Saturday, 10th June 2023

Revelation that indicts all

By Nsikak Ekanem
27 December 2022   |   3:06 am
The leakage of payment of arrears of 13% derivation by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to Nigeria’s nine oil producing states is outstanding among series of Wike-leaks done by Governor Nyesom Wike since losing PDP’s 2023 presidential ticket to Atiku Abubakar. This particular Wike-leak is one revelation too many; those indicted transcend the governors of Rivers,…

President Buhari and Governors of 9 Oil producing states

The leakage of payment of arrears of 13% derivation by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to Nigeria’s nine oil producing states is outstanding among series of Wike-leaks done by Governor Nyesom Wike since losing PDP’s 2023 presidential ticket to Atiku Abubakar.

This particular Wike-leak is one revelation too many; those indicted transcend the governors of Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Edo and Bayelsa mentioned by Wike at the commissioning of Port Harcourt centre of the Nigerian Law School.

The revelation shows how Nigeria and Nigerians have fallen short of governmental and citizenry duties. It could only save us from collective damnation if we imbibe its full import and shun selective indictment as cerebral Sam Omatseye tried in his column in The Nation of November 21, 2022 to exculpate Udom Emmanuel while excoriating Ifeanyi Okowa, Godwin Obaseki and Douye Diri. Wike’s revelation is indicting one after another as well as all Nigerians as a group of people. Beyond our usual glib talk of blame-game, evaluating who and what are blamable and how, can serve us better.

The revelation shows that the Nigerian public system is fraught with secrecy against the ideals of open society, which democracy ought to enhance. It is unfortunate that many Nigerians have been acquiesced to the practice of hoarding, if not outright falsification, of public information, which Nigerian public servants see as norms and not anomaly that it is. That is why interrogation of public services and conduct of public office holders is seen as anathema.

The disclosure by Wike refreshes of unconstitutionality perpetrated by Olusegun Obasanjo in his eight-year civilian presidency that was left uncorrected by the succeeding administrations of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan. Obasanjo, who was avowal in his blockage of full payment 13 per cent derivation to the oil producing states in the south, is a southerner yet he was neither swayed by southern sympathy or solidarity nor spirit and letters of the law to do the right thing.

For almost six years that Jonathan was on the saddle he did nothing to correct the injustice done to his place of origin. In fact, the Niger Delta struggle for equitable revenue sharing descended with Jonathan’s ascendency of Nigeria’s presidency.

The Lagos State local government allocations illegally withheld by the Obasanjo administration since April 2004 were paid in 2007 by the succeeding administration of Yar’Adua, a northerner of PDP extraction, to the then opposition AC government in the southern part of the country. Does this not show futility of the clamour for turn-by-turn regionalisation presidency, including the personalized emi lo kan (my-turn)?
Yar’Adua and Buhari’s righting of the wrongs done to southern states under the watch of presidents from southern section speaks volume of narrowness, pettiness, emptiness and defeatism entrenched in regional chauvinism on quest for national leadership.

Wike’s revelation also brings to the fore how frail, if not faulty, the information machinery of the APC-led Federal Government is. Information of doing justice to the oil producing states, which Obasanjo presidency and subsequent PDP-led government failed to do, would have been of great image making to the APC-led Federal Government.

The publication of monthly allocations to the 36 states and 774 local government councils was initiated under the Obasanjo civilian administration. Following that act, the act of peddling lies by many of the then state governors concerning their earnings from the federation account failed to flow freely from their lips.

The essays and public shows offered by the affected state governments in defence of what is indefensible further shows the governors’ haughty contempt to the people they owe responsibility of being accountable to. Apologies to the people, rather than dogged defence of the wrongdoing would have done some wonders for them.

Given that the denial of 13% derivation principle to the oil producing states was injustice, the release of such funds ought to have elicited spontaneous songs of freedom. Would any of the governors, as a private employer of labour, accept account of an employee that fails to make known humongous income accruing to an organisation only to issue response after being queried that the incomes were captured in expenditures?

Was there a pact among the governors in the oil producing states to padlock their mouths concerning the payment of the monies? Was Wike prompted by the spirit of discarding of agreement, which he claims is the basis of his face-off with the leadership and the presidential campaign of the PDP, to renege on the pact? As evident in sequences of Wike-leaks, tearing pacts apart in the build-up to 2023 General Elections has become a plus-plus to the Nigerian people.

The Wike revelation also shows how dysfunctional the state legislatures are in their oversight functions. The civil society, including the news media, is also found wanting. Perhaps, former Senator Ita Enang may be singled out for commendation. Until Wike became an unusual whistle blower, the former National Assembly liaison officer to President Buhari had been using Akwa Ibom as the focus of his radar in shouting to the roof top what the state governments were getting from the federation that were unknown to the larger public.

Although he is the one that spill the beans, Wike cannot be acquitted of the guilt. Why did he not applaud Buhari or blow the whistle shortly after receiving the arrears, which came in tranches? By choosing pseudo-national gathering, which he strategically invited the attendees to witness the commissioning of the Law School, instead of direct information to the Rivers people, it is not hard to deduce that Wike was concerned more with making political capital of the moment than dutifully and judiciously rendering account to the people.

Also, by mentioning only the states that he is in cold war with their governors, it is glaring that Wike used the disclosure to settle political scores.

Wike was also not correct in saying that the monies paid were not from Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC). It was FAAC’s entitlements denied the states that lay the golden eggs. By saying that nothing would have been done if Buhari did not order the payment, it portrays Nigeria as a country that thrives on abuse of law against the rule of law and how helpless the citizens and corporate institutions within the country are amidst arbitrariness of those in power.

However, it must be acknowledged that that single information by Wike has done a yeoman job that Lai Mohammed-led information team and volunteering propagandist group could not do for the Buhari administration in almost eight years. The fact that the revelation proceeded from the mouth of Wike, the same mouth that hitherto served as the mouthpiece of the main opposition party that unsparingly tongue-lashed the APC government, it has given incontrovertible testimony that will come in handy in shaping Buhari’s legacy.

While almost all are indicted by this particular Wike-leak, through that single apparent glorious act of his, whether with right or wrong sense of judgment, Wike, in jiffy, has warmed himself to the hearts of millions of people even among unfriendly quarters and that may cause many, including governmental and non-governmental authorities, to gloss over certain inglorious acts of his.
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