Ms Buhari and the pres­i­den­tial jet ad­ven­ture

The Punch - - VIEWPOINT - Ni­ran Ade­dokun

PUblic dis­cus­sions around the use of a pres­i­den­tial jet by one of the daugh­ters of the Pres­i­dent, Ma­jor Gen­eral Muham­madu buhari (retd.), Hanan, early this week were mis­di­rected, in my opin­ion. Rather than con­cen­trate on le­gal­ism, Nige­ri­ans should have con­sid­ered the ethics of the is­sue at hand. They should have looked at the mul­ti­plier ef­fect it will pos­si­bly have on the phi­los­o­phy of those who have ac­cess to public re­sources across the coun­try.

To my mind, this wide­spread fail­ure sig­ni­fies some­thing even more wor­ri­some than the fre­quent malfea­sances of our coun­try’s lead­ers: Nige­ri­ans’ seem­ing lack of a sense of pro­pri­ety. Ev­ery man is fal­li­ble in some way or the other, so it is fal­la­cious to ex­pect to have saints lead­ing the coun­try, no mat­ter what they say. How­ever, the peo­ple of a coun­try, re­gard­less of their po­si­tion, should have a sense of what is ap­pro­pri­ate or not. Such moral codes should be the guide of lead­ers who have the re­spon­si­bil­ity of work­ing in the best in­ter­est of the cit­i­zens.

Here is an in­stance for con­sid­er­a­tion: Just be­fore the end of last year, Daily Mail, a bri­tish news­pa­per, pub­lished a story with this long head­line: “The cat­tle class Prime Min­is­ter: ‘Low pro­file’ Boris John­son and girl­friend car­rie Sy­monds save the tax­payer tens of thou­sands by fly­ing econ­omy on £1,300 Bri­tish Air­ways tick­ets to their Caribbean New Year break.”

The story in­formed read­ers about how the bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter, boris John­son, and his girl­friend, car­rie Sy­monds, sat qui­etly at the back of the Bri­tish Air­ways air­craft in the en­tire du­ra­tion of a flight ad­mi­ra­tion of other pas­sen­gers. Their des­ti­na­tion was the North Amer­i­can coun­try of St Lu­cia. The re­port es­ti­mated that the BA flight could have some­thing in the re­gion of 2,646 pounds ster­ling for the cou­ple as against 100,000 pounds ster­ling that us­ing a Royal Air Force pri­vate jet would have cost! The re­port re­vealed an­other in­ter­est­ing point as fol­lows: “it is un­der­stood the cou­ple were not of­fered an up­grade on the flight due to strict anti-bribery and cor­rup­tion rules in place at air­lines…”

Here is a so­ci­ety gov­erned by ethics but even more than that, a

PRIOR to Jan­uary 15, 2019, the name Mo­hammed Abubakar Adamu rang lit­tle or no bell amongst Nige­ri­ans. One year on, the story has changed as al­most ev­ery house­hold in the coun­try is fa­mil­iar with not just the name but also the face of the In­spec­tor-gen­eral of Po­lice, M.A. Adamu, NPM, mni. but then, who is Mo­hammed Abubakar Adamu? And how well has he fared in the task of polic­ing Nige­ria within his one year in of­fice as the 20th indige­nous In­spec­tor-gen­eral of Po­lice?

While many po­lice of­fi­cers are fit for em­ploy­ment only in Nige­ria, Adamu is em­i­nently qual­i­fied for em­ploy­ment as a law en­force­ment of­fi­cer any­where in the world. In ad­di­tion to his vast polic­ing ex­pe­ri­ence within Nige­ria, he also has in his kitty ro­bust in­ter­na­tional law en­force­ment ex­pe­ri­ence gar­nered whilst he was on sec­ond­ment to the in­ter­na­tional crim­i­nal Po­lice Sec­re­tariat, lyon France be­tween 1997 and 2002. Whilst at the INTERPOL, he served as a spe­cialised of­fi­cer on Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial crimes, a po­si­tion he held cred­itably well, lead­ing to his nu­mer­ous pro­mo­tions and com­men­da­tions, cul­mi­nat­ing in his ap­point­ment as a full-fledged Di­rec­tor in­charge of the African sub-direc­torate at the same sec­re­tariat. To­day, he holds the record as the first ever African to be made a di­rec­tor in the over 82year his­tory of INTERPOL. IGP Adamu has led sev­eral crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions for Nige­ria in the UK, the USA, Switzer­land, Hong Kong, Tai­wan, etc. To make him per­fectly global, he, in ad­di­tion to speak­ing Hausa and other Nige­rian lan­guages, speaks English and French lan­guages flu­ently.

Adamu holds a b.sc (Hons) de­gree in Ge­og­ra­phy from the Ah­madu bello Univer­sity (1983) and a Mas­ter’s de­gree in In­ter­na­tional crim­i­nal Jus­tice Sys­tem from the Univer­sity of Portsmouth, United King­dom (2018). He is a proud alum­nus of the pres­ti­gious Na­tional in­sti­tute for Pol­icy and Strate­gic Stud­ies, Kuru, Jos, Plateau State where he grad­u­ated as a mem­ber of the Se­nior Ex­ec­u­tive course 38 in 2017. In recog­ni­tion of his in­ter­na­tional pro­fes­sional ex­po­sure, the God­frey Okoye Univer­sity, Enugu awarded the IGP an hon­orary Doc­tor of Phi­los­o­phy de­gree in in­ter­na­tional con­scious­ness of the cost of public ex­pen­di­ture on the cit­i­zenry. Yet, it is a coun­try with far bet­ter hu­man de­vel­op­ment in­dexes than Nige­ria could dream ofin decades. The United King­dom, whose Prime Min­is­ter chose to take a 1,323 pounds long-haul com­mer­cial flight, is the coun­try said to em­ploy and pro­vide hu­mane work­ing con­di­tions for at least 12 im­mi­grant Nige­rian doc­tors ev­ery week. Those doc­tors daily leave this coun­try in droves out of frus­tra­tion. Yet, Nige­ria, which bears the worst pos­si­ble in­dices on a lot of fronts, is spend­ing a whop­ping N8.51bn to main­tain the pres­i­den­tial fleet in 2020. This is 1/5 of the to­tal sum of N46.48bn pro­posed for cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture for the health sec­tor in the 2020 bud­get. it is the to­tal pro­posed amount for the ex­e­cu­tion of projects in the 20 teach­ing hos­pi­tals, 22 fed­eral med­i­cal cen­tres and 13 spe­cial­ist cen­tres run by the Fed­eral Min­istry of Health! There is a chance that some­one would ar­gue that the United King­dom is a more ad­vanced democ­racy and that is a fact. How­ever, the UK or any other coun­try for the mat­ter can only de­velop with the dili­gent ob­ser­vance of some ethos which guide public be­hav­iours.

While Nige­ri­ans on each side of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide have lit­er­ar­ily torn one an­other to pieces over this mat­ter in the past cou­ple of days, the ques­tion to ask is how much of these dis­cus­sions are in na­tional in­ter­est and ca­pa­ble of chang­ing the coun­try for good.

And the first im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion is this: even if it was not il­le­gal for Ms Buhari to have flown in a Pres­i­den­tial jet for this ur­gent busi­ness she had in bauchi, as the Pres­i­dent’s aide, Garba Shehu, made us to know, was it eth­i­cal? The an­swer is no, and i will ex­plain.

buhari was elected be­cause the peo­ple trusted him to change Nige­ria. And in chang­ing Nige­ria, the Pres­i­dent him­self iden­ti­fied the ju­di­cious use of public funds as an im­por­tant com­po­nent. Con­cern­ing the air­craft in the Pres­i­den­tial fleet, he had specif­i­cally promised to take a look at what they cost Nige­ria and cut down on the waste. There were moves by the regime to sell off two of the air­craft of the pres­i­den­tial fleet dur­ing its first term but the dis­ci­pline to ex­pect on this front should in­clude how and who uses the air­planes and for what pur­pose.

The Pres­i­dent has in­deed taken a few steps to match words with ac­tion on the prom­ise to cost public ex­pen­di­ture. At the end of last month, Min­is­ter of in­for­ma­tion, cul­ture &Tourism, lai Mo­hammed, told news­men that the buhari regime had placed travel re­stric­tions on all his min­is­ters. He said min­is­ters could no longer un­der­take for­eign trips more than eight times in a year and that the num­ber of ac­com­pa­ny­ing aides had been re­duced. in ad­di­tion to this, he in­formed that al­lowances earned by min­is­ters dur­ing this trip would no longer be cal­cu­lated on an hourly ba­sis.

if the ar­gu­ment were to be le­gal­is­tic, these min­is­ters would be to­tally en­ti­tled to ev­ery­thing they hith­erto earned on for­eign trips. How­ever, there is a cur­rent re­al­ity, which makes it ex­pe­di­ent for sac­ri­fices that would free more money for col­lec­tive public good. it is in the same breath that even if there is a la­cuna as to the le­gal im­pli­ca­tions of chil­dren or other fam­ily mem­bers of the Pres­i­dent fly­ing in the pres­i­den­tial jet, the moral­ity of the war to sani­tise public ex­pen­di­ture cou­pled with the dis­heart­en­ing level of poverty in the coun­try im­poses cau­tion on buhari and his fam­ily.

And that takes us to the qual­ity of ad­vice that the Pres­i­dent gets. if those who work closely with him share his con­vic­tion about a bet­ter Nige­ria, they would have fore­seen the op­tics that this flight by Hanan would con­vey and ad­vised against it. And when the deed was done and Nige­ria re­acted the way they did, the larger pic­ture of the Pres­i­dent’s com­mit­ments should have guided the re­sponse rather than from the of­fen­sive de­viance from the pres­i­dency.

One other risk that we run with in­dis­cre­tions like the one un­der dis­cus­sion is that public of­fi­cers across board could take a cue from the event and start to abuse public re­sources. imag­ine a sit­u­a­tion where ev­ery public of­fice holder in­sists that their fam­i­lies must ben­e­fit from the en­ti­tle­ment of their of­fices since it is not il­le­gal. This was a ma­jor wis­dom be­hind the mon­eti­sa­tion pol­icy of the Obasanjo gov­ern­ment and now, buhari and his close associates have the huge re­spon­si­bil­ity of lead­ing a rev­o­lu­tion for eth­i­cal gov­er­nance.

A ma­jor dif­fer­ence be­tween the strong­est coun­tries of the world and strug­gling so­ci­eties like ours is in the moral and eth­i­cal stan­dards that guide public life. if Nige­ria truly de­sires to be great, there must be some ir­re­duc­ible eth­i­cal stan­dards to which ev­ery­one, gov­er­nor and the gov­erned, must sur­ren­der. And need­less to say, this move must start with the leader.

Twit­[email protected]­ranade­dokun

nade­[email protected]

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