ANDREW ESSIEN writes on the recent mass sack of heads of several parastatals and the undercurrents that heralded the tsunami of sorts.
President Muhammadu Buhari in one fell swoop, disengaged several director -generals of federal government agencies and parastatals who had their political umbilical cord traced back to the immediate-past Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration.
The move underscored was the political realities of a no love lost relationship between persons who actively participated in the old order and the governing All Progressives Congress (APC).
Infact, pundits were agitated because these people occupied sensitive positions in which their continued stay could create serious problems for the government of the day. This was brought to the fore when certain questionable figures were worked into the budget without the knowledge of ministers superintending over the various ministries where these DGs held sway.
Moreso, there were increasing disquiet within the rank and file of the APC that these positions were supposed to be the “dividends” of the hard work they had put into the campaigns that secured massive victory for the party at the 2015 general elections.
Besides, party faithfuls argued that the relieved DGs could be accessing resources (even if it was only their entitlements) with which they could be fighting the government.
This was perhaps why when it could not be accepted anymore, concerned party stalwarts began the complaints that eventually resulted in the massive sack.
The APC governorship candidates for Rivers and Akwa-Ibom states, Dakuku Peterside and Umana Umana were among the first of several party faithful to give voice to the agitations for such sack.
This was the narrative when they led a high level delegation to the party secretariat, after the Supreme Court judgement that favored PDP governors Wike and Udom. They expressed concerns that they were in the cold having worked assiduously for the enthronement of the party at the state and the national level.
Speaking on behalf of his delegation, Dr. Dakuku Peterside said: “It will interest you to know that many of our members, supporters and sympathisers are still at a loss to see us work as orphans. We have a herculean task explaining to them that we actually form government at the centre. It is like, we lost the elections. To an overwhelming majority of them, the only indication that we might be part of government at the federal level is because our leader and Director General of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign which led to a people’s revolution that defeated the former ruling party, and former Governor of the State, Rt. Hon. Chubuike Rotimi Amaechi is a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The concerns of our members are re-enforced by the fact that more than eight months after APC has formed government at the Federal Level, notable PDP chieftains and members who spent State resources to work assiduously against us (APC) are still occupying strategic federal government positions, dispensing patronages to PDP members to the disadvantage and chagrin of APC members.
Peterside added that as a result of the unflinching support party leaders and members gave President Buhari and the APC, they have been exposed to undue attacks and hatred and internal discriminations.
He said: “We are called all sorts of names including being branded as traitors and almost live like outcast in our communities and environments…Even today, we are not out of danger as we a killed, molested, maimed and insulted”.
Among their key request was the urgent replacement of all agents and heads of agencies that the immediate-past federal government administration used to frustrate the Change Revolution; Purge of vestiges of and sympathisers for the immediate-past federal government administration.
They also added that political appointments in all Federal government Ministries, Departments and Agencies including ambassadorial positions be made to reflect the current realities of a change of government.
Analysts posit that this is perhaps the clearest of signs that the president, Muhammadu Buhari had heard their lamentations and had done the needful, saving his administration from being dragged behind by persons who may not share in his vision.
To further drive home the point, national chairman of the APC Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, had recently said the governing party was concerned about alleged internal sabotage going on in some agencies which were headed by people appointed by the PDP.
Odigie-Oyegun spoke with State House correspondents after leading some members of the party’s National Working Committee to a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
When asked to react on the purge, he said, “APC members were not concerned about the positions, we are concerned about the internal sabotage that is going on in a lot of the PDP-filled positions which are critical to our national growth and development.
“It is happening in INEC, it is happening in a lot of other institutions and that is what the concern of the party is, not necessarily taking over.
“We should take over and there should be people who believe in the change agenda, we have no apologies for that at all.”
He said it was at the President’s discretion to decide how soon the replacements for the sacked officials would come.
According to Odigie-Oyegun, there is no confusion on the 2016 budget as people are being made to believe.
He said, “There is absolutely no confusion. This is a serious issue. I want you to please understand the complications that come from adjusting a structure from over 40 ministries to just over 20 ministries and the necessary adjustments of figures and movements of institutions that, that entails.
“It was very complicated, so it is natural that adjustments have to be made to the process and that is just what is happening.”
Pundits aver that reports of large-scale fraud in agencies contributed immensely in compelling President Muhammadu Buhari to order the sack. Infact, one of the sacked DG allegedly spent several billions on last year’s PDP’s presidential campaign.
It would be recalled that the government had accused ‘a mafia’ of allegedly tampered with the proposed 2016 budget. The Ministry of Budget and National planning had also promised to investigate and punish those responsible for the errors and strange figures found in the budget, which was presented to the National Assembly by the President in December, 2015.
As much as the revelations so far are mind-boggling, most analysts have expressed shock that some of these chief executives could dare to allegedly continued with such impunity even after a new government has taken over. A situation where a whopping 10 billion was hidden in the education budget which was uncovered by the senate has caused embarrassment for the government, with the opposition accusing it of not being prepared for governance.
Could these sacked DGs be responsible for the 2016 Budget which was filled with errors, doctored figures and discrepancies which led many to accuse the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government of trying to use the budget to steal from Nigerians? Only time will tell.