Bettagate: Our Stand  

Jan 22, 2024 - 08:01
Jan 22, 2024 - 15:46
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Bettagate: Our Stand  

EDITORIAL

Bettagate: Our Stand  

Without mincing words, the common denominator that glaringly characterized the last administration in Cross River state, headed by the eccentric Senator Ben Ayade, was the flagrant disregard for established rules, norms, and ethics regulating the operations of government in all ramifications.

The sector worst affected by that menacing impunity was the state bureaucracy, represented by the civil service, which witnessed the brazen disregard for due process and extant laws in virtually all government financial transactions.

Examples abound where government revenues mostly taxes and levies accruing from multinational corporate entities operating in Cross River state as well as proceeds from other internal revenue sources were directly paid into private accounts of the Obudu oligarchy rather than to the coffers of the state Internal Revenue Service.

Even the state nominal roll was not spared from those prevailing anomalies as undue inferences resulting in mutilations, padding and surreptitious inclusion of names from family and friends without resorting to acceptable procedures constituted the order of the day to the chagrin of many.

However, our posture, for now, is not meant to cast aspersions nor instigate forensic auditing of the Ayade-led administration in Cross River, which thrived on audio projects, naked propaganda, and alleged unprecedented financial misdemeanors throughout its inglorious tenure. 

Nevertheless, we hope that sooner or later, Governor Bassey Otu will brave the odds by mustering the needed courage to institute a probe to unravel the billions that went down the drains under mischievous subheads orchestrated by his predecessor in an era of financial windfall enjoyed by the state but sadly, with nothing to show for it.

But the truth remains obvious, any key player in that dispensation including the likes of Dr. Betta Edu, former Director General Cross River State Primary Health Care Agency,(CRSPHCA), immediate past Commissioner for Health, and the now suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation naturally, can never be expected to sign out without imbibing the dominant virus and vices that dominated an era which Cross Riverians have aptly described as the darkest in the annals of their political history, either by orientation or inclination.

Therefore, replicating such scenarios in higher dimensions on a new pedestal is inevitable, anytime, any day. Or else, how can one readily explain the insatiable quest that triggered such a level of financial rascality in the activities of the ministry merely within four months after she assumed office?

Most astonishing is the temerity, audacity, and aura of impunity displayed by the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation regarding her alleged ignoble role in the saga surrounding the quantum misappropriation of public funds using proxy accounts under her watch. 

It is disheartening to observe that a ministry that was created purely to coordinate palliative remedies to assuage the excruciating economic hardship ravaging Nigerians, given the lack of political will and policy framework exhibited by the government to address the root cause of poverty through viable economic agenda, has been transformed into a melting point for massive corruption, selfish enrichment, money laundering and enormous siphoning of public funds at the detriment of the intended beneficiaries. 

And as if to assault the sensibilities of Nigerians, the suspended minister and her social media bandits hurriedly went to town dancing naked after twisting the facts in an apparent display of their egoistic ignorance when the fraud leaked into the public gallery.

When their miscalculated steps boomerang, the social media minstrels went to town again attempting to drum up cheap sentiments with the view of galvanizing support from the gullible and myopic Nigerians who have opted never to see anything clearly beyond the binoculars of ethnicity, religious sentiments, and cheap inducements. 

Though we resist preempting the outcome of the ongoing inquest into the Bettagate scandal, we vehemently oppose the ethnic coloration and the framed-up theory postulated by hired sympathizers attempting to persuade Nigerians to gloss over the alleged financial impropriety.

A holistic appraisal of every itinerary undertaken by the controversial minister ranging from verification exercise, a compilation of a database of vulnerable Nigerians, disbursement of palliative funds, Kogi flight tickets saga, etc raises question marks on her sincerity of purpose.

This is sequel to her poor record of service in the healthcare sector of Cross River, where her handling of COVID-19 and donor intervention funds resulted in the mass exodus of donor agencies from the state over lack of transparency and accountability from her office while the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) revoked her license for alleged unprofessional misconducts inimical to the dignity of the medical profession.

With such background, therefore, comparing the travails of Betta Edu to the tragedies suffered by Justice Walter Onnoghen, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, and Barrister Obono-Obla, who were consumed in the web of high-wired political gimmicks, is tantamount to a virtual reflection of the crucifixion story in the Bible where Jesus Christ was hanged alongside with the two thieves without due consideration to the magnitude of the offenses leading to their convictions.

The Bettagate scenario is a typical case of a recalcitrant child who, in defiance of several warnings stubbornly preferred to catch a bee by hand simply because she has been using the same hand in catching flies. We strongly oppose the notion that Cross River is being witch-hunted because the fortune or misfortune of an individual ascribed to any geographical entity, either by birth or marriage, can never be used as a barometer for defining the state. Therefore, the Bettagate must not be elevated to dent the rich antecedents of Cross River state irrespective of the activities of latter-days Goebbels.