Wednesday, 19 June 2013
The Grand Larceny Called The Jonathan Government By Ayobami Oyalowo
A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
During the 2011 electioneering campaigns in Nigeria, there were three major contenders for the topmost job in the land, namely General Muhammadu Buhari of the CPC, Nuhu Ribadu of the ACN and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of the PDP. Of the three , it was clear Jonathan Was going to win and it had nothing to do with his “excellent” antecedents or track records. It was solely based on sentiments and the power of incumbency. The Jonathan team had, from the outset, primed itself to play on our famous religious and ethnic sentiments. No wonder he was at the RCCG camp, where he knelt down unabashedly and was prayed for.
He didn’t stop at that, he constantly drummed it into the ears of anyone who cared to listen, that he had no shoes, as a boy, he had no enemies to fight and he was not going to rock any boat. Little did the hordes of cheering fans realize the poignant truth in his , “no fight” cry. Indeed Jonathan is everyone’s ‘Mr Nice Guy’, corruption inclusive.
From his antecedents, Jonathan is corruption personified and I say this without a tongue bridging my cheek. However, intellectual laziness has blinded most of us from researching his past. Here is a little snippet into the past of Mr. Jonathan, a creation of the corruption he unashamedly tells people that he is fighting: In 2006, he was indicted for false declaration of assets by a Joint Task Force (JTF) on corruption that was set up by Obasanjo’s government. That powerful panel was headed by Nuhu Ribadu, who was then chairman of the Economic and Financial CrimesCommission (EFCC).
The Joint Task Force said Mr Jonathan was in possession of illegally-acquired property such as homes and exotic cars, all of which he could not explain within his legitimate income. While he was invited for hearing, he claimed he bought them from his “savings”. Meanwhile, he was alecturer preceding his becoming a deputy governor. Kindly see for yourselves, the worth of the properties which were bought from Mr Jonathan’s ‘savings’: a seven-bedroom duplex worth N18 million at Otueke Ogbia LGA acquired in 2001; a four-bedroom duplex, valued at N15 million at Goodluck Jonathan Street, Yenegoa, acquired in 2003; and a five-bedroom duplex, at Citec Villas, Gwarimpa II – Abuja, valued at N25 million, also acquired in 2003. There were also two cars: a Lexus Jeep valued at N18 million; and a BMW 7351 Series worth N5.5 million. If you check the dates the purchases were made from 2001, it was just two years after GEJ became a deputy to a criminal governor, Alamyeisigha, convicted for fleecing Bayelsa state dry.
Since Jonathan became the president, it has been one sad tale of corruption after another. While previous governments have even pretended to wage a war against corruption, Mr. Jonathan on the other hand, has no room for such pretense or luxury. He romances and dines with corruption and the corrupt. The Malabu scam comes into mind. N155billion paid into fictitious companies with fake or unknown addresses. Yet not one person has been brought to book as we speak.
The ministry of finance recently published a list of about 27 companies who received subsidy payments, but to the consternation of right thinking Nigerians, Pinnacle Construction was on the list released by the ministry. Further investigations revealed that about N2.7billion had been paid to that same construction company as subsidy payment! Investigations also showed that the company was not even registered with the CAC.
Various probes and commissions of enquiries have at different times shown the grand larceny being superintended over by the powers that be. It gets more nauseating when one considers that the report of such probes have at various times being either discarded or deliberately rubbished using individuals of questionable integrity. Nigerians are regularly mocked by those in government– they see trillions being misappropriated and the scoundrels have not only gone scot free, they are either rewarded with board appointments, national honors or are frequent callers in Aso Rock, the Nigerian seat of power.
A recent Gallup poll showed that Nigeria is the second most corrupt country in the world. Also according to International audit firm KPMG, the cost of fraud in the first half of 2012 alone is $1.5bn (N225bn), the highest on the African continent. And that is only because they have no real idea of what is going on in government circles. While Nigeria is ranked third behind the USA and China in backlogs of orders for personal private jets, the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) asserted that our nation is the worst place to be born in 2013 due to deteriorating indicators of human security. What a damning submission!
The power conundrum is another avenue for the grand larceny being committed against Nigerians. Billions have been spent on power but all Nigerians can see is darkness. It is so bad that the president had to come on National TV to lie to Nigerians about generating 5,000 megawatts. With no visible improvement in our various homes, one can only conclude that the megawatts he quoted are only being generated in his dreams. A quick math will suffice: let us assume that at N97/litre, Nigerians effectively burn N5.66 billion annually, with the attendant environmental and the accompanying health hazard to boot. Using our elementary mathematics, in 29years, Nigerians would have spent N5.66trillion or $354billion. How much do we need to generate proper and clean energy? I would have asked some of our Government officials to tell us, but I guess they are busy chasing some “evil spirits” those in government believe are the cause of our blackout. How laughable?
A research shows that Dubai is building a 1000 MW solar power plant that should be operational by 2013. The planned facility would stretch 48 square kilometers along the Dubai-Al Ain road and cost 12 billion U.A.E. dirham ($3.27 billion) to construct. What is therefore required to give Nigerians 24 hours of power supply will cost $160 Billion. Now allow for country specific variables, fund-mismanagement and country-specific price disparity and add some $20 Billion more, then we would have not only solved our power needs but would manage to keep a savings of $174 Billion from the amount constantly burned per litre of PMS, from using generators.
Recently, Punch Newspaper reported that a staggering N5trillion or $31billion has been reportedly stolen by the Jonathan government. Let’s put this into perspective. If a person lives for 100 years, he would have to spend the sum of $310m dollars a year for an entire century – near a million dollars a day, (weekends inclusive) to finish it all. To put things in context, if one spends one hundred thousand naira daily, it will take about 53 years to spend one billion naira! A billion dollars is of course some 150 billion naira. You can go ahead and do the maths.
Imagine what that amount, N5trillion, could have done. According to an MoU signed by government earlier this year, 6 refineries would be constructed in modular forms within 30 months at a cost of $4.5bn. Each refinery would process 30,000 barrels of crude per day with an output of 5 million litres of gasoline. This means that with $31bn about 41 new refineries can be built and if we used professor Tam David-West analysis, Nigerians would be buying PMS at the cost of about N35-40/litre. In other words, we could have built world class hospitals, refurbished the moribund railways and generally made life more bearable and comfortable for the generality of Nigerians.
But all the above will remain a pipe dream as long as the Jonathan government and his over bloated cabinet continue to fleece the country and fritter away her commonwealth. The government of Jonathan, going by the Punch newspaper revelation, is stealing an incredulous $1billion monthly. This is the same government that wants Nigerians to “sacrifice” to make the country better. The same government wants Nigerians to buy PMS at the cost of N140-150/litre. So that they can have more money for “capital and infrastructural” development. Who is fooling whom?
The larceny committed against Nigerians by this government, would have, in some climes, in the far east, earned the bare-faced looters the death penalty. But as it were, it is business as usual. It will be advisable for the Jonathan led government to heed wise counsel. Nobody hates Jonathan( and I say this because his hired goons and ‘voltrons’ sadly feed him this impression daily) . But a man who superintends over such monumental thievery is not only worthy of opprobrium, he must also be extremely callous and unconscionable to assume that all should be well.
The government must be told in no uncertain terms, that enough is enough. The stealing and gang raping of Nigerians and its resources is no longer sustainable. The facts on ground lead to this submission: this government is corrupt and lacks empathy. The government of Jonathan must reverse the trend and curb the massive looting being perpetrated by it’s officials and agents. Since the coming into power of Mr. Jonathan, Nigeria has become one big SUPERHIGHWAY of corruption, with the president unashamedly directing the traffic.
Until they stop stealing, we will not stop screaming. Not only shall we vehemently reject the proposed ungodly official increment in the cost of PMS all in the guise of deregulation or subsidy removal, we shall fight against it with the last drop of our blood. No longer shall it be said of Nigerians: “monkey dey work, baboon, dey chop.” Mr. Jonathan. Kill corruption, not Nigerians!!!
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