In the past couple of days, the nation has been awash with reports of truly mind-boggling sums of money allegedly looted by government officials – especially in the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. Though the sorcerer is generally not beyond manipulating his divinations, according to the political party in power, the All Progressives Congress (APC), so far about N11 trillion has ‘grown wings’ and disappeared from the coffers of the nation.
The party ascribes this report to its investigations. In a statement, the party described as “spine-chilling and mind-boggling” the allegedly-massive looting of the nation’s treasury by public officials in the previous PDP administration. APC listed the alleged looted or unaccounted funds as: N3.8 trillion out of the N8.1 trillion earned from crude oil sales (2012-2015) withheld by the NNPC; $2.1 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) unaccounted for; Department of Petroleum Resources’ unremitted N109.7 billion royalty from oil firms; $6 billion allegedly looted by some Jonathan ministers.
Others are: 160 million barrels of crude worth $13.9 billion lost between 2009 and 2012; $15 million from botched arms deal yet to be returned to Nigeria; $13 billion in NLNG dividends mostly unaccounted for; N30 billion rice waiver and N183 billion unaccounted for at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The commission, however, swiftly riposted with a denial of the allegation of missing funds in its account. According to the governing party which is no stranger to mud-slinging, these allegedly ‘missing’ funds constituted a tip of the iceberg as they are mainly from the oil sector.
“The level of looting that went on in other sectors is better imagined, hence the need for all Nigerians to rally around the Buhari administration to recover the loots, bring the looters to justice and put in place measures to prevent such looting in the future,” it said. Expectedly, the deposed ruling party (the Peoples Democratic Party), brushed aside the allegations and accused the APC of bandying imaginary figures against the previous administration to suit a heinous purpose.
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisa Metuh, urged the governing party to get serious with its fight against corruption by investigating and prosecuting corrupt persons, while moving on with the demands of governance, especially in fulfilling the numerous campaign promises which made Nigerians to vote it into office, especially at the centre.
Sadly, an indication of how, as a nation, we do not seem to learn is the fact that these accusations are coming 35 years after the late music legend Fela Anikulapo- Kuti, fed up with such antics going on even then, released his album titled ‘Authority Stealing’ which detailed how government officials manipulated their privileged positions to amass so much wealth and quietly, without attracting attention to themselves unlike armed robbers who, despite their weapons, could only steal a limited amount of money.
After what government officials suffered during the short reign of General Murtala Mohammed (1975-76) and thereafter, what politicians endured when the Generals Muhammadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon military junta came to power in December 1984, we should not be reading/ hearing such sordid details of wanton looting in this day and age.
Back then, there was a lot of disquiet in the civil service that Mohammed’s actions contributed significantly to ‘destroy’ the civil service which is the ‘engine room’ of government; many, however, querried the wisdom in the Buhari/ Idiagbon’s decision to throw virtually all politicians into jail pending when they could prove that their hands were clean! However, it is clear that no one appears to have learnt their lessons from the two incidents; a situation which is akin to throwing water on the back of a duck.
Perhaps, if we had imbibed the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) which was prescribed during the Buhari/ Idiagbon regime, by now we might have had a few generations of God-fearing youngsters born into the programme and fortified in discipline, enough to have largely become the bulwark to checkmate the older ones on the need not to derail from the path of probity and accountability. Instead, the bulk of Nigerians rejoiced when the Buhari/Idiagbon regime was brushed aside by a more ‘liberal’ government headed by General Ibrahim Babangida.
Of course, the same Nigerians can equally testify to everything that subsequently happened, including the wholesale bastardisation of societal values! Sadly, it has become obvious that as a people, Nigerians tend to abuse a ‘soft hand’ and need stern control in order to get the best out of us and keep us in check.
Anyone old enough will recall how people used to queue at Oshodi patiently waiting their turn before boarding a bus or how people used the overhead pedestrian bridges rather than risk their lives dashing across expressways (of course, this was only possible were such bridges existed!). Without doubt, such draconian measures can not be applied in the present situation.
Still, that is no explanation for the fact that there currently exists more than enough rules and regulations in our law books for government to use to crack down on looters and other forms of social deviations. Government must, however, ensure that there is verifiable uniformity in the application of the same laws for everybody; it should not be perceived to be applying ‘selective punishment’ – going after only those that are perceived or seen as political ‘enemies’. I’m sure if this is done, perhaps we may finally witness the end of ‘Authority Stealing’ which is an affliction for the privileged.