OPINION: The Five Trillion Naira – A Quest and a Question – by Folorunso David @funsodavid

Published:27 Nov, 2012

OPINION: The Five Trillion Naira – A Quest and a Question – by Folorunso David @funsodavid

The Punch newspaper recently reported that the sum of N5 trillion has been stolen under the watch of President Goodluck Jonathan. Given how toothless the Economic and Financial Crime Commission and other similar anti-graft agencies have become in the last couple of years; and how the petroleum subsidy scam was managed my only surprise was that the figure did not exceed that reported amount. What astounds me is how Nigeria’s current president seems to be unmoved at an allegation of this gravity. There are two ways to account for this unseemly indifference. One, it is either he is unaware of the unmitigated defalcation of tax-payers’ money under his leadership; or, two, he is aiding and abetting the fraud. I can bet my designer glasses the second option is truer.

For most Nigerians Mr Jonathan seems like a harmless, docile man who can ordinarily relate with the plight of Nigerians. His campaign in 2011 was predicated around a grass to grace story – almost literally. He asserted he often had to walk barefoot because he ‘had no shoes’. While that story resonated as a touching account of a peasant navigating his path to the peak of public service we often ask how special the narrative is. After all, Mr Jonathan grew up in a time when shoes were almost unaffordable luxuries for many of his peers; in fact, during his generation you would only be shocked to know a child actually had shoes! Still, we cannot discount the humble upbringing of the man. For some moments during his presidential campaign in 2011 I must admit I often made analogies between his story and that of Barack Obama. Couple of months on I will not demean one of America’s finest president by putting him on the same par as Mr Jonathan.

Still dwelling on the past I must say that it was almost inevitable that Mr Jonathan would win in 2011. This was not hard to fathom given the array of persons who contested alongside him. First, there was Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Nigeria’s most wanton opportunist. He was in many respects a distraction, the equivalent of an MTN ad displayed during a live English premiership game. I am not saying Mr Ribadu is not intellectually sound. To his credit, during the presidential debates he was able to string words you could applaud to – if you looked at things from the literary point of view. For instance he famously said in effect, “Nigerians are not corrupt; it is the system that is corrupt.” Such semantic gibberish only goes to show he did not and still does not understand the uniqueness of Nigeria and Nigerians.  The recent episode of how his subsidy- probe committee concluded their findings is another testament of a quixotic, opportunistic man who lacks the wiles that defines Nigerian politics. But this article is not about Ribadu.

The other option was Mohammad Buhari. He seemed to spit fire everywhere he went. Running alongside TundeBakare, it was a combination of firebrands, which in some respects represent something we would like to see in a Nigerian presidency. However, Buhari said little of how much difference there would be if he became President. He never really discussed issues affecting Nigeria and how much differently he would tackle them without resorting to a de facto dictatorship – something akin to what Mohammed Mursi has become in Egypt. At any rate, Buhari surely had the trappings of an ex-serviceman who could not stand to see ‘bloody’ civilians take charge of government and needed to come and show them what discipline is. Nigerians surely need discipline but to what measure Buhari would have enforced it is what tilted the tides against him.

Of course, there were other aspirants:  Shekarau et al who really did not have a shot at anything beyond their places of birth. Like Ribadu, they were all distractions.

The five-trillion-naira question is this: Who comes up against Goodluck Jonathan – forget all those political façade of him not yet declaring his intention – in 2015? Before I describe the ideal opponent let me emphasise how important that question is. In 2011, civil rights group achieved something significant in Nigeria: they emphasised the need for Nigerians to cast their votes and protect it. This was largely achieved. However, they forgot another element of efficientelectioneering: ensuring you have the right candidates. If James Ibori and Diepreye Alamiesiegha came out for a particular office, it won’t be enough to have free and fair elections. A further step will be to emphasize their non-eligibility and fine-tune a process that will bring out a worthier contestant. It is the latter we failed to discuss in 2011 and should start doing something about now. Yes, now.

I am not going to publicly endorse anyone even though I know some Nigerians who would be perfect as Nigeria’s president. The risk of an endorsement is that it compromises the quality of the bigger message which I wish to pass across. But for an ideal Nigerian president we need

  1. Someone stainless. I’ll be the first to admit that it will be tough. Is it impossible? No. It takes only a spotless man to point out dirt in others.
  2. Someone detribalised. Enough with talks of what tribe should produce the next president. Would you rather we enforced federal character or personal character? It’s 2012. Nigerians cannot afford to have another effete president all in the name of zoning.
  3. Someone with ideas. Goodluck Jonathan is famously described as clueless not because he is uneducated but because he does not resonate with flourishing ideas: Ideas about how to transform the power sector, how to use intelligence and counter-intelligence to end terrorism and financial crimes, how to invest in research and development etc etc. Goodluck Jonathan’s default solution to all problems is to set up committees, an act that, given how Farouk Lawan went scot-free, has become synonymous with sweeping under the carpet.
  4. Pragmatic. It’s not all about having ideas. Ensuring those ideas become beneficial economic tools is far more important. Also, pragmatism would involve cutting the cost of governance in every possible way. Ideally, we would want someone who has successfully managed people and resources at a large scale beforehand.
  5. Someone who does not give a damn about whose axe is gored for doing right. Goodluck Jonathan has godfathers who call the shots from behind. It’s sickening! If a president cannot do what is right without considering how someone like Mr Edwin Clark will react he deserves to remain shoeless.
  6. Someone willing to accept nothing in return. If our senators and legislators will be forced to reduce their salaries and allowances then they need a president who leads by example. A Nigerian president who accepts nothing but the mandate of Nigerians to lead them will not tolerate financial inefficiencies. Write that down!
  7. Someone who knows government owes the people nothing but the best. Enough of that “it’s not what your country can do for you” crap! Our country is blessed with plenty of mineral resources. Our country can – and must – do things for us. If those in charge cannot use it to develop Nigeria then don’t quote JFK to me. Quote Chairman Mao!

2015 is upon us. We cannot continue to tweet Nigeria’s problem without doing anything about it. Nigerians should know that at the rate we are going with the current administration our futures are at stake. Let all of us: civil right groups, activists, political commentators and so on look from amongst ourselves. Surely, there is a man or woman who fits this description and can steer our rudder to greater heights!

 

–          Folorunso David

Reach me on twitter: @funsodavid

  • Muneer Maisaje

    Bravo brother! This is nice and well written, ovcos we made mistakes in 2011 election but we have all †?? time to make corrections, one thing very important is that those people with Nigeria at heart must involve fully in politics, they should be among party officials, by doing this they will make sure deserved people are giving tickets to contest, °? am impressed with †?? way people are trying to make people aware how important it is to have good people piloting our affairs, this is must if we want our country to come out °ƒ †?? ugly situation it finds itself. @muneermaisaje

  • Muneer Maisaje

    Bravo brother! This is nice and well written, ovcos we made mistakes in 2011 election but we have all †?? time to make corrections, one thing very important is that those people with Nigeria at heart must involve fully in politics, they should be among party officials, by doing this they will make sure deserved people are giving tickets to contest, °? am impressed with †?? way people are trying to make people aware how important it is to have good people piloting our affairs, this is must if we want our country to come out °ƒ †?? ugly situation it finds itself. @muneermaisaje

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Politics: In Rivers, It’s A Game Of Death.

I’m not used to too much prayer, but I must begin today’s piece with a word of prayer. I pray that God Almighty visits the killers of Barr. Ken Atsuwete (and their sponsors) with slow and painful death. Amen!   I pray that the divine punishment for the dastardly act of Monday constitutes the largest chunk of the inheritance, which the killers (and their sponsors) would pass on to their children and their children’s children in the fullness of time. Amen...

Pension Assets Hit N5.8tn As PenCom Seeks To Invest 40% In Infrastructure

The Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), Ms. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, on Tuesday hinted that the total pension assets had hit N5.8 trillion, adding that the commission was targeting to invest 40 per cent of the funds in infrastructure and housing by 2019.   She was, however, quick to add that the safety of such investments would not be compromised, as they would require guarantees from government and stakeholders.   She said currently, 15 per cent of the assets are invested in infrastructure...

Why Team Nigeria Performed Poorly In Rio – Dalung

What appears another major controversy over the employment of German tactician, Gernot Rohr, to manage the Super Eagles cropped up yesterday following a declaration by Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, that he knew nothing about the deal. ?? Recall that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) recently selected Rohr to manage the Super Eagles despite the minister’s preference for a local coach.   Dalung was at the State House yesterday, Abuja to brief President Muhammadu Buhari on the nation’s outing at the ?just concluded Olympics...

Osinbajo Urges Youths To Key Into Multi-tasking Age To Remain Relevant

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday advised Nigerian youths to see the present age as one that offers them an opportunity to embrace “multi-tasking”. He gave the advice while opening a two-day Google Digital Training programme for Youth Employment with the theme: “Diversifying the Nigerian Economy: Enabling Youth through Digital Skills Training’’. Osinbajo said that the opportunities abound for professionals with multi skills to excel in the period of economic hardship and joblessness, adding that innovation was the best way to...

Turkey Denies Reaching Ceasefire With Kurdish Forces

A Turkish minister has said that his country does “not accept” US claims that its military has reached a ceasefire deal with Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. The statement came after US officials said that Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and Kurdish forces had agreed on a temporary pause in fighting in northern Syria. The US has been warning the sides to focus on fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group elements there. “We do not accept in any circumstances...

I Am Not The Problem Of Nigerian Sports – Dalung

Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, has fired back at those calling for his sack following the country’s poor outing at the 2016 Olympic Games and says he is not the problem.   Dalung was speaking to State House correspondents, after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari to review the Olympics, where Nigeria finished with only one bronze medal.   He argued that poor performances have always been the case with Nigeria, even before he was appointed. “I am not the problem of Nigerian sports. Abysmal performance...

Catholic Priest Faces Fresh Charge Over 10-Year-Old Girl’s Rape

The Federal Capital Territory Police Command, yesterday, said it had concluded plans to dock a Catholic priest, Reverend Father Anthony Ochigbo, before an Abuja High Court over allegation that he raped a 10-year-old girl.   The Officer-in-Charge of Legal Matters at the Command, Mr. James Idachaba, made the disclosure after he applied and withdrew an initial one-count rape charge Police entered against the priest before an Abuja Upper Area Court at Gudu.   The Upper Area court judge, Alhaji Umar Kagarko, had on...

Over 5,000 CSOs Support Buhari On War Against Insurgency

Coalition Against Terrorism and Extremism, CATE, a coalition of over 5000 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Tuesday in Abuja held a rally in appreciation of the success made by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the current military leadership in the war against Boko Haram insurgents.   Addressing journalists during the rally which kicked off at the Federal Secretariat and ended at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Secretary General of the Coalitions, Comrade Daniel...

Donald Trump to Visit Mexico After More Than A Year Of Mocking It

Donald J. Trump will visit Mexico on Wednesday for a private meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto — a trip that will take him to a nation he has repeatedly scorned — before quickly flying back for what is billed as a...

Duterte Ready To Defend Philippine Drug Killings With Obama

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he was ready to defend his bloody crackdown on illegal drugs, which has sparked U.S. and international concerns, when he meets with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of an Asian summit next week. Duterte said he would demand that he be allowed to first explain the context of his crackdown before engaging Obama in a discussion of the widespread deaths. The two will meet for the first time on...

Benin’s Move To Scrap Visas For Africans Lauded

A decision by Benin to allow Africans travelling to the west African country in without visas has been applauded by many social media users from across the world. Earlier, Rwanda made a similar decision earlier in the year together with Ghana in a move meant to promote intra-Africa trade in line with Africa Union’s 2030 Agenda for “a continent with seamless borders” to ease movement. “Keep on the good work. We will rule the world one day. Our time shall come,”...

Trump To Visit Mexico Wednesday, Meet Its President

Donald Trump announced he would travel to Mexico on Wednesday to meet its president, just hours ahead of giving a much-anticipated speech in Arizona on immigration. The Republican presidential nominee’s surprise trip south of the border comes as debate about his hardline immigration policies is reaching fever pitch. Although his visit holds potential political peril, Trump could seize control of the campaign narrative at a crucial time, showing a willingness to engage diplomatically on a...

CBN Licenses 11 New Int’l Money Transfer Operators

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday licensed 11 new International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs). The new entrants are joining Western Union, MoneyGram and Ria, which had been cleared by the CBN. The new operators are Trans-Fast Remittance LLC; WorldRemit Limited, UAE Exchange Centre LLC; Wari Limited, Homesend S.C.R.L, Small World Financial Services Group Limited and Weblink International Limited. Others are Cash Pot Limited, DT&T Corporation Limited, Fiem Group LLC DBA Ping Express and CP Express...

FCT Minister Strips FHA Building Approval Powers

Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammad Bello, has directed the Development Control Department of the FCT Administration to take full responsibility for building plan approvals and construction supervision in the territory, in accordance with extant regulations. The minister gave this directive in reaction to Thursday incident of building collapse in Gwarinpa. He reminded the department that in line with the provisions of Section 7, Sub-section 1-3 of the FCT Act of 1976 and Part II, Section 27-41 of the...

We Spend N475m Monthly Fuelling Jets Combating Boko Haram- Air Force

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) spends N475 million monthly to fuel its fighter jets and transport planes to fight Boko Haram. The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said in Lagos yesterday that the force uses 1.9 million litres of aviation fuel monthly to fly missions in the North-East, the hotbed of Boko Haram insurgency. Aviation fuel sells for N250 per litres, meaning that at least, N475 million is spent on a monthly basis. He spoke during...

Nigerians Urged Not To Panic As Annular Eclipse Hits September 1

National Space Research and Development Agency (NSRDA) has urged the public not to panic over the Annular Eclipse which will be experienced between the hours of 7:15am and 10:03am on Thursday, September 1 with slight variations in actual timing across the country. In a press statement by the Head of Media and Corporate Communications, Dr Felix Ale, the Agency appealed to the general public not to panic or adduce any mystical interpretations to this...

Nigeria’s Recession Pushes Bonds To Lowest Point In More Than Two Weeks

Nigeria's dollar bonds have fallen to their lowest point in more than two weeks after official statistics  showed that the  economy had entered its first recession in 25 years.   The official data showed that the economy contracted by 2.06 percent in the second quarter.  According to a Reuters report “The 2023 issue chalked up the biggest losses, down 0.728 cents to trade at 99.417 cents in the dollar - its lowest since Aug....

Integrate Chinese Language Into Schools’ Curricular – NGO tells FG

A Non-governmental Oganisation (NGO), Initiative of African Friends of China, has called on the federal government to introduce the teaching of Chinese Language in secondary schools across the country. The President of the NGO, Mr. Fred Ogwazu, made the call while signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with DBS Media Ltd, a Nigerian creative media content agency in Lagos recently. Ogwazu said the development if considered will tend to explore maximally the socio-economic corporations, educational and cultural exchanges as well as...

Nigeria, UK sign MoU On Return Of Stolen Assets

The Federal Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the British Government on the modalities for the return of Nigerian stolen assets. The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, signed on behalf of the Federal Government in Abuja on Tuesday. Malami said that the MoU reflected the desire and willingness of both countries to continue cooperation and mutual support. Malami said that this was in the responsible and transparent return of all recovered assets. He outlined the objectives of the MoU...

Nigerians React To CNN’s ‘Zuckerberg Visits Sub-Sahara Africa’ Headline

International broadcaster, the Cable News Network (CNN), has angered Nigerians for omitting the country’s name in the headline of a report announcing the visit of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, to Africa’s most populous country. The headline mentioned Sub-Sahara Africa as Mr. Zuckerberg’s destination. That headline promptly sparked anger in one of the world’s largest oil producers, with citizens taking to Facebook and Twitter to attack the broadcaster for omitting ‘Nigeria’ and creating the impression that...

Marcus Rashford Is Spending His New-Found Fortune in Exactly the Right Way

He's a great kid, isn't he? Marcus Rashford picked up where he left off from last season at the weekend with Manchester United's late, late winning goal at Hull City, maintaining his side's perfect record for the start of the season.