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

FG Urged To Ignore Call To Close Turkish Schools In Nigeria

The Managing Director of Nigerian Turkish international colleges, Orhan Kertim, has said that Nigeria should disregard the request by Turkey’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Hakan Cakil, to close down the schools. This is contained in a statement he gave to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abuja on Friday. He said the call contained misleading information and would not have dignified it with a response. According to Kertim, the schools have been operating in Nigeria since 1998 and as law-abiding schools...

Buhari Approves BoT For Ogoniland Cleanup

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a 13-member Governing Council and 10-member Board of Trustees for the cleanup of Ogoniland in Rivers. The Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed, announced this in a statement by Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr Bukar Hassan, in Abuja on Saturday. The minister said the structures would ensure inclusiveness, accountability, transparency and sustainability of the exercise. Mohammed acknowledged the concerns raised by stakeholders on the perceived slow pace of...

7 Of The Best Places To Meet Your Future Partner

1. Don’t skip work happy hour Even if you’ve already determined that you will never date any of your coworkers, join in on every office happy hour you can. You never know who may bring an outside friend along or where you could end up after the happy hour is over. Chances are most of your work friends are pretty cool people so you can rely on them to broaden your network of potential partners.

Why We Deployed Air Force To Dislodge Arepo Vandals- Military

The military has defended its decision to dislodge vandals and militants operation at Arepo with Air Force strikes, saying it was due to the inaccessibility of the swampy hideouts of the criminals. It said the joint operation involving the Army, Police, State Security Service (SSS) and Civil Defence engaged the Air Force to capture wider latitude of the vandals’ shanties and nab suspected operatives. The military swung into action last Thursday following a directive of...

Buhari Appoints Five Heads Of Health Agencies

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved with immediate effect the appoint¬ments of five heads of strategic health institutions. The Director (Press), Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Bolaji Adebiyi, said in a statement. The health agencies are, Centre for Disease Control, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), and National Health Insurance Scheme, (NHIS). According to the statement, Babatunde Sa¬lami has been appointed...

Reps Say No Need For External Probe Of Dogara, Others

Members of the House of Reps Committee on Appropriation said yesterday that there was no breach whatsoever in the 2016 budget process that would warrant the probe of Speaker Yakubu Dogara, his deputy Yussuf Suleimon Lasun, chief whip, Alhassan Ado Doguwa and minority leader, Leo Ogor. Addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, deputy chairman of the committee, Rep Chris Emeka Azubogu (PDP, Anambra), who was accompanied by eight other members of the committee, said...

Lagos Urges Residents To Volunteer Information To Security Agencies To Combat Crime?

The Lagos State Government yesterday reassured residents of its ability to combat all forms of crime within the state just as it reaffirmed its commitment to prompt response to all crime incidents reported by residents to the various security agencies. The Special Adviser to the Governor on Communities and Communication, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, spoke at the monthly interactive session held at Ikorodu with the theme ‘Securing our Communities’ organised by the Ministry of Local Government and...

Switzerland Pledges To Repatriate $321m Abacha Loot

The government of Switzerland has said it would soon return $321 million looted by late head of state, General Sani Abacha and kept in Swiss banks, as part of its commitment to fighting money laundering and other trans-national crimes in that country. The Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Eric Mayoraz, made the disclosure yesterday, during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Mutual Legal Assistance on criminal matters, between the Swiss government and the Federal...

3 Militant Groups Accept To Dialogue With Buhari

Three militant groups in the Niger Delta region, Reformed Egbesu Boys of the Niger Delta, Egbesu Red Water Lions and Egbesu Mightier Fraternity have capitulated on their earlier decision not to allow the Niger Delta Dialogue and Contact Group, NDDCG, to represent them in the ongoing dialogue with the Federal Government. A former military governor of old Rivers State, His Royal Majesty Alfred Diette-Spiff is the leader of NDDCG, which is a member of the Aaron...

Another Chained Child Rescued In Ogun As Culprit Flees- Police

The Ogun Police Command has rescued   another child, 10-year-old Promise Udeh, found chained in a house at Saraki, Adigbe area of Abeokuta, Ogun State. She was rescued on Thursday around 7.30 pm when neighbours living close to the building where she was chained alerted the police. She was rescued barely a week after the police and operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps rescued a nine-year-old boy, Korede Taiwo, chained by his father,...

Nigeria Police Take Over #SaveMayowa Campaign Amidst Controversy

Despite the police announcing it had commenced investigations into the #SaveMayowa fundraising campaign, controversy has continued to trail the initiative which was aimed at raising overseas medical fees for Mayowa Ahmed, a cancer patient receiving treatment at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. On Thursday, police officers broke up a heated exchange outside the hospital between the patient’s relatives and some social media campaigners who helped raise funds running into millions of naira for Ms. Ahmed’s treatment.

Latest Update: Police Freezes #SaveMayowa Funds Account

The controversial Save Mayowa Campaign has added a new twist after the Founder of Lifestake Foundation, Aramide Kasumu, who was involved in the fundraising, alleged that the family of the ailing Mayowa Ahmed lied that only N30m had been raised while the correct amount was N85m.   The campaign was initiated to raise funds for surgery in a foreign hospital for Mayowa, who is suffering from ovarian cancer, but there have been allegations that the patient’s family was using her condition...

Wow: See The “Luxury” Prison Cell Of Brazilian Drug Lord, Jarvis Pavao. [Pictures]

Paraguayan authorities got a surprise when they raided a Brazilian drug lord's jail cell... and found a three-room luxury suite complete with library, kitchen, conference room and plasma TV. Jarvis Chimenes Pavao, considered one of South America's most dangerous drug traffickers, had been serving an eight-year sentence for money laundering at the Tacumbu prison in the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion. But little...

Bomb Shell: Dogara Gave Appropriation Committee Members $20,000 Bribe Each To Lie At Press Conference – Jibrin

MY RESPONSE TO THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY 9 MEMBERS OF THE 40-MEMBER APPROPRIATION COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES   All the accusations they leveled against me are not in any way different from the bunch of lies contained in the shameless statement released by Speaker Dogara and the 3 other principal officers through Hon Namdas which I have fully provided response to. But to prove my innocence, I have resolved that I...

Budget Padding: EFCC, ICPC Must Investigate Allegations Against Dogara, Others – Jibrin

Former chairman of the House of Representative Committee on Appropriation, Honourable Jibrin on Friday insisted that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) must probe the allegation of budget padding he levelled against the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara and three other principal officers.   He said that, “This is a defining moment for the House of Representatives. It will never be business as usual”.   To this end, he urged members “to join...

You Can Now Work Only 3 Days A Week, Rochas Okorocha Declares To Imo Workers

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has said that civil servants in the state are to work for only three days a week while the remaining two days will be  for other pursuits  to sustain their families.   Okorocha made the declaration on Friday while addressing newsmen at his residence in Owerri.   According to him, those that will not be involved in the  arrangement are hospital workers, teachers, fire service personnel and other essential workers.   He pointed out that after...

Our Citizens Aren’t Having Enough Sex – Swedish Government.

Swedish people might not be getting laid enough – and the government is worried.   In an attempt to tackle the issue, the country’s government will ask its people about their bedroom habits in Sweden’s first major sex study in 20 years.   Reports in Swedish media have suggested a decline in sexual activity, sparking the major survey on all things sex. The nation’s loss of libido could be a ‘political problem’ if it is linked to stress and other health issues, according to Public...

Budget Padding: “Audit Constituency Projects Allocations” – Pro-Democracy Group

A pro-democracy body, the Civil Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), has called for an independent audit of all previous constituency project allocations to members of the National Assembly (NASS) to determine to make sure spending practices are held accountable to the Nigerian people. The statement was made in a press released signed by Auwal Musa Ibrahim, CISLAC’s Executive Director.   According to the statement, the recent revelations by the former Chairman of the Appropriations Committee for the House of Representatives, Abdulmumin...

APC Wins Imo North Senate District, 2 State Constituencies In Re-Run Election

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared Mr Ben Uwajumogu of the All Progressive Congress (APC) winner of Imo North Senatorial District rerun election held on July 28.   Uwajumogu scored 56,076 votes to defeat Mr Athan Achonu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who scored 43, 815 votes.   Prof. Arinze Agbogu, the INEC Returning Officer for Imo North Senatorial District, who announced the result in the early hours of Friday, said the outcome was a summation of scores of July...

#AMACThugs : How Thugs Extort Businesses in Abuja in The Name of Government – Japheth J. Omojuwa

If you are a resident of Abuja or a regular visitor, you’d have noticed this often fierce looking young men wearing bibs stand on select road points in Abuja disturbing motorists. They are often dressed in their mufti with a bib over that or dressed in green for those who chase after Abuja taxi drivers. The most notorious of this lot are the ones that go to offices looking to extort and obtain money from the business...

Japheth J. Omojuwa: How AMAC Thugs – Abuja Municipal Area Council – Make life Difficult for Businesses in Abuja – Investigation

If you are a resident of Abuja or a regular visitor, you’d have noticed this often fierce looking young men wearing bibs stand on select road points in Abuja disturbing motorists. They are often dressed in their mufti with a bib over that or dressed in green for those who chase after Abuja taxi drivers. The most notorious of this lot are the ones that go to offices looking to extort and obtain money from the business...