Nothing underscores more the culture of greed, insensitivity and impunity that has crept into the public service of Nigeria than the self-serving scenario of multiple remuneration and pension schemes for serving public officers who previously served and pensioned in other capacities. This obnoxious practice aka “double-dipping” involves high office holders such as cabinet ministers, governors and senators, and top military officials, who are attracted to high office, mainly because of the material gain therein. While the standard of living of an average Nigerian deteriorates daily and majority have been taken hostage by abject poverty, disease, hunger and insecurity, its public servants and political office holders earn outlandish perks that have gone to such ridiculous levels as to be perpetuated for life. This gluttony in high places is an unbelievable shame that qualifies as a case study in selfishness. Nigeria is now a victim of her corrupt, inept, clueless and lawless leadership.
Besides blatant corruption, a perfect illustration of this culture is the sumptuous benefits to which political office holders treat themselves at the citizens’ expense. Between 2007-2015, some State Houses of Assembly passed into law; bills sent by the State Governors, to the effect that they would be entitled to atrocious perks to address post-service challenges. The packages were such that disengaging public officers, including former governors and their deputies left office not feeling the difference between in and out because their pension packages and privileges of their offices remained intact. Some former governors are now entitled to life pension at a rate equivalent to the salary of the incumbent governor. In addition, they are entitled to a new official car and SUV replaced every four years, personal aide, cook, chauffeurs and adequate security detail at the expense of the state government.
And as if public resources are limitless, these ex-governors are also entitled to a befitting house not below a five-bedroom mansion in the FCT, Abuja or any place of their choice; allowances for furniture; yearly maintenance, free fuel and utilities. When this is added to the remuneration and perks of ex-governors who are now Senators, the cost of governance weighs heavily on the resources of the nation to the detriment of social services and infrastructural development. The irony of this repugnancy is that it has become pervasive at a time the country is facing the worst economic recession in decades.
Contrary to all expectations, most former governors left office and “retired” to the Senate or were appointed into the cabinet or other departments or agencies, where they continue to earn salaries and perks, in addition to their outlandish pension packages. One of the poster children of this criminality is former Senate President, David Mark (Benue South), who has been in the Senate since 1999. While in the military, he served as Niger State governor from 1984 and 1986 and retired in 1993 as Brigadier-General after serving as Communication Minister. It is standard operating procedure that all Senators get an end-of-tenure gratuity every four years. Double Dipping Senators also get pensions from their states. This begs the question: since Mark has been different persons at different times; and is still in active service earning his salary as a sitting Senator; is he entitled to pension and from which quarters?
Mark is not alone. Other double-dipping Senators include: Senate President Bukola Saraki, (Kwara 2003-2011); Godswill Akpabio, (Akwa-Ibom, 2007-2015); Rabiu Kwankwaso, (Kano 1999-2003 & 2011-2015); Joshua Dariye (Plateau 1999-2007); Jonah Jang (Plateau 2007-2015); Abdullahi Adamu (Nassarawa 1999-2007); Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto 2007-2015); Bukar Ibrahim (Yobe 1999-2007); Theodore Orji (Abia 2007-2015); George Akume (Benue, 1999-2007); Adamu Aliero (Kebbi 1999-2007); Samuel Egwu (Ebonyi 1999-2007); Danjuma Goje (Gombe 2003-2011); Sanni Yerima (Zamfara 1999- 2007); Abubakar Danladi (Taraba deputy governor 2007-2015); Eyinnaya Abaribe (Abia deputy governor 1999- 2003) and Abiodun Olujimi, (Ekiti deputy governor 2005-2007).
Third Republic governors -Muhammed Lafiagi (Kwara, 1992-1993) and Isiaka Adeleke (Osun, 1992-1993), also make the endless list of infamy, which features others like Rotimi Amaechi, Chris Ngige and Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and former Lagos State governor. As ex-governor of Nigeria’s richest state, Fashola has a pension, in addition to earnings from his law firm. It is just unconscionable that he should be earning a salary as Minister of Works, Housing and Power. There are hundreds of thousands of double-dipping public office holders like former Education Minister and now Rivers State Governor, Nysom Wike, who are stealing the nation blind. The inherent social injustice wherein ex-governors enjoy lavish, humongous pension packages and continue to enjoy fat perks of office as federal lawmakers or cabinet ministers is most difficult to comprehend. In fact, the anti-graft agencies should launch a public campaign to recover all the misappropriated funds from these double-dipping public officials, including pensioned ex-governors who are now ambassadors or head of federal departments and agencies.
There is nothing in the labor laws of Nigeria that allows for such waste of scarce public resources on people who simply migrated through a revolving door from one position to another after four or eight years. Even if one concedes the right of a governor to retire and receive a pension till death; to concomitantly earn a salary, while receiving pension is to mock the concept of true reward. This reckless squandermania practically subjects the Nigerian people to eternal servitude and make its public officials totally dependent on the national treasury for life. The audacity of this impunity is rooted in the docility of the Nigerian people, who know this is wrong and unjust, but do no more than muse and bemoan in the closet of their rooms, whereas democracy expects them to do more. They have the right of peaceful protest against the unconscionable practice. They have the right to recall all the self-serving stooges masquerading as lawmakers who participate in this insensitivity and above all, they have the right to sentence them into political oblivion by refusing to vote for them. Nigerians have become a band of docile and complacent people, who concur in the despoliation of their land by their passive indifference and cold complicity in the face of reckless, arbitrary and ungodly dissipation of their commonwealth.
With this kind of obnoxious double-dipping, competition for public office will be intensely unhealthier than it had ever been. Candidates will now be ready more than ever to kill and to destroy to get to that office, for the everlasting enjoyment and opulence it offers devoid of sweat and stress. What should worry Nigerian politicians and office holders, in all of this is that he could wittingly or unwittingly be setting a wrong precedence that does not, however, inspire confidence that tomorrow would be better than today even with a change at the helm of affairs. It seems indeed, with Buhari and the APC, it may be worse. The leaders of yesteryear did not vote so much money for life after office. And yet, they did not steal or were not likely to have stolen as callously, ferociously, brazenly and irresponsibly as the present crop of politicians do.
The President must order the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission, being the constitutional organ charged with that responsibility, to undertake a review of the perks of past and current public officials. There should be no further remuneration for any past political office holders; none at all for the kleptomaniacs Nigeria is saddled with who are known to have stolen more than enough for their unborn generations of children. In the case of Nigeria’s greedy double-dipping office holders, they must retrace their steps, to shed their hard earned reputation as poster children for the republic of greed.
On soaring cost of living and the need to tame ugly trend
It is no longer news that since the removal of fuel subsidy, cost of living in Nigeria has skyrocketed. Virtually everything ranging from staple food to other basic needs of an average family in the country has gone out of the reach.
The oil subsidy removal, as soon as it was announced on May 29th, 2023 by the current President of Nigeria, Ahmed Bola Tinubu shortly after his inauguration, automatically pushed up prices of everything to where they are today.
For instance a litre of fuel that prior to that time sold at N159- N250 suddenly jumped up to N550 and now over N600.
In the same sequence, transportation fares have tripled from its previous level to the current charges to match with the present cost of petroleum products prices. For instance, a trip from Port Harcourt to Lagos that used to be N10,000 by bus, now costs as much as N27,000 to N35,000. Other items like cooking gas, building materials also followed suit. For example, one bag of cement is now sold at over N3,000.
As if that was not enough, electricity tariff also followed the upward review sequence. It has been reliably gathered that the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has also approved the hike of pre-paid meters by 40 percent from its previous cost. Consumers have equally been made to pay more for electricity consumption. The list is endless. The question is how did we get here? And how do we liberate ourselves from this self-inflicted torture.
President Tinubu has repeatedly appealed to Nigerians to exercise patience,vas plans according to him are on top gear to address the situation. But the question on the lips of every Nigerian is how long will this patience last?
According to them, there are no clues indicating that the end of the sufferings are in sight. It is important at this juncture to look at possible remedies to this perennial high cost of living in the country. Many people have suggested and rightly so, that the only panacea to addressing this malady is bringing our four existing refineries back on stream and possibly establishing new ones. This is doable and possible.
The refineries or petroleum products are like a tripod upon which every economic activity revolves. What that practically means is that any negative touch on its pricing, automatically translates to increases on other offshoots.
Another antidote to the freightening hyper-inflation in Nigeria is repositioning our focus in terms of diversifying our economy. A rat that has one hole, they say, does not live long.
Nigeria is over sixty years old now as a nation and its economy is still solely based on crude oil. Worse, we watched our refineries rot beyond repair to the extent that we import all refined petroleum products with hard currency.
This poor economic policy inevitably plunged Nigeria into heavy debt, courtesy of the birth of the oil subsidy regime.
This, of course, was hijacked by a few influential merchantalists, popularly referred to as cabals, who used the opportunity to impoverish their fellow citizens in the name of making profits.
At this level of our nationhood, one would have expected our leaders to have diversified the country’s economy outside oil. What happened to agriculture and its allied businesses? Even the solid minerals in the country remained largely untapped and all concentration was on crude oil .
There has not been any tangible attempt by the previous administrations to industrialise the country, to save us from being perpetually dependent on Western nations.
The only way to achieve that is to formulate deliberate policies to develop our own home-grown technology to solve or satisfy our demand, that must be tailored towards industrialisation. It has been repeatedly said and proven too that technology is not transferable, it is either developed locally or stolen.
It is therefore incumbent on our leaders to do the needful and go beyond mere repairs of aged-refineries and develop our own technology to manufacture our own goods, which will of course serve as a permanent solution to high cost of living.
Japan shut its borders for one hundred years and when it was opened, they rolled out Japanese cars, electronics, and other miracles of engineering. It is not too late to start, for a man’s beginning is his morning.
Kaduna drone mishap: Military must review rules of engagement, standard operating procedures
An accidental bombing of Tudun Biri village in Igabi local Government Area, (LGA) Kaduna state by the Nigerian Army, Sunday night, has attracted major concerns. The ugly development left much controversy..
Undisclosed scores of persons have been confirmed dead with dozens injured, following the bombardment which has been described as accidental and erroneous. While the Nigerian Air Force denied its involvement, later confirmation from official sources established the fact of the event. The Nigerian Army later owned up responsibility.
The Overseeing Commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Kaduna State, Samuel Aruwan In a press statement that trailed the development personally signed and made available to Journalists in Kaduna on Monday had said the incident happened on Sunday night, while the Army was in a routine mission against terrorists in the area. He further stressed that search-and-rescue efforts are still ongoing, as dozens of injured victims have been evacuated to Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital by the government. According to him, the General Officer Commanding One Division Nigerian Army, Major VU Okoro explained that the Nigerian Army was on a routine mission against terrorists but inadvertently affected members of the community.
On a later development, amidst more knocks trailing the Sunday night military accidental bombardment, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja paid a condolence visit to the community, tendering apologies. The Army Chief arrived the community in the early hours of Tuesday, accompanied by Principal Staff Officers from the Army Headquarters and the General Officer Commanding 1 Division, where he met with the Dangaladima Zazau, the District Head of Rigasa, Architect Aminu Idris, other leaders and members of the community.
A statement by the Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu had explained, “The COAS in an emotion-laden speech expressed regrets on the unfortunate mishap, describing it as a very disheartening occurrence. Speaking further, Gen Lagbaja noted that in the recent past, the general area of Tudun Biri and adjoining villages were infested with armed bandits, who terrorised the communities, until troops of the Nigerian Army started conducting operations to sanitize the area and make it habitable. He pointed out, that the troops were carrying out aeriel patrols when they observed a group of people and wrongly analyzed and misinterpreted their pattern of activities to be similar to that of the bandits, before the drone strike. The COAS stated that he was in Tudun Biri to personally witness the site of the mishap and to convey sincere regrets and unreserved apologies on behalf of the Nigerian Army to the District Head and people of the community, as well as the Government and entire people of Kaduna State.”
Describing the incident as “disturbing,” President Bola Tinubu ordered an investigation Tuesday after the Army acknowledged one of its drones mistakenly struck the village of Tudun Biri as residents celebrated a Muslim festival.
Knocks have continued to trail the mishap. For instance, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, expressed concerns over the number of accidental Nigerian military air strikes which have killed dozens of civilians and left several others injured. Atiku, who was the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 election, in a post on his X handle, on Tuesday described the latest miscalculated military drone attack as tragic.
”I am grieved by the news of the drone airstrike that killed dozens of people and left scores of others with various degrees of injury in the Tudun Biri community in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State. Ironically, the victims of this unfortunate incident were celebrating the Maulud anniversary. The incidence of miscalculated air strikes is assuming a worrisome dimension in the country.
“I call on the authorities to launch a thorough investigation into this tragedy to avert future occurrences.
“Meanwhile, no resource should be spared in medical attention to the injured and assistance to the families of the dead. I pray that the Almighty Allah comforts the bereaved families and grants the dead eternal peace,” he had submitted.
Presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 election, Mr. Peter Obi had described the bombing of Tudun Biri Villagers by the Nigerian Army as regrettable. Obi in his assertion in a statement via his official X handle on Tuesday, said the incident is an embarrassment for the Nigerian Army and the country. Obi had said any incident that leads to harm or the loss of lives of the innocent people they are meant to protect should be avoided.
He stated, “I read with sadness, the devastating reports of the accidental bombing of Tudun Biri Village in the Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, by a Nigerian Army craft that mistook the villagers for terrorists.
“The lethal incident left death tolls reported to have risen to 80, with several others injured. While our military continues to fight impressively against insecurity in many parts of the country, they must exercise utmost caution and professionalism to avoid this kind of embarrassment to both the military and the country.
“Fatal mistakes like this leave indelible trauma on the families who have lost their loved ones to this ugly and unfortunate mishap. I sincerely commiserate with families that lost their loved ones.
“It is regrettable that the problem of insecurity in our nation has persisted for so long that we are now paying such unintended human costs as collateral damage.”
The United Nations also deplored the incident. The UN human rights office said it deplored the attack, noting that it was the latest of at least four airstrikes that have resulted in significant civilian fatalities since 2017.
“While we note that the authorities have termed the civilian deaths as accidental, we call on them to take all feasible steps in future to ensure civilians and civilian infrastructure are protected,” said UN Human Rights Office spokesperson, Seif Magango said in a statement.
The UN added that, “We are particularly alarmed by reports that the strike was based on the ‘pattern of activities’ of those at the scene which was wrongly analysed and misinterpreted. There are serious concerns as to whether so-called ‘pattern of life’ strikes sufficiently comply with international law.
“We urge the Nigerian authorities to thoroughly and impartially investigate all alleged violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, including deaths and injuries from air force strikes, and hold those found responsible to account.
“The government should also provide victims of any unlawful strikes and their families with adequate reparations.”
While it is known that bandits have long terrorised parts of Northwest Nigeria, operating from bases deep in forests and raiding villages to loot and kidnap residents for ransom, it is no doubt that military efforts to combat the terror is not negotiable. However, such efforts must not be unguided and carried out without intelligence.
It is known that Nigeria’s Armed Forces often rely on airstrikes in their battle against bandit militias in the Northwest and Northeast of the country, where jihadists have been fighting for more than a decade. As noted, it is important the Armed Forces review rules of engagement and standard operating procedures to ensure that such incidents do not repeat itself. It is pertinent that security agencies begin to work with reliable human intelligence reports on the ground before any offensive attack to avoid innocent casualties, as the case was in Kaduna.
Also important is the need to develop counterinsurgency strategies that will insulate the civilian population from tragic incidents of this nature. Acting on intelligence is important for the military to exercise utmost caution and professionalism to avoid this kind of mishap.
What Nigeria stands to gain at COP28 in Dubai
The connotations and denotations surrounding the ongoing Convention of Parties (COP) with Nigeria being described as having recorded the highest number of registered delegates from Africa at the ongoing COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates should be accorded with less priority.
Our focus as the most populous black nation in the entire globe should be the positive impacts of the summit on our environments considering the fact crude oil is the major source of revenue to national coffers. Therefore, the activities surrounding extraction, mining and operational processes of oil production and even the mining Sector must be properly dealt with and these are some of the areas of concentration by the Federal Government led team by President Bola Tinubu.
According to a list published by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Nigeria is also third-highest overall in number of delegates at the conference.The provisional total for COP28 indicates that 81,027 delegates registered to attend the summit in person. With a further 3,074 attending virtually, this takes the overall total to 84,101, a report released on Friday. The figure is 30,000 more than those who travelled to Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt for COP27 in 2022, the previous largest in an almost 30-year history of summits.
The positive aspect is that Nigerians participating at the summit will have a broadened knowledge on the activities of climate change affecting the country and this will be spindown through policies formulation and implementation by the government.
Peeping through the article written by Special Assistant to Mr. President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Temitope Ajayi argued that those with sufficient understanding and knowledge on climate matters know that issues around the subject have layers and multiplicity of factors that require experts from various fields. There are lined-up technical sessions on financing climate actions at sub-national levels, regions and local governments. State Governors from Nigeria such as Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, Umo Eno of Akwa-Ibom have been really busy with their officials at COP28, making presentations, speaking at panel sessions and pitching some of their sustainability projects to development partners and investors.
According to him, multifaceted stakeholders from different countries including Nigeria are on ground in Dubai because they don’t want decisions that will affect them to be taken without pushing their own agenda. It is the reason delegates from China and Brazil are over 3,000 respectively. China is one of the world’s biggest polluters and Brazil is at the centre of global climate debate with her Amazon rainforest. These two countries know important decisions that will affect them will be taken and they have to move everything to be fully on ground and ensure they are fully represented by their best brains at every level of discussion and negotiation.
Like former President Muhammadu Buhari and other African leaders who demanded fair deal and climate justice for Africa at previous UN Climate summits, President Tinubu is leading the charge at COP28 on behalf of Nigeria and the rest of the continent, demanding from the West that any climate decision and action must be fair and just to Africa and Nigeria in particular, especially the debate around energy transition. President Tinubu has been unequivocal in his position that Africa that is battling problems of poverty, security and struggling to provide education and healthcare to her people cannot be told to abandon its major source of income which is mostly from extractive industries without the West providing the funding and investment in alternative and clean energy sources. President Tinubu and other officials on the Federal government delegation are in Dubai for serious business not jamboree. Our President has been very busy representing our country well. Since Thursday morning when he arrived Dubai, President Tinubu has spent not less than 18 hours daily in attending very important sessions, pushing our national agenda whilst holding bilateral and business meetings on the sidelines.
On the part of the Federal Government, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris clarified that the delegation sponsored by the Government to attend the Convention of Parties (COP) 28 in Dubai is on serious business and not jamboree. He explained that the country’s participation in the summit is in line “with our status as Africa’s leading sovereign voice and player in climate action.”
According to the Minister, out of the 1,400 Nigerian delegates attending the COP28, only 422 persons are sponsored by the government. Listing the numbers he revealed that National Council on Climate Change has 32, Federal Ministry of Environment = 34, All Ministries = 167, Presidency = 67, Office of the Vice President = 9, National Assembly = 40 and Federal Parastatals/Agencies = 73 participants.
In noting the importance of the summit, the minister emphasised that “Nigeria as the biggest economy and most populous country in Africa, with a substantial extractive economy and extensive vulnerability to climate change, Nigeria has a significant stake in climate action, and our active and robust participation at COP is therefore not unwarranted. The Convention of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the world’s pre-eminent Climate Change Conference, attended this year (COP-28) by more than 70,000 participants and delegates from over 100 countries.
“Nigeria’s representation is very much in line with our status as Africa’s leading sovereign voice and player in climate action. Parties to this Convention from Nigeria include government officials, representatives from the private sector, civil society, the voluntary sector, state governments, media, multilateral institutions, representatives of marginalised communities, and many others.”
According to him, it is imperative to point out that the overall Nigerian delegation to COP-28 comprises Government-sponsored (Federal and State Governments) and non-government-sponsored participants (from Private Companies, NGOs, CSOs, Media, academia, etc).COP-28 presents an array of investment and partnership opportunities for the various sectors affected by climate change, and Nigeria is already benefiting from its ongoing participation, as demonstrated by the following: Nigeria and Germany signed an accelerated performance agreement to expedite the implementation of the Presidential Power Initiative (PPI) to improve Nigeria’s electricity supply. President Tinubu hosted a high-level meeting with stakeholders and investors on the Nigeria Carbon Market and the Electric Buses Rollout Programme on the margins of the COP28 climate summit.
“The President unveiled the Nigeria Carbon Market Activation Plan, co-chaired by the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Zacch Adedeji, and the Director-General of the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC), Dr. Dahiru Salisu.
“The Electric Buses program is only the first step in a series of innovative, clean, modern, and sustainable initiatives across diverse sectors, all aimed at simultaneously addressing climate change-related challenges, reducing carbon footprint, modernising infrastructure systems, and positioning Nigeria as an attractive destination for global investments.”
He maintained that Nigeria stands to benefit from the Loss and Damage Fund established during COP-27 in Egypt and formally operationalised at the opening plenary of COP-28 in Dubai. The Fund will provide substantial non-debt financing to support countries most affected by the impact of climate change. Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been pledged as contributions to the Fund. The President also met the President of UAE to concretise engagements between the two countries. This is aside from the bilateral talks held with several countries and multilateral partners.
There should be highlighted that, over the years, Nigeria has firmly demonstrated its climate action credentials by being the first African country to launch its Energy Transition Plan, the first African country to issue a Sovereign Green Bond, and one of the first to pass national climate change legislation.
It is pertinent to note that beyond the number of sponsored delegates being argued and trending on social media, Nigerians should beam their searchlight on collective benefits from various stakeholders cutting across public and private sectors, communities and socio-ethnic gains of the masses from the ongoing Convention.
forecasts 3-day sunshine, haziness from SundayNiMet
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