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Editorial

Ridding JAMB of corrupt elements

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Over the years, Nigerians have heard about reports of monumental frauds in all facets of the polity that nothing bordering on financial malfeasance seemed to amaze them anymore. But that was until the revelations coming out of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). The mode of stealing of the funds of the board, imagined only in the realm of magic, took on a perplexing tale from the animal kingdom.

Indeed, some of the perpetrators of the crimes procured the assistance of mammals for their nefarious acts. For instance, asked to account for the funds in the JAMB office in Makurdi, Benue State, the coordinator explained that a “snake” broke into the vault and swallowed a whopping N36 million, while in Yobe State, the JAMB coordinator blamed the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East for his inability to account for N613,000.

Those reports were part of a broader financial criminal enterprise unearthed by a probe of the activities of the JAMB before the assumption of office of the current Registrar, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, who, wanting to start his administration on a clean slate, instituted the investigation based on alleged sleaze in the system. More frightening disclosures of corruption in the JAMB offices nationwide were to follow, such that in Nasarawa State, an official of the examinations body claimed that he lost N23 million in his custody to a vehicular fire. Ditto for the JAMB coordinator in Ondo State, who said that N1.34 million disappeared from the safe when his accountant was on dialysis. A staff of the board in Gombe State reported that some officials forged his signature and stole N10,283,000 in the coffers.

The Kano State coordinator could not account for N20 million. Similarly, the Edo State coordinator was unable to account for N31 million. In Plateau State, the coordinator failed to explain the disappearance of N15 million, while in Kogi State, the coordinator stammered incoherently over N7 million.

This shameful and overwhelmingly disturbing disposition of the JAMB officials towards funds in their care is representative of what goes on in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government at all levels: federal, state and local governments across the country. Unfortunately, public attention is most often focused on politicians and political officeholders who, due to their brazen pilfering and display of same in ostentatious lifestyles, attract constant scrutiny. But by far, those who engage in mindblowing, immoral, unethical and fraudulent pastimes are the civil and public servants, hiding be-hind bureaucracies to corner the resources of the nation.

Thanks to the fleecing of the public till, those serving in the MDAs are credited to own choice properties, including housing estates, hotels and eateries, fleet of vehicles and fat bank accounts in safe havens – acquired over and far above their legitimate incomes. Deplorable as the level of corruption in the JAMB was, we commend the incumbent Registrar, Oloyede, for his foresight, and courage to commence his leadership on a positive note of transparency, accountability and probity, which informed the sanitization of the system, to wash it clean of unethical practices, and rid it of unscrupulous elements.

For his nolonger- business- as-usual stance, the JAMB, from about a paltry N15 million to N30 million remittance covering several years, was able to pay to government over N7 billion in the 2017 financial year alone. Which begs the question: Why were incomes generated so low in those years when JAMB had several earning avenues, and charged higher fees for its examinations, and other services? The answer is not far-fetched, as revealed in the JAMB offices in the states: Unbridled embezzlement of the funds by those entrusted with their collection and custody.

The public could imagine how much was lost to these pen robbers in the bureaucracies since the establishment of JAMB in 1973. While we salute the new JAMB board for doing a yeoman’s job in the fight against corruption, the board should spread its probe tentacles to the 36 state offices. And in the course of cleaning the Augean stables, the board should ensure that all avenues that allow members of staff to have direct contact with physical cash or to personally warehouse monies belonging to JAMB, are discouraged and totally blocked.

Having interdicted some of the culprits, the board should speed up the process of their prosecution in the law courts, and those found culpable be made to refund what they stole, and additionally sentenced to jail terms, to serve as a deterrent to others. As a matter of urgent consideration, JAMB should put in place mechanisms, such as the deployment and use of Information Technology in its operations, so as to nip in the bud all fraudulent and sharp practices within.

Doing this seamlessly would not only frustrate criminal elements in their heinous activities, but also make every member of staff to be accountable for their actions, inactions and stewardship. In the interim, we implore that whatever JAMB is doing under the circumstances should go beyond scratching the surface. It should initiate concerted and deliberate efforts that will return the board to the path of integrity and transparency.

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Editorial

Ridding JAMB of corrupt elements

Published

on

Over the years, Nigerians have heard about reports of monumental frauds in all facets of the polity that nothing bordering on financial malfeasance seemed to amaze them anymore. But that was until the revelations coming out of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).

 

The mode of stealing of the funds of the board, imagined only in the realm of magic, took on a perplexing tale from the animal kingdom. Indeed, some of the perpetrators of the crimes procured the assistance of mammals for their nefarious acts. For instance, asked to account for the funds in the JAMB office in Makurdi, Benue State, the coordinator explained that a “snake” broke into the vault and swallowed a whopping N36 million, while in Yobe State, the JAMB coordinator blamed the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East for his inability to account for N613,000.

 

Those reports were part of a broader financial criminal enterprise unearthed by a probe of the activities of the JAMB before the assumption of office of the current Registrar, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, who, wanting to start his administration on a clean slate, instituted the investigation based on alleged sleaze in the system.

 

More frightening disclosures of corruption in the JAMB offices nationwide were to follow, such that in Nasarawa State, an official of the examinations body claimed that he lost N23 million in his custody to a vehicular fire. Ditto for the JAMB coordinator in Ondo State, who said that N1.34 million disappeared from the safe when his accountant was on dialysis. A staff of the board in Gombe State reported that some officials forged his signature and stole N10,283,000 in the coffers. The Kano State coordinator could not account for N20 million. Similarly, the Edo State coordinator was unable to account for N31 million. In Plateau State, the coordinator failed to explain the disappearance of N15 million, while in Kogi State, the coordinator stammered incoherently over N7 million.

 

This shameful and overwhelmingly disturbing disposition of the JAMB officials towards funds in their care is representative of what goes on in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government at all levels: federal, state and local governments across the country. Unfortunately, public attention is most often focused on politicians and political officeholders who, due to their brazen pilfering and display of same in ostentatious lifestyles, attract constant scrutiny.

 

Thanks to the fleecing of the public till, those serving in the MDAs are credited to own choice properties, including housing estates, hotels and eateries, fleet of vehicles and fat bank accounts in safe havens – acquired over and far above their legitimate incomes.

 

Deplorable as the level of corruption in the JAMB was, we commend the incumbent Registrar, Oloyede, for his foresight, and courage to commence his leadership on a positive note of transparency, accountability and probity, which informed the sanitization of the system, to wash it clean of unethical practices, and rid it of unscrupulous elements.

 

For his nolonger- business- as-usual stance, the JAMB, from about a paltry N15 million to N30 million remittance covering several years, was able to pay to government over N7 billion in the 2017 financial year alone. Which begs the question: Why were incomes generated so low in those years when JAMB had several earning avenues, and charged higher fees for its examinations, and other services? The answer is not far-fetched, as revealed in the JAMB offices in the states: Unbridled embezzlement of the funds by those entrusted with their collection and custody.

 

The public could imagine how much was lost to these pen robbers in the bureaucracies since the establishment of JAMB in 1973. While we salute the new JAMB board for doing a yeoman’s job in the fight against corruption, the board should spread its probe tentacles to the 36 state offices.

 

Having interdicted some of the culprits, the board should speed up the process of their prosecution in the law courts, and those found culpable be made to refund what they stole, and additionally sentenced to jail terms, to serve as a deterrent to others.

 

As a matter of urgent consideration, JAMB should put in place mechanisms, such as the deployment and use of Information Technology in its operations, so as to nip in the bud all fraudulent and sharp practices within. Doing this seamlessly would not only frustrate criminal elements in their heinous activities, but also make every member of staff to be accountable for their actions, inactions and stewardship.

 

In the interim, we implore that whatever JAMB is doing under the circumstances should go beyond scratching the surface. It should initiate concerted and deliberate efforts that will return the board to the path of integrity and transparency.

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Editorial

LGs at the mercy of governors

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State governors appear to have suddenly realised the importance of local government council elections, which many of them have practically shunned in their respective domains at different times of assuming the mantle of rulership.
Ostensibly for self-preservation, politically, the governors have ignored calls to conduct council polls. Rather, they relish the appointment of administrators to run the councils, which is against the grain of constitutional provisions.
For instance, section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states that: “The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed…”

This stipulation does not give room for manoeuvring!
However, ahead of the 2019 general elections, there has been a rash of council elections conducted across the country, eight, to be precise, in the past five months. These are in Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Kwara, Ekiti, Delta, Osun, Kano and Edo states.
Welcoming as these elections were, there’s alleged tendency of state governors, in cahoots with State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs), to manipulate, and indeed, swing balloting to profit the ruling political party in each of the eight states (and in the few ones where polls were conducted prior to November 2017).

Except in one or two states where they “grudgingly” let go off one or two wards, the controlling parties and their governments “won” all the chairmanship and councillorship seats at the elections administered wholly by the SIECs. And you often heard the “victorious” party boasting that “we defeated all the opposition candidates even in their polling booths (units).”

It’s not that the opposition, reportedly peopled by politically-savvy heavyweights, did not strive to win their bases, but the manipulative machinery of the government in power always prevented them from gaining even the least franchise at the elections.
And this is in spite of the purported use of the voters’ registers, Smart Card Reader (SCR) machines and the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) produced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for national and statewide elections.
The deployment of INEC data and logistics is aimed at curbing malpractice, and ensuring credibility and acceptability of council elections. But what’s witnessed on Election Day are votes outnumbering voters in the registers and/or accredited voters’ lists, and abandonment of the card readers, on the excuse of malfunctioning (but wilfully contrived), to enable manual accreditation.

We think that state governors’ recourse to winning all seats in council elections may unwittingly contravene the provisions of section 7(4) of the 1999 Constitution, which prescribes that a “Government of a State shall ensure that every person, who is entitled to vote or be voted for at an election to the House of Assembly, shall have the right to vote or be voted for at an election to a local government council.”

Definitely, imposition of candidates and rigging of the processes of council elections are not in tandem with the constitutional charge on state governments to certify a level-playing field for aspirants to the positions of chairmen and councillors, and to guarantee all votes count and declared accordingly.

Interestingly, what some of the state governors accuse the INEC of doing – asserted manipulation of elections to favour the government at the centre – is the exact thing they carry out in brazen fashion in the processes leading to, and during actual voting in the council elections.
Yet, in elections conducted by the INEC, no ruling party, either at the federal or state level, had completely annihilated the opposition, no matter the magnitude of the electoral heist. Hence, as part of their advocating for autonomy for local government councils, proponents have called for INEC to conduct elections into the grassroots administrations – a proposal many governors have opposed vehemently.

But considering the unsavouring outcomes of council elections that unduly benefit the ruling parties in the states, we make bold to endorse the canvassing for the scrapping of councils as the third tier of government in the federation.
Local government councils should be left solely in the hands of state governments, which the Constitution incidentally enjoins, in section 7(1), to ensure their existence “under a Law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.”

Besides, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) restructuring committee, which turned in its report recently, terms three tiers of government “an aberration” and recommends that “states should be able to create and determine the size of their local governments.”
In this era of campaigns for devolution of powers, we think the local governments should be among the first to be devolved, so that states can be at liberty to create the councils they desire. After all, in their returns to the National Assembly in the ongoing amendment to the 1999 Constitution, State Houses of Assembly overwhelmingly rejected autonomy for local government councils.
As state governors have always wanted to be overlords of local government councils, we entreaty that it’s about time they were granted that privilege, and thus save Nigeria from being a caricature of democratic practice.

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Editorial

FG’s disturbing signals on herdsmen

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For any well-meaning Nigerian, these are very disturbing times. The orgy of violence visited on some states of the federation, the mass murders of innocent citizens all over the country and the seeming lack of capacity by security agents to stop the bloodshed have become serious issues of concern. From the Middle Belt states of Taraba, Nasarawa, Benue, Adamawa to Zamfara down to states in the South, such as Ebonyi, Edo, Delta and Ondo, the story since the beginning of this year has been frightening.

 

 

Daily, the lives of innocent Nigerians are cut short by some menacing barbarians, whose clear definition or identity has eluded the federal and state governments.

 

Just last week in London, President Muhammadu Buhari shocked the world when he announced that the marauding killer herdsmen were trained by the late Libyan leader, Col. Mouamar Ghadaffi. While receiving the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Justin Welby, in London, the president had said that the problem of herdsmen/farmers’ clashes was older than his administration.

 

He said: “The problem is even older than us. It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region. These gunmen were trained and armed by Muammar Gadaffi of Libya.

 

“When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram.”

 

Much as the president was being honest about the herdsmen, it ran contrary to his statement in Benue. At a town hall meeting in Benue, when he went to pay a sympathy visit over the mass murder of citizens of the state, the president had begged Nigerians to accommodate their fellow citizens and live harmoniously with one another. Since then, government officials have given different reasons for the escalating violence all over the country in the form of herdsmen.

 

The Defence Minister, Brig- Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd), while speaking after a security meeting chaired by President Buhari, attributed the killings to the passage of anti-grazing laws in some states of the federation. He said: “Look at this issue (killings in Benue and Taraba). What is the remote cause of this farmers’ crisis?

 

Since the nation’s Independence, we know there used to be a route which the cattle rearers take because they are all over the nation. You go to Bayelsa, Ogun, you will see them. If those routes are blocked, what do you expect will happen?

 

Herdsmen are also Nigerians.” Dan-Ali’s position was not far from that of the Inspector- General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who blamed the killings in Benue to communal clashes. Just last week, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, jolted the nation again, when he said that Nigerians should expect more clashes between herdsmen and farmers next year, if the Federal Government did not adopt the idea of ranching.

 

“If we don’t do it (ranching), next year will be worse than this year, I assure you.” The discordant tunes coming from different government officials have not only become worrying, but also the fact that while the officials continue to fiddle and churn out different reasons for the mass murders taking place all over the country, the killings have continued.

 

It is also shocking that the president, who weeks ago said that we should accommodate our fellow countrymen, is the same man who is now blaming Ghadaffi for the killings. A casual interpretation of the president’s latest comment in London means that the killers are, after all, not Nigerians. What he said is that the killers are men who fled from Libya. Our interpretation is that they are foreigners, not Nigerians.

 

We are of the view that if that interpretation was right, it then nullifies the president’s plea that Nigerians should live together with their fellow countrymen. It also rubbishes the claim by the Defence Minister and the IGP of anti-grazing bill and communal clashes. We are also of the opinion that since the Commander-in- Chief has given a clear view of who the killers are, it becomes logical that we are fighting foreign invaders into our country.

 

It also means that the pretence that the killers are Fulani herdsmen must then be shed by the government. If that is done, then, there will be an admission that the country is fighting against foreigners. That means that the mode of engagement by the soldiers and the Federal Government would be completely different.

 

We strongly believe that the Federal Government must, henceforth, deal with the killer herdsmen as terrorists, who are invading Nigeria.

All forces and powers used to protect a country from foreign invasion should be deployed by the government to arrest the menace and stop the country from drifting through mindless bloodletting. Unless the government deals decisively with the terrorists, Nigerians would continue to lose fate in the government.

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