Government Institutions Sponsoring Campaigns: Is It Morally Right?

Government Institutions Sponsoring Campaigns: Is It Morally Right?According to a popular adage; you don’t have to wait for the dry season for you dress the tree that provides shed for you when the weather is hot.

This actually means that during rainy season when you don’t need the shed of the tree, you do not have to totally neglect it so that it will not be overgrown by weeds which may compete with it for nutrients and if they succeed, it could dry off and when the dry season comes again, there will be nowhere to hide your head.

Many government institutions have been severally alleged by opposition party members of using government money to sponsor the campaign of the party in power as a show of loyalty and commitment to the course of the government and the vision of the government.

Perhaps this accounts for why some government institutions often covertly support the campaign of the government or political party under which the head of such organization is chosen during election. Sometimes, it could be that they are doing that so that they would not lose their exalted positions to the opposition under whose government they are not sure of retaining the seats.

This does not apply to only one political party, it cuts across all the divides of the political parties that have people in political offices either elected or selected.

As the heat of electioneering campaigns increases in Nigeria, there have been accusations and counter-accusations between the two leading political parties in the country; Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In fact, many of such tantrums have led to revelations of some hitherto unknown facts about the candidates, the political parties and their supporters. This also is not only one-sided, it is a game that plays among the political gladiators.

Some even concoct stories just to gain popularity, worm themselves into the acceptability of the people and also to dissuade electorate from casting their votes for some parties or candidates.

One of such developments is the accusations and counter-accusations between the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the All Progressive Congress Campaign Organization (APCCO). The later accused the former of being the brain behind a hate campaign being run on the national television against the person of the APC presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.

The APCCO had frowned at the agency for using public money to run a campaign for a political party thereby referring to NIMASA as the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) of the PDP.

The APC campaign organization had also criticized a situation whereby a government agency uses public funds to sponsor a campaign of calumny against a candidate, saying it was not only illegal, but should be condemned and investigated by the Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Marine Transportation.

The party said, “It is a well known fact that the Director General of the agency was President Goodluck Jonathan’s aide and a well known ex-militant’s errand boy. He was appointed in NIMASA for the sole aim of satisfying an ex-militant’s camp, an assignment he has carried out well to the satisfaction of those who put him there through the award of a concessionaire phantom PPP project.

According to the party, the contract awarded to Global West Vessels Specialists Limited was an outright handing of the legal responsibility of the Nigerian Navy of protecting the nation’s waterway and NIMASA’s marine security function to the private outfit.

The alleged further that the private security firm has failed to in the task of offering the necessary protection for the theft of Nigerian crude oil, which has only increased since then among other sea related crimes.

In a swift reaction to alienate the organization from such allegation, the agency at a world press conference last week, had discarded the accusation. The Director General (DG) of the agency, Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi said that NIMASA was not a political party but an agency trying to fulfill the mandate setting it up.

Akpobolokemi said, that it must be echoed that the agency was not a political party, adding that NIMASA was a responsible government agency trying its best to fulfill its statutory mandate.

He said, “In what has become a deliberate orchestrated attempt to undermine and rubbish all performing and strategic institutions of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the APC has mounted relentless attack and vicious propaganda, all in the name of politics to attack the Nigerian Army, police, Directortae of State Security , NNPC ant its latest victim – NIMASA.

“Prominent amongst the falsehood perpetrated by APC against NIMASA is the allegation that NIMASA contracted the country’s maritime security to a private firm they claim is owned by Tompolo. I hereby unequivocally state that this accusation is false. NIMASA neither entered into any such security contract with private company nor with Tompolo.

These unfortunate accusations have mutated over time culminating in their rather callous and condescending in their attempts to variously describe NIMASA as the President’s ATM, and now labeling us as sponsors of hate campaigns against the APC presidential candidate,” he stated.

Meanwhile the agency requested that APC retract the allegation and also tender apology for the wrong accusation leveled against it. it therefore said that the agency would not hesitate to go to court if the opposition party failed to retract the allegation.

In another development, APC Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO), instead of retracting the allegations had gone further to accuse NIMASA of depleting the N50bn Cabotage fund. According to the APCPCO’s release, said the agency should account for the money which was in control of the agency until recently when the fund became unaccounted for.

The Director, Media and Publicity of the APCPCO, Mallam Garba Shehu said that Nigerians deserve to know what happened to the money accumulated under the Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund (CVFF) amounting to some $800 million US Dollars and N50 billion respectively, that the agency should make public the list containing names of beneficiaries and amounts from the fund if any.

The statement read, “The fund was money derived as 2% surcharge for all contracts under the Cabotage regime which came into force in 2004 by virtue of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act (Cabotage) 2003.

“The Cabotage Act which was closely modeled after the United States of America’s Jones Act, 1958 was to help develop the capacity and participation of indigenous ship owners in coastal inland trade which was largely dominated by foreigners, but to date, that objective is yet to be achieved as seen in the depleted Indigenous Ship owners Registry, and the prevalence of foreign interest in the Nigerian coastal waters.

Recently too, a former governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi was accused by the PDP of giving out N1.5Billion for the campaign of the presidential candidate of the APC ,  which was refuted by the partly. Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state was also accused of being the brain behind the campaign success of the APC presidential campaign.

If the allegation is anything to go by, it means that it is possible that Amaechi could also have used the funds of Rivers people to advance the course of a political party, which the APC was accusing NIMASA of doing.

The issue for considerations here is that if truly a government agency is using public fund to sponsor a campaign for a political party or a group of politicians, what is the moral justification? From the legal lens view, what is the implication?

But another important factor for consideration is that can the accusers actually substantiate their claims? Or is it just calling the dog a name so as to hang it?

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