By James Ibechi
“Those running to APC will return with “empty stomachs”
The immediate past president, Goodluck Jonathan, would not necessarily possess some gifts of political clairvoyance. For if he was such gifted he wouldn’t have let himself to be fooled by those whose interest his victory would serve the most to go into an election he foresaw he would lose. Neither hasten himself into the fate that rudely awaited him in the 2015 poll.
However, his prophecy during the height of the mass defections of party-men from PDP to APC that, “those running to APC will return with ’empty stomachs’ seems to hold water for certain reasons.
Buhari, besides his well-known hard anti-graft posture and his fear by public officers who are inclined to corrupt practices, is reputed to be austere by nature.
And this is such a man who’s is the almighty president of the most populous black nation. He’s in command.
Buhari, an APC leader — no slight to Asiwaju — would not be as weak as Jonathan was, and allow governors and local government chairmen to run Nigeria down under his watch, by embezzling public funds that are meant for the development of the country at all levels and strata as was the case under Jonathan.
Given that backdrop, governors will ever have the proclivity to replicate Buhari’s way, for those who maybe in his good book, in their states; moreso that the president himself has given his presidential declaration that he will check the governors for financial impropriety, within the ambit of the provision of the constitution.
Governors in turn will keep eagle eyes on local government chairmen, to check them for corruption with monies. That could explain for why even when no money is yet made available to the LG coffers, neither from the monthly allocation nor from excess crude sharing, some of the governors have gone ahead to read what could pass for riot act to the newly appointed caretaker committees chairmen.
For instance, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, recently in what seemed like a threat to the LG bosses dared them to “try me and see”. He made the threat during the inauguration of the LG caretaker committees in Makurdi. That was meant to caution the LG on corrupt practices, it was to be understood.
Ironically, a week or more after the inauguration, it was learnt that most of the local government chairmen and workers are groaning under lack of take off funds, empty treasuries and absence of IGR. This is despite the recent N10billion borrowed by Ortom, in the case of Benue, for the purpose of augmenting the payment of salary arrears of workers statewide.
But the situation is more disturbing for the fact that, even the appointed chairmen, apart from the mere inauguration that was performed for them that day, no accoutrement of office has been provided to them.
Contrary to the norm and practice of providing official cars and operation van such as Hilux, for take off, Ortom has not given anything and the council chairmen now are said to be running around in the course of their work on foot, for those who neither have personal means of transportation nor meet ready available vehicle for them at their offices.
And as such, many are apt to wonder if this is the change bargained for, then many would have preferred to remain in the PDP because in the umbrella party money was everywhere.
In the air you felt it, on the road it flowed. LG chairmanship was attractive. If you never had a car, you were sure to get one and even take home at the expiration of your tenure. You could buy many plots of land and build as many houses as you chose in choice places.
In fact, you could be told by Emmanuel Agbo the state PDP chair to concentrate on monetizing party-men and leave infrastructure development to care for itself. I laughed! If you raised a voice, he would be apt to draw anecdote from a former Bauchi governor who lost senatorial election on account of building and developing infrastructure unprecedentedly in the state such that he gave less attention to party men and fell short of stomach politics. At a point, I felt the Nigeria had turned upside down.
But you see how all of that has changed. The presidency jobbers who had recommended bullet proof cars valued at over N400million for Buhari and he rejected it never knew the austere man Buhari was and still is. From that time, I knew that change had come to Aso Rock. And it is the change being propagated at the state and LG levels, as Jonathan’s prophecy in fulfillment, I guess you would say.