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The Inebriate Gyrations Of An Inchoate Regime; By Jaye Gaskia

Isn’t it amazing that nearly two years, that is half way, into the life of this current regime; that more than two years after the historic elections that brought the new regime into office and elevated the hitherto opposition party into a governing party, we are still bogged down by the internal contradictions of the self-proclaimed ‘Governing Party’ and its regime, the PMB regime?

To be clear from day one, perhaps more appropriately day zero, it was obvious that this party from its foundation, and the government eventually constituted by it would be marked by immense tension and near violent irreconcilable internal contradictions.

First, the party could not agree on its list for leadership of the National Assembly, and had to be shocked by treacherous alliances between its supposed members and the opposition to undertake the simple task of electing a leadership for the NASS.

Then it took the regime nearly eight months to constitute a cabinet. It’s first budget could not be passed till May of 2016, and it was not signed into law by the President till June 2016. The fate of its second budget, the 2017 budget is not going to be different. It does not seem likely that this budget will be passed till May 2017 either!

In eventually forming a cabinet however, there weren’t any major surprises, just as there were on the list, people with baggages that one would have thought an anti-corruption regime would not be minded to carry! What is more even in the merging of ministries, no serious thought appeared to have been given to their streamlining. Otherwise how do you explain a Ministry of Transport without control over Road transport and road construction? Instead, the works department which is essentially in charge of road constructions and road transport was merged with Power and Housing into an omnibus Ministry destined to be weighed down by the humongous and contradictorily complex nature of its new mandate!

We are seeing the fruit of this thoughtlessness now, in the chaotic situation of the power sector! It seems simple and common-sensical enough [at least it should be for this regime that prides itself the product and avatar of a common-sense revolution], that at the heart of transportation is road transport. So, it begs the question, what is a Ministry of Transport without road transportation?

Thus, it is that from the very beginning, this party has been torn apart and rendered ineffective as a machinery of governance by its internal contradictions. That is the mutually exclusive and antagonistic intra class struggle among the various ruling class factions and fractions that came together in a marriage of convenience to take power.
If they had left these contradictions only within their power grabbing contraption which they have called a party, things could have been manageable for us as citizens; but alas it was inevitable that the internal contradictions of the party will become manifest in the actions and inactions of the government constituted by that party at both Executive and Legislative levels, and between the two arms of government.

The lack of cohesion, absence of a shared vision, and utter inability to agree a common agenda is very clear in the relationship between the executive and the legislature, between party members in the legislature, between the party leadership and its members, and more tragically within and between the agencies of government controlled by the party in government.

How else can we explain the fact that while the executive was reducing the number of Federal Ministries, the NASS was increasing the number of Legislative Committees? How do we explain the ceaseless and oftentimes meaningless fight between the executive and legislature?

How do we explain the fact the DSS, an arm of the security apparatus that reports to the same government through the National Security Adviser can produce damning reports about the head of another agency, the EFCC without the apparent knowledge or authority of the President? Let us be clear, the DSS must perform its role, however in appointing persons to positions that require Senate confirmation, it stands to reason that such nominees would have had to undergo security clearance by responsible agencies before the executive goes ahead to forward their names to the legislature. Why did this not happen in the case of Magu?

Are we to believe that the agencies of government now all act with such a degree of independence that there is no longer any coordination or need for coordination? If we have gotten to this point, then we are sitting on the proverbial keg of gun powder.
If there is coordination and synergy at the very heart of governance, the mistake if it ever happened once, not ought to have been repeated a second time. In saner climes, heads would have rolled. Something is not adding up here. Something fundamental is very wrong here!

It is not enough for the president to clear Magu after an internal administrative enquiry. The more fundamental question is why the DSS continues to stand by its report, and why there was and has been no inter-agency coordination to tackle the crisis.

A second, but even more recent manifestation of this potentially debilitating crisis of absence on internal cohesion within government in general, and within the security agencies in particular, is the recent raid by EFCC on the house in Ikoyi where more than N13bn was recovered in cash of various currencies.

The fact that the Nigeria Intelligence Agency [NIA] is claiming ownership of the money is quite worrisome, as is the claim that the EFCC was informed of its ownership, yet it went ahead to stage the raid.

A number of issues are pertinent here. Is it true that the funds recovered were part of funds released more than three years ago for a covert operation by the regime of GEJ? Why was the fund not warehoused in a designated secret account? Why was it kept in cash at this house? What is the accountability framework for the utilisation of this fund? Granted that the fund was released before the operationalisation of the TSA, why is it that since the full commencement of the TSA, this particular fund was not reported and registered with government? Why was it not transferred into the account of the NIA within the TSA?

More significantly, how many more of funds such as these have yet to be accounted for? Who is or are in charge of these covert operations?
Was the current administration appraised of the facts upon resumption of office? To what extent is the administration in the know of this particular case, and other cases which are yet to come to light?
One would assume that this situation is serious enough to warrant an immediate investigation and enquiry at the highest level. One expects again that by now heads ought to have been rolling. Some persons ought to have been suspended from their positions pending outcome of investigations, period!

This apparent lack of coordination and synergy, with the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, and even more dangerously, with the fingers on each hand not knowing what the other fingers are up to, is also at the heart of the fight against corruption; with different agencies running different and sometimes parallel investigations and sometimes taking autonomous action without coordination or informing sister agencies.
In the process the Anti-Corruption Agencies and the Law enforcement and Security agencies appear to be in competition rather than in collaboration.

To make matters worse, a government that has always insisted it had an economic plan, finally almost grudgingly released its Economic Recovery And Growth Plan 2017 to 2020 midway into its tenure. Yet in this plan there is no mention of Ogoni Clean Up, a commitment it has signed on to, and one that requires a capital investment of between $1bn and $10bn. Nor was the clean-up and economic regeneration of the entire Niger Delta, or the Reconstruction and economic revival of the North East built into the Plan!

Is there an understanding that the clean-up of Ogoni represents both a model and an opportunity? A model for the clean-up of the Niger Delta; and an opportunity to regenerate the Niger Delta environment and revive and grow its economy in a manner that creates jobs, enables a blossoming of entrepreneurial activities, and generates wealth? Is this factored into the ERGP? Does the plan understand that this exercise can contribute tremendously to internally driven and inclusive economic growth and human development?

In the case of the North East, does the plan understand that there is a cost on the economy for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the people and the economy of the area? Are the managers of the economy in tune with the fact that this context represents an opportunity for the type of investment that can grow the economy of the North East and contribute to recovery and growth of the National economy?

Unfortunately from all of the foregoing, the conclusion seems to be grim, to the effect that the ill preparedness of this party and regime to govern, has been further compounded by the antagonistic nature of its internal contradictions, together combining to paralyse the regime and make it unable to govern, and govern effectively.
Ofcourse there are those who will say that the economy is already returning to growth, but alas this has been due not any conscious internal factors or efforts of government, but rather due to external factors beyond our control, in particular the price of crude oil!

We have been at similar junctures before. Where because of our ultra-dependence on oil, our economy goes into recession and climbs out of recession on the basis of the health of the international crude oil market! This is not a sustainable way to grow any economy. If the fundamentals of our economy are bright and are internal not external, we shall see it in rising production capacity utilisation of industries, we shall see it in increased levels of power generation, distribution and transmission capacities; we shall see it in reopening of closed businesses and factories, in establishment of new ones, in the increasing ease of doing business and the reducing cost of doing business.
These will be signs of a real return to growth. And if the growth is to be inclusive, then we shall see it in the reduction in poverty rate, and in increasing provision of and access to basic services.



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