By Ogwazu Nnamdi
As a I child, I came in contact with bail out when a relative was held behind bars and my Dad making efforts to secure his release. In that case, it turned a point of reference as every demand on my dad met the response of having used what is left in the House to secure the release and so, we became used to same.
It was later as we moved through the academic ladder that one realized that bailout differs, and the sphere continues to widening by the day.
So when President Mohammud Buhari harkened to the voice of Nigeria Governors Forum for a bailout , I imagined what a one-chance bus looks like especially in a time of anguish. Indeed, opening our national vault for these few Nigerians who by their schemes found themselves at the top was a story that would be narrated someday to our children. Yes! Pregnancy that was safeguarded from the prying eyes of the few who still ask questions has come in the open as Salaries payment became a herculean task.
Though, the immediate Past Administration had opened up on the huge sum borrowed to pay salaries of Federal Workers towards the winding down exercise.
Consciously, our nation is one that is run on emotions, sympathy and one form of attachment or the other.This may have moved the President to join in the Mourning as moved by the his Party, All Progressives Congress Governor’s Forum ordering for a release whether appropriated or not.
As much as I would not fight against the release of bailout funds on the podium of insensitivity, and also realizing that numerous home faced hunger and deprivations occasioned by mounting salary arrears. Neither would I take to a combat as our Financial Experts,and the Management gurus are torn in for or against. The supporters hinged their argument on lubricating the economy rather allow same get into some macroeconomic issues that would spell doom for Nigeria
However, I have come to realization that a man who never bothered to know when the sun rises may wait until setting of the sun to spread his washed clothes then contend with the ordour .
Interestingly, I have never heard of any month without Federation Accounts and Allocation meeting (FAAC) and the decision being to invest same wisely among stakeholders was to invest the proceeds . This may mean taking from savings of the past to meeting the demands of running government while hoping to use the savings later. What do we actually observe in the system if not rushing to Abuja for the monthly allocation and dispensing same. So, why should there exist unpaid salary let alone twin issues of arrears of unpaid salaries?
Mr President, it would have done us good taking the longer route in enquiring to know when our common calabash changed colours especially now the national elections are over. The situation is suspect as it may mean that we are not ready for good governance.
On another hand, some Public officials seems to have found the route of dwindling revenue as excuse but, one still notices numerous waste from the very system. Have these Lords reduced excessive convoys and spending on trivialities, unwanted baggages as aides and support Staff? What about Parties and celebrations that can only take place with public resources but could be jettisoned when private resources? I have be waiting for some ex-governors’ birthday celebration without success and more, remembrance of their late parents and grand Parents as done while in office.
Mr President, the question before you is, despite the N660 billion States’ Commercial debts as reported recently outside numerous deceitful, Contractual obligations, have the States stopped seeking for loans? It is reported that Rivers and Abia State within the first month of new Administration got approvals for N30 billion respectively while Benue, Kwara , Ebonyi and few others picked between N5 billion and N10 billion towards salary payments. Why would the approval of Edo State bumper loan scale through the fence of your office and Legislature easily, and Lagos state on the verge of taking more billions? The case of Imo State is in the realm of speculations as none including the Legislature and the supposedly concerned government Staff could point at the figures rightly.Yet, the new bailout as sought would see these debts pushed upto 2034 at above 14%. While applauding the interest, I may want to know why one man’s profligacy would be tied to my childrens as 2034 is 19 years ahead,enough to see a new born graduate.
Obviously, the bible informs us on the fate that befell unproductive slave when the Productive ones were commended and rewarded with greater task. So, I feel that we may have rushed to reward poor judgment as these loans that brought States to their kneel remaining non productive. Though, some persons in their inner Court whisper that these monies served unquenchable greed of a few. Have you looked at Contract sum and attendant variations though kept secrets most times. Precisely August 17,2015, the Nation Newspaper reported that the Vice Presidents official building contracted at N7 billion would require additional N13 billion to complete despite paying substantial amount earlier.
Frankly, the bankers may have found the States as places of easy funds as it takes convincing the helmsmen into taking facilities and then sit-back to craft Standing Irrevocable Orders of Payment that enables them draw from the States monthly Allocation endlessly. Sometimes, I begin to ask myself on the advertised role of banks as Investment Advisors.
Indeed, we would soon get into another round of bailout since we choose to gloss over threats to our existence as a nation. Why have we jettisoned putting in place effective governance structure that curbs waste and unsustainable Projects? Why do we still put governance as a game of guesses and hunches in a dynamic World overtaking indolent with great speed?
Mr President! This nation can be salvaged if we think critically and enthrone values.
(Nnamdi, A Journalist and National Commentator writes from Owerri, he can be reached on email@example.com 2348038224575)