Google+ Followers

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

No to ‘Supplementary Mandate’!


Olusegun-Adeniyi-bkpg-new.jpg - Olusegun-Adeniyi-bkpg-new.jpg
The Verdict By Olusegun Adeniyi; olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com

It would appear as if nothing in our country is ever straightforward. To secure admission to schools at virtually all levels, examinations are usually conducted. But gaining entrance into such schools does not necessarily depend on the scores of candidates because there is also the ubiquitous “supplementary admission” list which often accounts for all manner of under-the-table deals. Job placements in either the private or public sector are also not complete until you wait for the “supplementary employment” list. And the only job some Northern governors do now is to fund and preside over “supplementary marriages”. Of course with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), winners hardly emerge from elections until they have gone through the rigours of “supplementary polls”!

Yet, if anyone considers the foregoing as absurd, Nigerians are now being told by no other than Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu that we should expect a “Supplementary Mandate” of two years for the current office holders who were elected in 2011 to serve a four-year mandate. The import of that proposal is that the 2015 general elections that have taken the eyes of our public officials from governance--such that the ruling party has even contrived to create a “supplementary PDP”--may not hold after-all.

Apparently flying a kite at a dinner with select reporters in Lagos, Ekweremadu said the National Assembly might consider extending the tenure of the president and governors which ordinarily should expire in 2015, for another two years, as part of the initiatives aimed at resolving the threat that the coming general elections could pose. By his logic, the additional two years would simply allow the present actors to be eased out of office without any tension.

“So I believe that if the players in the politics or stakeholders are able to come together one way to deal with the situation, it could be a win-win situation for everybody. I believe that the way it could work now is that people have been elected for four years, so let everybody complete the four years tenure for which they were elected. And then, through the doctrine of necessity and some sort of jurisprudential approach, do some kind of transition of two years in which case those present occupiers like the president and state governors who are finishing their tenures, will do another two years that would end in 2017...You can see that those fighting the president have hinged their complaints on the fact that if the president gets his second term by the time they are gone, he would start to chase them. So if we all agree, that is a way to solve the problem, after two years, both the president and other governors will exit. I believe that the fear would not be there and there would not be much pressure on the polity,” Ekweremadu said.

I have never heard anything more self-serving and asinine than this proposition which feelers suggest might actually be a well-oiled campaign that is antithetical to the good of our country. Pray, how does adding two more years to the mandate of the current office holders address the myriad of problems confronting the nation? Even at that, what is the guarantee that the demon the idea seeks to run away from will not still be waiting by 2017? How should the fear of political persecution by some individuals be a basis for subverting the constitution under which they were elected into office? What can be more cynical than changing the rules in the middle of a game?

Unfortunately, at about the same time that Ekweremadu was propounding his dinner table theory on tenure elongation in Lagos, some Boko Haram insurgents were attacking an airforce base, an army barrack and a divisional police headquarters in Maiduguri, Borno State. Students of our public universities have also been marooned at home now for six months and may effectively have lost one academic session to the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). Yet Ekweremadu and fellow travellers are only concerned about making political permutations on how to stay in power beyond their mandates.

It is indeed noteworthy that the idea being touted is not even original. It was also initially mooted during the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency as a prelude to the failed third term attempt. The excuse then also was that the 2007 elections could lead to a national implosion. Incidentally, it was the deputy senate president at that time, the then all-powerful Ibrahim Nasir Mantu, who supervised that ill-fated project. So in a way, the current deputy senate president is merely reading from the same script he inherited from his predecessor. But if history were any guide, the cold calculations that failed under Mantu will also fail under Ekweremadu.

However, what is more worrying is that a situation in which successive political office holders would want to change the laws and rules that govern political transition for selfish reasons is an open invitation to anarchy.  Against the background that a certain penchant for lawlessness and opportunism underlies the crises that characterize our political culture, the toxic suggestion by Ekweremadu for a collective tenure elongation by major political office holders beyond 2015 is a clear indication that most of our political leaders have become hostages to power and its corruption. What a shame!

Blame Not The Envelopes

Righ of Reply
Ben Akabueze

Dear Segun,
Your column last week titled “The Illusion of Budget Performance” aptly captured one of the flaws in the way budgetary performance is usually reported in our country. I agree with you that there is often an undue focus on expending the budgetary provisions without commensurate emphasis on the quality of the expenditures in terms of both priorities and value-for-money. While we cannot avoid expressing budgetary performance in percentages, performance measurement must go beyond that to also include Impact Assessment in terms of the budget’s actual outputs and outcomes vis-a-vis set targets. I know this can be done based on our practice in Lagos State.
However, I part ways with you in your attribution of the deficiencies in budgetary performance measurement to the “envelope system”. The problem may be with the way the system is practised, and not with the system per se. The “envelope system” is not inconsistent with establishing budget priorities. For instance, in Lagos State, our practice of the “envelope system” actually entails a two-tier establishment of priorities, first at the level of individual Ministries, Departments & Agencies (MDAs) and secondly at the overall state level. Practically speaking, how much ends up in each MDA’s envelope depends on how it fares in this hierarchy of priorities. If our priorities change unexpectedly in the course of the fiscal year, we re-cast the budget accordingly.

I hope that your interest in how we can make budgets work for the generality of Nigerians will be sustained beyond your last article. You can count on my support and continuing engagement in any such effort. The reality is that the budget process currently does not generally serve our people across the tiers of government. Why is the perennially late approval and low budget performance of the Federal Government not a matter of sufficient concern to Nigerians? How many state governments currently routinely measure and report their budget performance? How many local government areas even seriously prepare annual budgets at all? The questions to be asked abound.

•Akabueze is the Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Development

ThisDay

No comments:

Post a Comment