Where Is Our Money Going? By Saleh Ibrahim Bature
‘’Money and corruption are ruining the land, crooked politicians betray the working man, pocketing the profits and treating us like sheep, and we’re tired of hearing promises that we know they’ll never keep’’-Ray Davies
Our country is indeed blessed with people who are endowed with the best brain. Nigerians are among the most talented people in the world. They excel in every field in the world. But it is however curious and sad that it is led by a clueless and selfish few who wreaked havoc on the resources of the nation with impunity. They steal from the treasury of the nation; rig elections and commit all kinds of heinous crimes and go scot-free.
Those who lord it over us and pride themselves as our leaders have certainly taken us for granted. They don’t feel any qualms when they trample upon our basic human rights because they know we are a horde of docile and feeble people, who only bark but do not bite. Our grievances against the injustice meted on us by them do no go beyond mere discussions on the social media and a critique by few newspaper columnists and editorial opinions. Though, this is enough to make government listen and give the nation purposeful leadership in a democratic society, but not in our own country.
While almost every commentator on Nigeria ascribes corruption as the cog to the wheel of our progress, our president, Good Luck Ebele Jonathan does not seem to agree with this. Not once, the Nigerian President has debunked the popular view that corruption is the nation’s number one problem. At the funeral of late former National Security Adviser [NSA], General Andrew Owoye Azazi, the President said, ‘’ corruption is not the cause of our problem; Nigeria has more institutions that fight corruption. Most of the issues we talk about are not corruption. If we do things properly, if we change our attitudes of doing things most of the thing we think are caused by corruption are not.’’ The president made similar comment during a media chart recently.
I beg to disagree with the president here. If we should tell ourselves the truth, we must agree that Nigeria is one of the most known corruption institutionalized countries in the world. Not only that, the level of corruption here is mind boggling and worrisome as it is seemingly unending. For instance, our country has been ranked 144 out of 177 most corrupt countries by Transparency International in its 2013 report. During Obasanjo’s regime, from 1999 to 2007, we received the unenviable medal of first and second most corrupt country in the world at different times. This was the time when contract for Multi-billion Naira projects such as the construction of the National Stadium to host the All African Games, privatization of Ajaokuta steel, Delta steel Aladja and Itakpe iron Ore were consummated. Obasanjo, a man who came out from prison and became president of Nigeria, poorer than a Mosque mouse, acquired 200 million shares of Transcorp Hilton in a shoddy deal. His Otta farm, which was virtually dead, was immediately resuscitated into a multi-billion modern mechanized farm. Under his watch, a whopping $16.5 billion went down the drain in the development of power sector. Nigeria witnessed the shameful and embarrassing sharing of money to National Assembly members and Senators to induce them to do the bidding of Mr. Obasanjo. Nigerians have since been asking questions on who benefited from the proceeds for the sale of these National assets.
Despite the brazenness with which OBJ carelessly squandered wealth of the nation as if it were his personal property, government of his anointed godson, the man he imposed on us against our wish, and with whom he is at loggerhead with now, has come under severe attack as the most corrupt government in the history of Nigeria. While OBJ presided over the affairs of the nation as a civilian dictator for eight years, the grasp his government was accused of was in billions as against Jonathan’s. However, Good luck Jonathan’s stewardship of less than four years from the time he acted as president to date surpasses OBJ”s records. While OBJ has proven to be a somewhat ruthless president who could descend on powerful ministers and public/civil servants who had been found wanting, the current president seems not to have that capacity. Conversely, President Jonathan actions appear to be shielding corrupt officers. For instance, the rush and unwise decision to pardon Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former governor of Bayelsa state, mentor of President Jonathan and a convicted criminal, the case of the embattled amazon, trio of Diezani Allison Madueke, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Stella Oduah, Minister of Aviation and Arumah Oteh, DG Securities and Exchange Commission, are few of the most quoted instances which critics often accuse Mr. President as shielding corrupt officers, which they describe as utter ‘’disrespect for the rule of law and an end to his corruption crusade in the country.’’
Unless the president is out to protect those who steal our money, or his understanding of the term corruption is different from the way we understand it; one would wonder how can mere having ‘’more institutions that fight corruption’’ in a country can exonerate a nation from blame of corruption. So Jonathan’s persistent claim that Nigeria’s problem is not mainly corruption is not tenable, because of the international perception of Nigeria as a corrupt nation.
Recently, former presidents of the US and Ghana, George W. Bush [jr] and John Kufuor advised Nigerian government to fight corruption in order to change this perception. The speaker of the House of representative, Honorable Aminu Waziri Tambual has also accused the president of aiding and abetting corruption. Former president Obasanjo and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria are among the many prominent Nigerians who appealed to Mr. President to check the excesses of corrupt officers in his government. By the time Nigerian government muster the courage to develop the political will to fight corruption and fix our security, the answer to WHERE IS OUR MONEY GOING will perhaps be found.
Saleh Ibrahim Bature
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