Government and citizens fuelling the fire of war, starvation and crime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Abdulwasi’i Ilyas.

  • Feeding fat on the plights and sufferings of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
  • How insurgents were emboldened and the war against them unduly prolonged.
  • A nearly obliterated voice of the opposition.

 

An aid worker with a malnourished child at the IDP camp. Source: Premium Times.
An aid worker with a malnourished child at the IDP camp. Source: Premium Times.

Feeding fat on the plights and sufferings of the IDPs

Elections were a couple of months away. The two leading political parties, the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were going for each other’s jugular. This was at the time when the overly tensed nature of the polity portends all but anything wholesome.

Informed and uninformed political theories and philosophies swarmed  public and social discourse in a manner nearly unprecedented in Nigeria’s political annals. One theory worthy of note had it that insurgents in the North-east were sponsored by influencers within the ranks of the APC in a sinister move to garner a sympathizing followership and discredit incumbent  President Goodluck Jonathan.

At that material time, all of that stood for nothing but mere speculations. More than a year has now passed, we are gradually emanating from that wilderness. We now know more than we did back then.

Pillaging and marauding Boko haram insurgents held sway for  substantial lengths of time. The aftereffect of that carnage subsists, with widespread starvation and disease in various IDP camps across the country.

Elkanemi football club of Maiduguri resumed playing on their home pitch just this year, and sallah was celebrated amidst palpable calm and peace that approximated an illusion  in the near past. Although, incidents of suicide bombings still spring up occasionally, normalcy is gradually finding its way back to life in the region.

In a few paragraphs hereunder, I intend to share with you fragments of my ruminations on the matter of how money meant for arms procurement to keep insurgents at bay was diverted by opportunists under the nose of former president Goodluck Jonathan.

Until such time, a cursory glance at the elusiveness of a principled life for people in leadership position and the ordering of their affairs around some moral compass is worth some space here. I followed with keen interest the devastating consequences of want and deprivation to the very fabric of a man’s system in its totality.

In other climes and in ours, stories of the ragtag and bobtail who rose to acquire tremendous wealth and its attendant power are hackneyed. People of ordinary backgrounds through sheer determination, perseverance and persistence rose steadily to become shakers and movers of the corporate and political sphere.

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Formal education and its corollaries of diplomas and paid employments are not known for either heralding riches or granting free tickets to wealth. Systemic accumulation and application of specialized knowledge and a knack for risk-taking are way ahead of degrees in the game of wealth acquisition.

My drift into the realm of personal finance is occasioned by the sheer disregard for decency, conscience and honour by people for whom-in their quest for quick wealth- anything goes.

What is the point liberating children from the shackles of those thickly bearded gun-wielding insurgents only to be hacked to death by malnutrition.

The reality of that probably dawned on President Buhari when reports-though disputed by the Borno state Government-reached him of the loss of about 200 children in the Bama IDP camp to malnutrition.

Besides that, a UNICEF report, three weeks ago cautioned that “Tens of thousands of children in Northeastern Nigeria will die of malnutrition this year unless they receive treatment soon”.

The good thing was that the dispatch was headed by a special adviser to the President on social investment, who presumably monitored and controlled the execution of that project.

The narrative took a different dimension in a similar development in Adamawa state. Bags of rice meant for IDPs, the guardian of July 10, 2016 reports were diverted.

On arrival into the state, 71 trailer loads of bags of rice meant for distribution to the IDPs was channeled to MDPs (morally depraved persons). For instance, the worst hit local government in the state, madagali, was allotted two trailers of 600, 5okg bags of rice. what arrived madagali according to a member of the house of assembly of that state, was 250bags of 25kg rice, an indication of possible rebagging to streamline diversion efforts.

How insurgents were emboldened and the war against them unduly prolonged

 

Boko Haram Kingpin giving a speech during their heyday. Source: AFP.
Boko Haram’s Kingpin giving a speech during their heyday. Source: AFP.

In a like context, and back to the point made earlier, funds earmarked to prosecute a viciously raging war was deliberately redirected for electioneering purposes. This is an unfeeling case of sending your troops to the battle front ill-equipped against an insurgent side in possession of sophisticated weaponry.

Ordinarily, citizens ought to exercise utmost discretion and caution in deciding who to entrust their futures and that of their unborn generations with. Candidates who present themselves for political positions will have to be subjected to stringent scrutiny of morals and principles, not this sentimental exercise we currently undertake at the expense of our well-being.

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The office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) under the “Hero” assumed a multi-faceted role. You see, My vantage point as regards  bestowing any form of leadership position on an individual has always tilt in favour of that person that commands enormous muscle not some sort of lame duck.

To Goodluck Jonathan, winning elections to perpetuate himself and some of his party men in the corridors of power assumed precedent over the lives of Nigerians. Little wonder that Boko haram arrogate itself so much territory.

At the kernel of the whole saga is Sambo Dasuki, National Security Adviser to Goodluck Jonathan. His name has since acquired a perennial prominence in the lips of those indicted or being subjected to investigations.

In our characteristic response to allegations of crime, the man has alluded to being victimized for past acts of “heroism”. For Dasuki, there is no shortage of effrontery, he mustered the nerves to charge the federal government to court for unlawful detention without trial, claiming N15bn in damages. Is he worth that much?

The EFCC is hounding recipients of the largesse. Speculations making the rounds view the act as an investigation of the campaign funds of one party; The PDP to the exclusion of that of the ruling APC. The chairman of the APC, John Oyegun, in an interview with the punch of July 9, 2016, disprove that position.

What is being investigated according to him are “public funds” that were “hijacked for illegal purposes which were not budgeted for by the National Assembly”. That is not far-fetched.

A round robin scheme, a free-for-all looting of public treasury spearheaded by the hero praised for being the saviour of Nigerian lives. That he saved our lives by averting a looming uprising and crisis through his conceding defeat, remain only on the pages of conjectures. What we do know with certainty is that lives would have been saved on a massive scale had funds meant for procurement of military supplies not deflected to other ends; illegal in this case.

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A nearly obliterated voice of the opposition

Leading figures of the opposition, whose public image has not been dragged in the mud, and who could effectively draw public attention to skewed and jagged actions and policy of the ruling party are hard to find these days.

As you would expect, when these men received this diverted funds, they ensured a sizeable portion of it took a comfortable position in their pouches not just the election campaign ploy they adopted as a facade.

We will greatly relish the stance of a person of impeccable character from the opposition poking into Buhari’s anti-corruption fight, demanding the justification for the apparent absence of the name of the minister of Interior, Abdurrahman Danbazzau when the probe term extends into his tenure as chief of army staff. The leading voice speaking against this is one of those on the black book of the EFCC. Not many Nigerians think that his arguments hold any water these days.

Revelations from the report of the presidential committee on the audit of defense equipment procurement in the armed forces (2007-2015) had it that the contracts that were executed with leftovers from the sharing spree orchestrated by Dasuki, have been confirmed to be awarded to firms and people lacking in experience and knowledge of their execution.

Investigations are underway for those indicted in the reports. Chief among them are two former chiefs of army staff; Lt-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika   and his successor, Lt-Gen. Kenneth Minimah.

Systems trump operational procedures and practices. The corruption war on whose back Buhari rose to the presidency, and for which the international community has reposed so much faith and confidence on him will at the end amount to naught when he leaves office  and hand over power to a president who does not subscribe to or share his vision.

One way to avert this dynamic is to entrench institutions and create systems that will ensure speedy deliverance of the justice system. In the words of management expert, Jim Collins, Buhari  would build a clock as against merely telling time. Some other president might come and simply tell Nigerians a different time.

 

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