Obasanjo's Never-ending Spending Spree


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Obasanjo's Never-ending Spending Spree




Jide Ayobolu






August 16, 2006


The recent never-ending spending pattern of the Obasanjo administration calls for concern. This is more so because, this government is supposed to hand over power to another democratically elected government, come May 2007, therefore what it ought to do is to conserve funds as much as possible and not just dissipate resources on frivolous and grandiose projects that is completely out of tune with the needs and expectations of the generality of the people. And, the excess money that the government has now, is not even as a result of the internal dynamics of the economy to produce, thereby greatly improving the capacity utilization of industry. Instead, it is a result of the upsurge in the price of oil in the international market. Hence, the windfall ought to have been put to a far more productive use, rather than expend it on conspicuous consumption.

It would be recalled that when the Obasanjo government came on board in 1999 it cancelled all the contracts awarded by the Abubakar Abdulsalamiís government saying that, how can an out-going government wantonly award such very huge contracts, but what his own government is now doing is far worse than what the even the military government did and it is very curious and rather disturbing that the National Assembly is just keeping mute as all this inexplicable financial jamboree continues unabated. Although the northern senators during their last meeting in Kaduna warned about this sordid development in the scheme of things but the collective Assembly as a very important arm and institution of government has not done anything yet and this should not be the case, as the national assembly would be seen as neglecting its oversight functions.

Again, it is imperative to underscore the fact that, the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission has earlier raised an alarm that the NNPC has failed to remit all the revenue it collects into the federation accounts as stipulated by the constitution, up the now, the commission said that NNPC cannot account for about N311billion, also very worrisome is the fact that the NNPC in conjunction with the presidency are operating three illegal accounts, chief amongst this is the excess crude oil account, from which the federal government wantonly withdraws money at will for sundry purposes known to it only, without recourse to the due process, rule of law and the national assembly. Yet, people are not asking questions, and everything is going on as if it is normal. It was in this reckless manner that the president dipped his hands into the national coffers and unilaterally gave money to Ghana as well as Sao Tome and Principe when Nigeria itself is bedeviled by far-reaching socio-economic under-development that needs very urgent attention, but which has been largely left unattended to.

The essence of holding public positions is to render selfless service to the people; it is about the upliftment and transformation of the socio-economic wellbeing of the people for the better. What will the present occupiers of office gain, if they deliberately create problems for the in-coming government? Is this how to give the very best of service to the people that elected them into public office to hold power in trust on their behalf? This is not how a government is run, this not how to lay a solid foundation for the future, this not how to prudently manage a complex economy like that of Nigeria? This not how to consolidate the gains of democracy and enhance a sustainable democratic culture. Politics of service, issues and values are not about personal vendetta and settling selfish person scores with people not minding the multiplier implications on the countryís political economy and her people.

Perhaps the question should be asked why is the government that has less than a year to spend in office be committing billions of naira to the maintenance and construction of railine in the country? The railways before now has been designated for concessioning by the BPE, and many foreign investors have already indicted interest in the process. In the same token the former finance minister had planned that the payment of pensions and contractors will be done through bonds as this will help in no small measure to stabilize the naira, as soon as she resigned the monies were paid in cash. Then, why build a 42 storey millennium tower that will cost N53 billion in Abuja when the master plan says that no storey building should exceed 12 storey building? And, the spending spree as continued unabated. All stake holders should therefore, work in sync to put paid to this rather nauseating trend in the polity.



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