Politicians Fail: loot and lose credibility!

by L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu

Robbing Nigeria of scarce resources has undermined development. Take the painful effect of the huge public money lavishing. My country christened Nigeria; where extortion and murder are getting increasingly frequent. The sense of insecurity of the common people is increasing triggering new anomalies and concerns in civic life. The crime often leads to killing to ease escape with our money. Politicians are proving it is dangerous to resist them just as extortionists have proved that it is dangerous to refuse to pay what is demanded. This has been continuing for years and shows no sign of really abating but periodically it assumes new intensity, as is being witnessed now.

see all those civil servants with job-pay that cannot buy one-cup of garri, if their salaries is split according to days in a month, and make a conclusion where our generated/accrue national and state revenue are going. The existence of those loop-holes is not a cultural quirk, in which Nigerian officials simply like ostentatious way too much to do any work. It is the end result of a man-know-man cum-brutal, multi-decade power struggle between the left and the right: a struggle that got people killed within living memory. These politicians fail to know that they have to build their credibility brick by brick.

Mismanaging public fund has drastic evil effects. We say this because corruption destroys social structures. Everything possible should be done to fight corruption, promote transparency, accountability and honesty in society. Money is watched with a narrow, suspicious eye. The man who handles it is assumed dishonest until he proves himself otherwise. Audits are penetrating and meticulous. Commercial morality is enormously improved. The embezzle shrinks. It is just great to know that the money we the taxpayers entrusted our leaders are not properly kept; they are diverted to private affairs and pockets. The “businessman” (our officials’ agent) arrived at the foreign Bank carrying a suitcase stuffed with about $5.2 million. The bills were decomposing, nearly unrecognizable, and he asked to swap them for a cashier’s check. He said the money came from Nigeria. Money like this normally arrives in an armored truck or insured shipping container after a bank burns or a vault floods. It doesn’t just show up at the visitor’s entrance on a Tuesday morning. But the banking habits of the people in our politicians had stopped making sense to the government long ago.

For the past few years, authorities say, he and his family have popped in and out of Nigerian banks, looking to change about $20 million in buried treasure for clean cash. The money is always the same — decaying $100 bills from the 1970s and 1980s.The original owners either forgot about it or got killed off…Being a “customs broker” in few Nigerians were almost certainly involved in some semi-shady things, and someone tipped him to the old stashes…I’m just amazed at how many times he can change his story with a straight face, while at the same time be willfully ignorant with his “I’m not a criminal” pleas… Walk into a Nigerian bank sometime and try to deposit $10K+ without explaining where it came from. You have to file a form detailing the source of the money as the government has a right to ascertain if it’s taxable income. If you lie…you’re committing a crime. It’s the same here…you have to declare the source of the funds.

It isn’t seeming that a crime has been committed…not telling the truth (and by-extension telling so many different stories) is actually a crime in-itself as it means having to lie on a legal document.

It will not be possible to realize any serious development goals if embezzlement of public fund is not eradicated from government business. Where there is corruption, it becomes very costly for government to deliver services to the people. Corruption increases the costs of providing services.

And embezzlement of public fund compromises the quantity and quality of such services. We say this because if money is being stolen from a government project, that project will not be completed to the standard expected for the amount of money allocated to it.

A project that is supposed to cost government, say US$ 1 million, may be completed at US $10 million but with quality of the project of less than US$1 million.

Embezzlement of public fund also delays the completion of projects. A road that could be completed in one year may take five years or more to complete as it gets carried over from one budget period to another because funds have been stolen. For a poor country like ours, efficient, effective and orderly utilization of our very limited resources is of paramount importance to our development and to the wellbeing of our people. If a little resource is all you have, you cannot afford to misuse them, misapply them, and misappropriate them. Where there is scarcity, efficient, effective and orderly utilization of resources is the only way of survival.

We see this in our own households. Those with very limited resources cannot afford wastage of any kind – every kwacha is strictly accounted for because if any kobo is misused or misapplied it may mean the family, especially the children, going without food for some days. The accountability required in the household is not different to that required when it comes to national resources. If a few millions of dollars is all we have as a nation for the construction of roads, schools, hospitals and other vital infrastructure and for the provision of the services needed by our people, taking away a million or two or three dollars from the national treasury may mean that the construction of certain roads, schools and hospitals have to be delayed or totally shelved.

And if these are not constructed, communication may be cut off in certain areas, some of our children may not be able to attend school or see a doctor. Where there is corruption, social structures are destroyed. Corruption is cancerous – it spreads very quickly in society.

If embezzlement of public fund is tolerated in government ministries or departments such as health, education, home affairs and so on and so forth, it won’t be long before the cancer spreads to other institutions like the judiciary. With limited resources, the administration of justice has to be very cost effective. We can’t afford a great part of the judiciary budget ending up in people’s pockets as sitting allowances at workshops or seminars and travel allowances or money outrightly stolen through corrupt procurements.

Where there is embezzlement of public fund, even justice can be for hire. There is very little, when the judicial process is corrupt, that will stop officers from being paid to deliver certain desired outcomes of cases. We start to end up with those with deep pockets having their cases heard by officers they paid. These is not good for the country and for all those involved in it.We also know that where there is corruption, even legislators become corrupt, and can be paid in all sorts of ways to deliver certain legislations. And if this becomes the order of the day in a nation, people start to lose faith and trust in public institutions and public offices. We know what happens when people withdraw from participating in public affairs.

Where there is embezzlement of public fund, the future nation ceases to be an issue. The only thing that starts to matter is the present – people stop caring about the future nation. And without being able to plan for the future, there can be no meaningful development in a country. We say this because what will happen in the future in this country will depend on what is being done today. The future is not built in the future. The future is built on the threshold of today.

In a word, the future is built today. This being the case, a corrupt society has very limited capacity to build a good future for its people because the future owes it nothing; everything is tied to the present.

And when we talk about corruption, we are not only referring to the stealing of public funds. Abuse of office, arrogance, lack of humility, intolerance is also forms of corruption that must be fought with the same tenacity that we fight all other undesirable plaques.

We have seen the effects of abuse of office in this country; Nigeria. We saw how Abacah abused his public office to loot the national treasury. We have also seen how Babangida, Buhari and Obasanjo have abused their offices to allow Babangida to go scot-free and keep his loot.

The effects of all this corruption on our judicial process are not difficult to discern. We have also seen that corruption in public institutions quickly spreads to private ones, to civil society organizations. We have seen how civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations have joined the government ministries in misusing or misappropriating money provided for the health of our people by the Global Fund. Embezzlement of public fund is a cancer that spreads in a nation very quickly and affects all aspects of its life. For this reason no time should be lost in fighting embezzlement of public fund.

And as nigeria4betterrule officials, has correctly observed, our Vision 2020 to turn Nigeria into a prosperous nation will be a pipe dream if we do not take strong and resurrect measures to fight embezzlement of public fund. Very little, if not nothing, will be achieved without stepping up the fight against embezzlement of public fund.

It cannot be denied that our former president; the late Umaru Yar’Adua took the fight against embezzlement of public fund to some very high heights to bring it to the lowest levels. Actually, one can in all honesty say the government’s fight against corruption ended with the death of Umar Yar’Adua. Jonathan’s government should start fighting embezzlement of public fund. The perpetrators have gone as far as weakening the laws that are used to fight embezzlement of public fund and insulating corrupt elements from being prosecuted. This has to change if we have to harbour any hope of a reversal of fortunes.

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Umana Jmes March 31, 2011 - 5:46 pm

Me, I doubt the legitimacy of vision 20;2020 with this kind of thief-as you-can mentality among todays’ politicians.

Opulema Jane March 31, 2011 - 5:35 pm

All their hidden loots has surfaced this time of election. They areusing it to intimidate, buy-over justice, rent-crowds and set to rig election.


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