Thursday, May 2, 2013

FG Accepts Responsibility

THE Federal Government appears to be in a giving mode. Its announced N5.747 billion for disbursement to victims of post-2011 election violence in nine States is another of the series of government ill-thought actions. The move was based on the report of the Sheikh Ahmed Lemu community on the crisis.

Government said the money would be disbursed as follows – Bauchi N1.574b; Sokoto N55.88m; Zamfara N93.25m; Niger N433.37m; Jigawa N208.66m; Katsina N1.973b; Kano N944.82m; Adamawa N420.08m; and Akwa Ibom N43.5m.
The N5.747 billion is initial government expenditure in the crisis that cost lives. After assessment of losses in Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Kaduna and Nasarawa States, government would make more funds available to cover losses in those States. Can other States not protest their exclusion?
Ordinarily, nothing would be wrong in government paying compensation to victims of a crisis.  If government is unable to provide adequate security, it pays for its failure. Can this not become business some could explore during future elections?
Who caused the crisis? Why has nobody been punished? Why is it impossible to employ provisions of the Electoral Act that prescribe sentences for electoral violence? If the security agencies failed, is anyone being held responsible? What became of suspects arrested during the violence? Can compensation pay for loss of lives?
Government has acted more munificently in this case than common sense would dictate. What else would government pay for in its efforts to pacify criminals? Why would criminals not be emboldened when the law is not after them? Or are we assuming that the post-election riots were national disasters that deserved the victims receiving assistance from the government?
Private and public properties were destroyed. The report should have listed the criminals who perpetrated the mayhem. They should be tried and punished. Compensation would make sense then, since the violators would have been deterred. Otherwise, there would be no grounds for punishing arsonists and murderers, no matter the circumstances of their crimes. Electoral offences cannot be excused while we punish other crimes.
The only good that can come out of government’s latest adventure is that Federal Government is willing to assume responsibilities for victims of crisis. By extension, other areas of our lives could benefit from this exceptional benevolence.
Hundreds of thousands are dying from accidents on badly maintained roads. Is government to pay compensation for the losses? Would it accept responsibilities for its policies that are causing loss of jobs? When would government compensate Nigerians for poor public services like electricity with its consequences?
Government has set a pertinent precedent that would haunt it for a long time.

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