The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, received news about the allegations of mismanagement and ‘outright pilfering’ of $16b (Sixteen billion Dollars) through power projects during ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure with a measure of caution while calling for the setting up of a probe panel to officially ascertain how much was actually spent, on what and where, and bring culprits to book, if any.
Mr Debo Adeniran, CACOL Executive Chairman, recalled how the nation was taken aback when under the erstwhile president’s successor in office, President Umar Yar’ Adua, it was alleged that Obasanjo’s government had spent about $16b on electricity without anything substantial on ground after his tenure. But a probe panel set up by the then National Assembly exculpated ex-President Obasanjo of any wrongdoing while insisting that the figure was unduly exaggerated. This much has been reiterated by the spokesman to Olusegun Obasanjo, Mr KehindeAkinyemi, who revealed that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo never claimed to have spent the bandied sum of $16b on power projects and that aside from the allegation, what was spent could be seen in the seven National Integrated Power Projects and 18 (eighteen) gas turbines. Mr Akin Oshuntokun, spokesman for the Obasanjo-led Coalition for Nigeria, CNM, also echoed a similar view by pointing out that based on several investigations that had been carried out on the matter and reports compiled, it was clear Obasanjo only spent $6.3bn (Six Billion, Three Hundred Million Dollars) on the power sector throughout his eight-year tenure.
The CACOL Coordinator went further, “Our checks revealed that during 1999-2007 when Obasanjo held sway, the Federal Government built six gas power plants now supplying electricity to the national grid. They include Afam II (276mw), Papalanto (330mw), all completed by May, 2007, a fifth plant at Alaoju, Delta State (545mw), was under construction while a sixth plant was being constructed at Ikot-Abasi, Akwa Ibom state (145mw). It was a state government partnership with FGN.
‘Also during the same period, six states initiated power projects under the NIPP Program with FGN support at Sapele, Egbema, Ehobor, Gbaram, Calabar and Omoku; rehabilitated existing power plants at Kainji, Egbin and Shiroro, which were all performing far below capacity due to accumulated neglect. In all of this, our position remains that, as an organization that prides itself as a coalition for exposing, shaming, and consigning corruption to the dustbin of history while encouraging openness in leadership without minding whose ox is gored, we hereby recommend setting up of an impartial and competent probe panel to finally lay to rest, this ghost of how much Obasanjo’s administration actually spent on power projects during its 8-year tenure and expose any shady deals therein while bringing culprits to book. This practical approach must also be patiently applied in other identified areas of corruption.
During the electioneering campaign period preceding Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s return to power, he unambiguously insisted that his government would not pay any fuel subsidy as he believed that the subsidy regime was fraudulent. He also promised that he would make the refineries work and encourage private participation in the downstream sector so that competition could be encouraged and the premium motor spirit (PMS) made more readily available to Nigerians. Most Nigerians received his promises with much expectation and optimism as this was in tandem with their thinking. In actual fact, after Buhari’s ascension to power later that same year, there was no sign of the ghoulish subsidy spirit rearing its head as the 2016 budget the Federal Government sent to the National Assembly had no provision for it.
However, early in 2016 the issue of fuel subsidy was brought to the fore again as long queues of motorists started appearing at petrol stations with marketers refusing to import the product as they insisted that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC), should settle outstanding debts owed to them running into trillions of Naira. They claimed that the debts accumulated from the difference between the landing cost and pump price of fuel which was lower. The resultant effect was a probe by President Buhari which revealed that the fraud that was involved in the subsidy regime was so rampant that some individuals and organizations collected monies running into billions of Naira as subsidy even when they imported little or nothing but simply falsified documents to back up their fraudulent claims. This subsidy scam purge did not, however, stop the reality of subsidy as successive governments since the time of late Gen. Abacha when the four functioning refineries in Nigeria became redundant and all kinds of fuel was imported into the country for consumption.
The Buhari government later in 2016 increased the pump price of petrol from N86.50 per litre to a cap limit of N145 per litre . But by 2017, the Government was made to pay around N3.2 trillion as subsidies and just before Christmas celebrations, long queues started appearing at petrol stations with marketers further requesting to be paid their outstanding debts for them to resume purchase and lifting of oil from abroad. To an average Nigerian on the street who requires fuel to move his goods and services from one point to the other either as motorists or commuters, this ever- increasing price of a commodity that nature has endowed the nation with in abundance (Nigeria remains the 7th largest producer of oil with its bent crude oil being one of the best in the world) vis a vis the perennial shortage of the refined product, remains unfathomable and regrettable.
PRICE INCREASES OF PETROL BETWEEN 1973 (GOWON’S ADMINISTRATION AND PRESIDENT MUHAMMED BUHARI’S ADMINISTRATION)
(I) Gowon: (1973: 6 kobo to 8.45 kobo per litre, 40.83%)
(II) Murtala: (1976: 8.45 kobo to 9 kobo, 6.5%)
(III) Obasanjo: (Oct. 1, 1978: 9 kobo to 15.3kobo, 70%)
(IV) Shagari: (April 20, 1982: 15.3kobo to 20kobo, 30.72%)
(April 10, 1988: 39.5 kobo to 42 kobo, 6.33%)
(January1, 1989: 42 kobo to 60 kobo, 42.86%)
(March 6, 1991: 60 kobo to 70 kobo, 16.67 %%)
(vi) Shonekan (spent 82 days in power) November 8, 1993: 70kobo to N5, 614%
(vii) Abacha: (November 22, 1993: N5 to N3.25, price dropped by 35%)
Abacha: (October 2, 1994: N3.25 to N15, 361.54%)
(October4, 1994: N15 to N11, price dropped by 26.67%)
(viii) Abubakar: (December 20, 1998: N11 to N25, 127.27%)
Abubakar: (January 6, 1999: N25 to N20, price dropped by 25%)
(ix) President Obasanjo: (June 1, 2000: N20 to N30, 50%)
President Obasanjo: (June 8, 2000: N30 to N22, price dropped by 26.67%)
“ (January 1, 2002: N22 to N26, 18.18%)
“ (June, 2003: N26 to N42, 61.54%)
“ (May 29, 2004: N42 to N50, 19.05%)
“ (August 25, 2004: N50 to 75, 15.39%)
(x) Yar’ Adua: (June, 2007: price drops back to N65, dropped by 15.39%)
(xi) Jonathan: (January 1, 2012: N65 to N141, 116.92%)
(xii) Jonathan: (January 17, 2012:N141 to N97, price dropped by 31.21%)
“ (February, 2015: N97 to N87), price dropped by 10.31%)
(xiii) President Buhari: (May 11, 2016: N87 to N145, 66.67%)
SUBSIDY PAYMENTS IN NIGERIA OVER THE LAST 5 YEARS
(2013- N4.98 trillion)
(2014- N4.69 trillion)
(2015- N4.49 trillion)
(2016/2017- N6.06 trillion)
From available statistics, it is clear that the Nigerian economy is synonymous with fuel scarcity, attendant price regime fluctuations, occasioned by bogus fuel subsidies that never seem to solve this perennial problem in the downstream sector of our oil industry. The only exception is Yar’Adua’s short-lived regime that refused to increase fuel price but even went ahead to reduce it as could be gleaned from the available data.
We recollect that on December 6, 2011, Mrs Okonjo Iweala, then Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, made a special presentation to the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) on the subsidy issue. She explained the key facts about: fuel subsidy; deregulation of the downstream sector and its benefits; why subsidy must be removed as it was a major fiscal and financial burden on the nation; those who benefit from subsidies; the relationship between subsidies and the Federal Government of Nigeria’s budget; how Nigeria compares with other African countries as well as oil producing countries; how Nigeria compares with other oil producing countries in the area of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and per Capita Income; where Nigeria would stand after the removal of subsidy when compared to both African countries as well as oil producing countries, etc. Ironically, none of these beautiful pontifications and economic Eldorado she prophesied has ever been realised long after increases in the pricing regime of fuel and payment of subsidies.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE? : As an Economist and Social Commentator, Rahman Oladosu, noted in his paper, dated, March 6, 2018, and titled, ‘Still on Fuel Subsidy in Nigeria’, “Every regime follows the typical playbook in dealing with fuel scarcity: sympathise with Nigerians and talk about how they should not be wasting useful hours queuing for fuel; talk about how marketers, smugglers and various middlemen are sabotaging the economy for their own selfish interest; promise to revamp the refineries; pay off marketers so they can settle their debts; import new products and flood the market with fuel, with the hope that it makes the scarcity go away. In all this we often forget to ask ourselves a simple question: Is fuel scarcity the problem or is it just a symptom of a problem?
‘The result of the desire to keep prices fixed in the face of changing fundamentals, is that Governments have been forced to pay a subsidies. For instance, although the present government claims it does not officially pay any subsidy, but its cash cow, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) pays on its behalf. The long term solution is that the Government must stop fixing prices by allowing markets to determine prices through the forces of demand and supply. Like every other commodity, prices will go up and down but will eventually stabilise and invariably allow players in the Industry to perform their role in making the commodity available in all seasons, without let or hindrance.
It is noteworthy however, that though Buhari’s government promised to get the refineries working at full capacity so that we can reduce our import-dependence when it came to power in 2015, the few ones still working do so at less than 10% (ten percent) of installed capacity. Dangote refinery remains the only new refinery under construction and work started on it since the time of the previous regime. As at 2015, when this regime came to power, a US Dollar exchanged for N165 but the same dollar now exchanges for N315 and even N500 at a time.
Currently, there is a rising price of crude oil at the international market, with the Iran- Middle East crisis, which would make marketers to buy refined products at a higher price that they must pass on to the end users. All this clearly underpins the fact that the usual template for the current price regime may no longer be appropriate.
It is pertinent to mention that for the nation to find a lasting solution to this conundrum, new refineries have to be built so that fuel importation would be halted. It is also our position that if this goal is achieved, the sustained devaluation of the naira which has persisted for decades would also be stopped thereby salvaging the economy from endless bleeding.
All these would contribute to refloat the capital base of the economy. Other necessary measures include identifying and punishing corrupt government officials, anywhere, anytime to ensure that the nation’s wealth is not frittered but used for the welfare of the people and development of the nation. Unemployment should also be tackled, frontally, while infrastructure is adequately provided for innovations and enterprise to thrive. In the meantime, conscious efforts must be made to alleviate the suffering and frustration of the masses rather than worsening it.
As the on-going war against corruption gains momentum, prosecution of culprits has been visibly stalled by various tricks displayed by malefactors in a desperate bid to undermine the course of justice.
Based on our own observations which recent revelations have confirmed, corruption has permeated the psyche of Nigerians so much that many have accepted it as a way of life. To make matters worse, corrupt elite facing trial across the country have delayed the wheel of justice through cleverly thought out schemes and tricks in a bid to buy time in their various cases.
These stalled trials therefore result in indefinite postponement of corruption cases and reduction in deterrent punishments meted out to those convicted. It also results in: counter attacks by those arraigned; disappearance of the alleged perpetrators and many more vices in the criminal justice system.
It is pertinent to point out that some notable corruption cases have been stalled by one shenanigan or the other, especially that of sudden illness that has been over-used by suspected corrupt leaders.
For instance, the case of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke stands out in this category. The former minister’s corruption cases have broken all known records in the past few years as she has been linked to a series of money laundering scandals that are too many to count. In order to curry sympathy for Allison-Madueke from the unwary public, a photograph of the physically-ravaged former Minister was circulated by the publisher of Ovation magazine, Dele Momodu, who confirmed that she had been receiving treatment for breast cancer. This was despite the fact that she had denied such reports before corruption allegations against her started piling up.
Also, the Former presidential adviser on Niger Delta and Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Kingsley Kuku, was rumoured to have fled Nigeria after he was invited for questioning by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2015. Kuku later responded to the rumour by releasing images of his knee operation in the United States and denied being a fugitive. He later launched an unsuccessful attempt in court to block the EFCC from arresting him as he remained at large.
And just recently, Former National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, made a dramatic entrance into an Abuja Federal High Court on Monday, when he was wheeled into the courtroom on a stretcher to face his fraud trial. Metuh joins a long list of Nigerian politicians who have developed health challenges after being accused of one form of corruption or the other.
The present anti-corruption war must result in the plugging of gaping holes and the blocking of the conduit pipes of corrupt and sharp practices to avoid a backsliding to the culture of corruption we are gradually leaving behind as a nation.
As such, CACOL calls on the various anti-graft agencies operational in the country to devise counter measures to ensure that these attempts to stall the course of justice are resisted. We also implore the Federal Government not to allow tricks by those seeking to escape the full wrath of the law to dampen its zeal in the attempt to holistically eradicate corruption in Nigeria.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, received the news of the arraignment of the suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Mounir Gwarzo with much éclat and relief.
It would be recalled that CACOL, had in a letter dated 4th November, 2017, and signed by its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, to the Honourable Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, National Assembly, Abuja, pointing out the flagrant abuse of office by the DG of SEC, who reportedly cornered N104,851,154.94 (One Hundred and Four Million, Eight Hundred and Fifty One Thousand, One and Hundred and Fifty Four Naira, Ninety Four Kobo), which he approved to himself as severance benefit while he was still in the service of the Commission.
This, the Executive Chairman, CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran noted, is in sync with the core mandate of the organization as it sets out to “promote accountability, openness in governance and using any available means to cause relevant authorities to probe and bring to book, corrupt leaders both in public and private institutions.”
The Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Mournir Haliru Gwarzo was also accused of converting the SEC to his personal estate by appointing companies and individuals with special links to him to carry out transactions and provide services to the Commission with obvious intent at corrupt self-enrichment and diversion of public funds.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, therefore views this latest action of the ICPC in respect of Mr. Gwarzo as a welcome development just as we insist that the case be prosecuted to its logical conclusion of not only reversal of all the infractions committed during the short brief of Mr. Gwarzo as the DG, Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC; retrieval of all the identifiable funds expropriated, but searchlight must also include conclusion of requisite judicial trial to serve as deterrent and much needed fillip in our nation’s fight against the much dreaded ghost of corruption while we pledge our continuous support and cooperation in our collective search for a more sanitized and corruption-free Nigeria.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, with clear mandate for anti-corruption crusade and open, transparent governance, while throwing its weight behind the Presidency which through its Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, gave clear instances where three (3) persons stole US3Billion or over N1trillion during the last Administration.
The Senior Special Assistant clearly recalled how the sum of US$3billion was stolen in the so-called NNPC Strategic Alliance Contracts by Messrs Jide Omokore, Kola Aluko and the former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Allison Maduekwe. It was stated inter alia that, ‘the companies of both Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko lifted Nigerian crude oil and kept the proceeds. The total sums converted is in excess of $3billion or over one trillion Naira including royalties, taxes and fees for the asset from which the crude was taken.
There was another set of illegal fund withdrawals under one week between January 8 and 16, 2015, where the sum of N1.5billion was released in three tranches of N300m, N400m and N800m respectively. The money was purportedly from the MEA Research Library Account.’
Speaking on behalf of the anti-graft outfit through its Executive Chairman, Mr Debo Adeniran, CACOL enthused “we heartily appreciate the President Muhammed Buhari’s government in exposing the unbridled fleecing of our commonwealth under whatever guise, we (CACOL) enjoin the Administration to not only retrieve all ill-gotten wealth from wherever it has been repatriated, but to ensure that adequate deterrence is meted out on those indicted for the evils of corruptive practices to take flight from our sociopolitical space”.
Opening Remarks by Comrade Debo Adeniran, Executive Chairman, Centre For Anti-Corruption And Open Leadership, CACOL, at the Exploratory Conference on the Lagos Open Parliament (Part four), LOP-4, held on 3 May, 2018 at the RIGHTS HOUSE, 48, Adeniyi Jones Street, Off Oba Akran Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos
I, on behalf of the entire members of the Centre For Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, am glad to welcome you all to this event. We deeply appreciate the honour you bestowed on us as demonstrated by the timely arrival of everyone here today, for this Exploratory Conference; a key component of the process that will culminate in our periodic Publication called the ‘Lagos Open Parliament, LOP’. We say, a big thank you to all for coming.
Majority of us here today, are conversant with the LOP and can simply aver that, “there goes CACOL again, doing what they know how to do best”. But some are probably just getting to know about the LOP as a Project of our Centre for the first time. It thus becomes imperative to give a background on what the LOP is all about. I therefore crave your indulgence to briefly do so.
The LOP, as a project of CACOL, focuses on the periodic analysis of government’s general performance in Lagos State. The programme utilizes public and media assessments’ of government’s performance including field work (empirical and practical assessments). The research strategy deploys government activities with the goal of ensuring transparency and accountability. The tool includes questionnaires, interviews, news analysis, visual investigations involving the usage of videos and photographs etc.
This exploratory meeting involves gathering of citizens from all local governments in Lagos State to give individual and collective opinions on governance in Lagos State as it affects budgetary implementation and to advise if the tools used and the data collated so far is adequate for such assessment, and if not adequate, this conference is meant to advise on other plausible means of assessing budgetary implementation in Lagos State.
The present LOP is the fourth in the series; the first and second editions were published in 2012 and 2014 respectively during the administration of the immediate past governor of Lagos state. The third edition was done in 2016 during the tenure of the present governor Mr Akinwumi Ambode. The present edition, LOP 4, currently under processing is the second under this administration. It is intended to assess budgetary implementation in Lagos State within the last two years. It is also to serve as an avenue to find out areas that we ought to assess and which we are yet to, as well as a channel to find out if there are areas we have over-assessed that the Lagos public would want us to adjust. This is with a view to ascertaining what the expectations of citizens are so that the State Government can make additional efforts towards meeting them.
We therefore, ask everyone here, to mobilize his or her compatriots towards indentifying the projects we are going to mention here and others that you know of that the Government is embarking on in your area and might not have been captured by what we have compiled so far.
Since our research strategy utilizes different tools to carry out what we consider to be self-assigned patriotic task of monitoring government activities; including questionnaires, interviews, news analysis, visual investigations involving usage of videos and photographs etc., we want you to utilize all the channels that are open to us to give us feedback, so that your contribution will be part and parcel of the final compilation that is going to be published as a booklet called LAGOS OPEN PARLIAMENT 4:
Everybody here is expected to respond to a questionnaire right here and whatever your individual input through the questionnaire shall be computed with the one we have earlier gathered. We also expect you to take some copies of the questionnaire of which photocopies you can also make for other compatriots back home, so they can also respond in their own way and you can transmit them back to us through electronic media if physical return of them may be difficult for you. The electronic links to the LOP-4 questionnaire are: https://goo.gl/forms/EAXMlEVPUlKZRH5C3, #
The LOP, as a Project of our Centre, was conceived to be done annually but dearth of fund and hands, it has not been easy to meet such annual target. For this therefore, we solicit everyone’s cooperation in our efforts to make our government more accountable, more responsible, more responsive to the citizenry who are the original owners of the instrument of governing that is entrusted to the government for public good.
I want to conclude by thanking you all again for honouring our invitation. Please we encourage us all to participate in the deliberations which we promise to be very incisive. We also urge you all to be diligent and candid in your responses to the questionnaires which is meant to enhance true assessment of infrastructural development of our State.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, sadly announces the passing away of its Director of Research, Programmes and Documentation, Mr. Olawale Salami (aka, DON), who passed away at the Summit Hospital, Shasha, Lagos after a brief illness. Mr. Salami took ill while preparing for work by morning died about 5.30pm on Monday 9th April, 2018 after efforts to resuscitate him by the medical team was unsuccessful.
DON, who just celebrated his 50th birthday less than two weeks earlier, was one of the first to believe that the establishment of CACOL will thrive despite the fact that other comrades expressed their fears and disbelief in the struggle. He was a cerebral activist, a straight-forward team player and diligent worker with passion for the betterment of his society and humanity at large.
As we mourn the death of his contribution to contemporary Revolutionary Struggles, The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, Executive Chairman, Staff, Friends and well-wishers join the family in mourning the departed icon in the Anti-Corruption Struggle. His contributions to the advancement of the efforts to birth a new Nigeria society will be sorely missed.
May his memories continue to be a source of inspiration to those left behind and courage not to relent in the struggle till the desired victory is taken beyond illusion but attained for the benefit of all.
Interestingly the drama unfolding in the Confluence State of Kogi is nothing but a farcical and tragic repetition of familiar build up to both the demise of the First and Second Republic and a symbolic representation of events in many other States of the Federation where individual elected officers have elevated themselves into an institution and various public agencies have become personalized properties with impunity and violence. All men of good conscience and crusaders for democratic governance and social justice must correctly interpret these situations and rise up in total condemnation as well as active resistance of the defilement of our hard-earned, cherished democratic rule.
It would be recalled that the Senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye has been locked in horns with several stakeholders in the present political landscape. Yet, he is a sacred cow of the parliamentary arm of governance with a special status. In recent time the controversial Senator has been involved in multiple crises commencing with his exposure of the arms catches unlawfully imported by his State’s Governor, Yahya Bello which was burst at seaport in Lagos. Almost following in macabre succession, the Senator himself was fingered as the God-father of some errant fascist armed thugs engaged in violent disruption of public order as well as kidnappings in the State. Many marvel at the creative ingenuity of Nigerian politicians to pencil series soap operas. The drama is seemingly getting absurdly interesting.
For us at this Centre, we strongly hold the view that under a genuine democratic society governed by the rule of law and strong institutions, there should have been no room for the shenanigan been displayed by Senator Dino Melaye and his constituency reserve the inalienable democratic right to withdraw him from the hallowed chambers of the Senate. We fully support that the judgment of the Appeal Court on his recall should be allowed to run its full circle but we shall never with a wink condone an attempt of what seems like a “fallacy of what about you!” to be used to frame anybody who dare to expose serving public officer to douse the germaneness of issues at hand.
The Senator’s accusation of Kogi State’s Governor’s importation of arms, ammunitions and military security uniforms has been fully documented in the mass media. We are not confused to demand that what are all relevant security agencies doing about this revelation? What does the State Government wants to do with the military paraphernalia of national security agencies? Is he raising a Federal Army of the Republic? Where did the money come from to fund this importation in a State that is owing months of salaries and pensions, where workers are consistently committing suicide? We strongly believe that no matter the toga of his support for the President Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal Government and its security institutions must carry out comprehensive probe of these revelations.
We are apt to insist and emphasise that if we as a nation fail to bring to book the dangerous developments in Kogi State, we shall be inadvertently sleeping in house with the roof on fire. It is indeed an alarming national security threat which must be decisively dealt with before general elections next year. We call on all well-meaning Nigerians and global institutions to make their voice known on this occurrence.
The organised labour has variously condemned and announced its resolve to embark on a nation-wide strike action to bring to book those who are enjoying the status of sacred cows but are behind over N30Billion fraud allegedly perpetuated by the last Board of the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and some Management officers of the Fund. This is a major cause of concern as it spells terrible bad omen for the senior citizens of the country at retirement, having meritoriously served their father land with the vigour of their youths.
We do not only support the intended strike of Labour but equally call for mass action against what appears as a systemic ploy to sweep this weighty scam allegation under the carpet. We note with apprehension that this fraud came into the public domain through activities of a whistleblower and the EFCC has since arranged the Managing Director, Umar Abubakar and some former Board members and Management staff for diverting money from the Funds account into private purse between 2012 and 2015 which included the N18Billion Grant given by the Federal Government to NSITF.
The Centre, while applauding the reconstitution and inauguration of the NSITF Board under the Chairmanship of Chief Frank Kokori by the Minister of Labour and Productivity , Dr. Chris Ngige following the directives of Mr. President, demands that all administrative panels and on-going prosecutions of culprits by anti-corruption agencies must not be in any way compromised. We are apt to observe that it is rather tragic the resources at the disposal of the NSITF which were supposed to be invested in long term social infrastructures were shamelessly looted and plundered by a powerful cabal. It is instructively to note that this heinous pillage was committed under the watchful eyes of even the organised labour and other social partners like the organised private sectors and stakeholders who are all statutory members of the Funds. No doubt there is a dire need for re-examination of the composition of the NSITF Board as established by the enabling Act.
Our main concern however, is that no sane thinking and responsible citizen or society would take with care free attitudes the wellbeing of its retired and pension citizens. The NSITF was established essentially to take care of the needs of these vulnerable elder citizens at retirement. It is an saving-insurance for their future. If we all allow this Fund to be pillaged and endanger the future of our senior citizens , we would be embedding a vicious culture of every man for himself, God for us all. This would invariably continue to threaten the social stability, good governance, transparency and accountability in public office. Every serving elected or and appointed workers would see a blink future except by self-help into the public tilt.
With the antecedent of Chief Frank Kokori as a social crusader, we know that heavy burden lies on his shoulders to ensure that all those fingered in the massive looting of NSITF are brought to book without fearing whose ox is gored. We pledged our unalloyed support in this respect.
BEING THE TEXT OF PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED COMRADE DEBO ADENIRAN, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, CENTRE FOR ANTI-CORRUPTION AND OPEN LEADERSHIP (CACOL) HELD ON THURSDAY, 8TH MARCH, 2018 AT THE HUMANITY CENTRE, OJOKORO-IJAIYE, LAGOS
“A Man stung by wasp, fears the buzz of a house-fly” – Igbo Proverb
As we welcome you; our friends and compatriots from the media, we must commence this conference with a truism. We are in the hub of sublime maneuvers by political war-horses to position themselves as likely next heir-apparent to deceive unwary electorates and gain the unfettered access to our collective patrimony. A popular saying goes that once bitten, twice shy but Nigeria has been severally bitten, serially raped by public officers of all hues, shapes and gabs that we need to be extremely cautious as we approach the 2019 general elections.
This month’s press conference coincides with the International Women’s Day, consequently CACOL is using this occasion to express our strong solidarity with the women of Nigeria, Africa and the World as the day is being commemorated across the globe. We identify with the struggles and pains of women in this contemporary World dominated by patriarchy and capitalism. We believe the engendering of gender equity, social justice and egalitarianism in society is a precursor to liberation of women and all oppressed strata of the people of the world. We thus remain in solidarity with the struggles of women focused on ensuring equity and social justice until victory forever. In line with theme for this year, ‘Press for Progress’, we call for the intensifying of the efforts of women and men to move the World, Africa and Nigeria toward an egalitarian society where the mode of co-existences amongst different classes, people and gender will be socially, economically and politically harmonious. Freedom cometh only via struggle.
As the 2019 elections approaches, we are most concerned that Nigerians are worn out with forlorn promises and hopes dangled by politicians that democratic rule would bring the country to Eldorado. Our people fought valiantly to overthrow the burden of military dictatorship demanding and rightly so their rights to humanity and democratic governance, the glorious human rights and pro-democracy crusades were littered with a lot of bloodied heads, broken bones and lost souls but the spirits of Nigerians remained high till the return of democracy in May, 1999. Ever since the entire nation watched haplessly as succeeding democratic leadership rule roughshod over the citizens.
We are most concerned that pre-general elections year has assumed a dimension when things that ought not to happen occur. The most damaging reference point is that in 2014 just before the general elections, the Chibok girls were abducted just as similarly now; in 2018 before general elections the Dapchi girls have been abducted. Is it not possible to re-write the plot structure of the tragedy of our history? CACOL mince no words at insisting that as we get nearer to the next year’s elections, we are confident that there would be daring attempts to stampede the nation into precipice by global prophets of doom acclaiming that Nigeria would become a failed State.
The alarming records coming out to the public domain from all corners of the world show a country that is seriously hemorrhaging because of the brazen looting of its treasury by its greedy leadership. The country lie permanently in a state of comatose because of the injurious activities of the past administrations especially since even the return of democracy, Nigerians now feel that there cannot be anyway out to junction out of the vicious cycle of poverty, ignorance and diseases as they even see old notorious looters being re-packaged into new national positions while many serving public officers are paying mere lips service to the present administration’s commitment to change, for economic reconstruction and anti-corruption. If Nigeria must come out of the present economic doldrums, all Nigerians must be totally and irreversibly own the process for programmatic system change.
New generations of Nigerians must arise to truly change the colour, shapes and character of leadership, far away from expired former leaders parading themselves as vanguards of a third force of leadership. If President Muhammadu Buhari really wants to stamp his foot prints in the history of the country’s search for industrial and socio-economic advancement, he must change the narratives and consciously massify his clamour for anti-corruption in the younger generations of Nigeria. This is even much more imperatives when we consider how the following global rankings have revealed that Nigeria is speedily deteriorating:
· Annual Corruption Perception Index: Nigeria’s corruption perception worsened between 2016 and 2017 according to the annual Corruption Perception Index, CPI, by Transparency International. Nigeria slipped by 12 positions in the country rankings, from 136 in 2016 to 148 in 2017. The rankings are from 1 to 180, with 180 indicating the country having the worst perception of corruption.
· International Press Freedom Index: Nigeria’s ranking in the international press freedom index has witnessed steady declined since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015. The country is currently ranked 122 out of 180 countries according to the 2017 edition of the annual survey. The country fell from 111 in 2015 to 116 in 2016 and has fallen again to 122 in 2017, entering the “red zone” for press freedom.
· Rule of Law Index:Nigeria was downgraded by the World Justice Project (WJP) 2017/2018 Rule of Law Index. The country currently ranks 97 out of 113 countries, dropping one position from the previous ranking. The index measures the adherence to rule of law across 113 countries worldwide.
· RMB’s Africa Investment Attractiveness Index:Nigeria has fallen from the top 10 in the ‘where to Invest in Africa 2018’, Rand Merchant Bank’s (RMB) Investment Attractiveness Index. Nigeria fell from No 6 on the list to number 13. The Investment Attractiveness Index balances economic activity against the relative ease of doing business.
· Global Retail Development Index: Nigeria’s global ranking in retail development dropped from the 19th position recorded in 2016 to 27 out of 30 countries surveyed in 2017. Nigeria’s total sales from the retail sector dropped from $125bn in 2016 to $109bn in 2017. The Global Retail Development Index measures retail investments based on all relevant macroeconomic and retail-specific variables in developing countries.
· World Economic Forum Networked Readiness Index: Nigeria dropped seven places to rank 119 in the Networked Readiness Index ranking conducted by the World Economic Forum. The NRI is an indicator that measures a country’s ICT development by its ability to implement and take full advantage of ICTs.
· Nigeria’s ranking dropped to 127th in 2016 GCI analysis: Nigeria deteriorated by 3 places from 124th in 2015-2016 to 127th in 2016-2017 ranking released by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The GCI index measures the set of institutions, policies, and factors that set the sustainable current and medium-term levels of economic prosperity. The drop in ranking is attributed to two core pillars, the macroeconomic and financial market efficiency.
· Ernst and Young’s Africa Attractiveness Index: Nigeria declined to the 17th position on Ernst and Young’s Africa Attractiveness Index (AAI) 2017. This is a two-step decline from the AAI 2016 ranking. The 2017 report revealed that the number of new FDI projects in Nigeria declined to 51 in 2016 from 53 in 2015.
· World Internal Security and Police Index:Nigeria Police ranked bottom in Africa and 127th in the world, making the country, one with the worst police in the world according to the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI) released by the International Police Science Association (IPSA) and the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). Nigeria was followed by countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, and Pakistan and the report attributed Nigeria’s low rank to the rising cases of terrorism, corruption and low number of police personnel.The WISPI ranks the police based on 16 indicators around their ability to address internal security issues in their countries across four domains – capacity, process, legitimacy and outcomes.
· Worst Electricity Supply:Nigeria was ranked the second worst nation in electricity supply according to a World Economic Forum report released by The Spectator Index on the 15th of January, 2018. Nigeria suffered a power decline to 3,851 megawatts according to the ranking which puts only Yemen ahead of other countries like Nigeria, Haiti, Lebanon and Malawi.
WAKE UP CALL: These rankings were not fabricated but a sincere, statistical presentation of the continuous slide of the country, no matter the fact that officials have been accepting these only by denials. It would be recalled that the Minister of Agriculture recently claimed that Nigeria’s growth in rice production has led to decline in the export of rice in a certain Asian country which the nation immediately debunked just as the triple Minister of Housing, Power and Works claim of improved power generation is belied by the deteriorating supply of electricity situation in the country. CACOL consider this global rankings as a clarion call for Government and Nigerians to tighten up our girdle if are serious about taking Nigeria to greater heights. A cursory examination of number of contemporary social developments in the country will also validate these data.
Herdsmen Carnages and Terrorism: The nation is grappling with the orgies of violent attacks and bloodletting of herdsmen carnages and farmers clashes in several States of the Federation while government seems either incapable or without requisite political will to stem the tides. Many villages have been sacked in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and Plateau States with many people displaced from their homes, farmlands and workplaces. The grave implications of these ravages are very grave as the country risk high possibility of experiencing famine and outbreak of diseases from where these heinous carnages take place. Government must put in place security measures to stop these carnages and bring culprits to book.
Porous Borders, National Security Threats: Our territorial borders particularly with Chad, Niger, Sudan and Cameroun have become virile markets for smuggling of arms and ammunitions into the country. The borders are also routes for terrorists from other parts of the continent and elsewhere that daily infiltrates the country and perpetuates violent crimes. We consider this as manifest threat to our national security which relevant government’s security agencies must tackle headlong.
Greek Gift Called Minimum Wage: It is interesting to get news reports of the plans of the Federal Government to pay a new minimum wage in September this year. It is trite to state that there are statutory mechanisms for negotiation of minimum wage and it is not the business of Government to dangle the promises of a fantastic minimum wage especially when such promise is expected to come just a few months to general elections. Many patriotic observers have noted that there may be hidden agenda to this promise of Eldorado for workers. This is even more curious when most States are unable to pay the last minimum wage while many owe workers arrears of their monthly salaries. In most advanced industrial economies of the world, there is no periodic rituals of minimum wage as the priorities are always to fix and stabilize the economy so that inflationary indices does not make nonsense of the value of workers’ wages. We call on the labour sector and informal unions to think out of the box and task Government to address the ailing economy, reverse its negative downward slides so as to make the value of labour wages meaningful.
The Bulls in the China-wares Shop: Virtually all State Governors in the country can be effectively described as rampaging bulls in a China-wares’ shop except perhaps for Lagos and Ogun when it comes to the treatment of workers and retirees. The most notorious even go to the extent of not only bullying workers but sacking or threats of mass sacks and wanton terrorization of civil populace. The most notorious are Governors of Kaduna, Bayelsa, Oyo, Ekiti, Kogi and Ondo States. The Governor of Ondo State even has the brazen effrontery to contemplate privatizing and commercializing the educational sector in a State that its major vocation is education! Paradoxically, these Governors and other elected public officers smile home every month with their jumbo pay and unaccounted security votes. Nigerians should note these bullish leaders and exercise their franchise rights to take ownership of their States to secure their future.
The Outrageous Price of Development in Lagos: As much as this State has the envious record of almost been self-sustaining courtesy of its aggressive revenue drive, yet, the poor and toiling populace have no resting place as they are heavily taxed and brutally displaced from their homes and place of work. The general cry is for the State to put a human face to its developmental plans. It is demographically wrong to build a city only for the rich. CACOL has raised it at every opportunity that class is of essence in societal and city development. A mega city cannot exist without the masses. This is why CACOL joins all conscientious voices to call for the reversal of the Increment in the Land Use charge, and the re-introduction of the Tenement Rate. The economic sensitivity of the effect of the recent recession is to deliver a good level of welfarism to the people who are the worst hit and depressed so far.
Stem the De-industrialisation Slides of the Country: The major historic task before President Muhammadu Buhari is to shift decidedly from the socio-economic developmental paradigm of neo-liberalism imposed on the country by the Brettonwood global financial institutions’ hawks which has effectively turned the country into a veritable dumping ground for consumeric industrial goods of the advanced western world. Many industries in the country have winded down and the nation is presently de-industrialised by the economic policies imposed on us by the quisling ruling elites that are ever ready to be errand boys of western world in our corridors of power. These dangerous neo-liberal economic pills and those who prescribed them must be fumigated out of the Nigerian system. We must consciously embrace system change and a paradigm shift to alternative socio-economic order.
Shut Up. Make Atonement and Retire to Old Peoples’ Home: A couple of former Heads of States and their hordes have been befouling the country’s political space with their odious pronouncements in recent times. These are elements that when they were in power have boggling records of looting the country treasury dry. If they are genuine elder statesmen and men of conscience, what they should do is to beg the entire nation and public to make atonement by returning all their ill-gotten wealth into the coffers of the country. Nigerians should rise up and tell these types of bad experiment in our national leadership to atone for the lootings and mis-governance of the past because most of them apparently deserve to be behind bars.
Quintessentially, it is significant to point out that routine election as a democratic practice does not necessarily translate to collective control of the socio-economic existence of the people. Even though our constitution provides for government to ensure the socio-economic rights of the people whereby their security and social wellbeing is prioritized in a way that the wealth of the people is not concentrated in a few hands as required of a democracy, the aberration of this reality is what obtains in Nigeria.
Consequently, as the 2018 – 2019 elections approach and with the excruciating conditions of living of the majority, Nigerians must rise in unison to struggle for the assertion of their socio-economic rights as dialectically required components of a democracy under best practices. Chapter 2 of the Nigerian constitution should be the guide of the choices we make in the elections by ensuring that the governments at all levels commit to the security and social welfare of the populace before earning their votes.
The economic practice of neo-liberalism that has continued to be imposed on the country by successive governments is antithetical to democracy given that it has only succeeded in widening the gap between the rich and the poor. The Bretton Woods institution dictated neo-liberal policies which have failed almost in every country it had been imbibed must be abandoned to achieve a socio-economically harmonious existence of the people.
Beyond elections, Nigerians must invigorate the struggles for social emancipation holistically because the present status quo will perpetually ensure penury in their lives if the system is not overhauled and replaced with a more humane one that would guarantee the social welfare and security of life and property.