FEATURE ARTICLE

Babs AjayiFriday, January 3, 2014
Babsajayi@yahoo.com
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

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2013: THE YEAR OF LOOTERS AND THIEVES IN NIGERIA

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013 was the year looters and thieves took full control of Nigeria and took the nation to the cleaners. Scoundrels, suckers and scammers effectively overran the Nigerian nation with so much impunity like never before. Billions went missing and funds just walked away from the treasury of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the federation's treasury. Looting with impunity became a way of life and the anti-corruption dog, the EFCC was chained down and a tight rope put around the throat of its top dog. Sadly, biting is out of the question, but he is not even allowed to bark. Even old cases that have been around for a long time are not being tried and new cases are not being filed despite an endless laundry of looting exposť . The EFCC is now the tool for chasing after petty thieves and pickpockets while officially sanctioned looters are having a field day with the active use of executive power to facilitate big time frauds and scams against the Nigerian people. 2013 will go down in Nigerian history as the year of the looters. Ministers who stole or recklessly abused state funds have been kept on their jobs while citizens demanding probity, transparency and accountability were forcefully arrested, hurriedly detained, harassed and the full force of the law unleashed on them. While looters and high-end thieves had full police protection innocent citizens who are demanding an end to looting are exposed to danger through the use of police to keep them quiet. Power has become the weapon that facilitate looting in Nigeria. The nation is so corrupt now that messengers of the Neighbour-to-Neighbour machine of state are putting out advertorials and press releases encouraging Aso Rock to keep thieves and looters on their ministerial seats, and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is the piggy bank of thieves and looters. You will be shocked but not surprised when you see the contraptions and rubbish the NDDC has spent billions of naira to build.

It was also in 2013 that the minster of finance declared that some top directors in several government ministries and departments colluded with some banks to deny the government of interest income that ran into hundreds of millions of naira. The minister has done nothing to bring these corrupt top government officials to book. The accused are still holding on to their jobs and the likelihood that they are still doing what they do best is very certain. These criminals are collecting interests from the banks they collude with and are moving government funds around - from one bank to another - for the purpose of grabbing the interests on the deposits for themselves. Will the finance minster ever provide the nation and the EFCC with the names of these government officials anytime soon?

It is time to create the office of the Receiver General of Nigeria. The office of the Receiver General will be the only one to receive and make payments on behalf of the government of the Federation. The Receiver General will manage the operations of the federal treasury and ensures the integrity of the nation's Consolidated Revenue Fund and the preparation of Public Accounts. There are just too many loopholes through which thieves and looters make away with government funds, and this is because government has just too many bank accounts opened on its behalf by top employees and ministers for the main purpose of stealing state funds. This is not healthy for the nation and very difficult to oversee and manage. The minister of finance knows this and has done nothing to change the process. With the creation of the office of the Receiver General of Nigeria receipt and payment of funds will become centralized and records will be easier to manage, easier to monitor and collate. If this practice cum process had been in place in 2013, it is likely that the millions of naira squandered on the procurement of the unnecessary BMW by Stella Oduah, the Aviation minister and minister in charge of Neighbour-to-Neighbour, would have been avoided.

There are just too many places where the nation's cash pipe leaks, yet the leaks have gone unchecked; the leaks have the subtle - and in some cases direct - approval of Aso Rock. In 2013, Mr. Jonathan said so much about corruption. In many cases he had downplayed the magnitude of the looting taking place (a shameful attitude contrary to the truth). In some cases he had aided and abetted corruption, and rendered lip service to the fight against corruption, such as in the case of his untouchable golden girl and Neighbour-to-Neighbour minister, Stella Oduah. There are also several investigative reports delivered to Jonathan that are still gathering dust on showcases in Aso Rock. Nothing is being done to check and/or fight corruption because the rot comes right from the top. Corruption in Nigeria is driven from the top. The nation's resources and funds are being heavily squandered, abused and looted right from the top, and that emboldens the co-travelers to do the same.

EFCC's Lamorde is a mere lame duck who lacks the authority to do anything. He gets no nod from his master in Aso Rock to prosecute those who are stealing and looting because the looters are conniving with Aso Rock to do what they do. Lamorde knows a lot of these looters but he can do nothing without permission. He needs permission to bark or bite, and he has not been allowed to do either, so looting has become what the Lagos molue conductor will call 'go-on soun,' a free, unhindered gathering and movement of loot. The Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment Program (SURE-P), which is a duplication of the functions of nearly all the federal ministries and departments put together, is one of the biggest bottomless pits created to facilitate easy and willy-nilly looting. Obviously, the P in that name definitely stand for plunder. It has been a sure and certain opportunity to loot, and the people are fully convinced that governance is now all about looting. A lootership has now been created to perpetuate a lootocracy. Shall we join James Ibori in declaring aloud, "No shaking, keep looting." Ibori now knows he is a mere victim of a reliable, honest and incorruptible British Legal System, at least he was relieved of over seventy corruption charges in Nigeria.

Some of the other leaks can be found in the oil subsidy program, oil lifting contract scams, the no bid oil transformation agenda scam, excessive Aso Rock budgetary allocations, foreign travel expenses, and other leaks deliberated created by the scoundrels and suckers in Aso Rock along with their ingenious sidekicks, fronts and errand boys. Looting has become the hallmarks of the government in Nigeria and 2013 was its year of great achievement in that dubious area. The endless budgetary allocations to the National Assembly are part of the looting problem. When the speaker condemned Aso Rock he did not remember to remove the beam from his own eyes. The whole world knows who the fronts, errand boys and enforcers of high-end scams and frauds of the Jonathan government are. Now the thieves have been further emboldened by the nation's apex court. The judiciary appear to be in collaboration with this regime to keep the flag of looting flying. Bode George has been acquitted of all charges in the most questionable way possible by the court. The average Nigerian has no long lost any regard for the judiciary. Justice has become a cash-and-carry product in Nigeria. The rot in the land permeates every arm of government - and every tier of government is in that boat. The boat is filled with filth and its captain will crash sooner than later. The majority of our people have been rendered poor and hopeless not because the people are lazy but because the government reeks of endemic corruption. The people are being starved and made poor by those whose duty it was to use federal, state and local government resources/funds judiciously; to account for funds and ensure that the funds are used for the maximum benefits of the citizenry.

2013 was the year of the thieves and looters in Nigeria. In 2013, many of the looters added more loot to their already fat stolen assets than they did in the previous years. So many of the looters built more houses and set up property companies to manage their houses. It is now very clear why their moving spirit refused to declare his asset in 2012. 2014 is the year looters will lose sleep and worry more about losing his/her stolen wealth because change is in the horizon. The looters have every reason to worry and everything to lose as we approach 2015.

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