The South East Based Coalition of Human Rights and Good Governance Organizations, SBCHROs on February 25, 2018, held a world media briefing and interaction section with stakeholders at Sharon Hall, Onitsha, South East Nigeria, on the topic, the Best and The Worst In Southeast Nigeria: A Comprehensive Review Of Governance Challenges In The Geopolitical Zone Dating Back To The Second Republic; Among Other Burning National Issues.
According to a report produced by SBCHROs, the media interaction has become necessary following near total, if not total collapse of quality leadership and good governance in the Southeast Zone in particular and Nigeria in general; and the rise and institutionalization of transactional governance and bad leadership.
The group highlighted some issues that have affected the development of the geo-political zone.
Among the issues discussed are: understanding concept of human security; public governance as social contract; social contract in Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution which deals with the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy; social contract as condition for indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria and institutionalization & codification of theft of public funds in Nigeria.
With respect to the last, the group stated that during the days of Nuhu Ribadu’s EFCC, stealers of public funds used both conventional and unconventional means to siphon their looted funds and stash them abroad and skeletally invest some within through phony names or proxies; but today, they invest substantial part of same locally even while in office.
That is to say that in today’s Nigeria under Buhari’s Presidency; corruption is not only institutionalized but also fully codified and domesticated.
“It is a fact that three out of every five major investments in today’s Nigerian quoted investments, banking, real estate and other choice properties; oil and gas including petroleum filling stations; private universities and first class colleges; hotels, student hostels, shopping/market plazas, industries including industrial farms; media, print, radio, television and web; and palatial private houses etc are circumstantially linked to a serving or former governor; or a serving or former top federal public office holder including Minister; or a State/Federal legislator; or a serving State Commissioner; or a State/Federal top Judicial Officer; or a serving/retired top Police or Military formation Commander; especially from the rank of Police Superintendent and above; and Lieutenant Colonel and above or its equivalent in other military or para-military organizations; all gotten through stolen public funds.
These stolen public funds are stolen through codified corrupt policies and practices of security votes, over-bloated allowances, and overheads as well as over-bloated severance packages, for retiring and retired public office holders especially at the State and Federal levels.
Through criminal processes such as illicit oil and currency exchange deals; contract kickbacks, borrowing and debt services kickbacks, over-invoicing, inflation of contracts, white elephant contracts; and siphoning, misappropriation and looting of public funds, etc; billions of dollars of public funds statutorily meant for public good are stolen annually from public coffers and criminally cornered, invested and privatized.
It is also a fact that 98% of the country’s serving and former public office holders are living far beyond their statutory incomes and legitimate lifestyles. The worst of it all is that billions of dollars and their local currency equivalents are borrowed locally and internationally by National and Sub-National Governments in Nigeria; only for 70% of the budgets substantially financed through the borrowed sums to be squandered in over-bloated recurrent expenditures especially through codified criminal processes of security votes, overheads and allowances of the country’s 17, 500 top public office holders and national and sub-national senior public/civil servants.”
Speaking further, the group gave an account of how public office holders squandered funds meant for public good in Nigeria. According to the group, there are 17, 500 top public office holders in Nigeria including 11,278 supposedly elected Local Government chairpersons, their deputies, and councilors; 1, 695 elected public officers at Federal and State levels and 4,500 appointed top public officials at Federal and State levels; excluding their public and civil servants, squandering over N1.2 trillion annually in salaries and allowances alone.
The N1.2trillion excludes annual overhead costs of the public offices manned by the 17,500 public office holders. For more details, see Salaries & Wages Commission reports. Specifically, there are around 4000 State elected and appointed public office holders including 1,152 State legislators and about 1500 top Federal elected and appointed public office holders including 469 Federal legislators.
These 17, 500 top public office holders in Nigeria exclude tens of thousands of other political appointees below the rank of special advisers. Over 1300 of them presently serve under Governor William Obiano of Anambra State majorly as Special Assistants, SAs, and Senior Special Assistants, SSAs.
These categories of privileged Nigerians found in Nigeria’s three tiers of government, federal, states and local governments, are responsible for squandering billions of dollars meant for good governance and public good in the country on annual basis and over the years.
“It is terribly shocking that the servicing of Nigeria’s 1,500 top federal public office holders and battalions of their aides; in addition to 90,000 federal civil servants as well as less than 700,000 policing and security personnel gulp 70% of Nigeria’s federal net annual budget.
Yet the meager 30% left to service the remaining population of over 175 million is still tempered with through theft of public funds. It is so bad that of the entire remunerations of the named public officials and civil servants, 90% is spent on their allowances excluding overheads, whereas only 10% goes to their statutory salaries.
For instance, according to Nigeria’s Salaries and Wages Commission, out of N40.9 billion spent on 1,152 State legislators annually, only N5.09 billion is spent on their salaries, while a whopping sum of N35.8 billion goes to their allowances; out of N550 billion spent on 11, 278 elected LGA officials annually, only N49.5 billion is spent on their salaries and staggering N500.5 billion is spent on their allowances; and out of N90 billion spent on 469 federal legislators annually, only N10 billion is spent on their salaries.
These categories of allowances and their cash values have since been catapulted or reviewed upwards.”
Speaking on the leadership issue in the country, the group noted that apart from over 90% of all important federal security, policing and political appointments occupied by members of Northern Muslims, contrary to Section 14 (3) of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution; ethno-religious animosity is promoted or encouraged by the State; to the extent that killing of Nigerian Christians by the Muslim Fulani extremists is encouraged, condoned and protected by the Administration especially through its policy of Cattle Colony or Cattletocracy.
The group emphasized that the two insurgencies going on in Nigeria are originally targeted at Christians, their properties and holy places of worship with over 14,000 churches and 1500 Christian schools already razed in Northern Nigeria and tens of thousands of Christian lives lost in the past nine years, 2009-2017.
The group also lamented the governance and leadership failure in southeast Nigeria and the detained & persecuted pro Biafra activists as well as others whose human rights have been violated. The group also spoke of the regime and regime-aided atrocities beyond borders of the Southeast highlighted the death of 1130 Shiite Muslims between December 2015 and November 2017, and recent attacks in other parts of the country.
However, the group did not fail in recognizing and celebrating the best personalities and achievers of their time in the Southeast. They include: Late Chief Sam Mbakwe, Posthumous Greater Personality of the Southeast Zone, Chief Jim Nwobodo, Great Personality of the Southeast Zone, Chief Peter Gregory Obi, Greatest Personality of the Southeast Zone and Executive Leadership Man of the Year since the Forth Republic or 1999.
The Group of course also listed persons considered to be the worst public office holders in Southeast Nigeria. According to them, the most unpopular and unfriendly federal government among the Southeast people is the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, while the worst past Governors in the Southeast are: Chinwoke Mbadinuju-Anambra State, 1999-2003, Orji Uzor Kalu-Abia State, 1999-2007, Ikedi Ohakim-Imo State, 2007-2011, and Theodore Orji-Abia State, 2007-2015.
The worst serving Governor in the Southeast Zone according to them is Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State. SARS was mentioned as the Most Atrocious Police Special Squad of the Year 2017 in the Southeast Zone.
Culled from The Nigeria Lawyer