With the National Economic Council’s approval of $1 billion to fight Boko Haram, it should be clear to Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-graft war is an expensive joke,
$1 billion is approximately N360 billion of the monthly allocation to all three tiers of government: federal, state and local. The same amount is roughly half of the savings in the illegal Excess Crude Account! Even at that, the ECA is an aberration or a channel created to pilfer the collective patrimony. It's now normal to have an ECA which was stoutly opposed by the APC as illegal when the shoe was on the other foot.
It is only in primitive and conquered democracies such as Nigeria that the executive arm of government will bypass the parliament and unilaterally allocate money to itself without due appropriation. Defense alone in the 2018 budget estimate will be guzzling a whopping sum of N567.43 billion — aside the now sought N360 billion by the presidency — amounting to nearly a trillion naira to fight the already 'captured and defeated Boko Haram', as Lai Mohammed would like to lecture Nigerians, even though contrary evidence shows that hundreds of innocent lives are being extinguished on a daily basis.
More debilitating is the discovery of a floating N50 billion of NNPC money that escaped from the almighty Treasury Single Account (TSA) capturing. The violated TSA provision by President Buhari government stipulates that all agencies of government, without any exception, remit every transaction of government money to the designated TSA. The TSA is a centralized Federal Government revenue account kept by the CBN. This centralized revenue pool is run through an electronic platform, Remita, which was built by a Nigerian firm, SystemSpecs.
The sheer willpower of the selfless House of Representatives' ad-hoc committee probing remittances into the TSA make nonsense of the impregnable fortress of President Buhari's perfected act of systematic corruption. While Baru, the NNPC boss, is babbling insensate nonsense like a rescued delirium survivor from the high sea, Buhari government suddenly makes the fabled former President Goodluck Jonathan wince in admiration.
A senior official of the CBN, Dipo Fatokun, told the committee that indeed the NNPC wrote the apex bank informing it of the exemptions. “The banks are actually holding some accounts. We are aware. It’s not yet a case of 100 percent transfers to the TSA,” Fatokun explained. “We are compiling a report on each of the banks and it will be ready soon,” he stated further.
The ‘Executive Order’ directing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to exempt some of its accounts from the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by the Chief of Staff (COS) to President, Abba Kyari, raised the question whether there is another president in Nigeria apart from Buhari. This is because the order negates a well-known government position as regards its revenue.
But there have always been Presidents other than Buhari since he came to power.
Sometime ago, the now sacked SGF, Babachir Lawal, signed and sent a letter purportedly written by President Buhari to the Nigerian Senate, clearing him of any wrongdoing on the IDP's saga while Buhari was plagued and incapacitated by illness in the far away the United Kingdom. That's how far Buhari government has embraced corruption.
The lawlessness or selection of what laws to obey the call to question President Buhari's integrity and sincerity of purpose on the anti-graft war. Mr. Buhari and his minder, by this singular act, demonstrated and confirmed Nigerians' suspicion on political corruption. The easiest way politicians loot the treasury blind and raise a humongous sum for next round of election is to pretend to be fighting insurgents in the manner President Goodluck used Sambo Dasuki to fund his 2015 Presidential bid.
Since Mr. Buhari came to power in 2015, the manifest hope of a new beginning has shrunk. The hell-hole of power failure, the disaster zone that is the North East, the stone-age zealotry of the Fulani herdsmen's conquest, their morbid cruelties, the complete destruction of the economy and forced migration of jobless youths all compete for primacy in the absolute misery index.
Added to that is the failure of the Buhari government to leave up to the billing to either face out corruption or minimize it. The first premonition we have that Buhari is not interested in the crusade against corruption was the rejection of the study that he (Buhari) retools the anti-corruption agencies in the tradition the Chinese authority dealt an everlasting blow to its corrupt ruling class.
By the way, the majority of the Nigerian populace believe Buhari is a terrible option Nigerians were saddled with, after the ousting of the PDP 16-year of a ruinous reign that comes with looting; economic retardation, power stagnation, greed and outright poverty. "For the first time in Nigerian history, a man with total lack of respect to constitutional rights, institutional building, clear authoritarian tendencies, and a tyrant of the highest order was elected president,” Odia Ofeimu said at the time Buhari found his way back to power in 2015.
However, it's to the credit of President Buhari’s government that for the first in Nigeria the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) remitted N3 billion naira to TSA, as reported last week. It still did not remove the fact that President Buhari and those around him have no ideas how a civilized economy work. At the same time, they are impervious to correction. The President is contented that governance or anti-corruption crusade is a charity ball, and an obligation to reward longtime friends and family relations against the wishes of the electorate. They have no ideas about consolidation of national institutions for effective delivery. That's why EFCC and ICPC are completely bereaved of creative ways of dealing with anti-corruption issues.
Just when you think Mr. Buhari will provide critical leadership and stamp out corruption in our system than yet another disclosure came to light that some indigenous companies not registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) have lifted Nigerian crude oil grades valued at $3.5 billion (about N1.1 trillion) in the last 10 months. These are some of the reasons Buhari government has been slatternly drabbed as the 'political weapon of mass self-destruction' — of the missed opportunities, aborted change, failure to restructure the polity, impunity, suppression and muscling of the press — of which he has become notorious.
We only but hope that the pestilential poverty, corruption, dereliction in leadership, epidemics of hunger, disease and want prepare and instigate the emergence of genuine redeemers to enforce social change different to the ones previously and presently offered. Until then, the precursors of democratic crisis will not seize to lord it over us.
Erasmus writes from Lagos. You can reach him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @Ikhide_erasmus