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Why Citizens Voices' Should Count in Spending Resources that are Meant to serve Them

Open Letter to Senator Yahaya Gumau: 

Why Citizens Voices' Should Count in Spending Resources that are Meant to serve Them
By Mohammed Chiroma

In Nigeria today, choosing what to write alone is a serious task of its own for there are countless pressing topics that should be written about. Even though talking or writing to some extent makes no much impact in our context today but still remains the only biggest gateways to relieve some internal pains and also share the unfortunate scenarios with wider communities.

It is a well-known fact that inclusion is the main ingredient of any democratic government, but to us in Nigeria, most of these key ingredients are mostly seen in vague speeches. Democracy bespeaks the representation of people in governance and decision-making processes. Representation in a democracy is expected to be the summation of voices of the population and not the other way round. 
Dirty corrupt practices and mismanagement of public resources that cannot even be imagined no longer make headlines for they have become a normal thing amongst us and have become to some extent things to brag about. We all have heard the claim made by the ex-Bauchi state governor to have spent the sum of Two Billion, Three Hundred Million Naira (N2,300,000,000) to buy burial materials in just five months (January - May, 2019), to me this is the peak of misplacement of priority I have ever witnessed in my life. How on earth will government officials continue to cheat people at the bottom of the pyramid alive and to their graves, too.

Most of these people die of hunger, preventable diseases such as malaria, typhoid, maternal mortality and childbirth due to lack of good infrastructures that will take care of them and the same government officials will retain and continue to use their names to siphon money meant to serve the remaining masses alive. In the end, the whole drama ends with the only debate between the past and the incumbent administration; past administration claiming that the money is wrongly quoted as 2.30 Billion instead of 1.27 Billion. Just similar to this, federal ministry of health claimed to have spent a total of 37m to procure 1,808 pieces of disposable face masks. This brings the cost of a single mask to outrageous N20,467.

A recent publication by Day Light Reporters, an online newspaper on 24th December, 2020 with the heading “Senator Donates 27 Buses to Muslims, Christian Groups in Bauchi” drew my attention to write this. Some few months back, Tracka.ng, a social accountability project platform by BudgITng published a constituency project for Bauchi South Senatorial District indicating that Two Hundred and Twenty Million Naira (N220,000,000) is budgeted for the purchase of used cars and the description goes this way; Seventy Million Naira (N70,000,000) for the supply of fairly used Galaxy cars for some associations in Bauchi south senatorial district, Seventy Million Naira (N70,000,000) for the supply of fairly used Toyota Corolla for some selected youths in Bauchi South senatorial district and Eighty Million Naira (N80,000,000) for the supply of fairly used Honda cars for some selected youths in Bauchi state.

This is someone that while in the House served in numerous committees such as the Army, Banking and currency, climate change, Agricultural Production and Services, and Public Account. It is sad that all these experiences gathered over time add no value to his constituency. Based on the interaction with some of the community leaders and youth groups from the constituency, to them, the project is not welcomed and no one contacted them before making such decision, they also maintained that they lack basic amenities and that makes the project irrelevant and that if the said amount were to be used judiciously, it will do a lot of good to the constituency.

That aside, are 27 cars shared the only number 220 Million Naira can buy? If we do simple arithmetic, 220 Million can buy a total number of 110 used cars – each at the cost of 2 Million (2*110 = 220). Where has the remaining money meant for the cars gone to? When should we expect the remaining 83 cars? A whole lot of questions begging for answers would simply go unanswered because there is no inclusion, proper consultation and was not done for the genuine interest of the communities in need.

Mohammed Chiroma Hassan is an advocate for social accountability and can be reached via mchisawa@gmail.com

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