15 August 2016, Lagos — SOME eminent Nigerians, yesterday, said they were not surprised that Nigeria made little or no gains in terms of better welfare for it citizenry from the over N96 trillion the country has earned as revenue from crude oil since 1958.
About N51 trillion of the money was earned during the five years of the immediate past Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. Others include: President Olusegun Obasanjo (N27 trillion); late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (N9 trillion); Chief Ernest Shonekan/General Sani Abacha N1.6 trillion); General Ibrahim Babangida (N420 billion); General Murtala Mohammed/General Obasanjo (N25 billion); Alhaji Shehu Shagari (N36 billion); General Muhammadu Buhari (N25 billion); General Yakubu Gowon (N11.03 billion); and President Muhammadu Buhari (N6 trillion). Attributing the mismanagement of the princely sum to corruption, bad leadership, a faulty federalism and over-concentration of power at the centre, abandonment of the parliamentary system of government, which encourages lean government and ensures checks and balances, the eminent Nigerians called for urgent solutions or the trend might continue. Among those who spoke to Vanguard were Retired Police Commissioner, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav; Second Republic politician, Chief Guy Ikokwu Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed; and National Publicity Secretary of pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin.
We lack good leadership — Tsav
Retired Police Commissioner, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, said: “The truth is that all governments since then are known to have been be corrupt. The issue is not about individuals but a leadership challenge. When a leader is exemplary, it will reflect in the way resources are managed in the country but when you have a weak leader, so many things will go wrong. So, it is all about leadership. Even some of the people in APC today were part of the corrupt PDP leadership of the past. Today, Buhari represents probity just because of his integrity. Without his integrity, we will go back to square one. The revelation is a very disturbing development.”
Our leaders were irresponsible —Mohammed
Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, said the figures were stunning and despite the huge amount of money, Nigeria remained under-developed. He said the figures showed that Nigerian leaders were irresponsible. His words: “I believe Nigeria has earned enough for its development but because fools and scoundrels have been ruling Nigeria in the last 58 years, nothing has changed. “All the money Nigeria has realised so far from its sale of crude oil has not been spent by Nigerians, it has been stolen and stashed in foreign countries like Dubai, United Kingdom, Switzerland. What this shows is that we have been irresponsible to ourselves, our children and I don’t know the way out. “When Nigerians started heaving a sign of relief, President Buhari now brought some rogues back to the government and so far so good, this government has been inept and cannot even prosecute corruption cases properly. “I believe strongly that even if Nigeria is richer than the figures we have gotten so far, with the kind of leadership we have right now, we will not make headway.”
Restructuring will eradicate commonwealth theft — Odumakin
National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin, fingered corruption for the country’s squandered commonwealth but noted that the trend will continue without restructuring. Odumakin said: “It tells you that the entire foundation is corruption. All the country has derived since independence up till now have ended in private pockets and it will continue to be so until we change this structure. For as long as we use millions of naira to occupy public offices, based on the current system that we are running, as it was, so shall it continue to be.
“Despite all the noise we have been hearing on corruption, are we still not hearing of budget padding? So, the quantum is the difference between the rest of them. Since 1960 up till now, we have not made the interest of the people the priority. Our model has been to put the interest of politicians and political office holders, whether civilian or military, above the people. And if we continue to go on this paradigm or trend, nothing is going to change.”
Stressing that there was the need for restructuring if Nigeria must get it right, he said: “It will continue to be so as long as we continue with this structure because the foundation is corruption. So, all that we have been talking about corruption is linked to the system that we are operating and until we change this, nothing is going to change.
“Unless we restructure, nothing is going to change. We must restructure. It is when we restructure that we will have a new paradigm, it is then that we will have new policies and politicians who want to serve. If you look at it closely, all those engaged in swindling (419) and other criminal activities have abandoned most of these for politics because the Nigerian politics, as it is now, is a criminal enterprise.”
Nigeria needs urgent restructuring, parliamentary system of govt — Ikokwu
Second Republic politician, Chief Guy Ikokwu, said the development justified the need to urgently restructure the country and return to the parliamentary system of government that Nigeria practised in the First Republic. According to him, such funds are prone to be mismanaged in Nigeria’s faulty federalism. His words: ‘’In a truly federal system, which has been severally advocated over the years, civilians are in favour of a return to our former parliamentary system of governance, which is result-oriented with, regions and federating units with a devolution of power from the centre back to the regions or states.
“As part of fiscal federalism, it has been graphically stated that there should be fiscal sustainability. This means that the cost of governance should be grossly reduced by a reduction of political appointees and aides. It has been recommended that elected members of the legislative arm should serve on part time basis and also a strict compliance with the procurement act for the award of contracts. This means that the cost of governance will be borne mainly through taxation and other revenues from resources, investments, royalties which will be invested in infrastructure and sovereign wealth fund to provide for a rainy day. ‘’It is quite clear today that the central government alone cannot drive the development aspect of the economy.
The country’s faulty federal structure and the growing inequality in the national economy is driving the country further down the drain. Today, we have the economy moving towards a recession, with inflation at about 16 percent, unemployment at about 31 percent, the misery index at about 46 per cent. The slow pace of the central government in the last one year of the rule has been largely responsible for the above index. It took more than six months for the Central Bank of Nigeria to resolve the issue of the exchange rate by introducing a flexible forex policy which is geared towards re-engineering the economy.”
‘’ Unless the country does away with a system that shackles the country to the hegemony fantasies of a few, unites the people in poverty by caging their creative abilities and breed the collision of a deprived majority, prone to easy manipulation by a thieving minority, Nigeria cannot make progress into unity and prosperity. The results of such a distorted federal structure is that too much of the resources are concentrated in an idle central government which has caused so much waste in untapped marginalisation of most people.’’
*Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Charles Kumolu & Gbenga Oke – Vanguard