The news blared out at me, and many Nigerians in the Nigerian Tribune of Friday, 10 July 2009 – “Bode George, Kalu, Ladoja, Dariye, 52 others looted N243bn –EFCC”.
It was written in very bold headlines that the “Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has released the names of 56 Nigerians it alleged collectively removed over N243 billion from the nation’s treasury. The names, some of which the EFCC Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri, referred to as politically revered people in the international community, were contained in a list handed over to the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), as the EFCC and NLC commenced their strategic partnership to intensify the fight against corruption in the country. The list contained names of well-known politicians, former governors, ministers, permanent secretaries, civil servants, chairmen and members of parastatal agencies, local government chairmen, members of the House of Representatives and senators”.
Well, well, well. If that BIG news does not shake the world, nothing ever will, from the viewpoint of the EFCC. The massive sum of N243 billion (at today’s exchange rate that translates to less than £1 billion) is earthshaking, isn’t it? And by just 56 people? BIG news to me and Nigerians, indeed. Surely the EFCC could do better than that. And in fact, corrupt Nigerian leaders could do much better than that. Only N243 billion? During Obasanjo’s Government alone, it was estimated that over $100 billion was looted or mismanaged or both. For example, Tony Anenih, his Transport Minister (and the most dangerous politician in Nigeria, according to some people) alone misappropriated N300 billion meant for road infrastructure. This is another name missing from that EFCC list.
To be frank, I am neither interested nor impressed with this news which I suspect is designed to shock Nigerians and bring sympathy to the embattled EFCC and its Chairman.
First, Nigerians are now immune to such shock tactics when it comes to our corrupt leaders and the exposure of their corrupt practices and shenanigans. So what is being done about this list?
Second, the amount of N243 billion is so infinitesimal and negligible, except to the named looters, perhaps. This is a drop in the ocean and is the tip of the iceberg, I daresay.
Third, the list is the most incomplete and inconsistent document of its type in the world, judging by the conspicuous absence or omission of bigger looters of our national treasury.
Fourth, how far back does this list go? Does it include past leaders and officials in the Second, Third or Fourth Republic and the various military governments we have had since independence?
Having said that, I suppose we must still commend the EFCC for braving the storm and coming out with that list of 56 looters (I will not say “alleged looters”, because we are 100% sure they are looters, even if not proven in court – Rule of law or not, I do not give a damn)
So I quickly delved into my own records and did a little bit of research to come up with more names, since this seems to be the season of naming and shaming of those who have relegated us to this terrible misery and mess.
Please note that I am not following any bogus list such as the one purported to have originated from the World Bank (and other various organisations) and which had been circulating around for the past two years. I do not believe that list, and the World Bank itself has since distanced itself from the authorship of that list.
Neither am I sure of any definite figures of the amounts looted. Nobody will ever know except the looters themselves. Even the various governments (and arms of governments) of Nigeria do not know, and will never know. The money looted is so massive it boggles the mind.
So, why are the following names missing from the EFCC list?
James Ibori – former Governor of Delta State, who ruled and looted Delta State for eight uninterrupted years and was an ex-convict, hostage initiator and negotiator and power broker in Abuja. He is the most rapacious looters of them all, who is still enjoying a lot of favour with the Presidency. Just last month, June 2008, his fertiliser company, which used to be the government-owned national Fertiliser Company of Nigeria, (he bought it while he was still in power – where did he get the money?) was awarded a N40 billion contract to supply fertiliser to the Federal Government of Nigeria. He still has a case with the EFCC, which, at the way it’s going, will never get to court.
Peter Odili – former Governor of Rivers State – he wanted to go for the Presidency of Nigeria (in order to loot more) but we were saved by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, when Ribadu put his file on Obasanjo’s desk and persuaded the then President that Odili must surely not get within a distance of the Presidency of Nigeria. Ribadu scuttled Odili’s ambition. He now lives in relative peace somewhere in Abuja, not daring to go to Port Harcourt, a place he ruled for eight years. He also slapped us in the face when he got a court injunction against the EFCC not to investigate or even arrest him. Why would he do that if he is innocent? But there we are. The Nigerian Judiciary as a barrier to good governance and justice.
Abubakar Atiku – former Vice President, who fell out with his boss. A very clever politician, nobody has been able to pin anything on him, but we know he looted. His name being mentioned at all in the US Representative Jefferson’s trial in the US is enough proof that he was involved in a lot of underhand corrupt practices while he was in power. Remember he was in charge of the selling off of several Federal Government assets, and he cleverly bought or had controlling interests in most of them. He was also a major benefactor of contracts during the All-African Games (COJA) held in Abuja, supervised by that most-corrupt of civil servant, Amos Adamu (that is another missing name on that list)
Bola Tinubu – former Lagos State Governor for eight years. He looted Lagos State, no doubt about that, but commendably, he made good amends by imposing a good Governor on Lagos State (a very good and deserved imposition in my opinion, and which all Nigerians can see is yielding results and giving us a glimmer of hope, belief and prosperity in a sea of desperation and hopelessness). Apologies to the excellent (the only real Excellency in Nigeria) Governor Fashola, but we must call a spade a spade.
Chimaroke Nnamani – former Governor of Enugu State for eight years; the man who acquired over 200 properties in eight years of governorship. Tell me he did not loot. He is now a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. A real shame. His name is on the EFCC list, by the way, but I just have to mention him again.
Lucky Igbinedion – former Governor of Edo State for eight years, whose father pleaded with the people to re-elect him, and he got re-elected of course. Eight years of moribund governance and looting; benefitting only himself, his father, his family, his girlfriends and close friends. The most useless Governor we ever had in Nigeria.
Others are: Olusegun Agagu, former Governor of Ondo State, another useless and corrupt man, my former lecturer; DSP Alamieyeseigha, disgraced former Governor of Bayelsa State and self-styled “Ijaw General” who I will admit, has done his term in prison even if only for six months. At least he was put on trial and ja
What about all those Northern Governors during Obasanjo’s Administration? Apart from the notorious Joshua Dariye of Plateau State, there are too many of them to mention. They all looted, and incidentally and ironically their atrocities were the least publicised in Nigeria.
Again, what about Ministers, past and present, who have, and are still looting in collaboration with their civil servants? Current AGF and Minster of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa, has been named in one or two bribery scandals involving Ajaokuta and Delta Steel Mills? And Super Special Advisers and Special Assistants like Andy Ubah? And what about Senators and members of the House of Representatives and their collective heads. And don’t forget the states too.
Even the ruling PDP party hierarchy are not excluded; due to the curious way we practice our democracy, top and even lowly party officials are not separated from government and seem to have unlimited access to the national treasury. This list is going to stretch as long as the Great Wall of China, if I go on and list individual names.
And now if we go a bit further back:
Ibrahim Babangida – former Generalissimo and Military President of Nigeria for eight years until the wave of June 12 1993 swept over him. A very clever man who mud will never stick to. But we know he looted the treasury dry by the time he reluctantly handed over power to Earnest Shonekan and eventually to our Nemesis, Sani Abacha.
Abdulsalam Abubakar – former Head of State for a brief period who to his credit, initiated and implemented faithfully the transition to our present democracy (or demo-crazy), one of the few generals in the Nigerian Army who rose to the top without holding political office until he was appointed as Head of State following Abacha’s sudden and welcome demise. He has held only command and military positions, and has, in general, stayed out of the political limelight. However, during his short spell as head of state, he made a hell of a lot of money. Tell me he did not loot. His name has been connected to the Halliburton bribery scandal. That hardly exonerates him from our woes, does it?
A few more names to mention for their complicity in the looting and raping of Nigeria (and this list of mine is by no means exhaustive):
T Y Danjuma, former Defence Minister under Obasanjo who fell out with his colleague and friend over a small matter of oil blocks; Lukman Rilwan, former OPEC Secretary-General, Foreign and Oil Minister and now holding several Directorships in (you guessed it) oil companies, and is now serving as Minister of Petroleum Resources in Yar’Adua’s Government; Ayo Fayose, former Governor of Ekiti State and “poultry expert”, he never had a lot to steal due to the small allocation to his state, but stole he did, the little he could.
In the meantime, there is no end to the looting in sight: the following people still in government are still stealing: Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State, party-goer and propagandist, who recently, after only two years in office, told the good people of Oyo State that he had delivered on all his pre-election promises (go to Ibadan, the state capital, and you will see exactly what he has delivered – nothing); Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State, the master of false propaganda, self-publicist, fetishist and illegal oath-taker, who was forcing all members of his government and House of Assembly members to take primitive oaths of allegiance to him. He is still looting Ogun State, in fact on my recent visit to Nigeria last month, and visiting Abeokuta, the state capital, I had the impression that the man owns all the industries, properties and businesses in the state. Look at his Compass Newspaper complex on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and you will wonder where he got the money to invest in a newspaper. Also there are talks of him building and owning several housing estates in the state.
Ah, and “Oyin Ni O”, Oyinlola Olagunsoye, second term Governor of Osun State, another party-goer and consummate golfer (you will always find him playing golf at Ada, Osun State) and crude comedian (you should see him in a YouTube video raining curses and abuses in Yoruba on his opponents when he was campaigning for Segun Oni during the Ekiti State rerun election). Where do we find these murderous jokers? He is stealing Osun State blind, trust me.
Bukola Saraki, second-term Governor of Kwara State and a power behind the throne in Abuja is another one who will prove to be a great looter of the treasury. He and his family rule the roost in the state and have virtually converted Kwara State into a family or personal fiefdom, to do as they please. The case of the Zimbabwean farmers is such that these farmers are not there for the benefit of Kwara State but for the benefit of the Saraki family. And we also know what the Saraki family did to depositors and investors of Societe-Generale Bank. Last I heard, the same EFCC still have the case open, but who dares prosecute or stand in the way of the Saraki’s? Currently, the state government is building an official First Lady’s Lodge for the wife of the Governor. If that is not looting, I would like to know what it is.
At this juncture, I think it is best that I stop, since any attempt to go on will just infuriate me more, and at any rate, it is nigh impossible to mention all the names of all Nigeria’s looters swirling in my brain.
However, I’d like to let Mrs Farida Waziri and the EFCC know that Nigerians are not impressed with this list of 56 mostly minor rogues (the names of such people as Olabode George, Orji Kalu, Iyabo Obasanjo, and some foreigners notwithstanding) stealing only N243 billion – less than £1 billion). There should be more important names on that list; the list is much longer and the amount is much, much more.
We are not impressed.