Rescuing The Nation From The So-called ‘’entrenched interest’’
“Our enemies are the political profiteers, the swindlers, the man in high and low places that seek bribes and demands ten per cent; those that seek to keep the country divided permanently so that they can remain in office as ministers or reap at least; the tribalists , the nepotists , those that make the country look big for nothing before international circles ; those that have corrupted the society and put the Nigerian political calendar back by their words and deeds”-
The above statement was credited to the mastermind of the first ever military coup in Nigeria Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu on Jan 15, 1966. Major Nzeogwu had expressed consternation then on the state of the nation due to the sabotaging attitude of some privileged few who hold the entire nation in the gulag .
Sadly however seventy years after, the situation is not any better ! Just recently, the man in charge of the nation affairs , President Muhammadu Buhari while on a weeklong visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to push for the stability of oil price in the international market , which had nosedived in recent time equally made a frustrating statement that attested to the fact that some sets of people are just holding the entire nation into ransom.
Apparently miffed by the issues surrounding the discrepancies said to be found in the 2016 appropriation bill , the number one citizen threatened fire and brimstone when he vowed that all those who may be found culpable in the issue of budget padding shall be made to face the music . He further submitted that he had been holding public office in the past and he has not heard of incidence of ''Budget padding'', describing such act as embarrassing .
'' Entrenched according to the dictionary meaning means to place someone or something in a very strong position that cannot easily be changed . The reality is that , there are some cabals who have constituted themselves into what is now referred to as entrenched interest and are at the controlling height of the nation's economy , swindling the pendulum as they deemed fit .
From all indications, the budget padding fiasco can easily be traced to the entrenched interest who had been feeding fat on the nation in the past and are yet to admit that the game is finally up, hence they have decided to perpetuate their heinous crime, which is somehow generating ripples . The entrenched interest pervades every part of our national lives . They are in the civil service; they permeates the political circle; the judiciary; security agencies and what have you ?
President Muhammadu Buhari had while speaking on Al- Jazeera during his recent visit to Qatar also alleged that there are saboteurs in his government expressing doubts about the loyalty of some key members of his administration. According to President Buhari , it would be wrong to assume that government officials ,especially those who his government inherited from the Peoples Democratic Party will be 100 per cent loyal to his government . Owing by the impulse of this statement, it is obvious that the present government did has an herculean task to perform in cleaning the augean stable and there is need for decisive move to root out these elements .
Is it not obvious that the entrenched interest are the same set of people at work when the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun who had earlier set a deadline of June , 2016 for Ghost workers to be history disclosed that the government has just discovered a fresh 23, 846 ghost workers thus saving Nigeria approximately N2.293 billion naira monthly ?. According to the Minister, some elements within the government circle had been illegally collecting the huge amount of money involved before the discovery.
Also reacting on the impulse of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and how it had saved the nation a lot of fortunes during a meeting with Nigerian residents while in London for the Supporting Syria and the Region Conference, President Buhari said : '' First NNPC, the cow that was giving the milk had more than 45 accounts, Ministry of defense ,that is the Military , army , Navy and the Air force had over 70 accounts , Tell me which account we can trace in these several accounts . So , we enforced TSA . We said there must be TSA . And by the end of December , coming to January this year we mopped up more than 2,2 trillion which they would have used through bureaucratic system to raise vouchers and sign cheques so that they don't go to the next budget''
The most nauseating part of the issue was the disclosure by the President that , were that measures not taken , the money would have been shared by some unscrupulous elements by December , 31st , since usually they do not allow such monies to enter the following year's budget . What a revelation ?
Also, recently , there have been issues surrounding the round tripping in the foreign exchange market, which has been responsible for the free fall of the naira against the dollar . The skyrocketing effect of such act on the economy can better be imagined than felt as virtually the price of every other goods in the market , including a sachet of pure water has hit the roof top . A former ally of President Good luck Jonathan had however alleged that some forces were behind the round tripping and he may be forced to name those behind it . The final bombshell however came from the Central Bank of Nigeria which also alleged that some money bags in the country who are keeping a whooping sum of $ 20 billion idle in domiciliary account were indeed behind the naira misadventure .
President Buhari while speaking on this development had also said '' We found out , when I say we , I mean this present federal government that some of the Directors in the central bank own the bureau de change businesses , So, when foreign exchange comes , they take it and give government the change. So, we stopped the federal government giving bureau de change foreign exchange . The President however said what he had just revealed is just a tip of the iceberg .
When the President said what he had just revealed is a tip of the iceberg , he may be right after all as it is a known fact that corruption permeates every sphere of our national lives . He has also expressed the frustration that corruption is fighting back . This is not far –fetched as those who hold the nation by the gulag are men in corridors of power who feed fats on the nation and would not in any way wants the system to be transformed . They are the enemies of the change mantra and they are determined to stop at nothing but to upturn the on-going transformation process.
It is against this backdrop that it should be noted that the war against corruption should not be limited to past political office holders thus, intense searchlights should be beamed on government agencies and parastatals , especially where it is discovered that a lot of under-hand dealings are on-going . The federal government for instance has promised to bring the perpetrators of budget padding as well as those behind the ghost workers syndrome into book This should go beyond mere expression of interest. There is need for whole scale investigation to be instituted into the matter with a view to bringing perpetrators to book. Also, recently, the President alleged that there are some elements in the judiciary that are sabotaging the fight against corruption. In this stead, the President Buhari should stop at nothing but to also take a decisive step to consider over-hauling of the judiciary. The fight against corruption cannot be judiciously prosecuted without an upright judicial arm . There were some revelations involving some highly placed members of the Bar influencing judgement for their clients through the bribing of judges . All these issues should be seriously investigated and those found culpable should be giving the booths if we are desirous of having an upright judicial system that will not make mockery of the anti –corruption fight . All those through their actions and deeds are trying to put the Nigerian political and economic calendar back should be brought to book.
Written by Waheed Ogun jobi , a Public Affairs Analyst.