Corruption has virtually become a way of life in our dear country. Most public officers are inclined towards seeking or creating loopholes and avenues through which they can circumvent or misappropriate public funds at the detriment of suffering majority.
In all public institutions, there are codes of conduct guiding their operations. For example, civil servants are employed, posted or deployed based on merit, experience and qualification. Regrettably, due to the prevailing corrupt tendencies that have redounded our conduct, merit, experience and qualification have been relegated to the background. Consequently, in times of employment, posting or development the relevant requisite are no longer considered, instead, nepotism, connection and god-fatherism have become the factors guiding our appointive, posting and recruitment system.
It is a fact that there is now in existence the terminology known in our parlance as juicy appointment, lucrative appointment or lucrative or juicy office. For instance; securing employment or appointment in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited or Finance Ministry are considered juicy, while employment or appointment in non income generating public institutions are widely accepted reluctantly.
The general belief of most Nigerians is that securing employment or appointment in the classified (so called) juicy institutions would pave way for the acquisition of extra monetary benefit which are mostly illegal and beyond one’s statutory emolument. It is obvious that corrupt tendencies have infiltrated into all aspects of our national life; a situation where available public funds are siphoned or embezzled by those entrusted to manage our common patrimony.
Similarly, there virtually no public services, rights or privileges are rendered to bona fide citizens for free.
In our hospitals, police stations, institutions of learning and other public agencies, benefiting from any services or even securing a contract, one must forfeit certain percentage or be ready to provide monetary gratification before accessing any service rights or privileges from the authorities concerned. That is how nasty the Nigerian story has degenerated to.
However, all hope is not lost as there still exist many Nigerians of impeachable and proven integrity that can be found in all facets of our national life.
It is, therefore, commendable for a public officer to have voluntarily refunded about N195 million which was presumed to have been utilised or expended by the agency he is heading.
This was exemplified recently by the Managing Director of Kano State Urban Planning and Development Authority (KNUPDA), Arc. Suleiman Ahmed Abdulwahab. It was about four years ago, at a time the àgency had concluded plans of constructing modern and befitting shops at the hitherto unplanned and chaotic open space, popularly called “Yan’tebura” section of the famous Kantin-Kwari Textile Market in Kano City.
The envisaged shops were expected to reprove the inordinate placing of wooden and steel benches and tables that were used in the open space by traders to display their wares. KNUPDA called for the purchase of expression of interest forms at the rate of N65, 000.00 unrefundable fees for prospective shop allotees. Consequently, about 3050 prospective bidders obtained the expression of interest forms from the agency.
However, the shops were eventually constructed and allocated to successful bidders at a cost specified by the agency which cumulatively corresponded with the construction cost paid to the contractors by KNUPDA.
The agency successfully paid the construction firm with funds equivalent to the total amount paid by the beneficiaries of the shops allocation; which means the initial N65, 000 paid by prospective bidders of the shops as expression of interest fee, was not used or expended by KNUPDA.
Consequently, the managing director of KNUPDA had penultimate week, announced at a meeting with the agency’s departmental directors, his decision to refund the N65, 000.00 to all the traders that had earlier paid expression of interest and bidding fees. Interestingly, the agency has since started the refund to all traders who came forward with their receipts of payment.
The agency is expected to pay N195 million to about 3050 traders who had earlier paid the non refundable N65, 000 as bidding and processing fees, for the allocation of shops at the Yantebura section of Kantin Kwari Textile Market in Kano.
Worthy of note is the fact that, in virtually all institutions and organisations across the country, it remains a common practice that money paid by prospective bidders for expression of interest for contract or for allocation purposes, is never refunded to either successful or unsuccessful bidders.
It is on this note, I commend the patriotic gesture Suleiman Abdulwahab for resisting the temptation and denouncing personal greed which could have become a silent but illegal avenue for embezzlement and misappropriation of the hard earned resources of thousands of low income earners.
Mohammed Isa Bilal,
Royal Publicity Publishing Company,
No. 8 Shendam Street Jos,