Rescuing The Nation From Entrenched Interests - THE BUSINESS PACKAGE


Friday, June 11, 2021

Rescuing The Nation From Entrenched Interests

By Waheed Ogunjobi

“Our enemies are the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand  ten  per cent; those that seek to keep the country divided permanently so that they can remain in office as ministers or VIPs at least; the tribalists, the nepotists, those that make the country  look big for nothing before international circles; those that have corrupted the society and put the Nigerian political calendar back by their words and deeds”

The above statement was credited to the mastermind of the first ever military coup in Nigeria Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu on Jan 15, 1966. Major Nzeogwu had expressed consternation then on the state of the nation due to the sabotaging attitude of some privileged few who hold the entire nation in the gulag.

Sadly, however, fifty years after, the situation is not any better! Just recently, the man in charge of the nation affairs, President Muhammadu Buhari, while on a weeklong visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to push for the stability of oil price in the international market, which had nosedived in recent times equally made a frustrating statement that attested to the fact that some sets of people are just holding the entire nation to ransom.

Apparently miffed by the issues surrounding the discrepancies said to be found in the 2016 appropriation bill, the number one citizen threatened fire and brimstone when he vowed that all those who may be found culpable in the issue of budget padding shall be made to face the music.

He further submitted that he had been holding public office in the past and he has not heard of incidence of ‘Budget padding’, describing such act as embarrassing.

Entrenched, according to the dictionary, means to place someone or something in a very strong position that cannot easily be changed. The reality is that, there are some cabals who have constituted themselves into what is now referred to as entrenched interest and are at the controlling height of the nation’s economy, swinging the pendulum as they deemed fit.

From all indications, the budget padding fiasco can easily be traced to the entrenched interest who had been feeding fat on the nation in the past and are yet to admit that the game is finally up, hence they have decided to perpetuate their heinous crime, which is somehow generating ripples.

The entrenched interests pervades every part of our national lives. They are in the civil service; they permeate the political circle; the judiciary; security agencies and what have you?

President Muhammadu Buhari had while speaking on Al- Jazeera during his visit to Qatar  also alleged that there are saboteurs in his government expressing doubts about the loyalty of some key members of his administration.

According to Buhari, it would be wrong to assume that government officials, especially those who his government inherited from the Peoples Democratic Party will be 100 per cent loyal to his government. Owing to the import of this statement, it is obvious that the present government has an herculean task to perform in cleaning the Augean stable and there is need for decisive move to root out these elements.

Is it not obvious that  the entrenched interests are  the same set of people at work when the Minister of  Finance, Kemi Adeosun who had earlier  set a deadline of June , 2016 for ghost workers to be history disclosed that the government  has  just discovered a fresh 23, 846 ghost workers thus saving Nigeria approximately N2.293 billion naira monthly?.

According to the Minister, some elements within the government circle had been illegally collecting the huge amount of money involved before the discovery. Also reacting on the import of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and how it had saved the nation a lot of fortunes during a meeting with  Nigerian residents  in London for the Supporting Syria and the Region Conference, President Buhari said: ‘’First NNPC, the cow that was giving the milk had  more than 45 accounts, Ministry of Defense, that is the Military, army, Navy and the Air force had over 70 accounts, Tell me which account we can trace in these several accounts. So, we enforced TSA.

We said there must be TSA and by the end of December, coming to January this year we mopped up more than N2,2 trillion which they would  have used through bureaucratic system to raise vouchers and sign cheques so that they don’t go to the next budget.”

The most nauseating part of the issue was the disclosure by the President that, were that measures not taken, the money would have been shared by some unscrupulous elements by December, 31st, since usually they do not allow such monies to enter the following year’s budget. What a revelation?

Also, recently, there have been issues surrounding the round tripping in the foreign exchange market, which has been responsible for the free fall of the naira against the dollar.

The skyrocketing effect of such act on the economy can better be imagined than felt as virtually the price of every other goods in the market, including a sachet of pure water has hit the roof top.  A former ally of President Goodluck Jonathan had, however, alleged that some forces were behind the round tripping and he may be forced to name those behind it. The final bombshell, however, came from the Central Bank of Nigeria which also alleged that some money bags in the country, who are keeping a whooping sum of  $20 billion idle in domiciliary accounts were indeed behind the naira misadventure.

President Buhari while speaking on this development had also said “We found out, when I say we,  I mean this present federal government that some of the Directors  in the Central Bank own the Bureau de Change businesses, So, when foreign exchange comes, they take it and give  government the change. So, we stopped the federal government giving Bureau de Change foreign exchange. The President, however, said what he had just revealed is just a tip of the iceberg.

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