“Due Process” was a policy initiative put in place by Mr. Obasanjo and his “Economic Team” during his regime. The policy was meant to compel all individuals and organization to comply with basic rule of law, processes and procedures in their dealings with government.
Such dealings could be contractual, mere information sourcing, making of requests and approvals within organisations, payments, employments, etc. It was supposed to be like the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) of the Buhari’s military era. As far as I am concerned, the “Due Process” policy was the only policy initiative of the Obasanjo administration that was theoretically sound but wrongly implemented for selfish ends.
It became the only carrot dangled before us while the apostles of the policy commit blunders. A few of the blunders are now examined for the purpose of creating awareness as well as finding suitable approaches to refine it.
Was the “Due Process” policy followed when the debt relief was being sought? I think otherwise. Only Mr. Obasanjo and perhaps his Finance Minister, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, knew the details of the dept relief. How the negotiations went remain till date a subject of illusion.
We were only told that we had a $32 billion debt and that a debt relief of a $12 billion had been granted Nigeria. Consequently, Nigeria had to pay about $18 billion and another ₤2.5 billion to exit from our indebtedness. But Mr. Buhari, the ANPP Presidential candidate in the last election, said on a Channel’s television programme that something went wrong somewhere in the process.
He asserted that Mr. Adamu Ciroma, the former CBN Governor and a former Minister of Finance under the Obasanjo regime, once told him that the total indebtedness was about eighteen point something billion dollars (i.e. less than $19 billion). How come then that we had a debt relief of $12 billions, paid $18 billions and another ₤2.5 billions ($4.92 billions approx)? Adding up the latter sums, we have $34.92 billions approximately.
If Mr. Buhari’s statement is taken as correct, and I do not have any doubt about his integrity, then the excess is over $15.92 billions (i.e. $34.92 billions - $19.00 billions = $15.92 billions) approximately. Mr. Buhari in that interview at the Channel’s television said that “I will just send some people to jail”. Even if Mr. Buhari was wrong, the totals fail to agree.
Why should the sum above exceed our initial total indebtedness by $2.92 billions (i.e. $34.92 billions - $32 billions = $2.92 billions) approximately? What type of “Due Process” would one call this?
I have reviewed the activities of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) in my last article on the “Unending Poor Performance Of The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) Is Inimical To Our Development” on this www.ngex.com. I do not consider it appropriate to repeat the issues here again.
The chief apostle of the policy initiative was Mrs. Obi Esekwesili who was labeled “Madam Due Process”.
Unfortunately while the same “Madam Due Process” was the Director General at the Ministry of Solid Minerals, $30million out of $120million World Bank loan was expended without any framework (See: Onyebuchi Ezigbo – Fg suspends $120m W/Bank Loan in Mining Sector, Guardians newspaper, Monday, 12 February 2007, pg. 7).
The frame work was supposed to have been put in place before funds were committed in the first instance. But to the apostle, the framework and by extension the Due Process could wait. It waited until this year when Consultants were appointed to draw out the framework.
“Madam Due Process” was later moved to the Ministry of Education as a Minister. Within nine (9) months of her stay, all public schools had been privatized. She claimed that government could no longer bear the burden on education as there seemed to be no improvement in the quality of education.
At a time, she claimed that she was an expert in computation, and that since government’s budget increase of N30 billion yearly did not improve education, all the unity schools must be privatized. And she did it. But the apostle’s computational ability did not make her to find out what provision per child was in the budget.
Based on my calculations and using the last budget 2007 on education which was N182 billion, this equals just about N6,617.67 per child per annum. What can this little provision achieve in the education of a child in today’s Nigeria? Almost nothing!
While one would have thought that the “Due Process” initiative on ground would involve all stakeholders in deliberations before arriving at an action plan on the education policy, it was not to be. Apart from my personal challenge of her skewed perception, a group of public spirited personalities were constrained to organize a workshop titled “National Education Reform: An Alternative” on 11 January 2007. The outcome of their deliberations was published as a communiqué (See: National Forum For Policy Development, Workshop on National Education Reform: An Alternative, Thisday, 14 February 2007, pg. 60 – 62).
Against the cries of many parents, teachers, etc, all Unity Schools were privatized, and Polytechnics converted to Universities nation wide automatically. In spite of her meddling up everything on her path, she got elevated from D.G. to Minister, and from there to Vice President of the World Bank in charge of African affairs. What an irony of life!
Another apostle of “Due Process” was Mr. Nasir El-Rufai who brought out bulldozers to pull down various building structures erected on supposed “Green Zones” within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Not long after the demolition exercises were some of the areas re-allocated to serving Ministers and Governors.
Only recently did the Yar’Adua administration considered it inexplicable and had to revoke thirty eight (38) of the allocated plots of land (See: Ihuoma Chiedozie – Yar’Adua, ex-governor lose Abuja Plots, The Punch, Thursday, 8 Nov. 2007, pg. 2). It was reported that some of the ministers and governors involved neither requested nor applied for land allocation.
Another report had it that the same Mr. Nasir El-Rufai sought the presidential approval to purchase the former Vice President’s Guest House by mid May 2007. The following day, he was said to have been granted the request. Up till today, no body knew who valued the house, when it was valued and how much it was worth.
Not only that, the house was included in the list of those ones to be privatized. It was said to have been hurriedly listed among those government properties to be privatized towards the latter days of the Obasanjo era. Who championed this (un)Due Process if not the talkative demolition minister himself?
Surprisingly, either through association or persuasion, the EFCC was also misled into pursuing an undue process in the course of performing her duties. Thus the EFCC was said to have taken a $5 million grant from the World Bank to prosecute some corrupt public officials at a time when the national assembly had delays in passing the budget (See: Nuhu Ribadu – Why Wolfowitz Should Stay, Thisday, Sunday, 6 May 2007, pg. 10).
I am not sure that the national assembly was aware of the loan until probably after the passage of the budget or through the article of Mr. Nuhu Ribadu quoted above. Of course, there was nothing wrong with seeking and collecting a foreign loan for the prosecution of corrupt officials in Nigeria so long as the national assembly was aware that an alternative funding arrangement was being pursued under the Due Process approach.
After all, the prosecution of offenders for corrupt enrichment is a national project with budgetary provisions. It is similar to road construction and rehabilitation project. The delay in the passage of the budget definitely affected not only the EFCC but all other organs of government as well. Of course, the zeal to get the officers arrested cannot be divorced from the quest for the loan. The zeal alone does not make the grant right under the Due Process.
The “Due Process” policy of the Obasanjo era has reminded us of a speech credited to Mr. Desmond Tutu, the Anglican Arch Bishop of Cape Town, South Africa. He was quoted as stating during the time of apartheid that when the whites came to South Africa they had the Bible and the blacks had the land in their possession.
But that after the whites tricked the blacks to close their eyes and pray, the properties were exchanged; the whites had the land and the blacks the Bible. Apart from the EFCC that can be absolved of any ulterior motive in her approach to the “Due Process” policy, all other personalities have misused it to their advantages without due consideration for the generality of Nigerians. The time is not sufficient to go into the details of these other personalities.
Notwithstanding the abuses to which the “Due Process” policy has been subjected by the key exponents, it is still a relevant policy for the nation’s development. Why? We all need the “Due Process” to ensure orderliness, promote quality and competition, enhance value for money, reduce bias especially those relating to ethnicity and religion, mitigate thuggery and political violence, encourage transparency and accountability in public activities, improve our national consciousness, etc.
Government efforts must be focused on how to eliminate abuses to which the self styled “apostles” of “Due Process” had subjected it to in the past. Such a refocusing must be anchored on transparency and accountability.
I enjoin all well meaning Nigerians to think deeply and come out with suggestions on how to improve the “Due Process” policy initiative left behind by Mr. Obasanjo. This is a legacy that the Yar’Adua administration must find a way to adequately reform before being implemented.
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OMOTAYO, J. A. Lagos, NIGERIA December 15, 2007
Thanks my brother, Mr. Osondu Onoh, for your comment. Yes, Mr. Obasanjo was not the first to create due process policy. What I write about is a state policy called "Due Process" that was launched with fanfare and promoted with all the might of government.
I am indeed very grateful for your contribution. God bless Nigeria
Osondu Onoh Maryland,20910, USA December 14, 2007
Due process is one of the basic principles of any legitimate government and democratic society anywhere in the world. I disagree with you that it was iniciated by Mr Obasanjo, all the contrary, it was ignored by Mr Obasanjo for reasons best known to him. Perhaps, it was because his administration was corrupt so, he ignored due process in order to shield himself from public scrutiny. Shame on him!
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