Dear President-elect Buhari, You Promised Us to Jail and Shoot the Thieves, By A. S. M. Jimoh
Let me start by congratulating you again for your victory at the poll. Nonetheless, you must realize that your victory did not come without the doggedness of Nigerians who think the rot in the country is deep-seated that change is overdue. The Nigerians people shackled by the poverty mass illiteracy, communicable diseases and lack of basic infrastructures imposed on them by the people democratic party (PDP) for sixteen year. They voted you in to bring back the country from the annihilation the PDP totters it to. They voted you in hoping that there would be a day of accountability for whoever participated in bringing Nigeria and Nigerians to this sorry mess.
However, just before your inauguration, the story weaving around you is that you will offer amnesty; that there will be no probe, and that people will not be asked to return their loots. This is already causing distress and disappointment to many of your supporters who campaigned for you tirelessly, voted for you and defended the votes in rain and sunshine, day and night to ensure PDP is swept into the dustbin of political history. May PDP never resurrect.
It is already looking like a dashed hope as it appears the buccaneers who impoverish a multitude of us, deny us basics healthcare and education are going to remain heroes after May 29. Since no mention of amnesty has been attributed to you directly, we would call it a rumour for now.
Whether this is a runour or not, let me remind you, Sir, that you did not promise us amnesty. What you promised us was prosecution, jail term and shooting to death all the goats that ate our yams (apology to the outgoing scandalously failed President Jonathan). In an interview you granted Saharatv in 2012, you mentioned, inter alia, that fuel subsidy thieves should be prosecuted, jailed or shot to death according to the law. Hear what you said in your exact word when the interviewer, Omoleye Sowore, asked you if you would help the government to punish the thieves, in reference to those indicted in the oil subsidy scam,
“…… Documents are available and the courts are there. There is no question of any committee. Just use the documentary evidence and prosecute them, jail them or shoot them. Whatever the law says” This is the link to the youtube video of that interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QIu_HnKuTw.
Clearly, it is not in our law to offer amnesty. What our law says is that criminals, no matter how high, should face prosecution. As a president-elect who has vowed to govern with the rule of law and fight corruption headlong, offering amnesty is a breach of the constitution. It will also make you look like all other politicians who promise heaven and earth when seeking votes.
Sir, it would help to review some of the salient corruption cases and their attendant hardship on Nigerians, so that you would see the reason while amnesty is never an option.
Let us begin with the pension fraud. We are witnesses to how pensioners suffered in this country to obtain their legitimate pension. Many pensioners have died while waiting in queue to pick their unavailable pension because some highly placed individuals pilfered it. Some other pensioners have died while travelling to get their pensions. Some others succumb to ill health because some goats have eaten their yams they would have used to seek medical care. Also, pensioners have had their children dropped out of schools, while the goat who ate their yams have their children in expensive schools outside of the country. Annoyingly, the few who were said to have faced prosecution were offered freedom by our court to go and enjoy their loots. Recall that one of the pension thieves who stole 32.8 billion dollars was asked to remit only 250, 000 naira so that he can enjoy his loot lawfully! Maina, accused of embezzling 195 billion naira (#195,000,000,000) was given state protection, roaming about with retinue of armed security men until the government check him out of the country like the Andrew of your first coming.
Coming down to the petroleum industry, it is a stinking sleaze. It is where the ancestor of corruption resides. The sleaze here grounded all our refineries, making Nigeria a gross importer of refined petroleum products and creating an oil cabals who rip Nigeria trillion of naira in the name of oil subsidy. 2.6 trillion naira (#2,600,000,000,000) was ‘spent’ in questionable petrol subsidy in 2011 alone, yet no one has answered for the criminality. Those implicated in the rip-off hobnob with the power that be. The NNPC, the finance and petroleum ministers still have not told us where about of our twenty billion dollars ($20,000,000,000) of oil revenue in a 19-month period between 2012 and 2013. That was just then. We do not know what happened before and thereafter. Rather than asking those in charge to give account, the PDP-led administration sacked the man who spilled the bean because those who stole the money are cabinet members of Jonathan administration.
It is unthinkable that Nigeria remains the only oil-producing country where citizens still queue up for weeks to buy petrol for their automobiles, motorcycles and generators. None oil-producing countries do not suffer the hardship Nigerians faced daily to get the fuels that are produced in their land. At this moment, many Nigerians sleep in service stations with even no hope of buying petrol or diesel. These are the untold hardships brought on Nigerians by the odiferous corruption entrenched in our oil industry.
Nigerians now buy a liter of petrol on the average of 400 naira. It means to purchase 10 liters of petrol, you have to cough out 4000 naira. Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing country, managed by her monarchical government. The Saudi riyal equivalent of 4000 naira, at the current exchange rate of 53 naira to a Saudi riyal, would buy you roughly 168 liters of petrol in Saudi Arabia. This is even because our currency is grossly devalued by the roguish economic policies of Okonjo Iweala and her cohorts at the Nigeria apex bank. If our naira were at par with that of Saudi riyal, 4000 naira would buy you 8889 liters of petrol. Even when we put in a factor of six, since Nigeria is the sixth largest producer, 4000 naira still would give 1481 liters of petrol.
In the power sector, Nigeria has spent in the last 16 years more than any other country, yet what we get is darkness upon darkness. Nigeria spent sixteen billion dollars ($16,000,000,000) on the power sector at some instances, but factories continue to close down for lack of power while others relocated to our tiny neighbor of Ghana and Benin republic. The power reform, which the outgoing government purported to have spent a chunk of our resources, only buys us more darkness. Ironically, such claim of huge investment only creates a cabal of generator importers and questionable millionaires. We remain the largest importer of generator in the world. Nigerians have lost their love ones, properties and means of livelihoods due to generator fume and fire. Currently, the entire country is engulfed in energy crisis that may completely ground it.
At a time our hospitals are human abattoirs and cannot boast of basic drugs, some of our legislators connived with health ministry’s officials to shared millions of naira of health budget in a phantom retreat. Nobody has answered for that crime. Our hospitals remain in comatose producing more deaths than saving lives. Sir, it should not surprise you when you find out that PTF facilities are still the best some of our hospitals can boast of after sixteen years of claims of spending billions of naira on the sector. Our health sector is that of story of strike because workers are not paid their wages. This often leaves the poor masses who patronize our public health institutions to their fate. However, the rogues who caused the mess run abroad to treat common headaches.
Sir, the venality perpetrated in the last sixteen years reek with impunity. Our roads are death traps. Those who made it so fly in private jets. A former PDP minister of works, known as ‘Mr. Fix it’, received 350 billion naira (350,000,000,000) in budgetary allocation for the ministry yet nothing to show for it. However, he thumps his chest about that he is too big for any pot to cook him, in reference to rumours that he would be probed. The interior ministry killed a dozen of our youths in corruption-instigated job offering fraud. This is after over a million of them were swindled of 1000 naira each as application processing fees by same ministry. Those who did that live large with their children working in choice sectors of our nation
The education sector is not by any means different. No Nigeria University can boast of modern infrastructure and laboratories equipment. Some hostels and classrooms in our so-called higher institution of learning are worse than pen house for pigs. There are practically no structures in our primary and secondary schools. The embezzlers of the funds meant for this sector take their children abroad to school, leaving the rest of us here to make due with ramshackle buildings as classroom or sit under the tree to take lessons from unqualified teachers. Sir, you would recall that our schools were closed for months, but the PDP minister of education was more concerned with celebrating his birthday on public fund. Universities and polytechnics were shut down for a whole academics session, but the government spent 7 billion naira on a jamboree called national dialogue. Your reaction to this is that the Jonathan government has capacity for wrong priorities.
The aviation industry is not in any way better. We have some of the worst airports in the whole of the world with some of them rivaling unmaintained motor parks. Most of our airports cannot boast of functioning air conditioner or enough toilets to cater for waiting passengers. Airports atmosphere is often putrid because of lack of ventilation. These are all due to the corruption in the industry. Successive ministers of aviation have been involved in one form of sleaze or the other, the recent being one Stella Oduah using public funds to the tunes of 225 million to purchase bulletproof cars that are not needed. The unreasonably loquacious PDP campaign spokesperson, Fani Kayode, remain a guest of the court for pilfering money meant for the aviation ministry when he served as its minster.
How would President @MBuhari give amnesty when the corruption in our security and intelligence institution led to the death of 20,000 innocent souls in the north east while thousands more are displaced within and across our borders. At a time the government claimed to be spending a quarter of our budget on security, Bokoharam abducted and killed thousands of civilians across the North. Our once valiant soldiers ran away from Bokoharam and their bases overran with no resistance. Armed robbers, oil thieves and kidnappers hold sway across the south. The corruption in the security circle produces millionaire army generals, but a weaponless, inefficient and politicized army. In the guise of sourcing arms in black market to fight Bokoharam, an action which in itself is illegal, our security and intelligence apparatus provides cover to every manner of rogues, including an unscrupulous pastor, to launder money. Our fifteen million dollar securities funds that was being carted away live on a pastor plane remain seized by the South African authority.
The above-mentioned cases are earth-moving corruptions that even saint cannot forgive of them. Some of the figures quoted above are more than twice what some nations used to build state-of-the-art facilities. The larcenies that happened in the last sixteen years are too humongous to offer them any kind of amnesty. The heists perpetrated imposed untold hardship on Nigerians leading to the early death of some of them. Sir, the Nigerian people are the one who need amnesty by providing them with the basics of lives.
The Nigeria under PDP was like a conquered territory whose wealth must be pillaged. Our common wealth was booty to them. The PDP-led administration, especially under Goodluck Jonathan, did not only loot, but offered amnesty, gave national awards to criminals and divided the population by exploiting all lines of cleavage. Uniting the country and recovering our wealth is not synonymous with amnesty. Nigeria who voted you will unite behind you when you probe, jail and shoot to death the thieves across the Niger. Jail those who refund their loots and shoot to death those who would or could not return his/her loot. You still jail those who return the loot because their pillaging of our resources brought unprecedented poverty, underdevelopment, sickness and deaths to Nigerians.
Sir, you have to prosecute, jail and shoot to death the thieves as you promised us in your 2012 interview. It is only when you do that a larger section of Nigerians will feel that, finally, a resemblance of justice has partly been done to those who took them through 16 years of horrors.
Wish you well in the task of starting a new Nigeria. Know that your road will be rough.
- S. M. Jimoh (@anehi2008 and firstname.lastname@example.org)