BudgIT: When Apologies Are Not Enough
By Adam Adedimeji
Tracka is a kind of feedback mechanism on governmental projects in Nigeria. It is meant to facilitate citizens’ access to respond to projects and programmes carried out by government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in their communities.
Tracka is one of the schemes used by BudgIT, a Civil-Society Organization, with a selftasked role to engage citizens on budgetary responsibilities from the government with a view to ensuring institutional improvement. Set up in 2014, it is said to be functional in twenty (20 ) States in Nigeria.
The activities of BudgIT, especially with reference to Tracka, showcase the beauty of democracy by enhancing open society and citizens’ participation in governmental projects. In other words, it is a manifestation of the common meaning of democracy, which entails a government with premium on the people in all manner of actions.
Provided it carries out its functions as outlined, which include monitoring government projects with a view to assessing their standards and completion as spelt out in budgetary allocations and, in turn, reaching out to relevant public offices and the concerned communities, BudgIT could be an eloquent testimony that the people in our respective communities are not puppets that have to accept whatever is dished out to them without questions or right of reply.
Recently, Tracka through its Twitter handle, @trackNG, brought its (un)doings to the public when the group alleged that Senator Adelere Oriolowo of Osun West Senatorial District got N40 million for a training programme for select persons in his constituency but ended up spending N2.5 million.
The tweet stated: “N40m was allocated in the 2020 FG ZIP (Federal Government Zonal Intervention Programme) for practical skill development and training of youths and women in fishing in selected areas in Osun West Senatorial District, Osun State. We confirmed (that) 50 participants selected across 10 LGAs (Local Government Areas) attended the training and received N50,000 (each) as start-up grant.”
Tracka’s rush-to-the-social-media comment was further amplified by The PUNCH rush-tothe-press report of September 24, 2020. Typical of how any job done in unnecessary hurry always ends up, both the social media post and the mainstream media report turn out to be a hatchet job that could misinform the undiscerning members of the public due to their deficiency in truth.
Since it is elementary knowledge that the legislature and the executives do not fuse functions especially in a presidential system of government as ours, it amounts to gross ignorance, to say the least, that Tracka appears not to know the glaring distinction between the constitutional roles of the two arms of government. While legislators enjoy the liberty of nominating or sponsoring projects through budgetary provisions, the responsibility for implementation of projects is strictly that of the executive arm.In fact, projects, whether emanating from the legislature or the executives, are domiciled in
the relevant Ministry or Agency of government responsible for the implementation of such.
In clearer terms, notwithstanding being the facilitator of the project through his legislative
input, there is no way Senator Oriolowo can be involved in the implementation of Zonal
Intervention Programme for practical skills development and training of youths and women
in fishing recently conducted in selected areas of the Senatorial District.
It follows therefore that enquiries regarding projects implementation ought to
be channelled to such relevant Ministry or Agency, except the mission of the enquirer
revolves around mischief or anything other than overall public interest.
Had Tracka not rushed to make defamatory insinuations that Senator Oriolowo had pocketed
N37.5 million, the group would have found out the actual number of persons targeted to
benefit from the programme and it would have realized that the beneficiaries are more than
fifty persons that took part at the first batch of the training programme.
Tracka would have further known the exact percentage of the budgeted amount that was
eventually released by the Ministry to the Agency in charge of its implementation.
Also, while it is true that N50,000 was disbursed to each of the fifty participants as starter-
pack after the training, it is far from the truth that only N50,000 was spent on each of the
Is it that Tracka’s network was not available or fluctuating, hence its inability to compute
logistics needs of the trainees and their trainers, such as accommodation, transportation,
feeding, workshop facilities, among other necessities? What of renting a hall for the training
and equipment provided for the participants as part of the start-up incentives?
Tracka also failed to put into its consideration that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it
is unwise, if not hazardous, to gather all the selected beneficiaries of the fish farming training
at one place at a time.
Obviously, it is not hard to find out that the project is slated to be done in phases and not a
one-off thing. With this, no one needs rocket science to understand that Tracka’s post that
only N2.5 million out of the earmarked N40 million was spent is nothing but a fallacy.
Was Tracka in a trance? Was Tracka just out to twist facts in order to impugn
Senator Oriolowo’s hard earned integrity and mislead the general public? The whole scenario
is antithetical to the values of creativity, insight, accuracy, excellence and accountability
enunciated to be the hallmarks of BudgIT, the parent body of Tracka.
In the course of writing this piece, precisely on Sunday, September 26,
BudgIT had apologised to the Lagos State Government for another misrepresentation in its
latest release of States Report.
In tweets after tweets, the organisation said it has retracted its graphic that listed the Lagos
State government some days ago among states with inability to meet their recurrent
Given that ours is a clime where those who own up to their wrongdoings are in short supply,
BudgIT ordinarily ought to be commended for acknowledging its fault and apologizing in
that regard. But then, that apology is too insignificant to have any meaningful impact on
healing the wounds caused by the organisation.Through Tracka’s spurious allegation, it is hard for one to believe that BudgIT is on a mission (as it claimed) of using “creative technology to simplify public information, stimulating a community of active citizens and enabling their right to demand accountability, institutional reforms, efficient service delivery and equitable society.”
Except the civic society advocacy group takes urgent steps to do the needful by correcting itself on this issue of 2020 FG ZIP, it is doubtful whether BudgIT would ever realize its noble vision to “see a community of active citizens that relentlessly make effective use of public information to demand accountability, geared for institutional improvement, efficient services delivery, and an equitable society.”
Indeed, with what misinformation could do to humans, BudgIT’s false information on 2020 FG ZIP is extremely dangerous not only to the constituents of Osun West Senatorial District and Senator Oriolowo but also to the FG and the Nigerian people in general. This is quite disappointing in view of the role expected of BudgIT.
This matter goes beyond Lagos State government and the 2020 FG ZIP. It transcends tendering apology in a series of tweets to only the Lagos State government. BudgIT needs to be evaluated psychiatrically.
If nothing mentally is wrong with the organization, BudgIT should apologise to Nigerians and pay appropriately for the inestimable damage its avalanche of misinformation has caused Nigeria and Nigerians.
# Adedimeji is an Abuja-based legal practitioner and can be reached through: email@example.com
Police brutality after #Endsars: Why justice may elude many
Police brutality after #Endsars: Why justice may elude many
By Princess Ekwi Ajide
On 26th October, 2020 when 29 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), constituted judicial investigative panels of enquiry to look into allegations of police excesses in Nigeria, occasioned by the #EndSARS campaign, many felt respite was coming at last but that seems to be far from the truth as Nigerians tend to forget too soon.
As at 30th December, 2020, the judicial panels had received a total of 2,500 petitions but unfortunately as is the normal with the Nigerian government, nearly four months since the panels were constituted across the states, there have been minimal prosecutions or compensations. Thankfully last week the Lagos State government announced a N10m compensation for victims of police brutality but many are asking how sufficient would that be or if the sum to be distributed among many victims will be enough to placate pains and anger of wounds of many years. This investigation though, is for another day.
The petitions bothering on allegations of human rights abuses such as extra-judicial killings, excessive torture of suspects, extortion, harassment, sexual and gender based violence, indiscriminate arrests, illegal detention and abuse of power by the police and other security agencies are still being looked into because many of the panels have little or no funding to continue the job.
What then becomes of the outcome or findings of the panels? Observers say this conspiracy of silence smirks of lack of political will or a deliberate connivance by government and government officials to support the police to cover up.
EndSARS protesters who were later reported to have been allegedly shot at by the military in Lagos, killing about 12 and scores injured had sought among other things, the establishment of an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of reported cases of police indiscretion, disbandment of the dreaded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, among others and in response to these calls, states like Anambra, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Kaduna, Lagos, Imo, Ondo the Federal Capital Territory and a host of other states constituted a judicial panel to look into the allegations while the Federal government disbanded SARS but renamed and replaced it with what it called SWAT.
With the recent happenings in Nigeria however, one is wont to wonder if #EndSARS protests may have become efforts in futility since nothing has changed; citizens, journalists irrespective of age or status are still being brutalized by security agencies in Nigeria but the public seem to have forgotten so soon the carnage, loss of lives and property that followed the #EndSARS Campaign probably because these tragedies have become a daily occurrence and government is obviously catching in on the forgetfulness of Nigerians and may soon sweep under the carpet the many demands of the #EndSARS Campaigners and may not even punish the accused which will be like postponing the doomsday.
Apparently, #EndSARS was just one of the avenues for citizens to vent their anger and if these demands are not met appropriately, it may spell doom since the anger is still there just waiting for the opportunity.
Government may have succeeded in silencing the protesters but their anger has not been assuaged which is risky as something bigger than#EndSARS according to some religious leaders could be waiting to happen and when it happens, who knows? who or what will be caught in the line of fire?
Meanwhile, early in February, 2021, a group of youths again attempted to converge on the Lekki Toll Gate; scene of the alleged shootings in October 2020 to revive the #EndSARS struggle. Tagged #EndSARS2, the protest was however contained by security operatives who were on ground to maintain peace. Several arrests were made and the rally was terminated.
Efforts of the security operatives may have saved the day as hoodlums may once again hijack the rally just like it happened in October.
For this, the government needs to make hay while the sun shines as neglect of the agitations of #EndSARS may spell doom for Nigeria as a country if nothing is done and fast enough to placate the many agitations of the youths who in their best interest, should jettison all forms of violence
Otò ge: Why Governor Abdulrahaman Abdulrazaq enjoys massive support in Kwara
Otò ge: Why Governor Abdulrahaman Abdulrazaq enjoys massive support in Kwara
By Anjolaoluwa Folajimi
For several years, late Chief Olusola Saraki, Waziri Ilorin reigned supreme in the Kwara State politics. From the second republic down to the present democratic dispensation, his name made or marred the political fortune of many aspirants in the State.
His political clout transcend over three decades. The political legacy “Oloye” remained unrivalled until 2019 when the “Oto ge” Tsunami put an end to the political influence been enjoyed by the Sarakis in Kwara State politics.
With a change in government, courtesy of the “Oto ge” revolution, a political “greenhorn”, under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq emerged as the Governor of the State of Harmony. The new Kwara helmsman, a consumate businessman is the son of the first lawyer from the Northern Nigeria, late A.G.F AbdulRazaq, SAN.
Though not known in the political landscape of the state and by extension, the country, Abdulrazaq was fully prepared for governance, having contested and lost the Governorship seat in 2011 under the defunct Congress of Progressive Change (CPC), he has attended to the demand of the office since May 29, 2019 with total zeal, dedication and commitment. A focused and committed leader, the 7th executive Governor of Kwara State in the less than two years on the saddle, has changed the narratives of governance in the State. A development that has endeared him to the people in the 16 local government areas of the state. Not even his political detractors and the oposition can denied the fact that the 61 year old Governor has turned the face of governance, delivered dividend of democracy, give purposeful leadership to the state and written his name on the hearts of Kwarans with indelible ink.
Despite the rot in the system and the downturn of the economy, Abdulrazaq has brought his ingenuity to bear in turning the almost comatose fortune of the state back of its heels.
In the words of Ambassador Nurudeen Mohammed, a Chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress and Nigeria’s immediate past Ambassador to Malaysia, “Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq remains a man of the people and he stands tall as a man of honour among the majority of our party members in the state, in spite of the unfair demarketing campaign launched against his administration by some party chieftains and their co-travelers in the opposition. This is not by chance. Not only has the Governor demystified the office of Governor with his uncommon humility, simplicity, and prudence, he has redefined the story of our state in many positive ways. Whether in health, education, road, or water, the Governor has touched lives in many ways never seen before. He has strategically taken governance to the people such that there is no electoral Ward in the state that cannot point to one or two things that they have benefited in just 18 months of his administration.
“A modest and humble personalty, the Governor who has driven his own private car since day one of his administration to date. Here is a Governor who lives in his own house till date. Here is a Governor who is not taking salary. Here is a Governor who is willingly opening up his government for accountability through the phenomenal social audit process. Here is a Governor who just wants to deliver his campaign promises to the people, despite the biting economic realities. Here is a Governor who gives every part of the state a fair sense of belonging by always identifying with them in time of cultural celebration or mourning, and extending government’s patronage to every segment of the state. Today, Kwara is a model state on the continent in youths and women inclusion in government.”
The retired diplomat rated the Governor high in the health sector. According to him, the health sector of the state has received about the highest priority even before the advent of Covid-19 pandemic.
Mohammed further said, “the administration has started rehabilitation works across dozens of decrepit primary healthcare facilities. Long-abandoned routine immunisation and vaccination is back. For the first time, Kwara now has isolation centres equipped with modern gadgets like ventilators, defibrillators, patient monitors, and others. Its oxygen plant has been revived. For the first time, the state now has ambulances with capacities to manage patients in critical conditions on the go. Indeed, Kwara is now listed as A-list state in healthcare sector.”
The story of education sector of the state has continue to beat the imagination of Kwarans. Priority attention was accorded the sector, which had hitherto suffered neglect by previous administrations leading to the state been blacklisted from accessing from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) fund for more than seven years before his advent as the Governor.
It is on record that Kwara State under Abdulrazaq, has accessed a backlog of N7.1bn UBEC counterpart funds with a matching grant of N7.1bn to gradually reposition the schools. Aside from the upcoming UBEC intervention, the state on its own is carrying out renovation works in at least 43 basic schools. With the UBEC funds in the kitty, no less than 600 basic schools are to get facelifts while teachers are also to be trained.
Worthy of commendation is the transparent process of recruiting 4701 qualified and competent teachers into our public primary, junior and senior secondary schools in the State.
Abdulrazaq’s developmental efforts are not limited to public institutions. In the wake of the novel Covid-19 pandemic, he extended his hands of kindness to Proprietors of 1,119 privately cowned schools in the state. Soft loan were given to help cushion the effects of the pandemic due to shutdown on public places on their schools and teachers.
Recalling Governor Abdulrazaq intervention in the provision of portable water, Hon. Abdulmumin Katibi, a one time member of Kwara State House of Assembly said, “in May 2019, water tanker was the source of potable water in most parts of Ilorin, the capital city, even in the Government House. Today, Pipe-borne water is back and stable in the metropolis while nearly 500 boreholes have either been dug or rehabilitated across the state. No fewer than nine water works have been fixed since this Governor came on board while contracts for more have been awarded. With water situation being tackled, Kwara is keying into the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), a key component of the Sustainable Development Goal 6 to promote hygiene and end open defecation. Under this scheme, many schools and hospitals across the state would now for the first time get tap water and pour-flush toilets.”
Urban and rural road infrastructure since Governor Abdulrazaq assumed office has continued to receive attention. The administration has fixed over 100 rural and urban roads/culverts/bridges. Many agrarian communities are now getting standard roads, those hitherto cut off from civilisation are being linked, while at least 500 rural roads are to be fixed under the World Bank-enabled Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) arrangement for which the administration had earlier paid counterpart funds. These road projects are spread across the senatorial districts, deliberately linking agrarian areas to the urban centres.
Modelled after President Buhari’s Social Investment Programme, Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP) is the Governor’s multi-faceted and nonpartisan response to the question of extreme poverty and government’s poor attention to the vulnerable. Under the scheme, at least 21,623 petty traders have accessed soft loans to stay afloat while over 10,000 transporters who could not work during the COVID-19 lockdown were supported. Similarly, already-enumerated 10,000 vulnerable and poor senior citizens, from age 60, are now getting monthly stipends under what would be the state’s first ever institutionalised social protection scheme.
The scheme is also offering free digital training to young people to help them cope in the new economy. Over 3000 persons received training in July last year while 10,000 more are undergoing a richer version of the course in the second phase of the programme in conjunction with Wootlab Innovation and Grow With Google. A total of 30,000 young people are billed to benefit from the training within three years.
It is on record that the federal government has indeed hailed Kwara State’s version of the Owo Isowo (TraderMoni) for its innovative features, such as the inclusion of BVN of the beneficiaries. This is just a few of the many interventions Governor Abdulrazaq has made to lift our people out of purverty. The interesting thing about him is that he sees governance as an affair that transcends party loyalty, and this explains why he has become so popular with the masses, to the chagrin of his traducers!
To achieve the desired transformation in the State, Governor Abdulrazaq’s administration has positively changed the narrative of staff welfare in the state civil service. There is now regular payment of salary. No more percentage payment and promotion of staff has resumed while arrears of salaries and allowances dating back to as far back as 2012 are now being paid. Besides, pensioners now enjoy regular payment of pensions. A sustainable arrangement for payment of gratuities on monthly basis has now been put in place.
However, the unprecedented achievements recorded within this short period is now being threatened by some self serving political leaders, with dangerous sense of entitlement, greed and lust for personal gains are out to forment trouble.
It is a known Convention in the ruling All Progressives Congress that the Governor of a state is the leader of the party in the state. This explained why the likes of Minister of Information, Lai Labode, his counterpart, Minister of State Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki and Akogun Oyedepo have failed in their bid to highjack the party machinery from the Governor.
Despite a well sustained campaign of caluminy by this set of individuals, the political rating and public perception of the Governor continue to assume a constant rise.
An instructive development was the recent endorsement of Governor Abdulrazaq by the kinsmen of the Information Minister from Irepodun Local Government area of the state. Lai Mohammed kinsmen and APC leaders who publicly identified with the Governor include former Kwara State Commissioner for Information, Oloriewe Raheem Adedoyin, a member Kwara State House of Assembly, Hon. Tayo Awodiji, Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Princess Bukola Babalola, Prince Shuaib Olanrewaju, Barr. Teju Ogintoye, Gen. Lasisi Abidoye(rtd), Elder Agboola Adewumi, Conrade Ben Dintoye, Alhaji Raheem Olokoba, Prince Samuel Alebiosu, Mrs. Deborah Aremu, Gen. Lasisi Abidoye(rtd), Mrs Shade Omoniyi, Chief Raphael Awotunde, Mr. Yomi Adeboye, Mr. Femi Ajibade, Dr. Sule Popoola, Mr. Debo Adeleke, Hon. Azeez Yakubu and others.
Declaring their support for the Governor at a Press Conference recently in Ilorin, the Minister’s kinsmen through their spokesperson, Hon. Olabanji Olayemi, who is also the Chairman, Kwara South caretaker committee, was quick to refer the Minister to some laudable projects of the Governor in their area. The projects include, “the completion of Taiwo Road, Omu Aran-Esie Museum Road asphalt lay, renovation of court building in Omu Aran, free surgery, state government social investment programmes such as Owo Arugbo and Owo Isowo, comprehensive renovation and construction of additional facilities in Oro Grammar School, Oro.
“Renovation of block of 3 classrooms with an office and store, GSS, Omuaran, renovation of a block of 4 classrooms, CHS, Ajase-Ipo, renovation of a block of 4 classrooms and workshop building, Esie/Iludun Technical College, renovation of examination Hall, GSS, Omu Aran, renovation of a block of Laboratory, PMC, Oro-Ago, and many mores.”
In their verdict, Olayemi said, “In the light of the enumerated achievements of the governor in Irepodun LGA, it is not difficult for us to publicly declare unequivocal support for His Excellency, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, the Governor and our party leader in Kwara State.”
The voice of people of Irepodun is on a daily basis being re-echoed from all the nooks and crannies of Kwara State. If in less than two years, Governor AbdulRazaq has recorded these milestone achievements spread across all the wards in the state, no sooner than later, he may emerge as the new political force that will dominate the political horizon of Kwara State for long.
Folajimi is a member of APC in Kwara state.
OKOROCHA: ABUSE OF POWER AND BRIGANDAGE BY A GOVERNMENT OF HATE
OKOROCHA: ABUSE OF POWER AND BRIGANDAGE BY A GOVERNMENT OF HATE
By Frank Tietie
I have not hidden my personal admiration for Rochas Okorocha who became a billionaire long before he held any major political office in Nigeria.
By privilege as an adjutant counsel to Okorocha in one of his cases, I have personally engaged him in exchanges and briefings for many hours and I am convinced beyond doubt, by moderate standards that he is a good man, especially in comparison to the average Nigerian politician.
By dint of hard work and the natural business knack of the Igbo man, Okorocha became very rich and did not need to be the governor of Imo State to make money. He made money without government.
No politician or business man has ever done what Okorocha has achieved for human development through the Rochas Foundation which has offered free quality education to thousands of orphans and indigent students in Nigeria and all over Africa. These he started before he became governor and has continued after leaving office as governor of Imo State. I will therefore, not apologize to anyone for loving such a man who possesses such humanity.
So what has Rochas Okorocha done?
The man possesses a worldview that sets him apart from the normal Nigerian politician. I see him as a highly misunderstood person yet his works speak better for him. He is so people oriented, driven by his uncommon brand of philanthropy while his business ideas spin so much money. That is why he is so loved by many and equally hated by his political rivals for being so different.
If Okorocha stole money while in Imo State Government House, the EFCC would know, considering the staggering number of petitions currently against him. He is about the most investigated former governor by the anti-graft agencies.
Unlike the typical African politician who would pillage state resources and hide in Swiss banks or buy property in Dubai, Okorocha put his major investments in real estate and education in his home state of Imo because he didn’t have any skeletons to hide.
Today, impassioned by the seeds of hatefulness, some people and a current government in Imo State have decided to engage in a brutish vendetta to satisfy their hatred, by attempting to label and confiscate property linked to Okorocha in Imo State. Can they try that with his real estate investments in Abuja? They don’t even have a court order. Imagine the lawlessness!
So will Nigeria ever witness standard policing? Must the Nigeria Police be associated with everything untoward? My answer is NO!.
But if Okorocha must be arrested by the Nigeria Police for any reason, should it be made a political festival of insults and humiliation of Okorocha himself, with supervised beatings and manhandling of his aides by sympathisers of Governor Hope Uzodinma? These have been reported to have allegedly taken place on the orders of Governor Uzodinma himself and under the supervision of the Nigerian Police.
Again, this is an abuse and misuse of Nigeria Police powers. Therefore, the clamour for state police has been further defeated when contemplated with the likes of Governor Uzodinma in mind. Such brigandage and barbarity will be the order of day in states where the Governor fails to realize his duty is to preserve order and good governance by upholding legal standards in whatever circumstances.
Governor Uzodinma and many rivals of Okorocha appear to be so afraid and intimidated by the continued towering personality of Okorocha who is currently one of the most ardent voices in the Nigerian Senate. It is also rife that he wants to run for Nigeria’s presidency in 2023 to become the first Igbo President of post civil war Nigeria.
Whereas Senator Rochas Okorocha ought to be the pride of every Igbo person at this material time yet, it is his kith and kin from Imo State that want to destroy the good name of one of their own, purely out puny and petty rivalry. Who does that in modern Nigeria? From Second Republic Barkin Zuwo to Peter Odili, which former Governor, however so vilified has been so badly mistreated by his own people, the way some Imo people have decided to do to one of their own? Like they would always say: “The South eats up it own while the North protect its own”. And one wonders and complains about the continued reign of Northern hegemony in the midst of Southern hate amongst themselves?
The saga of Okorocha arrest by the Nigeria Police with the reported associated violence involving some officials of Imo State together with a band of name calling elements against Okorocha and his aides fall below the standards of law enforcement even for an emergent country as ours.
The Inspector General of Police is therefore urged to urgently investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrest of the Senator and former Governor and ensure that proper policing standards are adhered to in order to prevent a perception of witch-hunt of Senator Rochas Okorocha thus, engendering disaffection among his numerous supporters in Imo State and all over Nigeria.
Human Rights Lawyer,
writes from Abuja
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