August 23rd, 2010
Sen. David Mark, the Nigeria’s Senate President, was quoted as saying
that even though there were question marks about the value
presented by Independent National Electoral Commission -INEC,
the Senate still went ahead to authorize it. Is it not
terrifying that the upper house that was saddled with the
oversight function of moderating the activities of other
arms of government or government institutions is saying
What does David Mark and his co Honorable colleagues imply?
It is either the amount quoted by INEC is reasonable or it
is not reasonable. And if it is not reasonable and the
Senate goes ahead to approve of it, then there cannot be any
reason to do so and that amounts to duplicity and grievous
irresponsibility on the side of the honorable Senators. It
would seem, from this “question-mark” approval for a
“question mark” INEC budget that David Mark and his Senate,
is (and has been) using our resources for some mundane and
atrocious purposes. Some kind of, if you grease my palm, I
It would have been more honorable on the side of our
honorable senators to quietly approve the INEC budget as it
is – pretending that they did not feel it is on the high
side - rather than approve it with the plethora of excuses
of not wanting to be held responsible if the election is
warped. We should be working together to achieve success and
not preparing an alibi with anticipation of failure. What
the honorable men did was to keep a bowel of water which
they will use to wash off their hands in case the election
fails on Proj. Jega’s feet and at the same time trying to
pacify Prof. Jega so that he will look the other way when
they start manipulating the electoral process at their
By approving what they call a budget with some question
mark, our honorable senators have tactfully pushed Prof.
Jega to a defensive side from day one. And Prof. Jega has
primitively accepted guilt for not asking the senators to
explain what they mean when they allege that his budget has
some question mark.
We have a proverb which says that the fear of casualty never
dissuades warriors from going to war. Its either our
honorable senators did not know what they were saying by
approving a budget with question mark or they want to use a
question-marked budget to morally hold down the electoral
body in order to have their way. There is no where in the
world where approving expenses that have a question mark
guarantees the success for which the expenses is incurred.
No wonder they are the world’s second highest paid assembly.
In short, it would seem that David Mark and his Honorable
Senate really represents the mark of diligence - in the
national assembly - in an inverted manner. They take
decisions without a thought about the common man’s feeling.
Whatever they think is good for them should automatically be
good for us.
I wonder how many of them ever recourse to their senatorial
base to sound the feeling of their people before they take a
stand on very topical national issues.
One Senator after another, there argument was that they do
not want to be blamed for poor electioneering come 2011.
After looking at such porous arguments for passing 87.721
billion naira, which they believed was in excess, I
shuddered and told my self that - at 50 years of nationhood
- we are still far from reality. I then wondered, if Prof.
Jega had proposed something like 175.441 billion naira, what
would these men have said? And if you remember that
initially, Prof. Jega was making an estimate in the region
of 50 to 70 billion, you now see what mess we have put our
selves into again. If Prof. Jega was the CEO of shell BP and
he was asked to make a proposition on the cost of paying
claims to Gulf of Mexico indigenes on the recent oil gush in
that region, would Prof. Jega be telling Shell BP share
holder 10 to 30 billion dollars? Should he not have been
relieved of his job instantly? In economic terms and –
indeed -in any rationalization, a gap of 20 billion naira in
budgeting is atrocious and shows that he does not have a
good knowledge of what he was estimating.
This goes a long way to show us how our rulers appoint their
functionaries. If Prof. Jega was informed of this
appointment and was expected to take it and perform
successfully, some basic questions would have been thrown at
him and such questions would have exposed him to some
fundamentals that would have restrained him from such
Prof. Jega may be a resounding Professor of political
science, an amazing figure in academia and a powerful
advocate of justice and equal rights, a fearless unionist;
but definitely – by initially giving an estimate between 50
and 70 billion and finally presenting 87.721 billion shows
that he is still far away from knowledge of administration
of funds, albeit, not a sensitive institution such as
Independent National Electoral Commission. Academic
excellence is not administrative excellence. He may have
gathered some measurable experience from his job as Bayero
University Kano Vice Chancellor since 2005 but
Strong zeal to see that things work right, which Prof.
Jega is know for, does not always translate to perspicacity
or astuteness in making things work right. It is on this
ground, that I am not carried away that miracle will happen
in the 2011 elections, irrespective of the billions that
will go down in the exercise. It is people that employ money
to work and not money that employs people to work. Prof.
Jega maybe a fearless unionist, an accomplished academic but
he will be administering INEC with resident electoral
commissioners - at state level - who would be getting
patronage from state governors.
But if it does happen that Prof. Jega bequests Nigeria an
enduring legacy by way of a free and fair election, then I
am not in doubt that the Almighty God will see his
generation’s generations in their rightful place.
But if, on the other hand, we witness another faulty
election - just as we have witnessed previous elections, the
ID card imbroglio, the NEPA trillions that failed, 486
billion naira roads repays that created more gullies on our
road, etc - then we will once more resign to faith and say
that our hope is in heaven.