Dr. Wumi Akintide

Yes, 29 million Nigerians voted for change rather than continuity in 2015. They gave the opposition APC 22 states out of 36 states the last time I checked. The APC recorded the same landslide in the number of Governors and Local Governments they captured out of the 776 Local Governments in Nigeria.

They captured 4 out of the 6 political zones of Nigeria to send the PDP to the turkey farm. If you think that was enough to guarantee the change Nigerians have voted for, I have News for you.  You deceive yourself.

Why? Because the1999 Constitution crafted by the Military Establishment and was never ratified by Nigerians has quietly taken away the freedom and the change that Nigerians have voted for in the just concluded elections.

The Military Establishment crafted the Constitution in a way to guarantee that win or lose the Nigerian politician would always win if you see what I see. The Military under Abdulsalam Abubakar made sure that the Constitution was silent on what should happen to politicians or people in power who lost their jobs through a court verdict or thru a coup or through an election like the one Nigerians have just concluded.

They military boys included obnoxious provisions like Immunity from prosecution even for murder and other criminal activities and stealing of Government funds and other misdemeanors for the President and his Vice, for the Speaker of the House and the Senate President and for all State Governors and their Deputies and the Speakers in all the State House of Assembly and by extension, I guess, to all the chairmen of Local Governments who are regarded as Chief Executives of their various Local Governments.

They made sure that no amendments to the Constitution can be accommodated or become Law until it is approved by no less than 2/3 of the 36 states of Nigeria. They plagiarized that provision from the American Constitution but they deliberately included the immunity provision to protect themselves or their constituency should they remain in the Military or abandon their uniform for civilian babariga like many of them like David Mark, Ahmadu Alli and Ibrahim Babangida have done.

 Even though amendments to the American Constitution have been few and rare but there have been major amendments in more than 232 years of American Independence because American founding fathers unlike our military leaders had realized that anything made by man and even things made by God can be infinitely improved.

Items that are not usually mentioned in a Constitution like fat salaries and salary increases and allowances to be attached to each important position at the Federal, State and Local Government levels were left to special committees at the various Federal or State Assemblies to adjudicate and fix. In the case of Nigeria, their first order of business the Nigerian Senate, the Federal House of Representatives and the State Houses of Assembly was to award to their members and officials like President of Senate and Speaker of the House, salaries and increments and allowances far in excess of what their counterparts in Britain and the United States earn to sustain themselves in power. Our Nigerian Legislators kept the figures close to their chests because they were just too embarrassed to let the general public know what they earn in salaries and allowances. It was an outrage to say the least as I would show with the remaining segments of this write-up.

 The President of the United States earns a sum of 400,000 per annum. It used to be 200,000 Dollars before George Bush the Second came to office.  The last term I checked I hear that the President of Nigeria earns no less than 10 Million Naira a month talk less of the other allowances he receives even though he lives with his family in the State House free of charge. You will be amazed to hear the amount set aside for his feeding per year and the amount of money set aside to maintain his fleet of Limousines not to talk about his fleet of 14 air crafts he does not need. We are not talking about members of his kitchen cabinet and a long list of presidential advisers and assistants.

 Don’t ask me about how much the Vice President, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House earn per month or how much they all receive in allowances. Don’t ask me how much is the take-home- pay for State Governors and their Deputies and the Speakers in their State Assembly or even the salaries and allowances for members. You multiply those figures by 36 or 37, and you will realize the magnitude of what I am talking about.

What I know is that their pay is enough to financially cripple the nation and to hold it in bondage forever. I just read a few days ago that President Jonathan who just lost an election is to receive a severance package of close to 4 billion Naira. Severance package is normally set aside for staff that are being retrenched or laid off from their jobs and not for transient politicians who come and go. Neither the General Orders nor the Financial Regulations would allow political appointees to claim severance package upon their losing an election or being fired by the man who appointed them to begin with. It was clearly a breach of Civil Service protocols and an outrage to say the least.

The monetization policies approved by the Obasanjo Government have made it possible for top office holders and incumbents like Ministers and Permanent Secretaries to buy out their Government Quarters for a chicken change of their initial cost. If that rule was in vogue while I was in the Public Service, I should have been the proud owner of Quarter 28 at the Yaba College campus in Lagos where I lived for more than 15 years. 

Only God knows how much Jonathan’s first lady and his Vice President Sambo is going to receive now as severance package for losing an election. Only God knows how much the Senate President and the last Speaker of the House who is now the Governor-elect of Sokoto State is going to receive? Is this the way to run a country? Let somebody speak to me about that. Lord have mercy!

Both the President and his Vice President and all Ex Governors and Chief justices of the Federal and the State automatically become members of the Council of State to earn remuneration for the rest of their lives in addition to their pensions and other perquisites of office. It makes a lot of sense to now compute how much of the Nigerian total budget is set aside every year to pay for all the items I have itemized above. What a country!

If we compute the figures, perhaps Nigerians and the new APC Government at the Federal and State levels would realize that they now have their jobs cut out for them. Where for God’s sake are they going to start from? How can Nigeria continue like this is a legitimate question to ask? Nigeria’s reliance on oil and Liquefied Gas alone has been our major source of revenues till now. If Nigerians are to achieve the change we voted for on March 28 and April 11, Buhari and Osinbajo have a whole lot of work to do. Jonathan was living in a fool’s paradise to call himself a transformational President with all the revelations contained in this write-up. He had wanted 4 more years to steal the country dry and to compound our problems.

I am glad the guy lost. He can now go live on many of the refineries he has built for himself in some foreign countries if the rumor is true. He is said to be among the richest African Heads of State the last time I checked. That was why the shoeless canoe man refused to declare his assets on becoming Head of State and he was allowed to get away with it. That was why he was prepared to die rather than allow a take-over by the opposition but for the divine intervention of God.

As the pioneer Director of Rural Development in Ondo State, I traveled extensively to all the rural areas of Ondo State which included the present Ekiti State at the time. What I found were enough to make me weep for Nigeria. I visited Agbabu where I saw raw Bitumen oozing out of the ground begging for somebody to tap it. I saw the white sand in Ilaje Ese Odo/ Igbokoda area that could be used to lay the foundation for glass industry in the West African sub region if not the whole of Africa and beyond. I went to Mogunyanje, Obe Jedo and Zion Pepper, and Aiyetoro creeks with their huge deposit of oil and gas waiting to be tapped.

A rational Federal Government would have joined hands with Ondo State Government to tap those resources to the full benefit of Nigeria. Ondo State is only one out of the 36 states of Nigeria with all kinds of mineral resources including Gold, Mercury and Bauxite all waiting to be tapped. I once visited Alajah Steel Complex near Warri while Fred Brume was the Managing Director. As a matter of fact I was to be appointed the Deputy Managing Director of the complex while Alile of the Stock Exchange was a member of the Board of Trustees and while late Ambassador Adelusimo Adegbulu was also a member and Tam David West was Minister of Mines and Power in Lagos and Oga Adeyoju from Ekiti was the officer in charge of the project at the Ministry of Mines and Power in Lagos.

I had done the interview and everything was settled when all of a sudden, something happened that put the whole plan on hold. The rest is history. Some of you reading this would say I am blowing my trumpet again because you don’t like me talking about what I know. That is your problem. I am talking about my life and career and not yours. If you don’t like it feel free to talk about yours.  The Alajah Steel complex was an industry that should have contributed so much to Nigeria but it was poorly managed.  Nigeria is sitting on so much wealth but we just refuse to take advantage of them because we had a blind Federal Government.

Charlatans like Asari Dokubo and Tampolo are running their mouths challenging the Federal Government to a fight and claiming that the Niger Delta area alone is the only goose that lays the golden egg for Nigeria. Yes. They are right to say that, but that is because the Federal Government has put all its eggs in one basket. I totally agree that the Federal Government must do something about the environmental pollution and degradation the oil industry has done to the Niger Delta and must do something to help the people overcome those difficulties and to let the people benefit from the black gold placed in their backyard by God Almighty. The other point I want to underscore, however, is that the Federal Government is closing its eyes to other mineral resources in other states of Nigeria that could make more money for Nigeria if they are fully tapped.  

I am happy to know that the President-elect has just named a 19 man Transition Task Force to be headed by Ahmed Joda who I know very well. I look thru the list and I found that most of the members are men of timber and caliber who can indeed do a good job but I am a bit worried about the 2 weeks deadline given to them to do the job. The time frame is damn too short to do the kind of things envisaged by the President-elect.  

I do know of the Oluyemi Falae Task Force on the re-appraisal of the Public Service set up by Olusegun Obasanjo in 1977 or 1978. I served as the Secretary to the Task Force. The Task Force had made some radical recommendations that could be revisited right now. Chief Oluyemi Falae is still alive and well and could shed some light on that report probably better than I can.

There were other members who were still alive although I know one or two of them have died. I know Rex Akpofure is no more. I am not sure if Mr. Awoniyi from Mopa is still alive and so is Ralph Okpara of Radio Nigeria. I do know that Alhaji Gambo Gubio of Maiduguri is still alive and well and so is Mrs. Laoye. They were all members of the Task Force. If Ahmed Joda at 85 can still be called upon to participate in this national service, so can some of these men and women

I knew for a fact that President Jonathan was still consulting with some of these men for certain things. I was with Chief Falae the last time I visited Akure in August 2014 when a telephone call came in asking the Chief to come meet with the President who was visiting Lagos at the time. I eavesdropped on their conversation because I was in the living room. The President had sent a plane to Benin to pick up the Chief for some consultation.

I do know that the Chief left Akure for Benin a few hours later. He left his car at the Benin airport, flew to Lagos to answer the President. Chief Falae who ended his career in the Public Service as Secretary to Government and Minister of Finance under Ibrahim Babangida is still alive and well and can still help the new government do a few things.  He is an old boy of Igbobi College the same school the Vice President-elect had attended. The Falae Task Force report had touched on a number of things that pissed off Olusegun Obasanjo so much because the report was very critical of his Government. Obasanjo thrashed the report because it did not tell him what he wanted to hear but what he needed to hear loud and clear.

That was the last thing I heard about the report. I am sure the report must be somewhere in the Cabinet office gathering dust. I know that some of its recommendations might have been overtaken by events but there are a few of the recommendations that are still relevant today. I strongly believe that kind of report can still do the new Buhari Government a lot of good if it wants to take advantage of it. It is only a suggestion.

I have reached a point in my life that I am just going to call it like I see it regardless of what anybody may say about me. I belong to the Ahmed Joda School of thinking in the Public Service. We say our mind and damn the consequence. I am not saying this to apply for a job or draw attention to myself like some little minds on the Internet would easily conclude. I have my hands full already doing what I enjoy. I currently moonlight with Sahara Reporters working with young Nigerian radicals and fire eaters like Omoyele Sowore, Rudolf Okonkwo, Adeola Fayeun, La Keisha Landrum, Declan Galvin to mention a few.

I like what I am doing in my retirement and I thank God and America for giving me a new lease of life to productively use my life the way I want.

I rest my case.

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