From my little knowledge of how government and appointments into public offices work in my service to fatherland this far, I have never heard of the magnitude of Money-for-job scandal that was recently blown open in Bayelsa State.
Yes, scammers are everywhere scavenging the entire terrain looking for the vulnerable to deceive, cajole or out-rightly coerce into parting with money for some “packaged” favours in terms of “goods” or “services.” In our local lingo here in Nigeria, we call such scammers as “419” or “OBT.” According to S.419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code, it refers to “Any person who by any false pretence, and with intent to defraud, obtains from any other person anything capable of being stolen, or induces any other person to deliver to any person anything capable of being stolen, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years.”
The section further provides that if the thing is of the value of one thousand naira or upwards, he is liable to imprisonment for seven years and that it is immaterial that the thing is obtained or its delivery is induced through the medium of a contract induced by false pretence.
Instructively, the precursor, Section 418 provides that “any representation made by words, writing, or conduct, of a matter of fact, either past or present, which representation is false in fact, and which the person making it knows to be false or does not believe to be true, is a false pretence.”
In the foregoing wise, I find it incongruous, bizarre and absurd for a politician in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to allegedly demand and receive a whooping N400million from a fellow party man to secure for him a ministerial appointment in the “Change” administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to media reports yet to be debunked, leaders and members of the APC in Bayelsa State were jolted by the revelations that former Governor Timipre Sylva collected the sum of N400million from Senator Heineken Lokpobiri as bribe for his appointment as minister in return. The swift suspension of Sylva by the state chapter of the party at the weekend underscored the seriousness of the saga. Besides, there were also reports of fresh allegations of bribe scandal over federal appointments currently rocking the APC.
Added reports had it that the selling and buying of federal appointment came to the open because the minister was said to have been miffed that inspite of the alleged N400million paid to the former governor, all he got in the bargain was an appointment as junior minister in charge of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Although the minister has since dismissed the claims, which he described as an untrue rumour being “orchestrated by an insignificant few within the party,” not a few watchers of political developments in the country are hoodwinked by what many now see as volte face against the backdrop of the consequences it attracts to the Buhari administration and its anti-corruption war.
In a statement authored by his Special Assistant on Media, Donald Ojogo, the minister said the crisis in the Bayelsa APC was being “oiled by some external forces who feel threatened about their political future, especially as the APC challenges the outcome of the last governorship election at the Election Petition Tribunal.”
Lokpobiri further stated that he was found worthy for the position and as such, was appointed by the president, stressing that he didn’t have to pay to become minister.
Not to be beaten to its own game, the PDP in the state were to react thus on Monday: “The PDP is not surprised that the APC is fighting over the issue of buying and selling of federal appointments, even as we were alarmed that the ministerial slot cost the sum of N400 million because such is the nature and character of the personalities who once held positions of leadership in the state.”
My take on the foregoing saga is as usual very simple and straight-forward. Come to think of it, a matter as clear as this does not really require much commentary to drive home one’s point.
In this clime and indeed globally, humanity holds that there can be no smoke without fire. That it took a senior APC member to first divulge what was supposed to be a top secret deal between two other senior party men underscores the hypothetical truth that there was a deal in the first place. That it has gone awry gave vent to disclosure of the details. And in spite of the denials and counters as per the deal, it will require an inquisition by relevant authorities to do the needful.
But more especially, methinks that the time has come for Buhari and his aides who truly believe in his “Change” advocacy to identify and sift out appointees that have continued to rubbish the administration’s war against corruption in all forms. By now, the president must have realised that there are a lot of pretenders in his team. There are many who do not share his vision for a positively changed Nigeria. Like logs of dead woods, they remain in the nation’s pathway to glory land as stumbling blocks while pretending to be crusading alongside the president. The incidents of budget padding and reported corrupt practices in the nation’s Treasury Single Account, TSA, efforts for instance, remain sad reminders of the many cogs in the administration’s wheel of progress. Simply put, such are the characteristics of vision killers.
Thus beyond over-feeding Nigerians with the arrests and prosecutions of suspects in the Dasukigate arms scandal, the administration must begin to flush out vision killers within. Accordingly, sellers and buyers of jobs in the administration should be given the same treatment now to forestall greater scandals as the administration gets older. Sections 418 and 419 in the country’s Criminal Code are not there for nothing. After all, if for a ministerial job, one pays N400million, for the post of Secretary to Government, for instance, we should be soon read reports of N2billion as price tag.
The import of this is easily deduced: the more you pay, the more lucrative appointment can be secured for you. Yes; who knows; had the minister of state, Agriculture and Natural Resources paid a bigger price, he may have gotten his desired appointment of substantive ministerial job for as it stands today in Nigeria, a minister of state is like the Vice President, Deputy Governor and Vice Chairman. He is likened to the spare tyre of a vehicle. It has no use until the main tyre has issues. Thus, in the expectation of appointees to such “spare tyre” offices, there is just no room to recoup whatever expenses that may have been incurred ahead of the appointment.
So, when a party man reportedly pays N400million for a federal appointment and gets a “spare tyre” role in government, his angst with the supposed facilitator becomes very understandable.


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