FEATURE ARTICLE

Segun ImohiosenTuesday, January 24, 2017
[email protected]
Abuja, Nigeria

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GOOD GOVERNANCE AND THE LESSONS FROM OBAZE FRC

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he public is inundated with breathless anticipation that the unwholesomeness of the display of might on the part of government to have thrown Jim Obaze out as a leech is generating a lot of unsettlement within the public. One stands to be corrected, especially wanting to get to set the record straight not just for me but the rest of the well-meaning Nigerians who are awe struck not out of respect but much petrification as to how the incident played out. Matters of credibility and integrity are germane to good governance and for the overall success of any government. As such, being thorough without any display of prejudice in matters of this kind is critical.

In the overall saga of the recent boot out of the arrow head in the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), it has for a while created an unusual imbalance in the public and that calls for some sort of clarification that should be able to make this section of Nigerians rest easy. It appeared the power play is rather discomfiting. For some people, some form of furor is brewing within the polity that is more or less causing fear with regards to the discharge of duty.

Somehow, the way the entire issue played out appeared shrouded in some kind of mystery that if not explained to the public will jeorpadise this journey to sanity that Mr. President embarked upon from inception. This administration, fighting so vehemently to ensure Nigeria recover its lost glory from the primordial carcinogenic corruption that today has brought the country to its knees, must not be seen to act brashly.

As far as the record is concerned, that episodic portion of the Act establishing FRCN that is responsible for the sword of Damocles that condemned the Executive Secretary because he implemented what has the endorsement of the National Assembly ought to be properly addressed. It is only just a best practice of democracy as it obtains in other climes that fair play is subsumed as a feature of the modus operandi. It is not possible that Obaze would have acted on an Act that had the input of the highest legislative body of the country, which means there are different phases the draft would have undergone before its eventual passage to have become an Act. In this regards, one would have expected at this point that the National Assembly lends a voice to the subject and save the head of the erstwhile Executive Secretary. This man as far as this subject on the implementation of the Act is concerned should not be left all by himself. On this matter, Obaze implemented what had the input of the National Assembly. It is only fair that a second look be cast on the issue.

Some questions are begging for answers and I assume it is only godly that they are brought to the fore for the public to consider and make their judgments; was the man in question overbearing, over-zealous in carrying out his duties, was it that he goofed and by so doing embarrassed the government, or was it that that aspect of the Act of FRC he implemented was done in bad fate, I mean bad "belle" or what? The worry here is that if his action was done in error, the public has the right to know. The speculations are rather interminable and that is not too good for the image of the government.

If that part of the mandate of FRCN has been suspended, proscribed or removed as it were, it then foretells that as it is the practice of government, it ought to have been gazetted or made public somehow for the awareness of all to avoid any form of confusion. In other words, it then translates to mean the fate that befell the FRCN Boss could as well be the lot of any unsuspecting public/civil servant another time. And this could hamper the judicious delivery of their responsibility. Will this singular act of government not put fear in the people within the service?

In as much as this piece is not meant to indict or question the sagacity of the action of government, the challenge so far is that the line of action being taken to entrench accountability in the polity since the inception of this administration is rather metaphoric - looks good, but undermines the credibility of the war against corruption, with the way this Obaze's matter has played out, it appeared too expeditive, too snappy sort of. Where is the hope of a common man? This man was just carrying out the responsibility he was saddled with. One would want to believe that due diligence was carried out on him before he assumed the office and was entrusted with such sensitive responsibility. At least, he was serving in that office before he took over from his principal.

Nevertheless, to recover the lost glory of Nigeria, government should not tinker with sensitive areas that could allow the Nigerian public cast aspersion on her, especially if the import will not adequately address issues. Religion and the personality of who is involved should not jeopardise good governance. The rule of law and the constitution should be considered and weighed over above any other interest.

It would have been expected that those making the hues and cries, and ultimately happy to see the head of the FRCN man on a platter should reconsider their position. They should pause to think for a while and ask themselves what exactly did the man do wrong. He has only performed his duty and there is no reason why the man should be subjected to this kind of attack and condemnation from the people. In fact, it is cruel on the part of anyone to see the action of this man as an attack on the church. Has anybody bothered to ask what does Obaze stand to gain by attacking the church? Remember, what goes round comes round. It is Obaze today; it could be somebody else tomorrow. But the fact remains whether the issue has been perfectly addressed with the removal of the man from office. The point still remains whether that portion of the Act is still in operation or not? Or could it possibly have a different interpretation from what he did?

It is highly commendable that Pastor E.A. Adeboye, the urbane and humble pastor stepped aside immediately in respect of the law of the land. This is leadership by example at best. However, this decision to ease Obaze out of office may appear a good 'upper cut', especially for the charlatans who have turned church ministry into business milking the unsuspecting worshippers and for other selfish interest and benefits. Nevertheless, they may be having a field day while some other people are indifferent. But then, with regards to image, some people may gloss over the matter but the rest of the world watching may have a different perception which could rate us poorly, to be modest. Invariably, too many Jim Obaze are out there that may fall just like him if we are not cautious while we allow personality and religion to subdue good judgment in governance.

The most mind boggling of all both in recent time and not too long are the cases of Akan Weeks and T.B. Joshua whose church buildings collapsed and killed several numbers of people. The Reigners Church collapse in Akwa Ibom on the day of Weeks ordination as a Bishop is still an issue of discourse in the public domain. Here is a man as reported acted contrary to the specifications of both the officials of Government from Town Planning and the Architect; still bold enough to speak in the public and no punitive measure have been meted out to him as a deterrent to so many others out there who are as guilty as Weeks and T.B. Joshua of the Synagogue Church.

It was gathered that when the Uyo City Capital Development Authority (UCCDA) Town Planning Officers came to mark the church building for not following the approved plan, it was reported that some members of the church cursed the officials of government for coming to mark the house of God, stating that the officials would die. Can you see the paradox? This is to tell you the delirious state the church members are submerged. They hardly ever see anything wrong in what their leader does because he is a supposed servant of God. Meanwhile, here is a man that ought by his calling to be above board who said he paid 300k for a verbal approval from the authority to build in a location that has been designated a conservation zone by the authority of the state. Reasoning is no longer at work but sentiments at its best. When the so called members mouthed such heinous thingummy, if any of them escaped death or injury from the eventual collapse, because Weeks must be canonized a bishop by force while construction was still ongoing leaving a death toll and many injured, one wonders how the folly and the wanton idiocies of such nitwits would have played out. As usual, they would have stupidly said "God saved them". The same God who sent Angels to them in likes of Government officials that they cursed. Can you see the antithesis, foolishness at its very apogee?

The matter of T.B. Joshua appeared to have been swept under the carpet, having killed so many innocent worshippers, left a large number injured. These are worshippers who probably are looking for solutions or God, seeking hope in the wrong places. And what about that Lagos Pastor that chained his son to a post. There was so much pandemonium in the press back in 2016 but how did that end? The man is walking freely.

Does this not appear as a case of double standard? One cannot but remember the point emphasised in a song way back in the 80s 'Ethical Revolution' that "If you steal ten kobo they put you for prison, if you steal ten million na patriotism, they would give you chieftaincy…" Are we to believe that some people are somehow above the law in our society? Some of these people get away all the time with the crimes and atrocities committed; while the poor that cannot afford lawyers are made to face the full brunt of the law either rot in jail or thrown out of their jobs.

Simply put, with the snappiness of Obaze's case, I think it's only fair that same speed is applied to the rest of the defaulters. Let the law be decisive on all those wanting in inglorious acts that is affecting the Nigerian state, not minding their status.

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