EL-RUFAI ON FRIDAY
Re: Fiscal Responsibility Commission: The Sleeping Watchdog
My recent piece on the Fiscal Responsibility Commission elicited a wide range of responses on some of the key issues raised. Space will not permit me to publish every one of them, but the response below from a staff of the commission who prefers to remain anonymous raises even more salient questions... El-Rufai
Thank you, sir, for the above titled piece. Very precise and factual. I am a staff of the Commission and know from an insiderís experience that all you wrote about the FRC Ė of its inability to function according to the provision of the FRA that established it Ė is the true reflection of what is happening in the Commission.
But, Sir, when you ascribed the Commissionís inactive stance to the weakness of its management, I say you were understating the reality, the true situation in the Commission. The truth is that the Commission is saddled with an incompetent and corrupt management, a group of greedy people who are only out to satisfy their individual interest and nothing more.
The main problem here is that the aim and wisdom behind the establishment of Fiscal Responsibility Commission had been missed from the onset; the government appointed the wrong people to run the Commission. Of the whole six full time Commissioners plus the Chairman, only the Chairman and one of the Commissioners can be said to have full grasp of the meaning of FRA and the powers and functions of the Commission. The bulk of others are just there as appointees representing their respective geopolitical zone. You would be surprised to know that most of them lack even the basic knowledge on the FRA. And because they regard their appointment as an opportunity to further their interest including helping themselves with the Commissionís budgetary allocation, they are always at loggerheads fighting among themselves based on personal and selfish interests.
The Chairman, perhaps, due to his old age and recurrent health problem, is too weak to perform his duties. Somebody who cannot sit upright for good thirty minutes or walk few meters is definitely not the type to head this type of organization. He is always absent due to health problem; at times he runs the office from his home at Karu with staff shuttling between the Commissionís Headquarters and his house to convey files. He is always in and out of hospital among which is his frequent medical trip to India at the expense of the Commission. The Chairman is just too incapacitated to handle the job. Thatís the reason most of the times he doesn't know what is happening in the Commission as the rest of the Commissioners isolated the man, leaving him only as a figure head while they run the Commission on whims and caprices.
In fact the six full time Commissioners plus the four part time ones run the affairs of the Commission as if it is their personal property; there are no standing rules and procedures, everybody acts according to what suits his interest. They usurped everything and power concerning the activities of the Commission to themselves. The staff are reduced to mere spectators and at times treated like personal servants to the Commissioners. From their inception up to the time I am writing this, thereís nothing in place in terms of institutional framework for the working of the Commission; there are no working tools, no written condition of service, and no salary system. Since inception, the Commission conducted physical monitoring and evaluation of projects by the MDAs only once (in the 2nd quarter of this year). There is a whole directorate for monitoring and evaluation of which the staffs have been sitting idly without job to do.
The Commission is populated with bright young professionals with experience from various sectors, but the Commissioners would not allow them to work. There is general disenchantment now in the Commission; the staffs are frustrated to the highest level. There is no single staff that has been confirmed so far despite the fact that many have spent over three years in the commission. Those who can find jobs somewhere among the staff have left leaving the rest behind angry and frustrated.
How can you expect the Commission to sanction MDAs who trample the provisions of the FRA while the MDAs know that the Commission is a joke; nothing threatening will come out of it! The Commissioners, because of their glut, have turned the Commission into a corrupt, beggar-agency in front of the MDAs it is supposed to supervise. The NIMASA (among the scores of agencies that defied the Commission) you were talking about knew what they were doing when they ignored the Commissionís orders. At the end even when they were summoned to the Commission what happened? Where they sanctioned? After closed-door meeting with the Commissionís management, they all came out smiling and exchanging banters with the Commissioners! And up to today they have not submit the documents they were asked to submit, neither have they remit the monies in question.
Currently, thereís palpable situation in the Commission now resulting into mixed reactions, thanks to you write up. Just as the staffs are happy and jubilating for what you wrote, the management members are tensed and frightened. They just cancelled a scheduled meeting between the staff and the management which was supposed to hold today, Tuesday, due to fear that the staff will confront them.
Thank you, once again sir, for exposing the rot in the FRC.