“The world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed” Mahatma Gandhi
The idea that a Governor can set a pace in tackling the rots and profligacy in government is as absurd as it sounds. The recent report that unraveled the wasteful spending among the 36 state governments reflects how much financial recklessness and squandering have infested the corridors of power. Quite absurd that no Governor in Nigeria including our very own Seyi Makinde has mustered enough moral and political courage to stem the tide of wastefulness under their watch.
He, like the rest of his colleagues, has only swam in the pool of perks, privileges, and profligacy. Despite repeated public outcry, it is unfortunate that nothing has unfazed or bothered them. Not even the cries and hues of people who wallow in the dungeon of multidimensional poverty. Nor the plights and agonies of those who worked their butts off in various offices only to end up in penury after years of service. Quite amusingly the rots they all complained about in civil service, local government, etc are firmly rooted in their various political backyards.
Fittingly , the way we’ve idolised power has not only made it tantalizing, and inviting, it has equally made it fascinating. Whether physical, metaphysical, financial, spiritual, or political, our obsession with power is unbelievable. We are a society that sees power as the ultimate. Power to us, is the final. Either by default or design, we’ve become a society of power mongers, ungodly worshippers, and vanity chasers. Old or young, the desperation to be in power has become a national tragedy. No doubt, as Italian Philosopher, Antonio Gramsci once intoned “the old is dying, the new could yet be born”.
I am awestruck that many still wonder why we’ve become so backward and steeped in retrogressive progression in all facets of our national life. Maybe this profligacy report will answer those curious minds.
Outside looking in, a layperson’s ability to hazard a guess into what goes into pampering the vanities of our leaders can only be works of assumption and speculation. Armed with facts, the stenches in the seat of power can be unnerving. Every day, we wake up to disturbing news of corruption in the corridor of power. But figures no longer shock us. Or to put it aptly: small figures no longer startle us. We love it big but years of abject poverty have made much of most Nigerans dream of flexing in opulence an exercise in creative imagination.
One reason power is attractive in Nigeria is because it is lucrative. In power, it is like all your prayers are answered. In the office, it is like you are licensed to fulfill all your fantasies and vanities. But power passes power. And the more powerful you are, the more you can get away with anything. In Nigeria, as in most African countries, power is only attractive only if it serves those who wield it. Interesting that dogfight among the powerful only becomes ubiquity because of the goodies that come with it.
In the Punch investigative report that opened the can of worms at our sub national level, the 36 states of the federation plus FCT were reported to have spent N1.71tn on recurrent expenditures, including allowances, foreign trips, office stationery, and aircraft maintenance in the first nine months of 2023. The report also added that state governments borrowed about N46.17bn from three banks to pay salaries between January and June 2023. Oyo state under Governor Makinde is also reported to be among the three highest local debtors in the country trailing behind Lagos and Delta. The statistics of state governments’ profligacy are quite shattering. I don’t recommend anyone read the report more than once. The stenches are too stinking. The so-called saviors are no more than the ‘devils’ we are trying to run away from. Instead of demonstrating courage where it matters, most state Governors including Seyi Makinde have only turned a blind eye, tilling the treasury of the state with mirthful abandon.
Note, that the report didn’t say the budget proposal. It says expenditure. Simply, the figures mentioned have been spent. And more will also go to waste in subsequent years. For most state governors, profligacy is too much yet never enough. For example, on its part, the Lagos state government has come out to debunk its alleged outrageous spending. It is left for people to believe what’s been offered as an explanation for that stupendous wastefulness. Oyo is yet to come out probably because it has nothing to offer. Take for instance the residence of Oyo state Governor. Every year, hundreds of millions are budgeted for both renovation and upkeep. Unfortunately, without any concrete or solid reasons, Governor Makinde has only watched the place from afar. Good people of Oyo state, Mr. Governor is not living inside his official quarters! Plus, don’t forget that people are paid for working in that place. If you think this is impossible, you might as well conclude that the claim that NNPC still pays workers in our moribund refineries monthly when they cannot justify their humongous pay is also untrue!
Again, you might be passionate about knowing where most of these billions of naira go into: housing/rent allowance, meal subsidy, entertainment allowance, wardrobe allowance, social benefits, pension, gratuity, internet access charge, telephone charges, local and international travels, office stationeries, maintenance services, consulting professional services, fuel, financial charges, miscellaneous expenses, laboratory and medical supplies, training and more. The list is disturbingly heartbreaking.
Added to this is the coterie of aides: SA, SSA, commissioners, private secretary, and too numerous to mention. Fair enough, the apologists of our own Governor will not hesitate to tell us that this issue of financial profligacy is a national menace. Meaning that we cannot isolate the Governor from this collective damage his colleagues are also guilty of. Granted. But here is a poser: what exactly is ‘OMITUNTUN’ in this indicting profligacy and monumental rot?
OYO101 is Muftau Gbadegesin’s opinion about issues affecting Oyo state and is published every Saturday. He can be reached via @muftaugbade on X, email@example.com and 09065176850.