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OPINION: The Travesty of Public Appointments in Nigeria

Akintokunbo A Adejumo, akinadejum@aol.com

“Prof. (Ishaq) Oloyede of JAMB has remitted 5billion to government early in August and yesterday announced another 3billion is ready to be remitted this week making it 8billion. The Finance minister made this announcement and some of us may have seen it. In 40 years of JAMB no kobo has ever been remitted to government.

Interestingly, Oloyede, (a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, before his appointment as the current Registrar and Chief Executive of Nigeria’s Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has neither increased fees nor changed anything else really. I know he is trying to clean up JAMB through the various activities being announced.

The FEC (if you like say Buhari) has now directed they must bring all the formers heads of JAMB immediately to come and explain what happened during their time. There are still honest people in Nigeria. Does it mean they have been sharing such monies? How many people share it? How come not a single person in JAMB blew any whistle on this in the last 20 years for example?

*Our country must certainly have some of the most wicked citizens in the world*”

The above was sent to me by a friend, a Professor, who is on the same WhatsApp group as myself. Please see the germane questions asked? This is our country for you. Yes, indeed, Nigeria must have the most evil and wicked people in governance and in the larger society in the world.

I have many times written about this unfortunate and debilitating phenomenon, which perhaps is unique to Nigeria, that men and women will be appointed to be Director-Generals, Chairmen/women, Directors, Chief Executive, Executive Secretaries, Permanent Secretaries, Comptroller-Generals of this or that agency, etc to head both public and government institutions, agencies, departments and after a few years, these unscrupulous and corrupt people retire, or in many cases, forced to retire or resign, and the next thing you hear and know about them is that they are very rich; that they have built these many mansions or that in Abuja or their hometowns; that they have ventured into large scale farming; that they have bought a small plane; they have built a church or mosque for their communities and so on. Some even go into politics to offload some of their loot and flex some muscles on the same unfortunate populace they have stolen from.

The travesty of the situation is often lost on our people who adulate these people. We never bother to think to ask ourselves – and them too – how can someone on a salary (and even with certain expenses) afford such lucre and ability to live beyond their means? Nobody ever have the courage to come out and speak and condemn these evil, hypocritical parasites and leeches who have been looting this country from their dingy offices, while putting on the facade of service and sincerity to the public and to their employers.

I have often met people like them, in Nigeria and abroad, who will come for one award (usually bought with their loot and/or worthless) or the other, with accolades heaped on them, and people from their town and tribe and religion fawning over them, while these common thieves will be exuding innocence and honesty, not minding the loot in their pockets.

They are the reasons why our River Basin Authorities are not working and making us self-sufficient in agriculture; why Nigerian Universities Commission is upside down; ineffective FADAMA and other agricultural projects; failed healthcare projects; moribund and grounded education initiatives, illegal mining of our mineral resources, etc. These people killed those government and public projects and initiatives with their wanton greed and selfishness.

And therefore, for the past forty years or so, when I finally realise what a fraud and deception we run in this country, have never been impressed by CV’s as long as my arm containing all kind of spurious and dubious experiences, skills, abilities, positions occupied, degrees/diplomas and awards won or conferred upon, etc, and when I read or hear that such person has been appointed to this or that agency.

In all honesty, the fault is with the mediocre system we operate and the various types of rudderless governments and leaderships we have been unfortunate to have over the decades. This is because there is no altruism in the appointment of people into public and government offices and agencies. It is always because of nepotism, “man-know-man” or political compensation. Meritocracy is, most of the time, sacrificed for mediocrity and nepotism. In fact, in Nigeria, it is a rule of thumb that when appointed to a public office, it is to allow you to “chop”, and not only that, you must make returns to the authorities that appointed you, as well as those who lobbied for you to reach that position. As such, the running (or, we should call it, ruining) of the country have ended up, ninety-nine percent of the time, in putting square pegs in round holes. It is still happening. It never fails to happen. That is the way things have been and will continue to be for a long time. And if we continue to do things the way we have been doing it and we have not been getting the right results, we will continue to fail. The civil service, public offices and even in private industry is replete with examples.

Even in democratic elections, we fall foul of the rules of meritocracy and competence; abandoning our ideals and morals, and instead going for some of the most criminal and insane elements in the world to put into power at the expense of people who are ready to serve the country and bring sanity back into public appointments.

It is almost risible, if not for our dire and unfortunate situation. The hypocrite public appointee laughing all the way to the bank with money meant to be used to develop country and better the lives of our people; and the same people hailing him/her, extolling him/her, and seeing nothing wrong with the crime. It is a sick society we have here.

I was passing by the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe the other day, and like it always happens to me, I was abashed with frustrated emotion to see the abandoned light railway that was supposed to move goods, services, and people from Itakpe to Ajaokuta, and who knows, perhaps beyond that, and would have laid a more solid foundation for our railway development. Yet, some Nigerians, and of course, their foreign collaborators, are responsible for this mess and waste, and nobody has ever been investigated, indicted not to talk of being arrested, prosecuted, and jailed for this monumental fraud and theft perpetrated on a people. It is incredible!!! But then, can’t we list thousands of other cases of such frauds and monumental waste in this country?

The same questions asked at the opening of this article, and more, need to be addressed:

 

  • Does it mean they have been sharing such monies?
  • How many people shared it? Who are the people who shared it?
  • How come not a single person in JAMB blew any whistle on this in the last 20 years?
  • How come people are not blowing whistles on all the other public bodies over the last 30 years?

 

One thing I am very sure of is that there are millions of former and current public appointees and officials, whether in senior or junior capacities, who have benefited and are still benefitting their pockets with public money that belongs to ALL Nigerians.

Let’s dispense with the pretence and the delusion. We all know heads of parastatals, agencies and departments of government are appointed mainly for political compensation, to loot and to make returns to their nefarious and scheming godfathers. Also, to steal as much public funds as possible during their tenure in office either to enable them or their godfathers to run for political offices or simply to live comfortably and ensure the financial securities of their families and next generation. Thus, these lackeys go in there and their intent is already known, but nobody dare prevent them. Is that service? It’s an easy decision!!

We can all quote from moral sayings of great people from now to kingdom come, but the damage that these people have done to our physical and moral emancipation and to our psyche, mindset and attitude are not easily removable, and as we see, is being played out or passed on from one generation to the other. What hope do we then have?

I have seen some of these thieving hypocrites address the public and warn against corruption, while he is sitting in his office looting the treasure through one stroke of his red pen. It was all I could do to hold myself from shouting them down or stoning them.

So, what to do? The government of President Buhari has learnt something from the JAMB issues. He should extend it to ALL public offices and appointees stretching back for a long time, but my fear is that the resources to do this are not there, and paper trails and other financial records would have been destroyed by these thieves.

But something needs to be done to ensure that crime and corruption do not pay, even after 20, 30 or 40 years, and you cannot escape justice.

We simply cannot afford to continue to run ruin) this country this way!! Something must give, and it will not be a pretty sight when the bottom drops out.

Telling the Truth always!!!

 

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