When the National Financial Intelligence Unit declared in May that by June 1st, 2019, the state governors were barred from interfering with the statutory allocation accruing to the local governments directly from the Federation Accounts, so many Nigerians but insincere state governors were happy. Apart from the controversial security votes, another seeming cash cow for some dubious state governors is funds for the local government which they allegedly cut at will.
So, the NFIU stirred the hornet’s nest with the new guidelines and became the darling of proponents of local government financial autonomy as a measure to revive the moribund tier and make development flow down the local levels.
Despite the many advantages, many governors are still reportedly non-compliant 12 months down the line. They not only run joint accounts but also determine how funds are to be spent, an act which runs afoul of the policy.
Out of the few governors compliant and keeping faith with the developmental directives is Kwara’s Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq. Apart from the constant reiteration of his stance, the state local government administrators have come out several times to affirm his consistency.
This explains my surprise when a rumour broke that two commissioners fought over the mismanagement of the local government funds in Kwara. The story further claimed that some N300m get diverted monthly. In what may well be some half-truths, one of the commissioners was placed as a champion of accountability, putting up her counterpart as the governor’s agent of diversion.
May I say I am still as shocked that the Commissioners in the eye of the storm Ms. Aisha Ahman-Pategi and Mrs. Oyeyemi Florence have not really been forthcoming in denying or confirming the damaging innuendos often credited to them as many Kwarans. Are you to believe one fought in our common interest? Or as many are already saying, that the other is just a clever propagandist who watches while her “friends” on the social media throw mud at the government she serves or her own colleague?
Who is real or is wearing a mask is sure to come off in the coming days or weeks or months as I honestly do not know and want us to pick sides with so many planted stories flying around. Many of these stories do not bear the truth of the unfolding saga but time will tell.
As I have always pontificated, the desire for the media people to break the news first accounts for why they lap up some untrue narrative without due diligence. Like that of the 17.4m report, the above narrative appeared planted and twisted and blown out of proportion to make an executive bully out of Governor AbdulRazaq — the oft-reported example of financial integrity.
While many concerned Kwarans have since wondered and asked for what truly happened, including my brilliant writer friend Abdullah AbdulGaniy, some who have since identified as purveyors of false accounts have already tried and declared the governor guilty of the allegation of an unsubstantiated N300m monthly loot.
While any other Nigerian governor may ‘look away’ like we say on the street, especially that the whole thing emanated from familiar quarters, the prompt invitation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission into the issue to make findings affirms Governor AbdulRazaq as one with respect for public trust. I am tempted at this point to presume the man as a leader with no skeletons in his cupboard. Or who else alleged of shady dealings invites investigators and civil society groups on himself if not an honest fellow?
The extension of an invitation to EFCC and setting up of an investigative panel are unprecedented acts of leadership in our clime which speak to transparency and accountability. Perhaps because AbdulRazaq has never hidden his disdain for greed and avarice, the oft-touted lyric of no transparency constantly sung by a handful of persons on social media will never resonate with many temperate analysts.
This latest decision to be investigated alongside members of the cabinet by the state assembly, EFCC, and another investigative panel put paid to such unsubstantiated claims. But the AbdulRazaq-LG N300m won’t be all about the governor showing commitment to the NFIU, it should be understood as an exemplary show of integrity by a leader for his aides to emulate. While we await the findings in due time, it looks like a good time for Kwarans as public officials would sit tighter patriotically.
While some persons have already started giving the call for investigation names, it would be best that those of them with evidence or other helpful financial files reconsider and aid the government’s efforts to sanitise the system. As much as I do not query criticisms, they need to get behind the man and (re) focus their energy on getting the best out of him. They do not need to like him or anybody as a person. Let them feel free to shame the “thieves” with facts and figures before the EFCC, House of Assembly’s public hearing, and possibly at the panel of inquiry’s settings which I am certain should be open too.
The end of the N300m local government funds story is unseen yet but AbdulRazaq appears to have set up the plot nicely, proving himself to be a hero and the face of integrity. The contrary has not been proven yet.
11: 30 am.
15th July, 2020