‘My Watch’ My Foot! By AbdulYassar AbdulHamid
I very much believe in what Lee Strobel has said that, “So much of the world’s suffering results from sinful action and inaction of ourselves and other (sic)”. If not why should someone who works till he drops to win three loaves of bread for his family and himself brag one of the most destructive corruption cases ever that almost crippled our economy?
How on earth will someone who has but limited access to medical care celebrate impunity and hail its perpetrators? How will someone whom the system has never offered equality of education celebrate such a wastage of about N10 trillion that would have fixed the nation to a certain level? Although painful to bear, since “man is the greatest enemy to man” on the surface of the earth anything is possible in Nigeria.
This comment followed mixtures of reactions that trailed what could be termed as struggle for power, as Falana would say, between President Muhammadu Buhari and the former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, after the former accused the latter of wasting trillions of Naira on the power sector with nothing to show.
Whatever the case, it is surprising and very annoying that some deadwoods think they deserve a second chance or they know best how to walk Nigeria out of its present condition, simply because a larger percentage of Nigerians are suffering from acute dementia since they cannot remember the madness of the past.
On 22nd May, 2018, while receiving the Buhari Support Organization (BSO), led by the Controller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), President Buhari insinuated a whopping $16 billion Obasanjo’s administration wasted in the guise of improving power supply in the country with nothing to show. The money if converted should amount to N10 trillion. According to the president the debt incurred by the $16 billion frittered by the Obasanjo administration on power without any tangible outcome is now haunting his administration, which is a serious problem facing Nigeria as a country today.
As a tactical rebuttal to the president’s accusation of Obasanjo’s wastage of $16 billion power funds during his eight years in office, Obasanjo directed his spokesman, Kahinde Akinyemi, to reply Buhari, who insisted that the issue of power fund has been addressed aptly in his principal’s “My Watch“.
To him, Musa ‘Yar Adua’s government lied about the issue after the same administration had sacked one Engineer F. Somolu, the then secretary of NIPP, who vindicated the intent to frame up the Obasanjo administration of this grand corruption case in the power sector.
However, whether you or I have engaged in partisan politics or not, whether we will be called meddlers who cannot keep their fingers for themselves or not, I have found two things wanting in the behaviours of those hailers of Obasanjo’s wisdom: good understanding of how corruption has become a visible shame on the foreheads of Nigerians and the knowledge of this grand corruption case that provides the backdrop of our shaky economy.
What many people cannot infer from this political vendetta is that Obasanjo and some heartless cabals in the power sector then had nearly bled Nigeria to death. They have crippled the country’s economy particularly that of the North by raping the power sector which in turn milked our industries dry.
No fool will dare invest in an electricity-bereft north; but still you will hear an irresponsible person who has no plan for today much less tomorrow saying, “We should just forge ahead. Let it be the way they did it. They deserve some applause because we could eat then”, not knowing that building the country on a quivering foundation of corruption is the bane of our existence as a people.
One, unlike many years back when this giant elephant called Nigeria commanded a great respect in the eyes of the world, maybe for its famed peacekeeping role in Africa and elsewhere; and or able leadership then, the stigma of corruption today follows even the ordinary Nigerian, home or abroad everywhere like a shell to a snail, as Akinokunbo A. Adejumo wrote in his Corruption and Nigerian Mentality; but, much to one’s chagrin, many people do not give a hoot about it, neither do they even smell it. Like the media today, they, too, “comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted”.
They make heroes out of rogues. This simply reflects how corruption has eaten deep into our memory; but only people of conscience can infer this, for others are stone-blind to the truth. To them, corruption is synonymous to purity or truthfulness.
Two, a report by BBC’s Sesan Murray released on Monday 2 July 2007, about dying factories in Kano State can serve as a practical example to weigh the damage done by this grand corruption case. Some years back, according to the report, there were about 500 functional factories in Kano State. Some of them were able to employ from 800 to 1000 workers, but now less than 150 of them are in operation, and from all indication some more will be closed if the present government fails to resuscitate the power sector.
The plight of these factories exemplifies the growing decline in economic activities in the city that once enjoyed the appellation of “Manchester of Africa, as a tribute to its textile industry”, claimed the report.
One of the interviewees featured in the report responded that the biggest reason for the decline and shut down of the factories in the state is epileptic power supply – a situation the factories could not bear – no more smoke is blowing from the chimneys of most of those factories and they are turbaned by cobwebs; and at last what one will picture is the teeming crowd of unemployed youth, who are victims of a dying power sector caused by this grand corruption.
There is no gainsaying the fact that from 2007 to date the subsequent governments have not been doing their best to bring the sector back to life, but the reality of the situation is that the problem has its birthplace in this $16 billion the Obasanjo administration in connivance with other contractors fleeced Nigeria of.
Imagine what these dying companies have thrown the state into. Isn’t it high rate of unemployment and increase in crime rates? This is in Kano alone. Make up the statistics of other states yourself to make further findings; and now the afflicted has summoned some courage to reward his afflicter. Perhaps, only in Nigeria is this possible.
Anyone familiar with the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee constituted to probe the power sector chaired by Godwin Elumelu, during the sixth National Assembly will find one mind-boggling discovery made by the said committee where 18 turbines were procured for $404 million. Then, when additional nine turbines were needed, they now spent $1.545 billion on them. Is that sensible for anybody to comprehend while the international standard of generating one megawatt of electricity is $1 million? The truth is when you are talking about huge amount of money like $16 billion, by dividing it by $1 million, it would have generated more than 10,000 megawatts.
In a recent interview, Godwin Elumelu disclosed that in the course of their investigation they went to Brazil. In Brazil, Geometric Power told him that they spent $12 billion to generate 12,000 megawatts and so shocking it is working very well. As at that time, Obasanjo’s government had already spent close to $16 billion generating between 2,500 to 3,000 megawatts of electricity which is indeed questionable.
It is so awful that one has taken Obasanjo as his moral compass despite the rot, the destruction he has caused to our national economy and his refusal to appear before the house panel led by Godwin Elumelu; and the saddest part of this all is his die-hard supporters have the gut to request for my reading his ‘My Watch” to hoodwink me. For this, for everything I say “My Watch” my foot!
AbdulYassar AbdulHamid wrote from Kano and he can be reached at email@example.com