Corruption monster on the loose

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The issue of corruption has been the central theme in the presidential campaign of the All Progressice Congress, APC  and its candidate General Muhammed Buhari has almost overflogged it, stressing that he will terminate that evil by probing the military institution whose reputation has  been terribly  soiled. Everyone was happy with that development because coruption has eaten deep into the fabric of Nigerian society and apparently everybody is partaking in it with unrestrained relish.

Corrupt practices have become rampant in the society and the institutions set up ostensibly to curtail them were unable to do so, especially as those administering them have also been totally wrapped up in that unwholesome deed.

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had been talking about the evils of corruption and had, on many occassions, divulged half-hearted  plans to overcome them,  but had ended up as a vanquished, having been unable to restrain either himself or his principal agents from participating fully in shady, fraudulent and dishonest deals that further promoted corruption to the position of importance  in the schemes of things. That was how President Jonathan and his lieutenats were rendered powerless and extremely ineffictive by the corruption monster which presently is plotting their downfall at the forthcoming elections.

Nigerians are unhappy with the manner the finances of the government were administered or mismanaged by government officials. Reports of misappropriation of  much-needed funds kept on seeping into the media on daily basis without anything done to either investigate or plug the loopholes through which they are siphoned into private coffers. Incessasant gossips about missing oil money in tens of billions of dollars generated lots of buzz that overheated the polity and that forced  President  Jonathan to reluctantly ordered forensic audit to of  the account of the Nigerian National  Petroleum Corporation with a view to determine the veracity of the allegations on the missing twenty billion dollars from its coffers.

In that connexion President Jonathan had publicly received the report  of the forensic audit, last Monday, from the accounting firm that conducted the investigation. A day before the presentation of the report, however,  former Governor of the Central Bank of  Nigeria, Mr Charles Chukwuma Soludo accused the managers of the Nigerian economy of  misapprpriating thirty trillion Naira of public funds, including several billions  in oil money.

Now, with the report of the forensic audit of NNPC account submitted to President Goodluck by the country Senior Partner  of the auditing firm Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC) Mr. Uyi Akpata, Nigerians and the international community are eager to know what necessary steps the government of President Jonathan would be taking to do justice to its contents. Whatever happens to the report will form the basis of President Jonathan’s estimation in the eyes of the world and would also determine his fate at the March 28 elections.

It is bothersome that President Jonathan had in the recent past exihibited characteristics similar to those of the African sit-tight despots who indulge in self-enrichment ventures, often squandering the riches of their countries to improve their status. No one was suprised, therefore, when President Jonathan openly proclaimed that stealing of public funds in Nigeria is not corruption. He  was also reported to have said that there was no need for him to declare his assest publicly even as the constitution demands that a certain category of public officers should declare their assests before assuming duties.

Worried  by the high rate at which resource-rich African countries lose huge huge revenues through corruption, illegal transfers of profits and money laundering abroad, the African Union, AU, has  asked President Goodluck and other African leaders to openly declare their assests and subject their wealth to public scrutiny.

A report on ‘illicit Financial Flows from African Countries,’ compiled by Afican Union panel led by former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, said Africa loses  an estimated sixty billion dollars (about ten trillion naira ) annually through such transfers.  The report which was presented last Sunday at Addis Ababa stirred massive concerns in this country which was said to have accounted for over fourty-one billion dollars (about seven trillion Naira) or sixty-eight percent of the total figure.

Increasingly,  Nigeria also topped the list of ten African countries with highest  illicit  financial transfers between 1970 and 2008. That had been possible due to the complacency of top government functionaries, especially those in the financial institutions who were either prodded by their leaders to submit to the plan to loot the treasury, or willingly become a willing tools in the hands of  their thieving  masters to rob the country. In fact the issue of accountability and probity by top government officials has always been a source of serious concern in Nigeria, particularly with President Jonathan repeatedly refusing to declare his assests publicly. He even stunned Nigerians and indeed international community by saying that he did not give a damn about declaring his assests publicly, because according to him that was a matter of personal principle.` The main thrust of the probe promised by General Muhammadu Buhari on coming to power should, therefore, cover all sectors and not military institutions alone with a view to determine how these resources were applied or misapplied  in the quest to develop the nation in the last six years.

 

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