Published On: Fri, May 19th, 2017

Budget, work and empowerment

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FRIDAY Column BY Engr. Abubakar A. Fari

There is dignity in labour. Where such is in short supply is in our “beloved” country Nigeria. However, in the industrial worlds which Nigerians like to immitate, labour, work and empowerment go together. That monkeys work and baboons only chop is not in their dictionary. Like Nigerians, the French accuse the Jews for doing no work but living on interest. Nonetheless, work in advanced economies, is like the way Nigerians take worship in the mosques and churches. The government of the day could fall if the budgets and economic policies fail to deliver on employment to the work force. It is unthinkable to wake up and find a President, governor, senator, judge, technocrat and their family members divert billions for their “personal” use. To contemplate resignation for minor frauds by Nigerians is unthinkable.
Budgets in developed economies, among others, are to address poorly skilled or redundancy. With products obsolescence or new technological developments, budgets call for new skills developments and retraining. Youth empowerment and that of the middle class are rolling issues. One cannot just be over night rich without basis for it. Government officials do not just patronize party running dogs, hangers own, friends, associates, relations capriciously from government coppers. Even the profits they make are worked out and are subject to public scrutiny and audit by the tax authourities.
In Nigeria the biggest source of income to the three tiers of governments is from the Federation accounts. The Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) collected by them are nothing to write home about. There are few states that have something to show from the IGR. The scramble to occupy political office is like the hungry hyenas feeding on the remains of a sheep. So politics to grab power is a do-or-die matter. Most who rode on Buhari underestimated the huge challenges of unemployment, poverty and the meager resources at their disposals. The living interests of these unpatriotic leaders are to by jets, loot and pursue extravaganza given the immunity from prosecution when in office. Some believe as “lawmakers” but indeed “lawbreakers” could have a de facto immunity since they belong to the ruling class and the pot cannot call kettle black.
Nigerians bore witness to shameless rogue lawmakers that colluded to impeach as the OBJ demonstrated during his 8 years of “how dare you” dictatorship. And more so with the majority of these guys migrating into “the ruling class” who came though from poor but pious parents that could not afford to buy them shoes or to own donkeys in their villages. The desperate Nigerian politician seeking power is motivated by the desire to loot as it has become a tradition. The mandate to create jobs and empowerment for the youth and his fellow citizens as he swore takes the back bench. On right conducts to pursue decent life, the Qur’an says the best in the sight of Allah (SWT) is one who is most pious 49: 13.
The Daily Trust edition of Saturday Shaaban 16, 1438/ May 13, 2017 front page captioned “Private jets galore at IBB’s daughter’s wedding” says it all. It is scandalous in a poor country like Nigeria and the eyes of the world to exhibit such thoughtless extravaganza by former government officials. Remember the former Head of State late Murtala Muhammad government that IBB served confiscated ill-gotten wealth from looters. In a sane society with joblessness such a jamboree and arrogance is a provocative act. The message to the voters is that the Buhari’s anti-corruption can go to Hell. Who are these mostly the children of the down trodden trying to impress. Most born by a labourer, Maigadi, a poor farmer father and eating rats and drinking water with animals in the village deceiving himself/ herself. Or one eating danwake or kulikuli with difficulty. Even the amala was from the rotten left over when they were kids.
Economic terrorism affects millions and directly and indirectly creates other terrorists. The privileged economic terrorists the “shine shine” ruling class are the worst. For they bread the down- trodden ignorant terrorists in the class of the Boko Haram, and other terrorists’ robbers, kidnappers and Niger Delta terrorist gangs with arms to blow oil wells and the land locked Biafra clueless agitations. Their grandmasters are the US-Zionist-NATO globalisation agents. These jets and the superfluous life styles instead of creating youth empowerment only hardened criminals. For more looters will like to join the club of private jet ownership. It is instructive that no one will question any Nigerian buying jets from his sweat and legitimate income.
Youth and middle class empowerment under the current economic travels call for soul searching. With 36 states and the 774 local governments and the legislators, live closer to the people. Where in the first place governors live like emperors in their states demands a change of strategy. In most of these states the Chief Executives lack ideas and no vision. Most are more at home with jokers, the sankiras or praise singers and hangers own that add no value to them. Most of the youth empowerment programmes are gimmicks to win election and in effective. One has to be a sycophant to have the ear of the governor or the LG Chairman and the kitchen cabinets. Selection of service providers are not based on competence.
If one denies a competent hand opportunity as an employee or service provider as a contractor or consultant within his control is destroying the progress of his people. Hana wani hana kai, in other words the refusal to place square pegs in square holes backfires in the long run, no matter the temporary pleasure the sadist leader derives. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) says the times that incompetent hands are placed in charge of affairs, wait for the Hour of Judgement. Consistent with this view the Ulama say leadership positions will be managed and controlled by the morally bankrupt in society.
With 36 governors in Nigeria, their roles in job creations and empowerment cannot be taken lightly. Yet their postures and the narrow-mindedness such that one needs to kama kafar Gwamna the “Mai Girma” or Excellency before he does his duty largely is unfortunate. In other words the tradition that demands one to massage the feet of a Governor or his chiefs or be their shoe shiners before been empowered is shortsighted. Life is short. Why Sardauna, Balewa, Aminu Kano and co succeeded was that, they had good advisors and were open-minded. Most importantly, they had the fear of Allah (SWT) at heart and the well being of their people and not self-centered.
The best way out is to understand that, it is people that create wealth and vitality for any state or country. A leader needs to have people with knowledge, experience and the ability to perform in real terms. He has to do to the best of his ability. The budget should be a vehicle for the empowerment of your youth and the broad spectrum of the citizens under your domain. Buhari is a role model for honesty which foolish politicians see as outdated. Yet most of them took shelter on his credibility to reach their goal. Unfortunately most under estimate Allah (SWT) to enforce His will to downgrade and punish them severely sooner than later. EFCC interventions are transient events or a bad dream in comparison. It is worthy to reflect on this matter in the revelations in Qur’an Al-An’am:91 and Az-Zummar : 67.
The Governors and their chiefs who are strategically positioned up north to alleviate poverty should not forget that they are lucky to serve. It should not be a wasted exercise and futile agenda. One should like to believe that those who had the responsibility and “can do” but refuse to “will do” will be seen as rogues whether we like it or not that do not deserve respect in or out of office. As a former Project Director, Funds Management in charge of consultancy services for the PTF in Zone 5, will not hesitate to recommend the Governors barrow a leaf from most of the PTF intervention strategies. Indeed, we do not expect miracles but at least to achieve integrity not as Buhari to Nigerians but to remain above average. And not be one that OBJ said Mr. Governor ,yallaboi “do you still have your hand”.

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