My dear readers, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is right: “stealing is not corruption”. In a society where 70% of our people live on less than one dollar a day, while the rich bathe in bottles of champagne and good wines, stealing is a capital offense. Indeed, it is not corruption but high corruption. The story of the President’s presiding over the unfettered looting of Nigeria’s treasury in the last six years is yet to be told, and it has become necessary that some salient facts are made clear.
First, that Nigeria’s treasury has never had it so good. That whereas his predecessor looted and perhaps “stolen”, as the president will posit, from a lean treasury- he feasted on Nigeria when we made humongous sums from the sale of crude oil. More money than we ever made in the previous thirty years!
In fact, a cursory analysis (see picture) reveals the President have enjoyed five times the average revenue accruing to Nigeria FROM CRUDE OIL per annum (assuming constant volume, which is a gross under estimate) under IBB, seven times of what Abacha earned annually, about three times what Nigeria earned under Obasanjo: yet he has next to nothing to show for this.
Putting things in perspective, consider the fact that when his period in office is factored into our calculations in an index, the combined amount Nigeria earned under Goodluck Jonathan just from crude oil alone is equal to what we earned under his immediate last three predecessors combined up to Feb 9, 2015. These analysis does not factore in the production volume growth from the 80s when we were a marginal producer to the height of the 90s and early 2000s after massive finds offshore.
It is only when Goodluck Jonathan is judged against this massive revenue profile that his crime untold begin to unravel. This crime however did not start when GEJ became president. His party, and political benefactor – former President Olusegun Obasanjo had a role to play even if they deny him today and wish we all have amnesia. Like every Yoruba mother tells his son, stealing always starts with lying. Join me as I trace the history of corruption laid on the foundation of lies; in it we will discover that the road to destruction is often paved with good intentions!
Associates of President Olusegun Obasanjo have argued severally that the President ignored the corrupt and non-performance past of Goodluck Jonathan, because he believed that without hitching a core Niger Delta born of Ijaw race as a partner to then ailing President Y’Aradua, the chances of a settlement in the region or emergence of a national leader from there was close to nil. This good intention (albeit spurious since there were far more able Niger Deltan even if they’re not from the ever-present Ijaw race that could have been chosen) led to the first lies: of hiding the President’s true record.
We still remember vividly how former Anti-Corruption Czar, Nuhu Ribadu indicted his wife for shipping close to thirty million US dollars of Bayelsa State’s funds, in cash on a domestic flight bound foreign (sounds familiar?), and how that file disappeared and Ribadu later recounted.
For his good stewardship, Ribadu can now have a governorship ticket in Adamawa to bribe his silence while celebrating our collective amnesia. Only in Nigeria! Getting away with such multi-million dollar looting, which is now child’s play to what the President, and his aides’ loot on a daily basis, only emboldened them and led to the next crime of passion by the President and his supporters.
Upon assumption of office as Acting President and later President, riding on popular backing and goodwill of the people against “the cabal”, the President’s men began to perfect strategies to win a full term despite resistance from the cabal that dominated the ruling party. This effort was supposed to be financed; everyone that could be bribed was to be bought over and whoever stood in the way of his ambition was sent a cheque or an “alert” as the parlance goes in Nigeria.
To finance this effort, funds were raised from two sources:
- Barons that have today emerged the biggest beneficiaries of the President’s sale of public assets at bottom prices, while being cash backed by our central bank or AMCON. I speak of the Femi Otedola, a man so broke when President Y’Aradua was in power that bankruptcy lawyers had begun to hover; Femi’s empire has since grown on the back of downstream subsidies as well as sweet AMCON deals, and he is now even set to acquire Oando’s downstream operations as a result. Add to this list the Tonye Coles of Sahara Energy (now owner of Egbin Power Plant plus an assort of others), Tony Elumelu (now owner of Transcorp and Ughelli GenCo), Tunde Ayeni (acquirer of Ibadan and Yola DisCo, and now lead investor in NATCOM that acquired NITEL, and leads Skye Bank which bought MainStreet Bank from AMCON), Aliko Dangote (given fast track approval on refinery construction with many promises made, and ministerial approval for choice oil acreage to feed the project) and Aig-Imoukhuede of Access Bank (who not only acquired several companies from AMCON, but now seats on tidy government deposits). A common thread in all of these transactions is a sketchy character called Captain Hosa Okunbo- if only Nigerians will do their research!
- The Petroleum minister who was charged with raising untold billions in return for getting a basic free hand to do as she pleases with the enormous powers vested in that office if the President wins. This mandate led first to the country losing untold billions to subsidy fraud estimated at about $2.5 billion, where undelivered cargo was paid for by the PPRA, in the aftermath of the President’s ascension into office. The beneficiaries naturally gave their “PR” to the campaign, and the regulators looked the other way until EFCC started making pretense to enforcement once the President decided our gift for electing him was a fuel price increase! In addition to this, reports have severally chronicled how sweet heart deals with Atlantic Energy, and the monumental fraud with Dan Etete’s Malibu Oil that now have international investigators on the trail of the implicated International Oil Companies (IOCs).
As if these lies and deals that led to the robbing of our national franchise in the last five years were not enough, the deliberate destruction of our security and intelligence agencies by the President’s men to finance their political ambition is perhaps what reeks the most of treason and capital punishment meriting crime.
One will be hard pressed to imagine one of the largest armies on the continent is now kowtowing to minion nations in the name of inter-regional cooperation to defeat terror within her borders, after spending over $10 billion in four years on security! Even after spending such sum, our soldiers barely get good weapons and have to buy their own uniforms. Such is the level of corruption we have descended into: while our nation award security contracts worth several millions of dollars to ex-militants and troublemakers, who are constantly being bribed off to ensure the massive siphoning of crude oil can continue uninterrupted.
If these militants were only being bribed with Amnesty payments and security contracts, it won’t really be shocking given the way Nigerian elites think and operate since independence. However, under President Jonathan this crime of commission was taken even further: militants were given carte blanche ticket to steal oil directly from Nigeria, with the treasury losing between 100,000 and 400,000 barrels per day of crude oil equivalent revenue, while prices hovered at their very highs!
This is the 30 trillion that Mr. Soludo talked about that the other day, and it sure reeks of high corruption with the connivance of the very people at the top. How can the Federal Government with all its sophisticated satellite solutions and surveillance system, claim large ships bunkering crude oil pipelines that are “hot tapped” cannot be accosted and punished? Nigeria has lost its way!
If the President was being way half smart in his analysis then we must declare loud and clear that we hear him; that the goat that must be separated from the yam is the separation of Goodluck and his bandwagon of criminals, gangsters and thieves in high places from the treasury of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We will have an opportunity to do so on March 28th, and it is a duty that must be done!
IMAGE: Oil Barrels by Ian Burt