassed a Nigerian citizen visiting from abroad and tried to extort money from him. The young man refused to part with a cent despite the threats to confiscate some of his personal items. The customs officials shamelessly demanded that he declare all contents of his luggage, to which the young man was willing to do. Eventually, seeing they could not get bribes out of him, he was let go. This harassment treatment was not an isolated case. Just about every Nigerian arriving experienced similar rude, unprofessional, and aggressive treatment from Nigerian customs. To my dismay, when some Lebanese family showed up to go through the same customs check, the previously hostile Nigerian customs were falling over themselves and beaming with delight and joy as they welcomed the Lebanese group and allowed them quick passage.   So from that experience alone, it becomes apparent that we are in trouble as a nation, and our journey to recovery is far. However, we must begin that journey with clearly outlined objectives. I am not sure what the Ministry of National Orientation does, but such spectacle at our Airports where Nigerian citizens are given second class treatment while foreigners get red Carpet welcome is sheer Lunacy and another failure on the part of the government and a demonstration that the citizens of that country do not matter.   In checking the excesses and activities of public officials in future I believe certain measures ought to be in place to protect the public from flagrant abuse of power from public servants. The Nigerian public should demand for a constitutional amendment that creates a provision for recall. This way, the public reserves the option of recalling deficient officials or those found in violation of laws and breach of public trust. This option gives the people jurisdiction to act when other governing authorities fail to act accordingly.  

I believe the National assembly members should all receive a fixed monthly income not from Federal government budget, but from the funds from the budget of their individual constituencies.   Below is a list of what I believe should be the responsibilities of Constituencies to the legislators  

1. Provide affordable accommodation for them in Abuja

2. Fixed monthly income from the constituency's budget

3. Provide affordable health insurance (no overseas    treatment option)

4. Provide a standard affordable transportation. Vehicle is the property of the constituency.

5. Provide the legislator with a two person staff to act as aid and personal assistant, both paid from the constituency's budget 6. Provide the Legislator with operational budget that    must be accounted for and audited each quarter by a county auditor  

Now, below is a list of what the constituency should not be responsible for.  

1. The Constituency should not pay for utilities used by the legislator. He/she pays the light and phone bills incurred with their salary.  

2. The county is not responsible for paying "allowances" to the legislator. Fixed monthly income should be paid on time however.  

3. The county or public should not be responsible for any personal expensed incurred by the legislators, and that included cell phone bills, travel and entertainment and other non work related    activities.  

4. County should not be obligated to provide additional vehicle(s) to the legislator's spouse for transportation purpose.  

5. The county should not be obligated to provide meals to the legislator...neither can they expense meals to the county's finance office.  

6. County cannot pay for or even approve any overseas trip regardless of whether it is of a business or personal nature.  

7. County cannot be required to furnish apartments used by legislators. On exception, the county may provide an office desk and chair, with a modest bedroom set which must be accounted for and    remain in good condition when the property is vacated by the Rep. Any damage, outstanding bills should be deducted from Rep's final pay.  

8. Reps must have no access to any funds directly or accept gifts worth more than =N=500.00 from a single individual in one year I believe the same conditions should exist for the Senators. When excesses are cut to a bare minimum, the real people with honest intention of representing the

public will emerge and took up the challenge and responsibility.