When some Nigerians including this writer accused President Muhammadu Buhari of abetting corruption by giving the sum of N804.7b as a bailout to governors of 19 states that were owing their workers, APC members and some unformed Nigerians that were sympathetic to the APC-led federal government considered those of us who were opposed to the bailout as enemies of progress.
Some Nigerians opposed Buhari then because he came into power under the mantra of change and promised to combat corruption but he didn’t bother to probe the governors to ascertain why they owed their workers for as much as 10 months before giving them the relief. In addition, Buhari didn’t attach any conditions to the bailout; making it a handout. That was a wrong precedent that will recur over time. Some of the governors owing their workers last year were receiving their security votes, salaries and allowances regularly.
The disturbing question on the minds of Nigerians then was, why were the governors owing their workers when they were receiving their security votes, salaries and allowances as at when due?
It is more disturbing that some of the debtor-governors have private jets, numerous exotic cars and palatial buildings which they service with tax payers’ money yet they blatantly refused to pay their workers’ miserly wage of N18,000 per month! A monthly wage that hardly takes the workers home!
One would have expected President Buhari, the self-styled anti-corruption czar to have probed the selfish and extravagant governors in order to uncover the root cause of the indebtedness but he chose to play the ostrich. It was believed then that with the emergence of bailout, governors would thereinafter squander their allocation from the Federal Government and later run to the same Federal Government to ask for bailout.
If this action was taken by the immediate past PDP government, one could imagine the torrent of unprintable words that would have been uttered by the then Publicity Secretary of the APC! But PDP took the bailout with equanimity.
As mentioned above, the bailout was indeed a wrong precedent which shouldn’t have been set by the Buhari-led federal government. It was said then that the act of begging for bailouts would recur and permeate every layer of governance in this country.
Just like the governors, chairmen of local councils would misapply their allocations from the governors and later return to the same governors to ask for more bailouts. Ministers and commissioners would do same with their budgets and return to the federal government and ask for bailouts. Same would be replicated in the departments and agencies. Today, the fears some Nigerians expressed last year as regard the bailout have been confirmed with the demand for a fresh bailout.
With the emergence of bailout, a new door of corruption has just been widely opened and it will remain with us. It is sad that this is happening under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari; a man who prides himself as a man of integrity; a man who prides himself as an anti-corruption crusader; a man who prides himself as an agent of change and also came to power with the message of change. Is this the change he promised Nigerians? Certainly, this is not what Nigerians expected from President Buhari. It is a big disappointment!
Just one year after the bailout, there are revelations that the governors who received the bailout diverted same for other purposes! Today, many governors are unable to pay their workers’ salaries and are asking the federal government for additional bailout!
Again, without probing how the first bailout was utilized by the governors, the federal government under Buhari has again earmarked N90b as bailout for the states that are cash-strapped. The bailout is pegged at 9% interest payable within 20 years while the states are expected to publish their financial statements, budgets and the quarterly budgets performance within nine months to the end of financial year, are some of the conditions for obtaining the bailout.
Obviously, this new development of giving bailout to the governors to pay their workers’ salaries after receiving their monthly allocation from the federal government will not promote healthy competition among the federating units.