Who Owns the Money?

pol-evrywhr-sok-2As in everything Nigeria, we have on our hands another riddle that promises to keep us busy for weeks or even months to come.

But the beauty (?) of it is that as shocking, unedifying and confounding as discoveries that we keep making appear, we never get to have the joy of denouement that show we are serious people.

 

The jokes are unending! Anybody can claim the money because the money belongs to everyone and belongs to nobody (apologies to the proponent of that political maxim, President Muhammad Buhari, whose whistle-blowing scheme is harvesting these discoveries in the first place).

The discovery of another almost N15bn from the Osborne Ikoyi, Lagos luxury apartment appears to have put the Presidency on the spot; compounding what are turning out to be a burgeoning credibility and public relations burdens for the APC-led federal government.

Ordinarily, this should have been a major plus for the Presidency in its anti-corruption scorecard. We all recall the outcry that greeted the Andrew Yakubu saga in Kaduna; the abandonment of about N50m cash at the Kaduna airport and several other looted funds kept in unimaginable crannies even under the noses of poverty-stricken Nigerians.

However, the discordant tunes over the cash by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, National Intelligence Agency both agencies under the Presidency robs it of what kudos it ought to get in this whole battle against graft.

Never mind Wednesday’s suspension of the Director General of NIA, Kayode Oke, whose tales by the moonlight keep reminding Nigerians of the many sordid drama that is the hallmark of their daily lives. The Presidency has the duty to make Oke list which covert security operations his agency has undertaken within and outside the Nigerian territory since the fund was made available to the NIA. In the hard times that Nigeria has passed through under the Buhari Presidency, coupled with the pains and anguish of lack of funds, the existence of a whooping sum of N15bn approved by a former boss (Goodluck Jonathan) which was never disclosed to the new boss (Muhammad Buhari) translates to some mind-boggling level of criminal culpabilities.

Whoever owns the money; or whoever deposited the money in the vault of this Hidden Bank of Ikoyi Towers should not be our headache. I think it points to one thing and one thing only -that Nigeria has been stolen blind and been bled to coma before Buhari unenviably inherited its gasping torso.

money

The Buhari administration may have been pilloried for what is perceived to be an ineffective anti-graft war, the premise he hinged his campaigns on to come to power. Many of the odious orders of the past in terms of corruption still resonate quite audibly in our very ears almost two years into the life of the administration. Many of the kingpins of the old order still operate at the commanding heights of national existence. And as a matter of fact, some of the battle men Buhari came into the warfront with may actually be more corrupt that those his electoral victory edged out of power. We are waiting for the final outcome of the beams into the activities of his suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Laval. But the odour around Lawal since the stench of the grass-cutting contract oozed out and polluted the Nigerian air, his office has been a major source of reference to those who want to castigate this administration on double standards in fighting graft.

But there is one thing I find rewarding. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission operates with some intrepid resolve that is yielding results. I doubt if the mould of an EFCC boss the Nigerian Senate would want to endorse for Buhari would travel this whole far to harvest as bountifully as Ibrahim Magu is doing.

Even with the recent slipshod handling of some recent cases such as those of Justice Ademola, Madam Patience Jonathan and others which the EFCC appeared to have bungled, the Ikoyi cash haul elevates Magu’s commission to an all time higher pedestal as it further stamps the belief that the nation sits precariously over hidden looted funds.

In 2015 February, I had the privilege to listen to a serving governor who said in his imagination he saw that the amount of funds outside the banking system in Nigeria could be enough to shut down an economy. About two years after that statement, one is no doubt tempted to review and give that governor kudos for seeing what we never saw.

The cash haul should indeed not be amazing. For where do we think all the funds of the acclaimed stolen crude could have been spent at the time the barefaced robberies were going on?

As we grapple with these earth-shaking revelations, how many Nigerians recall the hoopla raised by sacked Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi over missing funds? One of the words of Sanusi, now Emir of Kano after his forced exit keep ringing when he said “Frankly, I think a billion dollars under Jonathan a month was about what we were losing. All it (NNPC) does is allow a group of people, who themselves don’t have any kind of operating background to pay $50m for access to the crude oil in blocs valued at over $2bn and they just take the crude oil, ship it out and don’t return the money and there is no trace of where the money has gone.

“Someone gets a contract to lift crude from the terminals to the refineries and in between, that crude is stolen.”

Let Nigerians not forget that the hubris that hallmarked the Goodluck Jonathan administration has the capacity to hunt us for decades to come. There are more discoveries we should wait for.

 

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