Two state governors, Adams Oshiomole of Edo State and Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna are racing to outpace one another among the fold of public officers who love to hear their own voices.
True, the two men have remarkable antecedents but when people attain their current status, a certain level of decorum is expected in speech and conduct. These two men fail on these fronts.
Let’s start with El-Rufai. According to one of the guests who was at the 2015 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) boot camp in Otta, Ogun State, last weekend said, the governor who was meant to address the one thousand budding entrepreneurs from all over Africa on Agriculture thought he was more comfortable speaking on “Creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurs’ In the course of his speech, he made a revelation that I consider unworthy of his office.
After expressing his sense of personal loss at the death of not less than 25 people, many of them primary school teachers who died when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) carried by a female suicide bomber went off at the premises of Sabon Gari Local Government four days earlier, he revealed that: “twelve hours to the time the incident occurred, we knew through intelligence report that some people were coming to do such..” He went ahead to say that these terrorists were traced until they switched of their phones in Zaria and got off the radar of the security agencies.
El-Rufai aimed at pointing out the already obvious inadequacies of our security agencies. Hear him: “We kept monitoring them but they switched off their phones when they got to Zaria. Seven hours later, we heard of the blast. If we had the right equipment, it could have been averted. We need twice the number of police officers than we have now.”
Apart from the fact that I do not opine that this information was one that the governor should share with the public, I think he did some disserve to his office by not taking another proactive step when it was obvious that the capacity of the police had failed. I imagine a situation in which the threat level in the state, especially in the city of Zaria was raised to the effect that people are discouraged from gathering in public places, including the one in satisfaction of the his administration’s demand for the screening of civil servants. If the governor could not stop any gathering at all, he definitely could have put the screening of civil servants which made people vulnerable off for a number of days.
In countries where citizens are more critical of the conduct and utterances of those that they elect, el-Rufai would be made to account for the avoidable loss of these precious lives since he obviously did not do all that was possible to save them. As usual, he spoke, laying the blame elsewhere, without checking the mirror.
And for Oshiomole, the endless exchange between him and former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is becoming as petty at it can get. The essence of the whole theatrics really beats me. The governor told State House Correspondents that former President Goodluck Jonathan and his Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, jointly denied his state about N10bn in four years. According to him, the sum was just an estimate of what could have accrued to his state if the past administration had been faithful in remitting taxes paid by the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG) and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) into the Consolidated Federation Account.
I sympathise with the governor over his loss but I wonder if this would have solved the problems his state he has had with members of the state branch of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) for over seven months.
I consider the endless grandstanding over this imaginary N10b and the $2 billion said to have been illegally withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account by the Jonathan administration needless.
When the National Economic Council met last month, a four-man committee was set up to investigate the circumstances under which the said sum was withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account. This committee of which Oshiomole and el-Rufai are members is also supposed to check the books of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and report the extent of infractions committed by the previous government to the NEC. So why doesn’t our dear governor just go ahead with his investigations and report back to the council instead of making these premature allegations.
More importantly, those who occupy exalted positions like that of a state governor should really watch what they say not just for the psyche of the Nigerians but for the image of the country.
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