•The minister and others who presided over the fuel subsidy scam have no moral right to retain their posts
There are two ways to interpret the reluctance of the Federal Government to act decisively by firing officials of the petroleum ministry at the centre of the subsidy scam. The first is that the Jonathan administration has become so impervious to legitimate demands by citizens that government appointees – like Caesar’s wife – be seen to be above board at all times, as to be contemptuous of their opinions. The other is that the affected officials are indispensable to the administration to such an extent that it would risk the odium of Nigerians to keep them on board. Either way, we consider their retention in government as setting a new low in public service.
We refer here to the continuing retention of Diezani Alison-Madueke, the Minister of Petroleum, in the federal cabinet. The same applies to the executives of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Petroleum Product Prices Regulatory Authority (PPPRA) as indeed all other high officials of the Jonathan administration that had anything remotely to do with the fuel subsidy scam.
Agreed, none of the officials have been convicted of any crime(s), yet. They needn’t be. To start with, it is the job of the anti-graft agencies to sift through the probe document by the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy to determine those to be brought to trial. However, knowing how tardy the judicial system is, and given the half-hearted commitment by the anti-graft bodies to the fight against corruption, we would not even go as far as raising any expectations that the government would go after those indicted by the lower parliament – or even act on the House report at all.
It is however a different call for minister Alison-Madueke and her officials in the petroleum ministry. We must emphasise that one of the burdens necessarily imposed on those privileged to serve in the public service is recognising when to quit. That a high official whose ministry came under intense searchlight would insist on being at the driver’s seat – and well after the earth-shaking revelations of fraud were established – and would still choose to carry on in office as if nothing happened has become a new index in measuring the parting of ways between our officials and shame.
We are saying here that the minister and her top officials ought to have handed in their letters of resignation long ago. Their hyper-activism in the wake of the House probe impresses no one, least of all, Nigerians who have now seen the hollow posturing of the administration for what it is – a mere smokescreen. The scandal brought untold embarrassment on the nation as consequence of their failure of oversight. Added to the moral lapse in failing to exercise the voluntary option of throwing in the towel is their continuing occupation of cosy offices.
The President should take the drastic option of firing Alison-Madueke and co – now.
We say this because nothing makes her and the other officials indispensable. Much as we recognise the prerogative of the President to hire and fire his appointees, the matter goes to the heart of the question whether the President can afford to keep her and the other officials under whose watch the grave economic crimes were committed in office, without courting the odium of Nigerians for himself and his government.
At the risk of sounding too obvious, what is needed now in the petroleum ministry is a thorough cleansing of its Augean stable. We do not see how officials generally seen in the eyes of Nigerians as tainted by scandal could be part of the cleansing process. It does not make sense. For the umpteenth time, we say it is time to let Diezani Alison-Madueke and others go!
Source: The Nation