Unnecessary begging (2) – Punch Newspapers

Unnecessary begging (2) – Punch Newspapers

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In 2016, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had cause to apologise for the mix up in sacking 13 university Vice-Chancellors and their councils.

His Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, who complained that some people prevented him access to the president, (who is still) Petroleum Resources Minister, also apologised for the high pump price of scarce petrol.

And, maybe not to be outdone, the National Electricity Regulatory Commission appealed to Nigerians to bear with the electricity generating and distributing companies for failure to provide promised electricity.

Ikeja Electric, a private company whose feet should have been held to the hot fire of free marketplace principles and discipline, also appealed for understanding from residents of the Akute area of Ogun State.

Its owners, and others, bought electricity generating and distributing companies that they lacked technical, financial and managerial competence to run effectively and profitably.

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, also asked Nigerians for patience and more time to allow the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company to complete the Abuja-Kaduna rail line. He confessed that he had (unreasonably?) pushed CCECC to commit to delivering on May 29, 2016.

It took the Coalition Against Corruption to cause President Buhari to withdraw the flawed first, or whatever, version of the 2016 Appropriation Bill that he had earlier laid before the (usually rubber-stamp) National Assembly. He apologised for the goof.

In 2022, Aland after six long years of these unpardonable snafus, Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, apologised to the NASS on behalf of the invisible men he contracted to import adulterated petrol.

The House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) “dutifully” exonerated those responsible for the disaster! Alex Egboma, speaking on behalf of the Committee Chairman  declared, “We discovered that the crisis (of importing adulterated petrol) was actually not because of the (fault) of the suppliers or the (NNPC Limited), but some major problem,” which was not identified.

As you probably know, the liability of the servant is on the master. But Kyari spoiled the matter by offering to spend more than $200 million of Nigeria’s money to “wash” the adulterated petrol.

He should have announced that the errant importers of the adulterated petrol will pay for damages. Kyari, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipriye Sylva, and  Minister of Petroleum Resources who is President Buhari were silent on that score.

Also, nomadic President Buhari, while convalescing in the United Kingdom after yet another medical tourism, offered terse and unconvincing apologies to Nigerians for the scarcity caused by the adulterated petrol (and maybe the absence of strategic reserves) and the collapse of the national electricity grid, euphemism for the Transmission Company of Nigeria that the federal held on to when it unbundled Power Holding Company of Nigeria into 11 DisCos, six GenCos and the TCN.

It appears that instead of delivering to Nigerians the services expected from a government, Buhari’s regime is satisfied with offering excuses and apologies—”Unnecessary Begging” as Afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, would have described it.

Even Nigeria Football Federation is apologising for the failure of the Super Eagles to qualify for 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup finals. And a few days ago, Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria officials were begging passengers, “please bear with us,” after the electricity system of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos went off.

Maybe the Yoruba attitude of apologising for an offence, instead of accepting the punishment that follows a breach, is responsible for the seeming lackadaisical attitude of agents of this government to performing their duties.

The Yoruba sometimes appeal to sentiments that stringent rules of accountability and discipline should be waived because an offender apologised. Thus, Nigerians who breach laws or regulations expect to be indulged, pardoned and absolved of blame.

It’s interesting that the Yoruba, who say that what a tuppence can do a thousand prostrations cannot, think this way. This is an indulgence that voluntarily accepts apologies or sorries to excuse offenders from accepting responsibility for their offences.

Many times, the president, governors and local government chairmen, who can dole out patronages, are treated as “kabiyesi” or absolute potentates whose conduct cannot be queried. Their wishes always automatically become commands that none dares contradict.

You could count almost only on one hand the number of politicians that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission and regular courts have prosecuted, convicted and jailed for pilfering Nigeria’s commonwealth.

No matter the gravity of offences that state actors and their cohorts commit they almost always get a slap on the wrist if their offences are not outrightly disregarded. And they go from one breach to the next.

Remember that when former Anambra First Lady, Ebelechukwu Obiano, and Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu marred the swearing-in ceremony of Anambra State Governor, Charles Soludo, police officers present, who should have arrested and prosecuted them for public disorder and affray, either ignored them or merely separated them. And the matter simply died there.

Add to that the penchant of government to always throw money at every problem. No one can remember how many times and how much has been spent by the government for turn around maintenance of NNPC’s refineries where there have been no significant turn of their dial of production.

It has always been an exercise in futility and sheer waste of good money. Lately, NNPC was reported to have admitted that $5.8 billion had been spent on rehabilitation of refineries between 2015 and 2020. If you add the $1.65 billion spent in 2021, you get a $7.3 billion whopper “awoof” money, spent on nothing!

Incidentally, the government offered no apologies for Nigeria’s underperforming economy. Neither is there an acknowledgement.

Just as well, Section 6 of the constitution, an ouster clause, absolves government from prosecution if it fails to carry out provisions of Section 14 of the constitution which makes welfare and security Job One of government. The constitution also excuses the president, governors and their deputies from prosecution while in office.

When a train on a trip from Ibadan to Lagos spluttered to a halt in the middle of nowhere, a worried passenger tweeted, “(We) boarded train from Ibadan to Lagos. We’re stuck in forest with unknown Chinese men. They say fuel finished. What a beautiful country, Nigeria?”

The response of Fridet Okhira, Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation, was an incomplete sentence: “The train gauge was not reading correctly. By the time the driver discovered that there is (sic) no sufficient diesel in the train…”

He added: “Immediately they discovered the challenge, they responded quickly. And under an hour, they were able to get a drum of diesel to fill the tank and continued the journey back to Lagos.” No one was held responsible or sanctioned.

Life goes on regardless of the discomfort of the terrified passengers who paid for their train ticket with the belief that they were going to enjoy a safe and comfortable ride but got stuck in the bush.

Transportation Minister Amaechi, who usually responds to journalists in condescending manners, did not apologise. Maybe he doesn’t want to be guilty of unnecessary begging.

Anyway, Nigeria’s state actors must deliver on the social contract between them and Nigerians. Anything short is unacceptable and must not be endured.

Nigerian citizens do not need career apologists as leaders, but those who will deliver results.

– Twitter: @lekansote1

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