Reacting to the Day of the Long Knives in the Education Ministry

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MID-WEEK ESSAY: 
Reacting to the Day of the Long Knives in the Education Ministry

 

by

 

Mobolaji Aluko

alukome@comcast.net

Burtonsville, MD,
USA

 

Thursday, March
24, 2005

 

 

Events of the last
two days in connection with the Ministry of Education and the National
Assembly of Nigeria have been rather giddy.

 

At one level of
analysis, the national broadcast  by President  Obasanjo of March 22,
2005, and his move of dismissal and future prosecution of certain
public officials in the Ministry of Education and the National
Assembly for corruption  are the toughest and bravest he has made of
late to stem this cancer of corruption that ravages our nation like
AIDS.  He must have suddenly obtained an epiphany that the rot is
worse than he thought before.

 

At another level,
however, I was a little bit worried about the speech. It laid too much
blame on the National Assembly, while in fact it is the Civil Service
(under the PRESIDENCY) which substantially TAKES OVER from the
National Assembly when the budget has been approved. That is where THE
CORRUPTION really begins – in expending the monies approved, and
subverting the process of using the monies for the contracts and other
matters that they were voted for.

 

In ALL THE YEARS
that the military were in service, was the NATIONAL ASSEMBLY there ?
Absolutely not ! Can a MAN at the very top of an organization steal
money WITHOUT the connivance of those civil
servants beneath him – head messenger, driver, accountant,  auditor,
etc. ? Absolutely not !

 

Another point:  Why
did he not make a broadcast over IG Tafa Balogun, who is reported to
have had MORE MONEY in his bank accounts than the N55 million being
bandied around now – to approve a budget ? Who is more demoralizing to
the health of a nation: a Prof. Osuji who is “bribing” to get an
Education budget passed, or a Tafa Balogun who should be CATCHING
CRIMINALS and he himself shows to be a potential HEAD CRIMINAL ?

 

Again, please do
not get me wrong: I commend the President for these bold moves. I am
however worried that there can be a BACKLASH that he may not be able
to defend because he has not adequately protected his flanges and can
be rightly accused of selective justice.  For example, with the Sultan
of Sokoto’s son Senator Badamasi Maccido involved, you can expect a
FIGHT ON OBASANJO’s HANDS from now on. Accusations of ethnic injustice
will also be heard – as is normal in Nigerian affairs.

 

Nevertheless, now
that Obasanjo has now made an example of the Education Ministry and
those in the National Assembly  related to the bribery and budget
saga, he should seize this MOMENT OF OUTRAGE to put in place lasting
steps to stem the cancer of galloping corruption – coupled with
tolerant ethnicism and hypocritical religionism – that is ravaging our
country by taking further actions as follows:

 

On the short run, 
the President should (re-)issue the following proclamation (he had done something
similar before this saga broke, but he was obviously not taken
seriously):

 

(1) that all
ministers and agency heads who bribed or were involved in bribing
Assembly members over the budget should QUIETLY own up;

 

(2) all National
Assembly members that accepted bribes should quietly own up;

 

(3) all monies that
were received should be returned QUIETLY to the EFCC;

 

(4) that the
ultimatum expires at end of March 2005, whereupon there will be no
amnesty/waiver and all will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the
law.

 

He should then:

 

(5) cause to be printed NOW,  the
Fifth Schedule Part I  (Code of Conduct for Public Officers) of
the 1999 Constitution .  Millions of copies of this extract 
should be distributed to all Public Officials and Civil Servants, from
the cleaner to the Head Messenger to the Ministers and Heads of
Parastatals, to the Presidency itself.

 

(6) for starters,
send up an Executive bill to remove or amend section 308 of the Constitution.

 

In the short- to
medium term, the president should also seek to:

 

(1) champion the
passage of the Freedom of Information Bill, which will allow the press
and other willing individuals to press for public information,
including suspicions of corruption;

 

(2) champion the
passage of the Whistle-Blower’s Bill; which will allow various people
(particularly lower down) in the Public service to cry “Foul!” about
corruption without fear of being victimized;

 

(3) seek to
strengthen all the laws that were used to establish the ICPC and the
EFCC so that they are not weakened by the courts.

 

(4) enable public
access to declared assets of public officials, sanctioning any
officials that don’t declare their assets truthfully; and causing to
be seized those that are not declared and are traced
to these public officials;

 

(5) require
independent, professional and regular audits of all local government, state and
federal accounts as a precondition for further disbursements, making such audits available to the public;

 

(6) abrogate or
seriously amend Section 308 immunity clause that benefits the
President, the Vice-President, the 36 governors and 36
deputy-governors.

 

(7) speedily
prosecute all persons not protected by Section 308 who aid and abet
those immunized officials in financial and other types of corruption;
he should for example see the very end of this
Education Ministry Saga as well as Tafa Balogun’s;

 

(8) focus on
ridding the Police Force and Judicial Bench of corruption; these two
arms are the most public faces of exercising justice in the land;
again, Tafa Balogun!

 

(9) observe
zero-tolerance for bribery by the NPF on our highways, including use
of sting operations;

 

(10) observe
zero-tolerance for bribery by judges, mandatorily disbarring for life
any found to have taken bribes.

 

(11) focus on
ridding the banks and other financial houses of corrupt practices;
most of these people don’t carry these bribes around without having
gotten N50 million cash from some bank or the
other: what should a SENATOR be doing with N20 million to N50 million
cash, for example ? Is that not suspicious in itself ?

 

(12) observe
zero-tolerance for money-laundering by banks;

 

(13) observe
zero-tolerance for foreign-exchange round-tripping;

 

(14) focus on
eliminating the 4-1-9 advanced fee fraud crime, making it a “special
economic crime against the state”; using, for example, a central
registry of phones and faxes supplied on 4-1-9 letters to SHUT down
the phone numbers IMMEDIATELY;

 

(15) use sting
operations to arrest and SUMMARILY jail caught miscreants.

 

Until we all – that
is the Presidency, the Legislature, the Judiciary and Civil Society –
have a consensus to do at least each of the above steps systemically
and comprehensively,  then the fight against financial corruption in
Nigeria cannot be deemed to be serious, and any little gains can be
unraveled in the twinkling of an eye.

 

All the above is to
keep the momentum against corruption going at maximum pace  a time of
maximum outrage. Corruption  – and along with lack of reliable
electric power  – is the one main thing that is SAPPING the energy for
our progress in that country. We may be a poor country, but our
poverty at the moment is REALLY not because we are THAT POOR, but
because of the “fat cats” in Abuja who live as if they are not part of
the rest of Nigeria.

 

So the jury is out
on these latest developments. It may be a New Day – or Same-Old,
Same-Old.  Hopefully, President Obasanjo will seek God’s wisdom – and
Man’s cooperation – to begin to overcome some of our myriad problems.

 

 


Bibliography

 

https://nigerianmuse.com/nigeriawatch/officialfraud/?u=Obasanjo_broadcast_on_budget_education_bribery_saga.htm

Obasanjo’s
Broadcast to the Nation on the Bribery Saga

 

https://nigerianmuse.com/nigeriawatch/officialfraud/?u=EFCC_rap_sheet_against_indicted_officials.htm

 EFCC Rap Sheet
Against Indicted Officials

 

https://nigerianmuse.com/stararticles/?u=Heads_roll_education_ministry_bribery.htm

UNS-TAR
CORRUPTION:  Heads Roll over Education Ministry Bribery

 


https://nigerianmuse.com/essays/?u=summary_ways_stopping_corruption.htm

17 Ways of
Stopping Financial Corruption in Nigeria

Mobolaji E.
Aluko [December 5, 2004]

 

 

 

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