Nov 6, 2016

BOSAT Wrestles Lack of Transparency

On the 5th of November, the Bukuru Old Students Association, BOSAT, held its Annual National Convention at the hall of their old school in Jos-south, Plateau State. Sadly, the convention, more than anything else, threw up issues that have made it impossible for the body to fully actualize the goals for which it was founded. 

At the core of the establishment of BOSAT is fostering the unity of past students of Government Technical College Bukuru and helping the school to continue to sustain the standard that has helped it to produce some of the most influential men in the country. However, successive members of the Executive Committee (EXCO) have, over the years, abused their positions to actualize personal goals, rather than the goals of the union. 

BOSAT raises it funds through dues that members pay annually. But despite the thousands of members the association has not just in Nigeria but around the world, it often finds it herculean to raise enough money to finance its activities. This comes from the failure of the majority of members to live up to their financial obligations. However, financially successful members of the body often shoulder the financial yoke of their association.

Prior to any convention, these rich members would willingly donate, most in hundreds of thousands of naira, with others donating up to the million mark or even beyond. In the end, totals often exceed budget targets.

Over the years, it has become obvious that those who contest for positions in the EXCO of BOSAT are motivated by these monies, with the sole aim of enriching themselves. This has become evident in a number of ways: Always when a new EXCO is unveiled, there is never a dime in the coffers for them to inherit; the outgoing EXCO often clears whatever there is in the purse, believing it belongs to them.  Even though supporting the college to continue to stand is one reason why BOSAT exists, the body has had to source for takeoff grants from the school and, brazenly enough, the college is never reimbursed. 

This attitude often enrages members, leading to loss of interest in the activities of the body, with the body going into coma for years until some members decide to resuscitate it.  

Why has the floor of the body allowed this mess to go on for so long, despite knowing its danger to the continued survival of the body? It was the question I put to one member of the body who agreed to talk on grounds of anonymity. “Most members are always afraid of victimization by the powerful committees” was the explanation I got. The current EXO is, however unlucky as it happened to have a rebellious member, Mr. Raphael Anze, the Treasurer, who feels there has to be transparency. The result is an in-fighting that has led to his expulsion. This became very obvious in the program of events for the 2016 Convention, in which his name and photo was clearly missing from the list of EXCO members. 

The decision to expel Mr. Anze went against the constitution, which stipulates that a member shall only be expelled in a congress. But since he was rocking the boat of some powers within the committee, he was expelled nevertheless. 

I found Mr. Anze and pretended not to know why he was expelled. “Do you think that the funds of BOSAT are properly managed?” was the question I put to him. “They are not, I must tell you frankly,” he said, fuming. “When we took over as a new committee, there was no money in the account of the body. We had to go round sourcing for money for the convention. Some of the money came today. A member named A.A Sule announced the donation of N500, 000 and asked me, as the Treasurer, to submit to him the bank account number of the body, but the financial Secretary came out to say that he was the one to be approached on the issue. Why is that happening if they haven’t an unpopular intention? It was a violation of my right as the Treasurer, and I am going to court over this violation.”

“Do you think going to court would end the lack of transparency in the body?”“Yes, I believe so,” he insisted. 

Corruption has flourished in Nigeria for so long that it has become a way of life. When something becomes a way of life, it is considered normal, and he who goes to court over such an issue is likely to become a villain within the body he intends to cleanse. In the end, Mr. Anze may not really go to court; he later said the issue will be resolved internally, when I asked if he thinks ending this would require a body like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The EFCC often uses smaller and weaker culprits like those in BOSAT EXCO to prove that it is indeed working. 

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