The Sun News

The evil of “Midnight Appointments”

I subscribe to the Christian Holy Book and one of the things it teaches, which I agree with totally, is the strategic truth that nothing will ever be new on earth. Whatever we do or see today has been done or seen in past civilizations. So at best what we can have is mere innovation of the same old issues. This knowledge accounts for why I think leaders in the Black World are great jokers. Check the whole of Black nations, one common feature you find in them is making simple things and processes very complex. Sound administrative and development culture that was easily implanted elsewhere, has in our case become a mystified issue. It has gotten to a point the new generation has been made to believe that sound development culture lies only with the invisible. Nothing could be more terrible than this!

I don’t intend to go into the leadership question because I am one of those who believe that we have cried enough over this and so much has been said by very knowledgeable persons. In-spite of this, there is an angle that is yet to receive due emphasis and that has to do with the place of history in national development. From what I see reading history books, most of our problems would have been avoided if our nation has a policy and then a culture that makes it mandatory for all citizens to read history; I mean national and world history. We would have had people who can read trends and reasonably predict that we are about to embark on a discredited path. Let me draw a few examples and we keep going. Visa lottery which people in backward nations including ours rush at is slave trade in modified form. Read history of America, Canada and of recent China, on issues touching on visa lottery and establish for yourself the reason why developed economies would go out of their way to make deliberate efforts to attract skilled labour from underdeveloped nations.

If you read history, you would laugh at the ugly development we call migration into Europe and America. You would laugh at human folly because history would show clearly that they don’t just happen, that they are outcomes of human disingenuous schemes. Governments are always scheming against nations striving to gain undue advantages for the benefits of their people. Part of the instruments in these satanic schemes include fratricidal wars. If Africa is full of wars all the time, now you can see the reason. Boko Haram is killing tens of people nearly every day, what have they told us is their desire? Biological warfare is part of it that is why when the nation thinks it is at peace, suddenly there is an outbreak of one new disease in one obscure corner and like people who don’t know the good lessons of history, our reaction is always predictable, one bid alarm by the man whose duty in the first place was to ensure such things don’t happen, it sets up a national hysteria and pronto we line up unbudgeted funds to import drugs already manufactured in developed nations as if they knew a day like this would come, certainly not from within but from foolish nations such as ours.

If we read history we would have known forehand the attitude of ex-generals in power under democracy. What we know would have regulated our conduct and reactions. An ex-military president in America without any legal backing woke up and abolished the concept of Central Bank (National Bank), he said he saw no need for such a structure. It took serious struggles by experts and the people to reverse what they termed a great anomaly. The point I am striving at is that if we know history we would be in a position to see problems ahead and find enduring solutions. The issue of pensioners is a time bomb and soonest it would explode on our faces. History shows that issue of retirement benefits was a big problem in Britain, Germany and America to take a few examples. The way things are going in our nation, it is becoming not just a challenge, but a security threat. My advice would be that we go and find out what happened there and how they solved it. I am pretty sure we are not doing the right thing and the focus today is not on this issue but on midnight appointments, another monster rearing its head. 

The trend of midnight appointments is already with us and it is beginning to cause serious havoc without out taking proper cognizance of this development capable of stalling progress for decades. Midnight appointments, for those who don’t know, is the concept of doing what they know they should never do at the last hour or dying moments of their tenures; it is not a new phenomenon it has happened elsewhere and for this work, I have two good examples from America and Philippines. In America in 1801 President John Adams, who the book said hardly came to office became a workaholic on his last day in office, just a day before the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson as president. He signed everything imaginable and unimaginable including appointment of judges in the most reckless manner. The judges appointed were nicknamed “midnight judges” and Adam’s misdemeanor was such that he stayed away for the inauguration ceremonies. In Philippines, President Arroyo did same, forcing President Aquino to initiate a law which empowers an incoming president to abrogate such reckless behavior.

In our case we don’t even realize the evil nature of such development let alone talking about promulgation of new laws to checkmate the menace. During the recently concluded Anambra State governorship election we were told former governor Peter Obi who handed over to his crony, Willie Obiano, employed 6000 persons on the eve of his tenure into the civil service, this was in addition to massive donations to schools, churches and other organizations and signing postdated cheques on behalf of favoured contractors. In Edo State, Adams Oshiomole employed and capped it with increase in salaries, all these at a time he couldn’t pay salaries of local government workers regularly on the frivolous excuse that they were different tier of administration. In Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim before handing over to Rochas Okorocha in 2011 employed 10,000 new workers into the civil service few weeks to vacating office. In Abia state, over 3000 were employed to meet the homeboy patronage and that has become an albatross on its own. This is not inclusive of loans and overdrafts. Today, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is being pummeled left, right and centre and the young man cannot talk because of the strange nature of his circumstance. I guess he has opted to carry his cross but from the look of things, I guess he would need a Joseph of Arimathea to appear without beckon to assist.

This phenomenon is pervasive and cuts across the 36 states or even all the tiers of administration; all public officers, including the civil servants, initiate injurious actions at the twilight of their tenures. I recall that President Goodluck Jonathan was busy signing contracts and giving appointments, particularly into statutory boards of parastatals and agencies including such ridiculous acts as importation of stoves and lanterns. Some nations have laws to regulate such conduct. I am beginning to think we ought to go that way too and that would be because our public officers have this bad attitude of telling us “after all no law says what I have done is wrong,” otherwise we don’t need law to stop such unwholesome operations. Every human conduct as a public officer or even as an individual must not be regulated against before we know it is wrong. In places where real human beings inhabit, high rationalization, commonsense and decency are given central placing. Would be nice if we begin to act reasonably.

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Online Editor: Aderonke Bello
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