DEEPENED POVERTY,DEEPENING WEALTH FOR PUBLIC OFFICERS
It’s fast becoming an un-interesting and boring discourse,the alarming news about how a nation so blessed by God but much more cursed with visionless,clueless and unpatriotic leaders,loot this nation high and dry.Nigerian masses are sliding further into poverty by the day whilst public officers are living in the paradise of excessive abundance.No country that truly achieve greatness ever treats her citizens the way Nigerian ruling class-politicians,civil servants and traditional institutions- treats its people.
Just recently,Nigeria was rated as the 7th country among the list of developing nations that lost $5.86 trillion through money laundering between 2001 and 2010.Nigeria was reported to have lost $129 billion illicitly within this period.To establish this rating,Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) Governor,Mr Lamido Sanusi said recently that about $11 billion were laundered through Nigeria’s porous Airports as a result of difficulty encountered in fleecing this illegitimate wealth through Nigerian banks as used to be the practice before signing into Law of Money Laundering Act(2011), Anti- Money Laundering/Combating the financing of Terrorism Regulation(2009, as amended).
Not quite long ago,a serving Governor’s son-Aminu Lamido was caught with $50’000 having declared that he was in possession of just $10’0 00 at the Aminu Kano International Airport,Kano and another Tijani Sheriff was caught in September 2012 with $7million at the Murtala Muhammed Airport moving funds out of Nigeria.This according to CBN Governor,has been the practice among public office-holders including their collaborators across all tiers of government and other arms of government.
Another report has it that Nigeria earned =N=3 trillion between 1970-1999 from oil revenue alone and whatever reservations one has about the accummulation of debts in this era,there were many developmental projects spread across the country including the burden of reconstructions after civil war,Federal Universities,seaports,Airports,Steel rolling mills,refineries,paper mills,fertilizer plants,third mainland bridge,Aso Rock,Federal Secretariats,estates in Lugbe,Wuye,Gwarinpa all in Abuja,federal road network,three-arm zone etc were the projects funded in this period.This doesn’t mean that corruption was not existing at this period but there was still some traces of patriotism among our leaders then.We should not forget that with the level of development achieved in this era,General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida’s (IBB) government was accused of mis-appropriating $12.5 billion Gulf war oil windfall and General Sani Abacha’s government was reported to have looted the treasury as he considered appropriate to please himself and his cronies while General Abdulsalami Abubarka was reported to also play with about $5 billion to run transition programme that ushered in, this present waste called Democracy.
But between 2000 -2006,over =N=20 trillion was accrued to the government and another $200 billion was said to have been accrued to government between 2007-2012.Where are all these monies shared between the 3 tiers of goverment?Can anyone say Nigeria is better than she was in 1999?Except for a handful of state governors who still have fear of God,federal government has been a disaster of sort.State governments have been home front for looting among the established power brokers;aided and abetted by the traditional institutions and there is nothing good about the local governments.Our civil servants are not any better.It’s even established that no political office-holder can dip his/her hands into public till without active connivance of civil servants.If you doubt this,check your locality and see how they live like Dangote or Jim Ovia.If you don’t have them in your locality,check the lives of their children in your schools.Do a check on the choice properties anywhere and tell me the owners.When politicians get to public office,they allocate security allowances,wardrobe allowances,inconvinience allowances etc and when they travel;they collect huge estacodes without giving anything back to the society.Attempt to do the calculation of all the security allowances and wardrobe allowances from 1999-2012 across the 3 tiers of government, you will be tempted to carry arms against the system.
When they leave office,they are entitled to huge severance packages and big perks as a reward for deepening poverty in the country.Even the wife of President Jonathan called for pension for the wives of public office holders as a reward for assisting their husbands in pauperizing the people while in government.What an insult?
Reading Pension Reform Task Team(PRTT) chairman’s(Abdulrasheed Maina) interview in The Sun newspaper of 25th December 2012; I was more than angry with the whole system.We mouth industrialization,power projects,refineries etc but all these will remain a pipe dream with the present mindsets of the people in leadership and the un-conscionable desperation to break away from poverty by the followers who are ready to launch high-tech or sophsitications into their dimension of stealing.Those without privilege of stealing engage in cheating,those who cannot cheat engage in political thuggery or become political hired assassins and those without means to become these, engage in kidnapping or terrorism to register their anger against the system that deprive them of decent living.
Is it not shameful how civil servants will destroy the labour of their fellow civil servants who are no more in active service?Abdulrasheed Maina of Pension Reform opened pandora box of what look like a tip of the iceberg on how pensioners’ funds had been stolen or mismanaged in the past.Government at the federal level has been spending =N=5 billion every month for more than a decade on what actually should not be more than =N=885 million.Check the calculations below to ascertain what government lost over ten years to pension thieves –
Monthly: N=5billion – N=885 million = N4.145 billion
Annually: N=4.145billion * 12 = N49.740 billion
For 13 years of Democracy: N49.740 billion *13 =N646.62 billion
Nigeria lost =N=N646.62 billion to pension thieves at the federal level.Only God knows what is happening at the 36 states of the federation.
Another revelation from Head of Service(HoS) of federation according to Abdulrasheed Maina, is that of 32 officials in HoS and a cheque booklet in which between=N=200 and =N=300 million was withdrawn daily and they were cash-backed.Nigeria eventually lost =N=32.8 billion to these patriotic(?) officials.Also,there’s the report of a cartel that falsified documents to withdraw =N=24 billion instead of =N=3.5 billion and eventually siphoned cornered =N=42 billion through 2 bank accounts.
The story of Police Pension is not suprising at all because that institution,save the recent discipline introduced by the present IGP Mohammed Abubakar,is known for being the national symbol of corruption.Only God can protect the integrity of honest and patriotic officers of Nigerian Police.Maina reported that up to =N=45 billion had been stolen from Police Pension.Yet the same Police Pension has been requesting for =N=24 billion for what =N=3.4 billion could settle in pension arears and they have been claiming =N=1.590 billion monthly for what only cost =N=464 million.If we do arithmetics of this,it means –
Annually: (=N=1.590 billion – N=464 million)*12 = N13.512 billion.
In a decade: N13.512 billion *10 = N130.512 billion
Nigeria must have lost =N= N130.512 billion to the pension thieves at Police Pension office.We are not even talking about Nigerian Army,navy,and Airforce Pension office.
When Abdulrasheed Maina talked about recovering =N=221 billion and seizure of over 200 properties,we should understand that it’s just being scratched on the surface.Not even considering the huge stealing going on in the area of ghost work force.Are we a nation of thieves and rogues who only resort to religious bigotory to cover up our dirty sides?Don’t cry foul when somebody like General Muhammad Buhari,in power;begins to arrest and prosecute our fathers,mothers,uncles,aunties,brothers,sisters or nephews and nieces for official thieving.Truly,Nigeria is what she is because Nigerians are who they are.
Yet majority of our people are sliding into poverty.National Bureau of Statistics(NBS) had it that poverty increased from 67 milliom in 1996 to 69 million in 2004 and now 112 million in 2012 with all wealth generated within this period.While so many Nigerians have endured and still enduring poverty,others couldn’t and would not want to live the repetition of their parents lives.Especially when witnessing the opulence displayed by next door politicians or public office-holders or private sector 419s.So resorting to self-help may be the only option though,when seen on a bigger picture,may not spell a good omen for the country.This is why so many young folks engage in prostitution, robbery,yahoo-yahoo,419 scams,and even kidnapping to break away from the grip of poverty created mostly by the ruling class.
Olatona Olabode works with Kingzcrown Consulting,Abuja
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