Look Me, Look Trouble
…The Nigerian University Lecturers in fear and guilt, Challenge the Nigerian Government Over how not to be Employers…
Fear is a very funny sickness. It creeps on you, then, it drenches you.It makes a “sane” man behave totally crazy. This is the situation in Nigeria, where the Nigerian Government, has done a Second unthinkable: First, the Buhari Government, in exasperation at the uncontrolled revenue loss – through so many leakages- ordered the implementation of the Treasury Single Account( famously or notoriously called TSA).It was not a Buharian innovation cum discovery.No. The idea was first muted in 2012 by the Goodluck Jonathan Administration.In fear, that Government suppressed it. Then, in 2014, the rumours reached the Government that the opposition All Progressives Congress Party,(APC) was planning to use it as a major campaign issue. Poor Jonathan! He hastily announced that the TSA would be implemented immediately.Then, as the outcry grew, he collapsed and announced that selected Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs)would spearhead the implementation.He was too lily livered to mention which MDAs would start. Thus, collectively, the crooks, the thieves, their Masters and the minions, heaved a sigh of reprieve.They needed the sigh: Prior to the delay, the MDAs had with orgasmic fervour opened all sorts of accounts, in different banks.
Then Buhari Won.
But,Buhari came trailing a long reputation for toughness, integrity and fearlessness.He won the General Elections, with a margin of over 5 million. Then Buhari won and everything changed again.The sighs of relief became furtive glances.It was rumoured that former President Olusegun Obasanjo, was infamously quoted as saying OYO ( On Your Own),as he went to the Presidential Villa, to “return my own share”. Rumours have it that he went with a full confession and plea bargain. I can’t confirm this o! Although it was widely reported in all major Nigerian newspapers( well, the more reason to be suspicious,sir).So, as Buhari was declared winner,hundreds of big and small, known and unknown ” unions” surfaced with their loins well girded ready to “fight with the last drop of their blood”. The real Cause of this frenetic, BP raising hullabaloo? Buhari will implement the TSA. God forbid! The main opponent, a former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar,of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP)- and unarguably one of the richest Africans,had promised to allow all existing structures, programs and, in fact, all ongoing cases of corruption,corrupt enrichment, to be swept under the carpet – as usual.So, Buhari, accepted the gauntlet and imposed the TSA.
What is This Wahala Called TSA?
The TSA( Treasury Single Account) is a financial system, in which all government revenues – whatever the source – are operated under a single account and maintained by the Central Bank of that country. And ALL payments are processed through the Account. It follows naturally. Thus, when Buhari introduced it, I was bemused by the ” organized opposition” to it.The TSA is not a new system.A parallel [is] in the early 1960s through to the 1970s, the History syllabi of Nigerian schools included the story, authoritative, that Mr Mungo Park, a Briton, DISCOVERED the River Niger.In the same vein, SubTreasury and Treasury existed in all levels of British Colonial Nigeria – and after Independence.Thus, all revenue generated passed from the Native Treasury to the Regional Treasury to the Federation Account.Before the splinter of offices and hand in hand, proliferation of banks,finance houses and mortgage houses, all payments were centralized.Yet, people wept and cried and Cursed President Buhari.That the quantity of curses heaped on Buhari, did not break his frail frame, showed that the curses were not accepted by God,Allah, Ogun Osun, Chineke, and all other “gods”, by whatever name called.Bubu has survived.
The major plank for the TSA is that it is a First Aid,to be quickly applied as a salve to the confusion in our financial system.For the first time,a measure of regulating accountability and transparency in the financial circle was introduced. In a heart touching paper,titled, TSA in Nigeria: A Theoretical Perspective, Profs Chinedu Okereoti and Ikechukwu Okoye,of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University,Awka,Nigeria, described the introduction of TSA, as a thrust into “one of the strongholds of corruption” and ” a master stroke against a tactless financial strategy”. I couldn’t agree more. It broke the unholy alliance between the MDAs and the “banks”.
Is It A Constitutional Order?
With the introduction of TSA, did President Buhari disobey the Constitution? No.He did not:
” all revenues or other monies raised or received by the Federation( not being revenues or other monies payable under the said Constitution or any Act of the National Assembly into any other public fund of the Federation established for a specific purpose) shall be paid into and from one Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.” In summary, the TSA allows the Federal Government to have a consolidated view of all its cash assets at any given time.
So, in one fell swoop, the President cancelled out all the secrecy surrounding the management of public funds.The TSA “delayed” substantially the discretionary powers (self- imposed,i dare say) of accounting officers and politicians collaborating to do all sorts of illegal and shady deals. The TSA effectively drove a nail into so many banks’ coffins.They no longer can negotiate all manner of interest rates with these dubious accounting officers.
Introduction of The Integrated Payment and Personal Information System(IPPIS)
OK.Ok. We’ve heard many times that President Buhari is unlettered. No problem.He has baffled many severally. With the introduction of TSA, the crooks went to work, trying to find loopholes; but, they underestimated the President. He has introduced the Integrated Payment and Personal Information System(IPPIS) and it has sent all our “unions” into uncontrollable fits. Most hard hit,of course, is the Academic Senior Staff Union of Universities(ASSU). They are not only hopping mad, they’ve become blurry visioned from weeping.But, reality will set in.Even, if in slow mo. The are weeping rivers and rivulets because the IPPIS, will capture all information about all Government employees. Why is ASSU weeping alone. I am sure several of the Armed Services and the Paramilitary organizations, their Pensions boards are in trepidations. Most,I can categorically say do NOT have the exact number of their personnel: Living, in retirement or dead. Yet, billions are doled out. I don’t want to preempt the President, but, a hint.Sir, a hint: We must ask several Finance chieftains, to explain.
Draining The Swamp
My advice to President Buhari is that when you’re draining he swamp, you cannot afford to leave any Flotsams and Jetsams and leaky byways. Plug all the surrounding holes – where water, of any sort, can leak out. This means that the complete and compulsory implementation of the Integrated Payment and Personal Information System (IPPIS) is the NEXT logical step after the introduction of the TSA. In all honesty, it would have been an exercise in futility and grand self deceit, reminiscent of many of Goodluck Jonathan’s ” well conceived but unimplemented ” programs.When you’ve harnessed all incoming revenues,but, allowing the two major drainpipes – salaries and contracts – to stump the effort, then ,you needn’t have bothered,in the first place. In simple, Nigerian English: Sir, the sky will not fall, Mercury will pass between Earth and the Sun, if you include the universities ( and all tertiary institutions) in IPPIS.
Two Reasons.Two critical Reasons why the universities MUST be included. Let ASSU threaten fire, grenade and brimstone. Two reasons: 1) Visiting Lectureship. The so called “visiting” lecturer system would have been alright,but, for the fact that this has being a cover for collecting salary from two or three universities. And what suffers? The students and their learning. Lower inputs and more photocopying. I know several lecturers who just “prescribed” articles from journals, they haven’t read. I use ” prescribed ” because, these are compulsory. Thus, Sir, for the first time, we will know how many universities, some lecturers are on their full-time payroll.. The 2nd Reason:should ASSU dictate to its employer, how it should pay him. This is like the hired help, who grumbles loudly that he is in the house to serve the children,not Daddy,not Mummy. .Asinine.
Talking About Asses
Next to the Nigerian Labour Congress(NLC), in foolishness,ignorance and a baffling childishness, is the Academic Senior Staff of Universities (ASSU). Maybe, they should just remove the “U” from their acronym. That way, everyone will not have any doubts about their asinine status. On the other hand, could all their frolicking and gambolling with so many underaged children,pretending to be undergraduates, have affected their reasoning – and given them a delusive feeling that they are still undergraduates? Screaming “aluta” and all dem pranks!
I have refrained from mentioning the rumours that were current during the 2019 General Elections. A two-fold rumour,running simultaneously, must have plenty of substance: It was alleged that the opposition PDP had met secretly with the Committee of Vice Chancellors (CVC) – part of the Dubai Strategy- and given them millions in USSD, to ensure a resounding victory for Mr Atiku Abubakar. By the way, for some inscrutable reason, the Vice Chancellors of Nigerian universities, are always the Returning Officers, for all Elections – Presidential, Gubernatorial and National Assemby. This means the Returning Officer can manipulate figures.So,was ASSU’s acquiescence bought? There was an eerie silence from them, in the build up to and during the Elections. However, when INEC, delivered the masterstroke, by postponing the Presidential Election. It scattered all the well laid plans. But, even stranger, immediately, President Buhari was announced as winner, all the trade unions,led by ASSU and the NLC, came out, with daggers drawn.Spoiling for a fight. Again, they underestimated the Baroka( remember Soyinka’s eternal classic, The Lion and The Jewel?). They gave ultimatums; prominent being, immediate implementation of the New National Minimum Wage – remember no figure had been agreed on; and the immediate suspension of the TSA. The FG responded predictably, by setting up committees. Then, while negotiations were in full swing and ASSU and NLC,were dropping and lifting their well starched baban Rigas in 1500 Naira gestures- a victory gesture,in Nigeria – the President dropped the Bomb: Immediate implementation of the IPPIS. As I illustrated earlier, who be monkey to tell how oga go give am banana?
ASSU and NLC,please sheath your rusty daggers, climb into your PRADO jeeps. Ask your members where are the results of the research grants? Many are building mansions or buying jeeps. In Chess, we say checkmate.The old, “uncertificated ” man – a graduate of the Defence Services Senior Staff College, Wellington, India ( one of the world’s most respected Military staff colleges) and the United States Army War College – and he is still an illiterate – again trashed you.