Nigeria no doubt is one tough country. I am not sure there is any issue that does not end up being robed in ethnic or political gown. Not the least the anti-graft war.
When in 2014, Lamido Sanusi, then as Central Bank Governor, alleged that $20billion was missing from the national treasury, the goons went to town alleging a northern agenda. The substance of the allegation was largely ignored. But even in a country like Nigeria where untold oil wealth disappears into the pockets of a few, $20billion is huge. The amount is equivalent to six trillion naira – the amount needed to fund the country’s 2016 budget in its entirety.
Did the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) remit to the government the entire proceeds of its crude oil sales? If it did not, are there proofs of the purpose to which the unremitted amounts were applied? Did NNPC have the legal authority to withhold these funds? These were critical questions that should have been asked and which the government of that period have been made to answer.
The prosecution of former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and his embattled godfather “Tompolo” by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for stealing over N34billion from NIMASA is also fast wearing the ethnic toga. Tompolo and his propagandists are making it look like a war against the Niger Delta. But the truth is that many in the Niger Delta are victims of their malfeasance.
The mind-boggling revelations straight out of the Dasukigate has been conveniently dubbed political witch-hunt by the principal actors. So many young Nigerians who should throw stones at those who stole their money thereby depriving them of jobs, security, water, electricity, good roads and several other social amenities that their counterparts enjoy in other countries, are busy defending what they lack proper understanding of.
The same warped minds are running commentaries against the government for prosecuting Dasuki and his co-travellers.
Perhaps many don’t understand the amount of money involved here. We are talking of $2.1billion. This is the equivalent of about N600billion. That is about the size of the budget of Lagos State for 2016. The amount is also sufficient to fund the budgets of all the five states in the South East.
In a country with over two million IDPs who can barely feed and whose children no longer go to school, $2.1billion would have solved a lot of problems. That amount will sufficiently rebuild and modernise both the Lagos-Ibadan and Apapa-Oshodi expressways. But instead of spending the money on arms procurement and other pressing security needs, Dasuki turned father Christmas doling out the money to Peter Odili N100m, Rasheed Ladoja N100m, Attahiru Bafarawa. N100m, Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi. N100m, Jim Nwobodo N500m, Tony Anenih N260m, Bode Goerge. N100m/$30,000, Yerima Abdullahi N100m, Olu Falae N100m, Tanko Yakassai N63m, Bello Sarkin Yaki N200m, Raymond Dokpesi N2.1b, Iyorchia Ayu N345m, BAM Properties N300m, Dalhatu Investment N1.56bn, Mohammed Bello Haliru and son N300m, Bello Matawalle N300m, ACACIA Holdings N60m, Bashir Yuguda N1.95m, Olisa Metuh N400m, Nduka Obaigbena N670m, Guild of Editors N50m, Isa Jafaru N160m.
These are all political cronies. The $2.1billion is even extra-budgetary. It was not the main vote for security in 2015. What if Buhari decides to investigate the Jonathan government’s spending on security from 2011 to 2015? And many have the effrontery to accuse the president of being lawless. Does anyone in his right frame of mind think that these guys deserve bail? Was the money meant for PDP’s political campaign? Shouldn’t all those who collected the money by now be apologising to Nigerians and returning what they collected with interests?
If these guys were in China, most of them would have committed suicide as a face-saving measure while their families would have been ostracised but many Nigerian politicians are shameless.
The one thing we should not do this year is clap for those who stole our money.
President Buhari should not, by any means, relent in prosecuting those who shortchange the country. He should go a step further to create processes and systems that will make it impossible for depraved minds have a field day at the expense of the people. Creating transparency and openness in government spending will go a long way in this regard.
Going forward, subsidies, tax exemptions, public procurement of goods and services, soft credits and extra-budgetary funds under the control of politicians must be administered in ways that are transparent. The more open and transparent the process, the less opportunity it will provide for malfeasance and abuse.