Fuel subsidy probe & Federal Govt’s vicarious liability, By Nasiru Suwaid

Nasiru Suwaid

At the inception of time, there was the universal story of Adam and Eve. In the context of the story, it was the period when the woman became a woe to man and set the train of lust, love and marriage; which led to human multiplication, an evolving population and the need to form groups which in turn became societies.

No matter the imperfection of the evolution of human societies – either through democratic means or the draconian route of a conquest, one thing that is fundamental in the origination of a strong and viable state. It is the inherent agreement of such a society having core normative values which the people regard as the basic for belonging to the group. As such, a British subject pledges total allegiance to the Queen, an American dogmatically espouses the mantra of global capitalism, and a Chinese professes strict adherence to the doctrine of communism, while enjoying the decadent but wonderful profit margins of a free market economy.

Thus, when in the beginning of the month of August, the federal executive council at its weekly sitting’s, decided on the adoption of the second stanza of the national anthem as the official deed of prayers at official government functions, instead of the usual religious prayer sessions; majority of Nigerians, despite their perpetual irrational stance on matters concerning faith, never out-rightly condemned the new governmental policy. Perhaps, this is because of the belief that most of persons who conduct and participate in such doctrinal ventures, did not attach much expectation to an exercise merely undertaken to satisfy outward communal façade.

More so, the second stanza of the national anthem is unlike the religious prayer sessions that seem to expose our divisiveness on matters of faith, as each of the adherents of the two official religions, conduct their own spiritual exercises and admonishing separately. In addition, neither by our present habitual character nor in the way government officials in Nigeria usually perform their duties, would power of prayers seem to be effectual in guarding and guiding the basic traits of honesty, integrity and Godliness.

The Nigerian National Anthem like the scripted code of ethics of any country in the world is a document of aspiring behavioral etiquettes, which contains a set of goals to be attained by the citizens of such country. It is usually a noble vision premised on an ideal situation of patriotism, excellent character traits and deep communal unity. These are typical values that seem lacking in many Nigerians citizens of nowadays; despite the sustained efforts by present and past governments at preaching of noble objective for an ideal perfect state.

The adopted second stanza of the Nigerian anthem began with acknowledging the creative supremacy of God, after which it craved for his guidance and direction of our leaders to the right course. Then, the stanza sought the almighty’s grace in helping our youths to the path of truth and love. It also sought for growth of Nigeria into the lofty heights built on peace and justice, the twin corresponding ideals on which the rule of law is premised upon.

Unfortunately, it was this saintly and most noble aspiration that was punctured last week, when the Honorable Minister of Finance and Coordination Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala reacted to a purported blackmail by indicted members of petroleum marketers, over a threat to embark on a national strike for the enforcing of the necessary payments of their valid dues.

She asserted that for the cabal for to be able to go on importing the desperately needed Petroleum Motor Spirit, Nigerian government is ready to negotiate with them and settle their claims; insofar as their alleged criminal activities are not far from her visionary viewpoint and they are willing to talk to her.

The question is if minister in Nigeria should negotiate with persons indicted for criminal infractions of the law, if it is not under the powers of the Attorney General of the Federation. The AGF is the only person legally and constitutionally empowered to conduct such negotiations. Usually, such negotiations are conducted on the premises of powers and functions of his office, ordinarily to measure as to how those legal stipulations violated could be remedied, either in a plea deal that offers a soft landing to an offender or as a means of laying the harsh reality of probable culpability in a criminal complicity.

Ms. Iweala’s action constitutes a clear case of illegal usurpation of powers, where an individual holding the ministerial reigns of coordinating the economy, sought to cajole persons suspected of being at the edges of law, with a sweetheart deal of mere contractual terms of business.

Any government that chooses not to prosecute persons suspected of breaking its laws and sabotaging its effort at providing a key commodity to its social, economic and industrial lifeline cannot cry of any attempt at sabotaging its efforts.

After all, even if the current administration proclaims a suspicion on the motives of the controversial Farouk Lawan’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Probe indictment, it was Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala who singlehandedly nominated and appointed Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede’s federal governments Presidential Technical Committee on Fuel Subsidy Management. As such it is bound to accept indictments issued to individuals found to have violated the law. Thus the right course is to deal with the matter, not on the premises of filial personal relationships of estranged business colleagues, but on the harsh dictates of the extant laws of the Nigerian nation.


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