Column Opinion

Just Ordinary 80 Billion Naira

By Prince Charles Dickson PhD

Nigeria’s economic crimes agency arrested the country’s accountant general over charges of diverting public funds and money laundering to the tune of 80 billion naira. ORDINARY 80billion!

At about the same time anoda tory burstFollow me hear as The Guardian take report am; Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), arrested the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nsima Ekere, for alleged diversion of funds to the tune of N47 billion through registered contractors of the agency. Very small something, like half of the one way AG chop!

In January 2016 I had written an admonition titled Thieves Don Spoil My Calculator For Nigeria.

Then, I had explained that I needed to buy a “reliable” made in China Casio Calculator, it even had the benefit of also being a scientific calculator too. Then, I just could not trust my regular calculator; the one on my phone as an application, the same one I used to calculate how much I need to give madam, girlfriends, faith obligations, family trench, utility bills like NEPA abi na DISCO, I use it to add, minus, and multiply especially it was January then, when all kind of fees had to be paid; from school fees, weekly fuel waka and daily matters…the expenses were plenty, and indeed income not as plenty. Today the case is no different, rather it is sadly worse!

I needed that NEW calculator, and I went to Okechukwu’s Bookshop on Ahmadu Bello way, I went with my friend Adegoke as witness to buy it. After parting with a few lower notes, I was a proud owner of the product. I still have the calculator!

Let me remind us of my calculator ordeal.

First, despite my Casio also being scientific, there was no scientific methodology to really guide me, and I am pleading allocutus for my clumsy arithmetic, and my mumbo-jumbo procedure but please stay with me briefly, and we will be done.

With my calculator, and a long sheet of plain paper, and a cup of green tea, laced with pure blossom honey, and wheat bread, I was bent on “enjoying” what I predicted would be a nasty exercise. That was then, now, there is no green or coloured tea for that matter, the price of bread has hit the roof, where I wan see honey. Roasted corn would be the closest!

Let me ask, do you know how much Abacha loot (savings I meant) has yielded in the last few years…they read like $65, $308, $40, $37 all in millions and more, the calculator had started sweating. Mr Abacha is thought to have stolen between three and five billion dollars, the majority of which came from Nigeria’s oil resources. So I just took the lowest figure of $2 billion, and @400 that would equal to N800 billion. That is 9 zeros, no wonder someone said that generations unborn of that family will never lack…story for another day.

We remember that movie shortly after the oil subsidy protest…it featured a certain Otedola, Farouk and a few special appearances, and $3million vamoosed, only a few days in Kuje, and a visit from members of the Kano legislative house, Farouk went away and sinned no more…that equalled to N1.2 billion.

How about the whole fraud called Malabu Oil & Gas was almost $1.3 Billion, it was shared and it developed wings…That is another approximately N520 billion.

Do we recall Abubakar Kigo dude, of the ‘police pension things’, he escaped with N33 Billion, and then Abdulrasheed Maina then disappeared with another N195 Billion from “pension things” things. Total N228 billion

I am sure we have forgotten that Steve Oransanya, he was supposed to correct something-onething in the civil service or so, by the time he was done, N123billion was allegedly done and gone too. Total N351 billion

I refused to add the missing “oyel” money during the Diezani and Sanusi war, as some say money no miss, and others say money miss but e no reach so-so billion dollars. I rest my case. And the EFCC boss said he was in charge of the investigations, and there was no diamond encrusted bra. One day we will know the real amount!

I refuse to add the Donatus Dasuki ATM dispensary arrangement because (1) the money no reach me, (2) We have not heard of APC’s currently similar bazaar.

It only gets interesting, my plain sheet had become littered with figures and zeros in countless repetitions, I came to the governors, there were cases of the known, while others were the unknown.

For example, IN THE KNOWN COLUMN: they” say Joshua took a few millions from Ecological and other funds, James also increased his, it was up to a few billions, the late Alams also helped himself. And Goje printed OXFORD or was it CAMBRIDGE dictionaries for several millions. Add, the Jolly man from Taraba, and my friend Boni, and the bubbling Susan, and his predecessor, just to mention a few. We all remember that Ribadu said that one Sharia dude like that even refused to use a bank, he packed his own dough raw. Infact, in those days some $15million was offered as bribe—Chai, and if Ribadu is to be believed some 30 governors were thieving.

Hence I do not agree with the former EFCC helmsman, let me just do this simple maths, based on the KNOWN COLUMN: Let me say only 20 governors stole, and each stole N1 Million per month, that would be N12 Million per year multiplied by 16 years that would equal N192 Million and then multiply that by just 20 governors, that would be N3.840billion. I added this to our N351 Billion and we got N354.840 billion

I was beginning to feel dizzy, as I added Perm Secs who stole a few millions, heads of parastatals who helped themselves with some crazy sums through ridiculous subheads, like I recall how millions were in the NNDC budget for funerals, like every staff in the organization must die.

I added the monies that disappeared in millions from Funds, like the Educational Trust Fund, Petroleum Trust Fund, Ecological Trust Fund, Industrial Trust Fund, Tertiary Education Trust Fund; just check, if the name ended with an F, funds were stolen. I added the ones stolen by our lawmakers, even though it was “stolen legitimately”, or some allowance or money to do onething-something or buy cars with five tyres. I also added monies that were stolen by local council runs-men and women, monies that disappeared in Ministries.

At this point, my calculator was HOT, RED, and could barely even show the regular ERROR message, even the scientific part of the calculator was not working, as I had converted the dollar to Naira, and was trying to add up, all my eyes could now see on the once plain paper was an endless count of zeros like big heads.

In 1998 Nigeria’s budget amounted to N487.113 billion of which N178. 098 billion or (36.6%) was recurrent while N309. 016 billion was capital expenditure. By the foregoing, today, official corruption would have accounted for than 40% of our current budget stolen without blinking

And in Fela’s words, “I wonder how this country come take get big head”. My calculator could not continue, I just stared in trance, at how Nigerians were undoing Nigeria, I had barely touched the surface of monumental government stealing, and we are arguing, who stole less, or more or justifying that everyone steals. I end this admonishment asking, oh ye foolish Nigerians, for how much longer—Only time would tell.

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