Some Nigerians are reportedly hailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s rejection of all contracts presented for his approval with less than two weeks to the end of the current fiscal year. Explaining the rationale behind his action, YarAdua said he wants to ensure strict budgetary discipline as well as make certain that due process is adhered to.
Some political observers say the president’s action is a step in the right direction in his determination to weed out corruption in the country. Professor Usman Mohammed is a political science lecturer at Nigeria’s University of Abuja. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, that President Yar’dua deserves commendation for his bold action.
“My reaction to the president’s action is commendation. It’s commendation because when you look at the entire issue briefed by the finance minister, he said that 34 memorandums were brought before the council and then 30 were on contract awards, four were not on contract awards. And those four belong to budgets that were approved in 2007 and they have very few days to expire,” Mohammed noted.
He said the president is portraying his commitment to making sure the rights things are done.
“Assuming the national assembly approves the budget before the end of the year then the 2007 Appropriation Act will literally be over. So it was said that it was inappropriate, and I think that this government is following due process not business as usual. And so I commend the rejection of contracts that were small goods for approval in the executive council meeting at the last hour,” he said.
Mohammed said the president’s action gives him political capital in the fight against corruption, which Mohammed said is endemic in the country’s body politic.
“Yes, when you look at the whole issue, this has been the practice before because hitherto all ministries and departments and agencies don’t even return monies that are not spent by the end of the year. And it is only appropriate by government once it approves the budget of 2008 that it should be monitored and spent well, not to have a carry over or have a budget deficit that would be a big burden to the government. So, it’s legal and it is rational,” Mohammed pointed out.
He said a cross section of Nigerians have expressed satisfaction with the president’s rejection of the contracts.
“Most of us feel that, that is a good act. He (president) has made his commitment to follow due process and the rule of law. He has also made his commitment to fight corruption and inappropriate spending of government funds. He has also made a political commitment so see to the end of this kind of malpractices. So Nigerians really received it with a very good faith and they feel that the president again has scored another political goal,” he opined.