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09042018 - AS APC'S NEC MEETS TODAY: Oyegun, Tinubu's ‘soldiers’ head for showdown

34—Vanguard, MONDAY,

34—Vanguard, MONDAY, APRIL 9, 2018 THE Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, under the chairmanship of Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State is in the pocket of President Muhammadu Buhari. To be fair to the President, he never made any effort to pocket it. Buhari has been very avuncular to the governors irrespective of their political parties, offering the states financial bailouts and refunding them their Paris Club debt overpayments. He has done well on that count. Apart from Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State who has chosen to be outspoken as an opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governor, most of the others were very sympathetic towards the President in the darkest hour of his illness some months ago. Even opposition governors volunteered to go and see how he was recuperating in London. The governors feel so cosy with the President (except on the issue of herdsmen’s attacks) that hardly does a day pass without one or two of them tramping the Aso Villa corridors. Governor Yari, for one, virtually lives in Abuja, perhaps to be closer to the President. Senator Kabiru Marafa has accused him of preferring his post as the Chairman of the NGF to his elected mandate as Governor of Zamfara State. So, if Yari and the NGF are in Buhari’s pocket, it is because they crawled in there by themselves not because of presidential manipulation. This is different from what happened under President Goodluck Jonathan when Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers was the NGF Chairman. It was total war because Amaechi was leading a tranche of governors majority of who were determined to bring down Jonathan. The Forum had to split into two with Amaechi leading the majority group while Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State was leading the minority faction. That was the beginning of the end of the Jonathan era. The Amaechi-led opposition made the Jonathan regime to fail in its bid to save more money in the Excess Crude Account, ECA, during the height of the last oil boom. The governors insisted on getting their share of the ECA as they had more pressing needs back home. Being the democrat that he was, Jonathan allowed them to have their way. By the time the regime ended and the recession hit, there was just a little over one billion dollars in the ECA. Conveniently forgetting that while in the opposition they were the ones that forced Jonathan to virtually empty the ECA, the same All Progressives Congress, APC, Federal Government has been drumming it on the rooftops that the “immediate past regime” By Chukwudi Enekwechi NEVER in the history of world civilisation have we witnessed such a holistic socio-economic transformation in so short a time like in China. With a population of about one billion, six hundred million people, it is amazing that China is able, not only to cater for the domestic needs of its citizens through the provision of welfare programmes, but is today making inroad into many developing countries. In Africa, China is leading other world economic powers in facilitating various aids and long-term development loans without stringent coalitions. Perhaps, their magnanimity to African countries can be traced to the unwavering support they received from Africa at the United Nations in the early seventies. This policy is also in line with the international policy of reciprocity among nations. Incidentally, the western countries are challenged by this sudden 'Father Christmas' posture of China to Africa and other developing countries, yet, China has demonstrated good faith and remained committed to their international obligations. At the home front, the Chinese Government under the able leadership of the Communist Party of China has lifted about 60 million people out of excruciating poverty while the poverty headcount ratio has dropped from 10.2 per cent to less than 4 per cent. In the area of employment, China has also recorded a significant mileage with an average of 13 million urban jobs being created each year. Additionally, there has been a growth of urban and rural personal incomes, and which according to available records, have outpaced the country’s economic growth, while the middle-income class continues to rise. In a deliberate effort to raise the quality of life of the Chinese people, the government has put in place a social security system which covers both urban and rural residents. Such social security safety nets find expression in the delivery of public Excess Crude Account is not president’s ATM failed to save during the time of plenty. Lai Mohammed calls it “looting the treasury dry”. But now that all the governors (except Fayose) through the Yari-led NGF voluntarily put themselves in President Buhari’s pocket, they met in December last year and blindly, How can a government that claimed to have defeated Boko Haram “completely” ask for $1billion to fight insecurity of which the insurgency is still a major part? The FG must first confess lying to Nigerians. It must also publicly admit its failure to secure the nation, which is one of its cardinal policies without minding the constitutional implications, approved a request by the Presidency for the release of one billion dollars from the ECA to “fight insecurity”. The National Assembly, which is empowered by the Constitution to control the national purse, has insisted that such money cannot be released without following due process as clearly spelt out in Sections 80 and 81 of the constitution. The ECA was established by the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo as a means of protecting the economy from the shock of fluctuations in crude oil prices. It helped Nigeria to withstand the worldwide “economic OPINION meltdown” of 2007/2009 because we were able to drawdown over $16 billion out of our $20 billion savings lodged in the Account during the Obasanjo regime. If Jonathan had been allowed to save similarly by Amaechi’s NGF, there would have been enough money in the ECA to save the nation from the recent economic recession. The governors’ current collusion with the Presidency to release $1 billion to fight insecurity is questioned by several constitutional and moral constraints. In the first place, the ECA is not the President’s ATM. The ECA does not belong to the Federal Government alone. Even if it did, Buhari would still need to submit a supplementary budget to the National Assembly, NASS, and obtain its approval before spending the money. But in this case, sensing that the National Assembly might not be inclined to approve such a proposal due mainly to the ongoing feud of the Executive and the Legislature as well as other political considerations, Buhari decided to sidetrack the NASS. This is impunity and an impeachable offence. The NASS will not take it lying down and there will be a series of lawsuits from concerned citizens and opposition politicians who legitimately entertain the fear that the money could be diverted by the ruling party for its campaigns. Secondly, the ECA fund also belongs to the states and local governments. The governors have no right to unilaterally give approval for their states’ shares of the fund to be spent without the authorisation of the Houses of Assembly acting in the interests of the states and local governments. There will be more lawsuits on this ground. Thirdly, apart from these constitutional grounds, there are also the moral and political aspects. Questions will arise as to why the APC As Yi Jinping drives China's phenomenal growth health and medical services which have improved significantly. The Chinese government is also paying attention to the housing needs of its people through the provision of subsidised housing projects across the country.From the foregoing, it is evident that China has not only emerged from a reclusive economy, but is poised to replicate its home grown successes in the developing countries. Presently, there is an aggressive reform of government business while opening up has become a deliberate agenda of the government.This philosophy is enhanced with the ideology of the Chinese Government Party which focuses on providing good life to all men and women irrespective of nationality or belief system. Of course, this is a departure from the ruthless exploitation of the western countries which over the centuries, pillaged and exploited the resources of developing economies without ploughing back. Over the past 40 years, but particularly in the last five years of President Yi Jinping’s leadership, China has undergone a tremendous The Western countries are challenged by this sudden 'Father Christmas' posture of China to Africa and other developing countries transformation and this has resulted in the rapid modernisation of the country. Through the inspirational leadership of President Yi Jinping, China is today standing shoulder to shoulder with the United States on global issues and the opening-up policy of the administration has made the country the world’s preferred destination for business. China is making a steady progress in all areas of national development, especially the economy. The verdict across the Federal Government has become so eager to pull out this fund just when its primaries are around the corner (June 2018). A government that, in its three-year rule, has established an unsavoury track record of reckless lies, propaganda and corruption (as evident in the North-East humanitarian projects, Social Investment Fund which has been bedevilled by looting as admitted by its helmsperson, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, among others) cannot be trusted to spend N360 billion without much of it going into the pockets of Buhari’s rapacious cabal. How can a government that claimed to have defeated Boko Haram “completely” ask for $1billion to fight insecurity of which the insurgency is still a major part? The Federal Government, FG, must first confess lying to Nigerians. It must also publicly admit its failure to secure the nation, which is one of its cardinal policies. Otherwise, there is no basis for granting the request. Now they are saying that the insurgency is not the only insecurity we are facing. They are suddenly bringing in the herdsmen’s attacks which they had actually been playing down as “farmers/herders’ clashes”. Because they want this money, the herdsmen’s attacks have suddenly become part of our security challenge! Before now, the President did not show concern when governors rushed to him to cry about the slaughtering of their people and invasions of communities by the armed Fulani militias ravaging the whole country, especially the Middle Belt and South. The herdsmen’s menace has grown to such a gargantuan level that a former Army Chief, retired General TY Danjuma, accused the military of siding with the killer bandits to steal peoples’ lands. He asked Nigerians to defend themselves. What difference will it make if we dump this staggering amount into containing insecurity which seems to be growing rather than shrinking? Is it a matter of money or competence and commitment to get the job done? Perhaps, the ECA has outlived its usefulness. Perhaps, it’s time that the FG, each state and local government are automatically given their respective shares of excess crude accruals as well as shortfalls. If the Presidency will no longer obey the law; if it is bent on converting the fund to its Automatic Teller Machine, ATM, then the ECA should be closed. We are operating a democracy. Sidetracking the constitution and the Legislature to spend money from the Federation Account is an unacceptable act of impunity. It should no longer be allowed. global community is that China is presently the world’s largest developing country with wondrous improvements in all sectors. China’s phenomenal development strides are aptly encapsulated in what they refer to as “four cardinal principles”. “Continue to reform and open up, be self-reliant, hardworking and enterprising, and strive to build China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful”. Interestingly, the Chinese leadership under President Yi Jinping has held these noble principles aloft, thereby showing example to the citizens that altruism as a philosophy is key to the realisation of the ideal society they all crave for. His focussed leadership and determination to position China as the world’s most prosperous, caring and developing society has equally elicited commensurate cooperation from the Chinese people. One noticeable characteristic of the people is the unity of purpose and patriotism which propel them to rely on their government and also contribute their quota towards the growth and development of their country. This is evident in their work ethics and relationship with foreigners. Simply put, the Chinese people and their leaders usually put the country first and the result is the accelerated development being witnessed across the country. President Yi Jinping’s administration has an unwavering commitment to the welfare of the Chinese people as his administration ensures access to childcare, education, gainful employment, medicare, elderly care, housing and social assistance. This altruistic approach to governance has in turn guaranteed a harmonious relationship between the government and the people as they repose faith in the ability of the Communist Party of China and the President Jinping’s administration to cater for their needs and steer the ship of state securely. •Mr. Enekwechi , a journalist, wrote from Abuja. C M Y K

Vanguard, MONDAY, APRIL 9, 2018 --35