Sleaze allegations: Who bails Nigeria from kleptocracy?

Sleaze allegations: Who bails Nigeria from kleptocracy?

Blueprint

EMEKA NZE articulates the exchange of jabs between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and suggests that looters of national treasury should not go unpunished, a task the new chairman Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) must brace up if he wants history to reckon with him.

There may not be much to cheer about Nigeria’s brand of democracy, except that it gives room for the throwing of punches or jabs amongst the political actors, who take turns to make astounding revelations against one another, one political party against the other, about oddities that ordinarily would have been wrapped in government secret.

Sometimes such punches can be entertaining, at other times mindblowing, tears-evoking and at other times, exposes the country to ridicule amongst the comity of nations.

Recall the uncharitable comment of former British Prime Minister David Cameroun who jeered at Nigeria to be ‘fantastically corrupt’ or the unfair invective by immediate past American President Donald Trump wherein he referred to Africa as consisting of ‘shithole’ countries.

These days, without the throwing of punches, it would be practically impossible to know about high level of kleptocracy embedded in Nigeria’s brand of democracy which Transparency International said has reduced the country to one of the poorest nations of the world.

Sometimes, the National Assembly can provide a good scenery for punches- the Senate and the House of representatives. Ditto the State Houses of Assembly, which at one time or the other became the gallery for entertaining or disgusting jabs.

Often, jabs provide Nigerians with necessary comic relief. Recall the incidence at 8th Senate that culminated in the comment, “I will beat and impregnate you”, or several instances of exchange of fisticuffs by lawmakers, especially, the reps when they fought and tore their apparels into shreds.

Even at the councils’ assemblies at local government councils, throwing of punches has become one hallmark of their legislative activities.

At the party level, throwing of jabs is a veritable instrument of party administration, deployed for effective opposition. It is the weapon that any serious opposition party uses to tackle the ruling party and vice versa.

Those who were conversant with the second republic still cite the phraseology, “If you Tarka me, I will Daboh you”, which till date signifies exposition of corruption between and among politicians.

The ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) uses punches to silence the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) .

In the last few days, Nigerians have been treated to the theatre of the absurd where the APC and PDP have exchanged jabs thereby opening can of worms of how billions of dollars, Nigeria’s commonwealth, allotted for special projects, were sadly frittered to private pockets without qualms of conscience.

Recently, the National Security Adviser Babagana Mungunu revealed that the $1bn drawn from the national treasury by the Buhari Presidency, under the claims of purchase of arms to fight terrorism, cannot be traced.

While the dust raised by the scam was yet to simmer down, PDP alerted of “a fresh $2.5 billion arms scandal, allegedly involving the National Security Adviser (NSA) Gen. Babagana Monguno which brings to an alarming $3.5 billion (N1.3 trillion).”

The funds were allegedly meant for purchase of weapons to secure the country under the Buhari administration has been looted.

The PDP had earlier chided the leadership of the APC, over what it called the ruling party’s attempt to cover some of its leaders who siphoned and frittered over N15 trillion from the national coffers.

The PDP in a statement said, “We invite the new spokesperson in the APC to answer to the leaked NNPC official memo which detailed how a whooping N9.3 trillion was stolen by alleged APC leaders as well as the reported N1.1 trillion worth of crude allegedly stolen with 18 unregistered ship belonging to certain APC leaders.

“This is in addition to the reports in the public space of over N3 trillion stolen from various agencies including the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, the Social Investment Programmes where the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, exposed that N500 billion was siphoned as well as the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA)l, in which a very top APC government official was indicted.”

While challenging PDP to get its facts correctly, APC reminded the major opposition party, PDP, of its own sleaze during the 16 years it reigned and said the party has no moral right to point accusing fingers at the APC.

“…from petroleum subsidy rackets, unexecuted electricity, CCTV, roads, to arms contracts to fight the North-east insurgency, adding that “the culture of outright theft, misappropriation and diversion of public funds became the mainstay and pastime of successive PDP administrations.”

The APC also reminded Nigerians of employment racketeering under PDP administration, “The bribe-for-jobs and other employment rackets perpetuated under PDPs watch remains one of the most disgraceful and lowest points in our nations history.

The party said, “Nigerians will recall how a PDP government fleeced young job seekers of application fees under the pretext of mass recruitment. Many died and where maimed in the 2014 Nigerian Immigration Service recruitment exercise for advertised vacancies that had been allegedly sold off by job racketeers.”

Since these astounding revelations were made, Nigerians have been disturbed about the whooping sums of money involved, with some people wondering why these magnitude of sleaze would be allowed to go on unchecked while the masses continue to live in abject misery.

The major source worry for many Nigerians therefore is who checks the looters and who ensured that they are brought to book? Although the PDP “calls for a joint public hearing of the National Assembly to investigate the whereabouts of the $1bn as well as other monies meant for security purposes under President Buhari’s watch,” observers said the lawmakers may be hamstrung since they are part and parcel of either the ruling or opposition parties slammed with these allegations.

Moreso, they also observed that since the present National Assembly does not want to work at cross purposes with the executive arm of government, the chances of investigating the executive mainly involved in these scandals may be very remote.

Furthermore, the PDP had also suggested that “the NSA should commence a system wide investigation
as well as place certain APC leaders and their cronies in the presidency under watch to ensure that none of them escapes from the country to evade justice.”

Analysts argue that should the NSA do this, it will amount to exposing the party which he is a member and that would be self-destruct as he would be paid back in his own coin through investigation into the allegation $2.5billion slammed on him?

Another source of worry is if President Muhammadu Buhari can offer explanationson for both the $2.5 billion and $1 billion.” It is common knowledge that the presidency is not used to such explanations and may not oblige Nigerians with such explanation.

Concerned about this monumental strings of unchecked fraud, only last week, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar raised the alarm that the $1.5 billion to renovate the Port Harcourt refinery is suspicious.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday, approved the $1.5 billion for mediate renovation of the Port Harcourt refinery.

Atiku, suspecting another sleaze noted, “the cost appears prohibitive. Too prohibitive, especially as Shell Petroleum Development Company last year sold its Martinez Refinery in California, USA, which is of a similar size as the Port Harcourt refinery, for $1.2 billion. We must bear in mind that the Shell Martinez Refinery is more profitable than the Port Harcourt Refinery.

The former Vice President raised the following questions while condemning the budget, “Given this discrepancy, might we ask if there was a public tender before this cost was announced? Was due diligence performed? Because we are certainly not getting value for money. Not by a long stretch.

“We cannot as a nation expect to make economic progress if we continue to fund inefficiency, and we are going too deep into the debt trap for unnecessarily overpriced projects”, he said.

Many Nigerians are of the opinion that if the new chairman of the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC),
Abdulrasheed Bawa, must plant his footprints in the sand of history, as the unbiased antigraft czah, now is the time to do so.

This news originally appeared on Blueprint.

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