Nigerians can be divided into three distinctive groups – those who are embezzling the commonwealth; those who cannot wait for their chance to embezzle what is left; and those on the side, with their tails behind their legs, complaining.
My respect is with those who in their actions do not pretend that fleecing Nigeria is not their goal. I have no sympathy for those sitting there and complaining to their friends and neighbors. To them, I say, you are an accomplice not a victim. You are an enabler not a sufferer. You made these monsters. So, smile when they come to eat you.
Maybe I’m crazy, but this is how my mind works: whenever I hear that Nigeria lost money, like the over $6.8 billion dollars from oil subsidy scam in three years, my mind goes to the people who handled the documents used in sharing this money. Who are the people who signed off on the money? Who are the bank managers and staff who moved the money around? Who are the civil servants who approved payments?
Despite the politics involved, the House of Representative’s Farouk Lawan-led Committee report on the Oil Subsidy scam indicted 120 firms. We know that 46 of these firms were evading tax. Lawan committee named the following firms as beneficiaries: Oando Nigeria Plc -N228.506 billion, MRS Ltd-224.818 billion, Enak Oil & Gas-N19.684 billion, Conoil-N37.960 billion, Bovas & Co Nig. Ltd-N5.685 billion, Obat-N85 billion, Integrated Oil & Gas-N30.777 billion, IPMAN Investment Ltd N10.9 billion, Africa Petroleum Plc- N104.83 billion, AMP Petro-energy-N11.4 billion, A.Z Petroleum-N18.13 billion, Capital Oil-N22.4 2billion, Dozle Oil and Gas- N3.37 billion, Mobil Oil Plc-N18.60 billion, Matrix Energy- N12.612 billion, Ford Oil –N8.502 billion, North West Petroleum and Gas-N46.27 billion, Nipco Plc-N23.2 billion, Ontario Oil and Gas-N24.9 billion, Origin Oil and Gas-N2.69 billion, Bill and Ocean Energy-N1.77billion.
We know some of the owners of these companies. For instance, Wale Tinubu owns Oando Oil, Mike Adenuga owns CONOIL, Femi Otedola owns AP, Aliko Dangote’s brother, Sayyu Dantata owns MRS Oil and Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho owns Integrated Oil and Gas. These people are the monsters who are eating us. These are the enemies of Nigeria.
I don’t worry about marketers, politicians and profiteers. I know that they are there to fulfill their mission- which is to fleece Nigeria. I worry about the secretaries, the accountants and other little people down the chain. Do they think that what they are facilitating do not have any adverse impact on their lives and the lives of the people around them? Why doesn’t it touch anybody along this chain to raise alarm? Are these lower players just grabbing their own share? In real terms, doesn’t that equate to committing collective suicide? Where are our martyrs for common good?
Some will say what about privacy rights, code of conduct, policies and guidelines? There is no law that protects illegality. There is no ethics that protects unethical behaviors. If there is such a law, it is plainly an unjust law. Frederic Bastiat noted that “when law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.” That quagmire was resolved by Martin Luther King Jr. when he said that “one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
Before the Oil Subsidy probe, there was the $15 billion failed Independent Power Projects (IPPs). The Ndidi Elumelu-led committee indicted former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senator Liyel Imoke, Alhaji Abdulhamid Ahmed, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, Engrs Joseph Makoju, G.O.P. Osakue, C.E. Ifesie, Mike Ezeudenna, C.N.O. Nwachukwu, I. Onuoha, Emmanuel Okonkwo, Tope Onadipe, Ayodele, Sam Gekpe, Mr. J. A. Olotu, Mr. J.C.W. Balami, Rockson Engineering, Marubeni International, Lahmeyer International, ABB Powerlines, IOE/Kaztec Consortium, KEC/News Engeering, Hoquado Nigeria LTD, Energo Nigeria LTD, Santon Energy, Unwn Allied Engeering, Atlantic Engineering, Harlesden Engineering, Magabs, and many others.
These people are the monsters eating Nigeria. These are the people keeping us in squalor. They are the people responsible for the untimely death of your friends, family and compatriots.
When I read that an accountant issued and cashed 20 checks worth N282 million for Gov. Jolly Nyame of Taraba State between 2003 and 2007, I think about all the people who were aware of what was going on. When I read that a permanent secretary under the instruction of Gov. Nyame paid N450 million for a N16 million contract, I think about the children of these stealing officials. What do these children think? How do they feel in the foreign country where they school? How do they feel about their classmates who are stuck in poorly funded schools in Nigeria? How do they feel about their nephews and nieces who could not go abroad to school? How do they feel about their aunts, uncles and cousins in the villages dying due to poor health facilities? Do they connect the stealing of their fathers to the money that is not there to provide these resources for their underprivileged relations and friends and fellow compatriots?
If not that Gen. Theophilus Danjuma was crazy and came out to inform us that he made $4.5 billion when he sold to a Chinese corporation 45% share of a company he built around the two oil blocks Gen. Sani Abacha ‘dashed’ him, we wouldn’t have known. He gloated that after paying taxes and taking care of all the financial responsibilities he could think of, he had $500 million left. To avoid having his children fight over too much money when he’s dead, he used $100 million to set up a Foundation.
How were we going to know all that? Didn’t someone in one bank or the other see these huge transactions? Didn’t some government director somewhere sign off on some documents? How do these people feel when they see the damaging information? Don’t they feel a sense of betrayal of ‘we the people’ when they collect the little token they get and keep quiet? How do they sleep at night and feel that their job is done? And then they get sick and go to India. If they don’t die on the way, they spend the money and come back to steal more?
Who was watching when Delta Steel Co, built by the Nigerian government at $3.2 billion, that is over N480 billion, without factoring in inflation, was sold for mere $120 million, ie N7.5 billion? Who and who were watching when Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim bought NICON, valued at N50 billion for N1.05 billion? He then used equity in the company to borrow N41 billion from Union Bank PLC.
When I see these things, I know that these monsters that are killing us were created by us. These monsters that are killing us are our fathers, our mothers, our uncles, our cousins, our nephews and our nieces. They are the parents of our friends, the uncles of our neighbors and the cousins of our classmates. In a sane society, in a serious country, if you are related to these people, you will not want anyone to know.
Let us agree that the EFCC is not doing its job. The reason why they are not doing their job is because we allowed them. If we decide to surround the headquarters of the EFCC with 1,000 Nigerians for as long as it takes until they begin to arrest and try the criminals in our society, they will do their job.
The 469 people in Nigeria’s National Assembly who get paid over N150 million (about $1million) a year are paid that much because we let them. Until recently, we did not even know how much they get paid because people who knew would not tell. We complain that the members of the National Assembly are over paid. But we do nothing about it. And nothing changes. If we decide to circle the National Assembly complex with 1,000 Nigerians until they slash their pay to a reasonable amount, they will do so.
If nobody will force these monsters fleecing Nigeria to pay back their loots, we can do so by getting together 1,000 Nigerians to occupy the headquarters of these companies as well as homes of the owners until they return the money they stole from Nigeria.
The only reason why President Jonathan has not declared his assets is because we allowed him. If we occupy Aso Rock until he declares his assets, he will.
We are the enablers. We are the ones creating the monsters eating us. These monsters are the people we know. We call them ‘Baba’ when we should yell out ‘Thieves’. We prostrate before them when you should get them on their knees. We massage their feet when we should be putting their legs on fire. We worship them when we should hold them accountable. We praise sing their names when we should whistle blow their crimes. We fatten their ego with our adoration when we should be skinning their butts of our stolen treasures.
In August of 1811, Joseph de Maistre, a French-speaking Savoyard philosopher wrote, “Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite,” which means, “Every nation has the government it deserves.” Until recently I did not quite understand what that popular saying really meant.