|Wednesday, 20 February 2002|
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The misuse of State vehicles
Three months into the tenure of the UNF government, over 1000 State-owned vehicles used by politicians of the former administration are yet to be returned to their respective government institutions or have been returned in a state of disrepair. Parliamentary Affairs Minister A.H.M. Azwer who was quoted as making this disclosure also said that the Government Parliamentary Group had appointed a committee to probe these irregularities and work out ways of recovering the vehicles.
Apparently, Ministry Secretaries have been requested to scrutinize the vehicle inventories of the institutions coming under their purview with a view to ascertaining information, such as, who is responsible for authorizing the release of these vehicles into the hands of politicians and the identity of the drivers of the relevant vehicles.
It need hardly be said that the use of State vehicles for polls-related work and purposes violative of the Establishment Code, by those wielding authority, is a gross abuse of power besides running contrary to the public interest. State property is owned by the public and needs to be put to purposes that promote the common good and the common good only. Any practice that violates these norms which are enshrined in the Establishment Code is clearly illegal and deserves to be condemned.
Thus it is not only necessary to recover the missing vehicles but to also bring the wrong doers concerned to book, regardless of the power they wielded. Public cooperation will be welcome in this task because the State could do with information the public has easy access to on account of its widespread presence.
While these missing vehicles are being tracked-down, every precaution must be taken to ensure that these abuses are not repeated by those wielding State power. Unfortunately, sections of public officials, including some members of the law enforcement agencies seem to have conveniently forgotten that State-owned vehicles cannot be put to private use, including the transport of one's family members. However, among some State officials these violations seem to be the norm rather than the exception.
Secretaries and heads of government departments should revert to the law in these matters and ensure that State property is not misused. Besides, regulations and procedures must be enforced to ensure that politicians are not in a position to use public property for purposes which are not legitimate. The law should have sufficient sting to act as a deterrent against these flagrant abuses of public property.
Power needs to be exercised in an accountable fashion. This is a crying need. The violation of this principle leads to power abuse and the misuse of national wealth.
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