Obasanjo And Thousands Of Thieves


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Obasanjo And Thousands Of Thieves

- The N8.8 Trillion Scam -




Dele Sobowale



Nigerian democracy is government of Obasanjo by Obasanjo for Obasanjo—Area Boy’s definition, Sunday, July 23, 2006, at Campos Square, Lagos.



culled from VANGUARD, August 06, 2006

Cheeky devil but nobody can blame the Area Boy. He had just asked me if it was true that President Obasanjo so far has been the only recipient of the Federal Government’s N50 billion agricultural loan policy and I had confirmed it. I even went further to let him know that this was not a rumour peddled by Obasanjo’s enemies; Baba Iyabo had revealed the truth himself. The guy shook his head. "No president of Area Boys has ever been or will ever be as selfish as that", he said before providing the definition quoted above. Here I am president of Area Boys looking for an agricultural loan of only N500,000 to start a project that would provide employment for about ten boys initially while the over-financed Obasanjo Farms is walking off with a good chunk of the N50 billion agricultural loan meant for 120 million Nigerians! Oga dinma (as they say in Igbo language). But that is not my main worry today.


I shall deal with Baba’s revelations later. First is our continuing series aimed at addressing and exposing how the Nigerian state and the citizenry have been robbed by their elected leaders since 1999. Before going on to explain how the state legislators in every state made themselves accomplices to the corrupt practices in virtually every state, let me make some interesting digressions. Altogether about N8.8 trillion, excluding grants and gifts by the international community, were spent at the three tiers of government, Federal, States and Local Governments from 1999 to 2005. That translates to about N67,000 per person; meaning every man, woman and child.


One late top politician member of the PDP had described his party as a "come and eat" political association. The question is, my dear readers, how much did you eat? The Federal Government, under the PDP, which is the same thing as saying under Obasanjo, controlled about 50 per cent of this amount or nearly N4 trillion. Did you feel the impact of N4 trillion spent (or "eaten") on your behalf. Secondly, the PDP controlled states collected N4.5 trillion on behalf of their people leaving a paltry N0.3 trillion to be accounted for by states controlled by other political parties. For this purpose, I have brought back the League Of States which was first published on July 2, 2006.


The figures were supplied by the Federal Ministry of Finance, I only re-arranged them in a manner that would throw up the facts behind the figures. Again, did you feel the impact of N4.5 trillion spent on your behalf by those states? Can the majority of people in Rivers State, for instance claim to have felt the impact of N357 billion in their lives? Or the N155 billion in Imo? Or N146 billion in Sokoto?


President Obasanjo and his Finance Ministry officials as well as the ICPC and EFCC have inundated the media with claims of corruption by public officials. Since the PDP controls virtually all the revenue allocation, it is quite obvious that what they are doing amounts to self-confession. Obasanjo is the head of the party which accounts for virtually all the money and by extension virtually all the corruption against which he rails. As the saying goes: "Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are." That is only the appetizer. Wait for the rest as the series progresses.


However, penultimate week I promised to conclude the summary of how legislators at all levels became accomplices to corruption. There is no need to list seriatim all the ways. Two will be sufficient to illustrate the depth of corruption perpetrated with the lawmakers as accomplices. Permit me to arrive at the conclusion by making a detour which involves comparative analysis with other democracies with which many people are very familiar.


Neither in Washington D.C, the seat of the American government nor in London, the seat of the British government, nor indeed any progressive democracy known to me, can one find legislative quarters. The equivalent of Apo Quarters housing legislators does not exist anywhere else in the civilised world. Legislators are paid sufficient salaries to enable them rent or buy houses in the nation’s capital. Neither are they provided with official cars. The vain-glorious plates, NASS (National Assembly Member); SHA (State House of Assembly); Senator; Speaker don’t exist except in this country where we are invited to elect (or get selected for us) our masters.


The first signs of disaster came a week after the swearing in of the president and the governors in 1999. Three governors announced the gift of cars to the elected members of their State Assemblies even before presenting the Supplementary Budgets that would have provided the legal backing for the expenditure. Surprisingly, none of the States’ Assemblies turned down the offer despite the fact that they constitutionally owned the purse that was being illegally raided. It was like a pick pocket removing money from your pocket to buy you a "gift" for which you were also expected to show gratitude. Of course having bribed, that’s rightly bribed, the legislators this way, and since they were foolish enough to say thanks, the governors proceeded to raid the public purse with impunity. Next, they built legislative quarters for the legislators despite the fact that there is no provision in law for that either. Finally, they furnished the quarters lavishly. The legislators very early on sold their constitutional rights for a pittance and lost control from the outset.


Again, the Federal Government led the way in these corrupt practices right under the nose of the president. The National Assembly approved N3.5 million and N2.5 million as furniture allowances for senators and members of the House of Representatives respectively. That was questionable enough; in the end, each senator collected N5 million and the representatives also collected more than was approved for them. That was theft. The president looked the other way because that act of barefaced robery enabled him to intervene and impose one Senate president after another, thus pocketing the National Assembly.

What became the norm at the federal and state governments levels was repeating itself at the local governments. Jobless and penniless people who became councilors in 1999 suddenly were driving expensive cars and marrying second and third wives. Apart from outrageous salaries, there was other loot to be shared; market women to be robbed; street trading to be encouraged for a fee; and motor park touts to be engaged to harass vehicle owners, drivers and passengers for good returns. Less than 30 per cent of revenue generated in a local government went into the pockets of the local government and less than half of what arrived at the Secretariat went into service delivery. I know; I live in Lagos Island and many of my acquaintances are the Area Boys extorting money on behalf of political godfathers. And the mode of operation is the same nation wide with minor variations.


The EFCC and the ICPC have a herculean task on their hands prosecuting all these people. There are hundreds of officials at the Federal level involved; there are 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory each with alleged culpable governors, commissioners, special advisers and legislators; also 774 Local Governments and 6032 ward councilors. And that is only the tip of the iceberg.


Party officials at all levels who collected contracts, usually over-inflated, and who nevertheless failed to execute them will run into thousands and wives, friends of the indicted politicians to whose accounts vast funds can be traced, will run into hundreds of thousands. We are not talking here of a few rotten apples in a barrel; we are urgently searching for a few good apples out of several rotten barrels. The clean legislator is the exception not the typical.



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