Of Corruption And The Jonathan Alibi, By Usama Dandare

Without mincing words, Nigeria is fantastically corrupt, corrupt in the sense that the country has the highest costs of corruption in the comity of other similarly corrupt-ridden nations: this is because in Nigeria, corruption doesn’t only exists as an act but widely accepted as a norm and a way of life. Studies have shown that the rate at which corruption has polluted the entire country is perhaps the basis for poor salaries and wages, dilapidated healthcare, lack of standard education, lack of job opportunities among young people, and unavailability of infrastructure. The effects of bribery in the education, water and healthcare sectors represent the implicit costs of corruption. Corruption ‘taxes’ basic services beyond the reach of the poor. Corruption results in the deviation of funds intended for development. It undermines government’s ability to provide basic services. It also undermines the rule of law, feeding inequality and injustice. This is perhaps the case with Nigeria, being the leading giant where stolen public funds are being transported out of Africa with pride.

In the last six years alone under the stewardship of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria witnessed a blazing period of monumental corruption and blatant rape on its commonwealth than ever in the history of man.There is no department, no ministry that can be said to be free of corruption under Jonathan, there was nowhere that fraud does not take place on a daily basis. Several multi-billion dollar scandals in the oil industry and the security sector highlighted the scale of corruption during the Jonathan presidency: these included the failure of the national oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), to remit $18.5 billion in oil revenues to the national treasury between January 2012 and July 2013; diversion by NNPC of at least $3.4 billion of the aforementioned funds to a non-existent kerosene subsidy scheme; and the loss of 84.8 million barrels of oil in 2013 at a cost of $6.7 billion through “bunkering” or organized theft by Niger Delta terrorists in collaboration with senior politicians and security officers (see Sanusi 2015; Wallis 2015), and the diversion of over $5billion arms procurement funds to mention just a few.

But today, all these are seemingly becoming history with a new sheriff in town. Since the taken over governance by the incorruptible Mohammadu Buhari on May 29, 2015, corruption in Nigeria has been swept away, the rule of law is now strengthened, and the old ways are over. It’s no more business as usual while corrupt public officials who squandered the nation’s wealth are now on self-exile in Ivory Coast, Europe and America in the name of one medical treatment or the other. Hardly a week goes by without the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) announcing a new addition added to the list of prominent figures already in the dock or under prosecution, but the more the cases are brought to courts the longer they are drag on, and the glaring it becomes that a potential setback could possibly prevent the anti-corruption regime of President Buhari from accomplishing it mission of a new Nigeria free from corruption and corrupt officials. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is having a field day arresting and dragging prominent figures to court with charges bordering on corruption but yet, not a single conviction has been secured so far. It’s glaring that a major setback is increasingly posing monumental obstacle for state prosecutors to secure convictions as corruption trials get under way…… it’s no other factor than the ‘Goodluck Jonathan Alibi’.

All the suspects currently under prosecution or investigation for involvement in siphoning the nation’s hard earned wealth are pointing to Jonathan direction for defence, almost all of them are insisting to have acted on orders given to them by former President Goodluck Jonathan:
The first notable arrest was that of former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki who is alleged to have supervised the laundering of $2.1billion arms procurement funds from Nigeria’s coffers, most of which was spent on “mobilizing” support for Jonathan’s re-election bid. Dasuki was arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) on December 1, 2015 and handed over to the EFCC the following day. He was again re-arrested by the DSS on Tuesday, December 29, after being released on bail. Sambo Dasuki is currently standing trial for diverting weapons procurement cash through his office via bogus defence contracts, but has himself said he was only doing the bidding of the then-commander-in-chief — Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, and was only carrying out instructions from his president. Now Dasuki is on trial but the more his trial gather impetus, the more it’s becoming impossible to move on without a testimony from former President Goodluck Jonathan who allegedly instructed the sharing of the said arms procurement funds as Dasuki claimed.

Again, take for instance the case of Olisa Metuh, the spokesman for Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who is also facing trial for money laundering charges. He is alleged to have received from Sambo Dasuki millions of dollars earmarked for buying weapons and equipment for troops fighting Boko Haram that were allegedly diverted to finance Jonathan re-election campaign. But Metuh says he was only acting on former President Jonathan orders and wasn’t aware where the money was sourced from, he therefore argued he should be acquitted because President Jonathan who instructed him on what to do with the said money has not been called to testify. Without Jonathan’s testimony, the state prosecutors, despite presenting several witnesses, wouldn’t be able to present enough evidence to convict Metuh. As things stands now, EFCC couldn’t validly prosecute Mr. Metuh for embezzling public funds without involving President Jonathan who ordered the embezzlement.

The case of Chief Tony Anenih, a former Chairman Board of Trustee of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is another case study, Anenih was alleged by the anti-graft agency to have received the sum of N260million from Col. Sambo Dasuki but Mr. Anenih dismissed any link to do with the former NSA, he claimed to have carried out an assignment for President Jonathan using his own personal money, after which the President requested for his account details into which the refund should be made and the said N260million were wired into his bank account by Sambo Dasuki. This clearly indicate that President Jonathan collected Mr. Anenih’s bank details, forwarded them to Dasuki and ordered him to pay the money in question into Anenih’s account.

Similarly, a former Principal Secretary to Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Hassan Tukur has also landed in deep shit after accepting to have participated in the looting of our commonwealth. Mr. Tukur at the headquarters of EFCC last Friday admitted to have received the sum of $40million from the office of the National Security Adviser after he dubiously boasted that he was in a position to negotiate the release of the abducted Chibok girls. However, the negotiation were botched from the very first minute by Mr.Tukur’s fraudulent moves and at the end, the $40million allegedly given to Mr. Tukur were diverted into private pockets. During intorregation, Tukur confessed that he gave $5million to President Idriss Déby of Chad Republic while the bulk of the negotiation funds ($35million) was shared between him and his boss, former President Goodluck Jonathan. Perhaps, Mr. Tukur cannot be convicted alone without inviting Jonathan to prove his innocence, otherwise, Kuje should be the next bus stop for both.

Another classical case of interest is that of Femi Fani-Kayode, the spokesperson of Goodluck Jonathan campaign committee, who is still undergoing interrogations in EFCC custody over corruption allegations. Mr. Kayode is being interrogated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for taken part in the illegal withdrawal of N2.5billion directly from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and disbursed to chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Goodluck Support Group (GSG), where Fani-Kayode himself was allocated about N840million from the funds which was used in blackmailing opposition politicians and dividing Nigerians along ethno-religious boundaries through some hate media channels. Mr. Kayode is now claiming that the N840million in question was given to him by former President Jonathan for a special assignment which he carried out and wasn’t aware of the sources where the funds were sourced out, insisting he only acted on Jonathan orders.

In a nutshell, there are several other influential figures currently in EFCC custody with many already undergoing prosecution. (Mrs) Nenadi Usman, the Finance Director of the Jonathan Presidential election campaign committee and alongside Jonathan’s Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs, Warimopei Dudafa, were also not left out in the blind search of our stolen wealth, both were arrested by EFCC in connection with the illegal withdrawal of N2.5billion directly from the Central Bank of Nigeria, via President Jonathan’s directives to the Central Bank Governor. Same is the case with Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, Jonathan’s Minister of Education who was last week detained by the anti-graft agency in Kano over allegations that he received N970million campaign money from Nenadi Usman. Additionally, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Attahiru Bafarawa and son, Mohammed Bello Halliru and son, and several others are all under trials before various courts over the same issue – Jonathan presidential campaign money.

Well, whatever the case may be, it’s a nice shot striking forward and a rare opportunity to witness a period in our nation’s history where the once untouchable mighty politicians are being arrested and prosecuted in a country where corruption was authoritatively established, guarded and celebrated. But the twist these trials are taken is absolutely injurious to the overall collective progress of Nigeria. All the aforementioned accused persons are unanimously claiming to be unaware that the money allegedly given to them for Jonathan presidential re-election campaign came from public purse, insisting to have thought the money came from private donations made to the campaign organisation. What a logical defence!
Meanwhile, things are not looking good on the side of the former President, as the circle of arrests is focusing one one central focal point; Goodluck Jonathan, yet, the EFCC seems to be deaf and incapacitated in trying to bring Jonathan to justice. Prompting Nigerians to ask: does the Buhari administration have the political strength to push through getting Jonathan to book?

I am afraid but if the federal government with all the artilleries at it disposal fails to bring Goodluck Jonathan to account , then almost all the accused could potentially walk free, thus dealing a serious blow to President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda of rooting out the endemic corruption holding Nigeria to ransom. Many spectators are beginning to think that none of the accused currently on trial will end up securing a jail term if President Buhari chooses a diplomatic compromise in getting Goodluck Jonathan to account. No matter how someone try to exonerate Jonathan of any wrong doing, one cannot dispute the fact that he was the president and the chief authoriser to whom all financial presentations were tabled before approval for payments and as such, he is therefore a material and indispensable person in order for a prima facie case to be establish. Now that we have glaring evidences that the otuekean have indeed stained his hands with chocolate from our cookie jar: when will EFCC invite Goodluck Ebele Jonathan?

Usama Dandare, a social commentator write from Sokoto. Contact him via osadaby@yahoo.com or on twitter @osadaby.

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# PMB365Days: Change, In Dire Need Of Speed! By MickeySunny

I find it increasingly difficult to write about the 1st year anniversary of President Buhari`s administration, not because I care less about what becomes of his administration, but I am suspicious of how much I have begun to rage against what he has and has not done. I see reactions in some people around me, this same feeling about him.
There are lots of articles – different groups and individuals with divergent opinions and impressions about his 1st year in office. Various polls have rated him on different areas, but fact is, his first year scorecard seems below expectation considering the hype in which the administration sold itself prior to its election.

The Buhari`s administration has come under pressure from various quarters- with support here and hostility there; some saying he has done really well while others complained bitterly about how terrible his administration is. Friends are torn apart in the debate; comrades are not left out, while critics joined with the hash tag #PMB365WastedDays. But make no mistakes; whether you are for Buharist or against him, whether you believe he has a good scorecard or a terrible one- one thing is common, this administration lacks speed.

There is no doubt that this administration still enjoys the goodwill of the people but should it continue at this speed, it would be exhausted before its second year anniversary. Without neglecting or underscoring the place of proper planning and preparation, I make bold to say that there is a level of sluggishness in this administration and the earlier it is addressed the better for us.

You see, we can go on and on blaming everyone and everything for the slow take off of this administration, but if this slow pace is not addressed, we`d be back here again on the second year of this administration apportioning blame and hanging our woes around the failure of past administrations and on the dwindling crude oil price.

Meanwhile, had the present administration added some kind of smartness and speed to its change mantra, it would have by now made an appreciable level of impact on the lives of the people.

There is a place of good intentions and good plans, but as a leader you don`t have to keep the people suffering for too long while results are yet achieved.
There is a reason why on “action plans” we have: short term, medium term and long term- just so that people start getting results on time! This administration does not have to keep the people waiting unnecessarily for so long when it can do well by activating its short term plans to cushion the effect which its long term plans may have on the masses.

The process of getting results could be tedious or simple depending on how cumbersome the process is. That is the very reason why speed and accuracy must be factored into processes in other to have a timely and prompt result.

Those that feel, one good year is too small to rate the performance of this administration or to begin achieving tangible results do so because they do not understand the importance of speed. “3 months was too small, 6 months was too small, 9 months was too small”, but one year can never be too small to clearly itemized what has been achieved by an administration that knows what it`s doing and that’s up to speed with it. The reason why the present administration is still giving its speeches like one running a manifesto is because this “Change” lacks speed!

Whose fault was it that the 2016 budget was padded severally? Whose fault was it that there was delaying in signing the 2016 budget? If these faults aren’t from the masses, who else should be blamed for the delay if not the presidency? You don`t put the people at the edge of an excruciating pain because of the failure of those in power and expect not to be blamed for it!

For instance, the Nigerian economy is currently being hit by the dwindling crude oil prices thus leading to a shortage of foreign exchange, a shrinking economy, and spiralling inflation. These have impacted on the standard of living and have impeded the ability of several state governments to pay the salaries of their workers.

However, the Federal Government through the Minister of Finance- Kemi Adeosun, announced its readiness to inject a total of N350 billion to rebound the dwindling economy of the nation in anticipation of the approval of the budget. This was as a result of the decisions taken at the end of a two-day retreat for governors of the 36 states of the federation and members of the National Economic Council (NEC) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. Speaking on Sunrise, a Channels TV programme, she reemphasized and I quote: “As soon as the budget is signed, we are going to pump N350 billion into the economy in this quarter and we are going to do so every quarter until we stimulate growth. And we would see growth if we spend money on those things that would create jobs.”

This seems to be a good plan and should not have been delayed for any reason whatsoever considering how terrible the state of the economy is. While the ministry awaits the budget approval, all necessary logistics should have been put in place such that as soon as the budget was approved, the fund is immediately injected into the economy. But hell no, that was not what happened! Weeks after the budget was signed into the law, the fund is yet to be fully disbursed. There were reports suggesting that- while the Ministry of Finance is set to fulfil its own part of injecting the fund, some agencies of government, which are expected to act as channels of disbursement, are yet to put their acts together. As several of the disbursing agencies ought to have commenced certain work even before the budget was signed but they delayed in doing so.
We can`t continue to have a slow take off like this and expect a different result that is good enough for the country. Change can come with speed. Change is not magic- we all know that. But then, Change also does not necessarily mean “go slow”. We can both have change and speed. When we do, we would be talking of a different thing- rapid progress and development.

Leave aside the integrity, the trust and the honesty that may have been credited to this administration, if there is no speed, there would be no movement. We need a form of direction, we need speed. It has become a matter of urgency for the president to take off at the speed that will impact positively on the lives of the people. The further he delays the more dangerous it becomes.

There are no doubts that most of the challenges we face today are the results of years of misgovernance and corruption. But as the administration enters its second year, it needs to embark on several short and longer term measures with respect to speed to reverse the country’s dangerous slide.

Nigerians are suffering; telling them to keep bearing the pain while you are not being up to speed with easing them of the pain would be tantamount to carelessness.

Integrity, trust, good plans and policies backed with a coordinated speed, will in no time bring that change that we are dire need of.

God Bless Nigeria.
Ogundana Michael Rotimi is a Nigerian Biochemist, Socio-economic & Political Commentator, and Public Speaker. He tweets @MickeySunny