RIGHTSview: EVILS OF ‘SON-OF-THE-SOIL’ CONTRACTORS

Posted by Emmanuel Onwubiko | 13 December 2014 | 3,297 times

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Last Wednesday I treated the worrying dimension that the new leadership of the nation's police force under Mr Suleiman Abba has taken, with regards to the misuse of police operatives to carry out sinister political agenda against targeted opponents of the Presidency.

But I also stated that even within the police institution in Nigeria there are a number of good officers and operatives who have continued to distinguish themselves while still in service. I particularly mentioned a police officer who, two years ago, during the local council election in Eket, Akwa Ibom State, averted what would have amounted to a needless bloodbath between some dangerous politicians and some local journalists. The officer's name is Idowu Owuhunwa, who was the divisional police officer then. There is also the case of a police junior rank who, recently in Abuja, was honoured with a national award by the Federal Government, for being an excellent traffic officer somewhere within Abuja over the years. These and many other good police operatives deserve appreciation and emulation.

This week, however, I am treating an equally worrying trend among elected executive politicians who have developed the dangerous penchant of abandoning strategic projects that have even been paid for and still turn back to shift blames.

Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, the young governor of Kaduna State, became the chief executive fortuitously, when the unfortunate air crash of about two years ago led to the demise of the governor, Mr Patrick Yakowa.

Since coming on board, this Zaria-born accountant has consistently faced criticisms for doing very little to ameliorate the mass poverty afflicting the people of the state. He has particularly been singled out for waging relentless marginalisation scheme targeted at the largely Christian dominated southern part of Kaduna State.

For long since the creation of Kaduna State, the people of southern Kaduna have never produced the governor. But late Patrick Yakowa came on board by accident of history; when his then boss Alhaji Namadi Sambo became vice-president to Goodluck Jonathan, who stepped into his master’s position, when he (Umaru Yar’Adua) died after prolonged health challenges in a foreign hospital.

Sadly too, since Yero became Kaduna State chief executive, the people of southern Kaduna have suffered series of genocidal attacks by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen; and these spates of attacks have led to the killing of over 5,000 southern Kaduna villagers.

The Kaduna State Governor has been accused of standing by, moping, while southern Kaduna indigenous people were slaughtered in their sleep by anarchists and genocidal elements, who do not discriminate between heavily pregnant women, the elderly and children. It is likely that the current administration in Kaduna could be dragged to the International Crimes Court for these horrendous crimes against humanity. And since the role of government primarily is the protection of lives and property, the failure of the governor to stop these mass killings could lead to an indictment.

Specifically, Kaura Local Government Area has consistently been attacked viciously. As a result, over three densely populated villages have been reportedly decimated.

On another leg, Governor Yero also faces allegation of not developing southern Kaduna, even though there is no concrete evidence that this governor has developed northern Kaduna.

But Governor Yero, who is coming under serious scrutiny, has also rejected the charge of selective development of the part of that state where he hails from.

Aware of the competitive nature of next year’s governorship election in which he is seeking re-election amidst strong opposition, this gentleman has openly accused elites of southern Kaduna State of collecting mobilisation fees for roads and other infrastructural contracts for southern Kaduna people, but failed to execute these projects.

This phenomenon of ‘son-of-the-soil’ failed contractors is also a major problem in Imo State under Governor Rochas Okorocha, who also gave contracts to persons from the local government councils marked for specific projects, but these dubious contractors have similarly disappeared with huge public fund belonging to Imo State people. Rivers State Governor, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, has also accused his estranged political son, Mr Nyesom Wike, of allegedly collecting billions of naira for educational projects while he was chief of staff to the governor, but failed to deliver. Wike, who recently resigned from the Federal Cabinet as junior education minister to run for governorship election, has denied this allegation.

But I think these governors who give out jobs to dubious contractors should be brought to book by the State Houses of Assembly. And if these legislators are stooges of the governors involved, then the anti-graft agencies should gather quality body of evidence to prosecute these indicted governors, whenever they lose the immunity protection.

It is so absurd that governors will fail to discharge their duties and look for some ghost contractors to blame.

In the case of Yero, he was practically exchanging heated arguments with youth leaders of southern Kaduna State. His words:

 “It is good as youth leaders to engage the government and our local authorities to find out exactly what they are doing. For us in southern Kaduna, it is unfortunate that most times it is the elite in the area that are the ones benefiting over and over again and, yet, those behind the ladder, the youths, the average man, do not benefit.

“If you look at this document, I am particular about southern Kaduna, there are roads that are supposed to have been constructed in southern Kaduna. If you look very well you have the completion period for the roads there, ranging from four to 24 months; each of these roads their completion periods have expired and these people have collected your money, and have not done this job.

“The names of the contractors are there, as these are public documents. You need to ask government why these projects have not been completed. You also engage the contractors why is this job given to you and you have not done it? It is your fundamental rights to ask these people why the roads have not been completed.”  

•RIGHTSVIEW appears on Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, popular activist Emmanuel Onwubiko, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).


Source: News Express

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