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Governor Ameachi said: “We steal because Nigerians don’t stone us”. People of Kwara reacted and Anambra retorted. Saraki was stoned belatedly calling him Ole! Ole! As one of the Saraki's family that have milked Kwara for a long time, he deservedly got his due at Eid al-Adha in Ilorin. As always, faking exalted innocence, he denied it. Obiano denied Anambra its allocation and donated it to the Navy. Obiano, are you richer than the Federal Government?

Politicians have turned our money into lottery token for just a few. After satisfying their cronies that front for them, they turn around giving pittance to the poor in form of bag of rice, garri, oil and lately one of the governors, Fayose of Ekiti was distributing a few goats. Even government houses that were built for the rich who could build their own, were used as lotteries for a few in Fashola's time with the full glare of the press to build their reputation as men of the people.

Politicians are not generous, only clever by half. Most of the people donating equipment and gears to Police, Army and Navy are governors that have diverted Federal Government funds into their pockets. They raise their profiles by donating pittance from the funds they starved these agencies in equipment and paid salaries. The recipients of tokens out of politicians' loot are chief of Police, Army and Navy who diverted funds into their pockets in the first place.

The usual excurses are that without those “donations” the Army could not fight Boko Haram, the Police cannot fight crimes and the Navy could not fight smugglers of oil. In Borno, civilians had to. They are stealing money from our pockets to impress us as generous payback, graceful or thoughtful. This is nothing short of the Yoruba popular saying: Owo Abu ni afi se Abu lalejo.

What is infuriating is that that the crowds are buying into these fooleries. Any government that is serious about equipping its agencies would not deny them of tools needed to perform their tasks in the first place. Some years ago, we had brave policemen that testified that they had to buy their own petrol and maintain their vehicles when they broke down. Soldiers complained that they had no ammunitions to fight. All these were budgeted and paid for but never realized.

Many of these token donations to Federal agencies made by governors are from the allocations they got from the same Federal Government. It is the responsibility of the Federal to equip its agencies and if they are not properly equipped, the fault lies with them not with the states. The rational could be to curry favor from the Chief of Police in the state with the hope that he would take direction promptly from the governor. We know that is wishful thinking.

Ask Gov. Ngige, it was the local bodyguards and vigilante that saved the governor from national police. They helped him escape calamity. So from the governor's point of view, Fashola might have been protecting his state with extra equipment because Lagos State became unbearable with kidnapping and other crimes invading his state then. Nevertheless, it was still the responsibility of the Federal Government to allocate equipment accordingly to each state.

We have national police not state or local police. If the Federal Government could not equip police posted to the state adequately, we have another reason for the formation of local or state police. The state cannot be equipping Federal agencies it does not have control over. It creates and perpetuates the same problem of loyalty. We cannot say we want national police and army that are funded by the states.

Some have argued that each governor has security vote and there is nothing wrong with using that fund to equip the police. They went further, that it would discourage local thugs from protecting the governor. The strong man of Ibadan, late Adedibu made the argument that security vote is for the governor to spend on local thugs and the governor must surrender the security vote to him if he wanted peace in the area he controlled.

There is no doubt that governors need security vote but in the countries we copied, they have both state and city police that are directly under the governor and the mayor. There was an incident during the time of Adebayo as governor in Ekiti. Police that were attached to him nearly had a fall out with those attached to opposition. The same national police but different Oga. Luckily chaos was averted. It could have been dangerous if it had resulted in shootouts.

These excuses only gave the governor another means to divert funds. The Federal Government that failed in his duties cannot query the state government to account for the money spent on federal agency they fail to provide for. If federal agencies anticipated that states would fill the inadequacy, it would encourage the chiefs of Service to divert funds allocated to them.

It is the same reason we have our governors buying and maintaining private jets, houses all over the world and sponsoring none governmental local and foreign events where they had no business, leaving nothing to pay the salary of workers. We may call it lack of priorities but a deliberate act to deny necessity because they could get away with bloody murder. It is reflected in our acceptance that at least some governors or politicians are doing better than others.

Economists often say your spending is our salaries and our spending is your salaries. If only a few of us are winning their donation as lotteries, the rest of us left unpaid cannot buy at the market. If people at the market are not selling, they cannot feed their families or send their children to school. It is a vicious circle that denies most of us the spending and salaries needed to fuel the economy. The spending of the rich and cronies are not enough to fuel local markets.

We are aware of those governors that claimed they forgo their salaries as the worst crooks and they displayed their avarice before leaving office by padding themselves with outrageous pensions and unprecedented benefit for life. They get away with it because we allowed them to. So far neither the salaries nor benefits have been revoked. They all need Saraki treatment.

Whenever you are receiving either rice, goat, garri or see cars, ships and bulletproof vests that are donated to Federal agencies; many more workers are denied their salaries and daily bread.

Written by Farouk Martins Aresa.

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