By Dr Fred Femi Akinfala
The call on the senate not to confirm Mr. Babatunde Fowler as chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, by Mr. Timi Frank raises some moral questions. Frank, who is deputy national publicity secretary of the All Progressive Congress APC, in his widely circulated op-ed, stated that Mr. Fowler’s appointment as acting chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, negated the FIRS Act, 2007, as amended. Citing Section 11 (i) of the said Act, Mr. Frank suggested that Mr. Fowler ought to have turned down President Buhari. But, for not doing so, Mr. Frank concluded that Mr. Babatunde Fowler must be “ignorant of the Law and demonstrated impunity. In his desperate pull-him-down ambition, Mr. Frank forgot a rejection of the appointment by Mr. Fowler after its announcement could bring the president into opprobrium. A derision on President Buhari in this regard apparently does not bother Mr. Frank. What, obviously, counts for Mr. Frank in his obsessive advertisement of self as a Rule of Law adherent is to see his well-aimed sling brutally hitting his target. He couldn’t disguise his disdain for Fowler, which could the underlying motive for the attack. No better evidence confirms this opinion than Mr. Frank’s conclusion on Fowler in his write-up: “I don’t think we should be swayed by arguments that we have gotten a Czar to dress our financial wounds. He (Fowler) is a man of great learning. However, he has chosen rather to bend the rules for his immediate gain”.
I understood early in life that no one, but a mad man, throws a stick at a barren tree. I presume Mr. Frank is knowledgeable and will only seek out a fruitful tree to sling his missiles, hence his choice of Mr. Fowler. What Mr. Frank has done, evidently, was to declare that he would rather not partake in applauding Mr. Fowler’s ballyhooed sterling public service track records, particularly his contributions to the financial re-engineering of Lagos state. It is a cliché that Lagos state, currently earning over N20 Billion monthly in internally generated revenue, IGR, only managed to harvest N600 Million monthly before Fowler’s appointment in 2006. Is Mr. Frank saying that experience, expertise and excellence count low and must be shredded on the altar of political brinkmanship and parochial elite interest?
While Mr. Frank lurches at his prey so brutally, he advertently clothed President Muhammadu Buhari, Fowler’s appointor, as lawless, ignorant of the Law and, also, acting with impunity. Mr. Frank has down more damage to the president than he hoped to achieve with article on Fowler. As a national officer of the president’s party, Mr. Frank evidently works at cross purposes to President Buhari. By his condemnation of Fowler’s appointment and others by President Buhari, Mr. Frank apparently suggested the APC is at war with its president. He is inadvertently saying that there is divergence in the Federal Government-run policies and party programmes.
By always choosing to be an opposition to his party’s positions on the pages of the newspaper shows Mr. Frank more as an indiscipline party man than a contrarian. By suggesting that Fowler turned down President Buhari, who emerged from his party, Mr. Frank, a national officer of the same party, faults our leadership recruitment process.
Dr Fred Femi Akinfala is a Political Psychology lecturer @ the University of Lagos.