Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, commerce without morality, worship without sacrifice, politics without principles are not only few among roots of violence as put forward by Mahatma Gandhi but also obvious geneses of monumental corruption, which recently received presidential recognition as mere stealing in Nigeria.
In defence of his allies who are carefree of difference between what is decent and what is wrong in the handling of the public treasury, President Goodluck Jonathan has attempted to use lexicological skill to differentiate stealing from corruption as if any of them should be condoled. Although Nigerians insist, stealing is a subset of corruption.
To ponder at scaling-up corruption profile of Nigeria under Mr Jonathan’s watch, a former top official in pension office, John Yakubu Yusuf, admitted openly in court that he stole N123.1billion from the Police Pension Fund, he was not appropriately dealt with according to the prescriptions of the law. A former head of service, Mr Steve Oronsaye, during his tenure was quizzed by security agencies over a missing N123 billion. Nothing else had been heard of the case. The immediate past Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms Arunma Oteh was absolved of shady deals that were unravelled during an elaborate enquiry by the National Assembly.
Appropriate account of how Nigeria’s multibillion dollars foreign reserve was depleted is yet to be given. A former Central Bank Governor, Prof. Chukuma Soludo alleged that an estimated N30 trillion is either missing, stolen, mismanaged or simply unaccounted for but the government is yet to give any scientific explanation or reaction to refute the allegation. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is yet to explain all it knows about an unaccounted for almost $10billion which Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala admitted was still outstanding following an inter-agency reconciliation committee scrutiny of the corporation’s books in 2014. Nigerians are yet to know just exactly how much is being squandered in the guise of petroleum subsidy.
Revenue generating agencies seemed to have also declared a field day following the national confusion concerning the difference between had their shares from the presidential approval of corruption. Citizens have been suspecting these agencies of falsifying their accounts for ulterior motives.
In 2012, the House of Representative Committee on Finance said in a report titled, “Poor Remittance of Internally Generated Revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF)” that some revenue generating agencies made fool of their projected revenue and their expenditures. For instance, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in 2013 projected an operational income of N626 billion, while planning to spend N618 billion. Also, in the same year, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) revenue projection was N155.95 billion while its planned expenditure was N134.92 billion. It was the same story at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) which projected revenue N48.78 billion, while it planned N48.78 billion expenditure.
By March, 2014 international observers and Nigerians in particular became worried when former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), now Emir of Kano, Malam Muhammad Sanusi alleged that $20 billion oil money was missing from the NNPC’s accounts and then called for investigations. A Senate probe failed to get to the roots of allegation. To this end, the Federal Government employed Price Waterhouse Coopers, (PwC) Nigeria to perform forensic auditing and investigation on the operations of the corporation. The outcome of the investigation has been made available to the public.
Auditor General of the Federation, Mr. Samuel Ukura, who disclosed highlights of the recommendations as ordered by the President to the press in Abuja said the audit firm asked the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), the upstream subsidiary of the NNPC, to refund a total of $1.48billion (about N248.6billion) to the Federation Account for various un-reconciled transactions. This revelation would seem to counter earlier allegations by Sanusi that at least $10 billion was not remitted to the federation account by officials of the NNPC. Following Ukura’s briefing, the corporation later claimed that the $1.48billion was never in dispute claiming that the delay in its remittance was due to reconciliation process between Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the NNPC. Even then government has refused to release the full report to the public.
The obvious question then is; who is the liar among Sanusi, the Government and the audit firm? For sure, the answer is best known to the government. At first, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who offered explanation on behalf of the government said, the amount alleged by Malam Sanusi was a miscalculation and $10 billion dollars not $20 billion dollars was missing. A review of international reports has shown that the credibility of Price Waterhouse Coopers cannot be fully guaranteed.
On August 18, 2014 The Washington Post reported that the firm was found culpable of inconsistency in one of its reports by the New York Department of Financial Service and therefore, fined $25 million to settle money laundering report allegations in addition to two-year suspension. As such, outcomes of the so-called forensic investigation into financial books of the NNPC should be taken with a pinch of salt.
These are the cases that are in the public domain. There are many others across all arms of the government where public servants, especially the politicians, milk the nation without pangs of conscience.
In 2012, government set up the Petroleum Revenue Special Task force headed by ex-boss of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nuhu Ribadu.Ribadu. Among other findings, the Task Force found that that whereas successive ministers of petroleum resources between 2008 and 2011 handed out seven discretionary oil licenses, a total of $183m (N28.73bn) in signature bonuses paid by oil companies to the federation was missing from the deals. Even though the Task Force was set up by government, it was officials of the same government like Presidential Adviser on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe that discredited its findings.
Also, the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) discovered as part of its oversight that some government agencies keep different account books for different regulators and supervisors. Following a letter it wrote to demand the audited financial statement of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for five years, the capital market regulator responded by submitting the 2007 and 2008 accounts, claiming to have recorded losses as a result of the global financial crisis that affected the capital market. SEC admitted only that it made N800 million as surplus that year. However on closer review, the FRC discovered that rather than incurring losses, SEC made about N11billlion as operating surplus for 2007.
That year, SEC said it paid 80 percent of N800 million, and not N11 billion it actually generated, to the government. Even so, the Fiscal Commission said there was no evidence from SEC in the form of treasury receipt from the Accountant General’s office to confirm such payment.
Again a similar review of the 2008 audited statement of SEC, also revealed that despite recording over N14 billion as surplus, there was also no evidence with the OAGF that SEC paid 80 per cent (about N11.6 billion) that should have been remitted to the federal government that year.
A computation of the total amount SEC has not remitted to the Federal Government as operating surplus was put at over N22 billion for the two years alone,” Mr. Abana said. Apart from the two years, Mr. Abana said there was no other record of payment by SEC to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (the government’s central purse) since 2009, despite recent public statements that it made over N13billion as operating surplus for 2013 at a time it claimed its 2012/2013 financial records were not ready.
Another substantial financial scandal which broke open but remained unattended to be the sum of $1.092bn was paid by ENI AGIP and Shell into depository Escrow Account domiciled in JP Morgan Chase Co, London as proceeds for the sale of oil block OPL 245 on 25, March 2011. According to documents, President Goodluck Jonathan discreetly approved the transfer of the sum of $1.1bn to Mr. Etete on April 29, 2011, two weeks after he was re-elected. The money was first paid to the Federal Government by two multinational oil companies: Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited (Agip) and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (Shell) in respect of oil block OPL 245.
But shortly after the funds were credited to the Federal Government’s account, Mr. Jonathan ordered that it should be secretly transferred to a London account of Mr. Etete’s company, Malabu Oil. The sum of $1.092bn was paid by ENI AGIP and Shell into depository Escrow Account domiciled in JP Morgan Chase Co, London as proceeds for the sale of oil block OPL 245 on 25, March 2011, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) report, which investigated the deal shows.
By August 16, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mohammed Adoke and the State Minister for Finance Dr. Yerima Lawal Ngama had “instructed the release of $401, 540, 000” into Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd accounts domiciled with First Bank of Nigeria and $400 million into another Malabu accounts with Keystone Bank (former Bank PHB).
The following day, of the $400 million deposited at the Malabu’s Keystone bank account, $336 million was transferred to Rocky Top Resources Ltd’s account No 1005556552 with Abuja CBD branch of the same bank. The remaining balance of $60 million was transferred to account No 3610042596 (allegedly belonging to Etete) for forex trading, leaving zero balance with Malabu’s Keystone bank account.
Of the $336 million transferred into the Rocky Top Resources account, $165 million was subsequently transferred into various individual accounts, leaving the balance of only $171 million, the anti-graft agency’s report said. Rocky Top Resources, the report said, was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) with 100,000 shares capital only and is owned by one Abubakar Aliyu.
The report said that first payment of $401 million to Malabu’s First Bank account was distributed directly to A Group Construction Co. Ltd-also co-owned by Abubakar Aliyu ($157m); Mega Tech Engr. Co. Ltd ($180M); Imperial Union Ltd ($34m); Novel Property and Development Ltd-also co-owned by Abubakar Aliyu ($30m); leaving the balance of $143 million Malabu’s account. And “reasons for this payment are yet to be ascertained,” the EFCC report said.
In late 2012, there was a revelation of a N225 million extra budgetary scandal at the Ministry of Aviation. The committee set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to probe the N255m bulletproof car scandal in the aviation ministry indicted the Minister, Ms. Stella Oduah. The committee’s report tallied with some findings of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation on the scandal. Nobody was punished for the infraction.
Once again, the national treasury also lost some N560 million to an unethical import duty waiver to the Wife of President Goodluck Jonathan for the importation of some BMW cars. The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) revealed that between 2011 and 2013, import waivers granted various individuals and groups by the Ministry of Finance cost the Federal Government N1.4 trillion.
The Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had claimed that the government spent only about N171 billion on waivers as incentive to some critical sectors, such as manufacturing, agriculture, power, and gas to boost the growth of the economy. But the NCS said more than 65 per cent of these ‘incentives’ were reckless, as they were granted for the import/export on questionable and unapproved goods, ranging from rice to fish and kola-nuts, that had no significant bearing on the economy.
The Present state of the economy calls for caution and belt tightening. Investigations have shown that financial recklessness and failure to comply with regulations coupled with an obvious lack of will to discourage wrongdoing by political leadership also contributed to the puny economy because regulatory bodies are not discharging their statutory responsibilities accordingly.