By; Bala B. Bitrus, Minna.
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State has warned that there will be no sacred cow in his administration’s quest to bequeath good governance, purposeful leadership and in the practice of the rule of law.
He said his administration would not spare any local government chairman or public office holder who deviates from the part of honour in the discharge of his or her responsibilities in public office nor condone willful pilfering of public resources reposed in the custody of any pubic office holder.
Governor Bello vowed that while his administration is determined to ensure financial autonomy of local governments and to particularly divest his control of local governments’ funds, he warned however that any local government Chairman or official found to have misappropriated public funds in any way, no matter how little the amount involved is, and no matter how highly placed such a person could be, he/she would be dealt with according to the relevant laws.
Governor Bello gave this warning soon after swearing in the new Suleja Local Government Council Chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Shuaibu Maje in Government House, Minna on Thursday.
The Governor descended on some council Chairmen, whose identities he didn’t disclose but he said such elected council chiefs were known to be siphoning funds meant for payment of their workers’ salary and other monies for the general administration of their councils especially for the provision of infrastructural amenities and infrastructure.
He said such corrupt officials usually hide under the guise of using such funds on security matters but cautioned that misappropriation of public funds under whatever guise is a theft and therefore inimical to the development of the state.
“We noticed that some council cannot pay salaries even when we granted them autonomy and some of them are not making efforts to improve the revenue generation of their councils”. He revealed that the state government has been helping out such councils by supporting them to offset the backlog of their wage bills because they were owing workers’ salary.
Governor Bello lamented that even with the intervention by the state government, “some councils Chairmen have refused to pay their workers the outstanding salaries but they go about telling lies that their councils have no money but behind the scenes, they divert whatever is coming into the councils under the disguise of using it on security.
He warned that any council Chairman found diverting public funds would be treated not only as a saboteur but as a thief and delt with appropriatetly.
While calling on elected public office holders to be accountable, the Governor tasked all citizens to always hold their leaders accountable for resources put in their trust on behalf of all as a common wealth for the good use of all.
He reminded all council Chairmen that they “were elected to serve the people but not for their personal aggrandizement to polish their own selfish interest.
The Governor who took swipe on thieving public office holders, said “if you can’t be accountable to the people, then, don’t seek elective public office or accept political appointment” because according to him, those who go to equity must go with clean minds and hands to live above board.
And in order to ensure probity henceforth, Governor Bello directed Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in the state to conduct a forensic audit of all the account books and financial transactions of all the local governments that were in default of not paying salaries to their workers just as he reiterated that anyone found culpable of helping himself with public resources would be brought to book.
“I want a forensic audit of each Local Government Council by the Auditor General. And any Local Government Chairman found wanting would be suspended ” he declared.
The Governor congratulated the new Chairman of Suleja council area and advised him to be prudent with public resources, be fair to all and carry every body along in the council so as to ensure good governance and responsive administration.
Justice Aliyu Maiyaki of the State High Court had earlier administered the oath of office and of allegiance on the new Chairman, Abdullahi Maje who replaced the former Chairman, Ahmed Diko Kazeem who was removed in November last year over allegations of abuse of office, high handedness and misappropriation of public wealth.
By; Bala B. Bitrus, Minna.