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The Waterfronts Parliament: The Restless Mind Of Injibabo

Injibabo, the Fisherman of the Waterfronts, was at the sea throughout the night. He never allows the fishes to have a good night rest and so like the proverbial child that denies his mother a good sleep, he too would not sleep. The tortoise will not sleep, the rope he was tied to, too, can not sleep. He cast his net from one promontory to the other, keeping the fishes restless. His wife has got used to sleeping without him at night. She has complained bitterly enough and has taken refuge in the adage, “What cannot be cured must be endured.” Fortunately, for her, Injibabo compensates her by spending the day in the house, throughout. So babies were still made and a rapport exists between them as she sees her husband always, whenever she returns from selling the fishes. Only the attendance of the Parliamentary Session of the People of the Waterfronts, makes her miss him for a few hours.
He sat down, tired, in the Parliamentary Hall of the People of the Waterfronts, waiting for the appointed time to begin deliberations. Like a workaholic, his mind was not as tired as him. It jumped from one event to the other. First it landed on the issue of the 2013 budget. Really as a mind owned by a fisherman, it could not go beyond its scope. It has heard that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has just given what he would likely spend in 2013. The total got up to N4.92trillion. Injibabo’s mind could not fathom what a trillion naira looks like. It just imagined that if the naira notes were to be changed to N50 notes, it would fill about four or five of the Parliamentary Hall of the People of the Waterfronts, from floor to ceiling. Since Injibabo’s mind was not so developed to analyze the budget, it just picked up items of expenditure for the year 2013, here and there. It completely ignored the debate arising from the imaginary postulations of N75 benchmark price which the budget was based on as part of the sources of the revenue for the budget. Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of Finance who would have been the president of the World Bank but for intrigues, said the $75 benchmark price will safeguard what is precious to the economy which is the macro-economic stability of the country. On the other hand, the House of Representatives, led by Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, has insisted on $80 benchmark, arguing that, it would reduce the deficit in the budget and consequently reduce domestic borrowing by 66 percent. Whatever that means, Injibabo’s mind carefully refrained from things that are above it.
The fisherman’s mind of Injibabo pondered at the few items that attracted its attention. The president had said the sum of N74.26bn would be spent on power or if you like, electricity supply. For how long would we continue to donate billions of naira to this power project without results? Did Ghana and other countries waste so much billions, nay trillions, before they got constant electricity? Or is Nigeria the largest country in the world? If it is, why can’t we at least electrify the capital cities first before proceeding gradually to others?
The budget, Injibabo’s mind also noted, voted N279.23bn for health. That is good, if it will make our hospitals good enough for the ‘big men’ and big women’ to get treatment there. Defence was allocated N348.91bn. Every year, their budget increases, yet insecurity pervade the country. No one speaks against it. At Aluu in Rivers State, security personnel have been drafted after the killing of four University of PortHarcourt students. They are safe-guarding the place against reprisal attacks. A report in one of the dailies of October 11, 2012, stated, “The soldiers and policemen barricaded the roads, checking the few people and vehicles passing. The community has been deserted by the residents, especially the vigilance members who allegedly killed the young men. The spokesman of the 2 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Bori Camp, Port Harcourt, Major Michael Etete, described the heavy deployment of soldiers and other security personnel as one of the proactive measures taken by the security agencies to quickly restore normalcy to the area. Rivers police spokesman, Ben Ugwuegbulam, said the security men were there to protect lives and property of law-abiding citizens.” Beautiful. That is how it is supposed to be. But, has anyone imagined what would have happened if four soldiers or four policemen were paraded naked like the four students, beaten and burnt openly? What do you think would have happened to that community by now? Have you forgotten Odi in Bayelsa State and Zaki Biam? Let us forget the recent ones. Surely all animals are equal, but some are more equal.
In the budget, Injibabo’s mind went on galloping, the sum of N319.65bn was voted for the police. Will this huge amount restrict them from harassing innocent citizens, including drivers? Will it stop them from running away from hoodlums, when they are in action, only coming back to arrest all around after the perpetrators have left? Will the N81.41bn voted for agriculture and rural development make any impact? According to the President, “It is a budget that gives priority to our concerns for security, infrastructure, food security and human development sectors. It is a budget that introduces a series of innovative features. This budget is a push in the right direction borne out of our well thought out and articulated development policies. This is a budget for every Nigerian. It belongs to the farmer, the investor, the entrepreneur, the youth and the elderly.”
The restless mind of Injibabo, the Fisherman of the Waterfronts, would have been satiated with the encouraging words of the President. Yet it was worried. It was clearly disturbed by the echo of the voice of Speaker Aminu Tambuwal in his vote of thanks after the presentation of the 2013 budget by the President to a joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday, October 10, 2012. Among other things, Tambuwal said, “Since 2010, the Appropriation Act has legislated that the excess crude component of the federation account be operated under separate records for purpose of transparency, and accountability. Besides, section 30 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act makes it mandatory for the budget office to submit budget implementation Assessment reports to the National Assembly and the Fiscal Responsibility Commission on a quarterly basis and to publish same on the Ministry of Finance website.
“The President may be unaware that the National Assembly is neither availed evidence of implementation of this policy along with the records of Federal Government’s portion of the excess crude funds, nor the quarterly implementation reports as required under the two Acts. Mr. President may wish to give appropriate directives to ensure full and speedy compliances by relevant agencies.”
Tambuwal went on to comment on the level of implementation of the 2012 budget, “As I speak, interim field oversight reports from House Committees on the 2012 budget implementation are clearly unimpressive both in terms of releases as well as utilization and this is a great challenge to all of us.”
The fear of the mind of Injibabo, was based on the alleged unimpressive implementation of last year’s budget. It wondered if the same would not be said of the 2013 budget.
The confused mind of Injibabo was interrupted by the Oldman of the Waterfronts. The appointed time has come and he jumped up to appease the ancestors, to ensure peaceful deliberations. He picked up the bottle of the local white brew with his left hand, just as his right hand picked up the little glass cup. He filled it and began his call to the ancestors.
“Odumodu, great ancestor of the People of the Waterfronts, we greet you. As usual, we are with the local white brew, your favourite. Take, drink and let us find meaning in the ways of the People of the City.
“Odumodu, he who dwells at the domain between the Land and the Sea, we do not know what the People of the City have done. The entire City is being flooded. Perhaps it is a natural way to wash out their atrocities. If so, we welcome the flood. We know that the federal government has doled out N500 million to assuage the pains of those affected, while the business magnate, Aliko Dangote alone, has given N430 million to Kogi State. Odumodu, we implore you to prevent the People of the City from frittering it away like the pension funds. Take, drink and help us.
“Otumo-Ogugu, Favourite of the Maidens, he who goes in and out of the Maidens detecting the unfaithful ones. Take, drink and be by the side of Odumodu, our great ancestor.
“Osokolo another Favourite of the Maidens, he who pursues the Maidens out of the Waterfronts reminding them of their domestic duties, take and join your co-ancestors to ensure sanity in the city.”
The Oldman of the Waterfronts refilled the little glass cup, upturned it into his mouth, swallowed it gently and allowed the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup to move round the Parliamentary Hall. ###
By Kenneth Amabipi
0803 668 7846
Email: kennymaps@yahoo.co.uk

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