National Award: Kobis To Be Honoured?; By Babayola Toungo
In years gone by, it was a mark of recognition for one to be considered for the award of the national honour in any category but the list in the recent past is becoming more and more controversial and fast losing its lustre. The current nominees for the conferment of the various categories of the national honours is a case in point. Those saddled with the selection process are either negligent in their duties or are becoming outright careless. There are names of people in the list who I would think twice before having my name appear alongside theirs in a thousand years.
I take strong exception to the inclusion of such people like Mr. Aris Kobis Thinmu, the immediate past Secretary to the Adamawa State Government; a man whose name has become a byword for corruption, incompetence and a poster boy for bad governance. Though I do not know the criteria for one to be qualified for consideration and inclusion in the list, at least the fact that it is supposed to be a “honours” list is enough to disqualify the likes of Kobis from being considered if we still give the word its proper meaning and definition. This is a man who had to be threatened with arrest by a Judicial Panel of Inquiry in his state before he put in an appearance. A man whose office is supposed to be the engine room of government but chose to turn that office into a conduit pipe for siphoning public funds and institutionalising sleaze as government policy, being honoured instead of being hounded. I never knew our values have been so desecrated by state institutions to this level.
If those with the responsibility of choosing persons to be honoured are vigilant, they will have known that Kobis has ceased to be the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government since July 15th, this year. They ought to have also known that he is wanted in his state to come and answer questions bordering on criminal activities while he held sway as the SSG. The Selection Committee ought to have known even from the newspapers that Kobis has been a guest of the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for about three months now. So though it may be an honest mistake or oversight on the part of the Committee, to me it is crass dereliction of duty.
For the benefit of those who do not know the man, he was the SSG to the Nyako administration for six of its seven years in office. It was during his tenure as SSG that governance stagnated to pre-historic levels and corruption took a live of its own. Absenteeism became the norm rather than aberration. The office of the SSG became the epicentre of sleaze and not the engine room of governance it is supposed to be. An office listed in the constitution and even assumed to be part of the succession line in the event that the line will go down that far. An office held in the past by the likes of the late Hamidu Alkali, Zakka Nagga, Sa’idu Ahmed, John Manassah was violated by the presence of Kobis.
The level of administrative decadence can be seen right from the State Secretariat where the office of the SSG is located. The unmotorable road network within the complex is the first eye sore one is confronted with the moment you drive into the complex. The once well-paved roads look like the practice field of those who enjoy using IEDs and bombs as toys. The complex itself looks like a ghoulish castle – dark, dank and smelly. There was no electricity or pipe-borne water throughout the complex. What you have for electricity are small generators in all the ministries polluting both the air and the noise, including the office of the SSG. This is a man who found nothing wrong in providing electricity and potable water to his home but couldn’t do that for his office but chose to steal the money and buy properties in Abuja and other cities – ventures that are of no benefit to the people of the state.
Is this the man the national honours Selection Committee chose to honour with the fourth highest medal that Nigeria can bestow on its finest? What have we done to deserve such gratuitous insult from the Jonathan government? The mere thought of someone of Kobis’s pedigree once occupied the exalted office of the SSG is enough punishment for the people of the state without us having being affronted in this manner. If the spate of allegations coming out of the Justice Bobbo Umar Judicial Panel is a yardstick of Kobis’s administrative prowess, then not only that he shouldn’t be honoured, but he should be prevented from mingling with civilised human beings. In societies that are already in the twenty first century the man will have been locked up long since and the keys to the gaol thrown into the Atlantic. In China he would have been dead times over.
With the inclusion of the likes of Kobis in the list, I can now understand the reasons behind the late Achebe’s rejection to be honoured by his country twice. Guyuk Local Government is home to Senator Silas Zwingina, two Michaulums – Paul and Harold – while one is a Professor of Geography, the other is a retired bureaucrat. Any of the three could well have qualified to be honoured and will be more deserving. And if the nominee must come from the state secretariat complex, then I nominate Sadiq, an ubiquitous beggar at the secretariat who has seen his share of SSGs. All of them are better than Kobis.
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