$67 BILLION QUESTION: Labaran Maku’s Humongous Nonsense

Published:4 Feb, 2013

indexIt would have been a breeze of pleasant surprise had Dr. Doyin Okupe, the President’s adviser on public affairs decided to keep quiet for once. Curiously, none of those in Nigeria’s perverted corridors of power has dared to take up the challenge of squaring up with Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili in a public debate over allegations of “brazen misappropriation of public resources” levelled against the Jonathan administration. Nonetheless, it would have been shocking if Okupe had not sought to bring down the full weight of his office (no pun intended) to bear on Ezekwesili for daring to finger President Goodluck Jonathan as one of the major players in the ‘misapplication’ of $67bn foreign reserve left by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.

The Okupe I know is not one that would allow a Labaran Maku to take the shine off his office through a hurriedly-arranged press conference. By the way, Ezekwesili used to be a highly visible member of the economic think-tank in the Obasanjo administration. Popularly called ‘Madam Due Process’, she was appointed a minister after injecting some measure of credibility into the due process unit. From Knucklehead’s point of view, unlike her traducers, Ezekwesili’s intellectualism, passion and love for this country has never been in doubt. For a woman that enjoyed the support of Obasanjo, I had labelled her ‘crazy’ when she walked out of the ministerial appointment and accepted to serve with World Bank as Vice President for Africa. Why abdicate such ‘juicy’ post as a cabinet member for a regulated pay which could end up being a toothbrush allowance for a Nigerian minister, any minister? Yet, Ezekwesili made her choice!

Perhaps, if she had decided to play by the rules and keep a permanent smirk on her chubby face as the transformation train wobbles on a slippery rail, Ezekwesili would not be in the eye of the storm today. But, ever since our encounter in Aso Rock when she was a senior aide to Obasanjo, I knew Oby was not one to suffer fools, especially the parasitic elite, gladly. Her mission seems quite simple: stop the looting and fix the nation for good! In our countless interactions, I never fail to remind her that she was probably the lone dreamer on that train. To her, I was just being a cynic. Today, I doubt if she is still bustling with blind optimism about people in power and their intent to raise the nation a notch higher than the derelict structure they met. There were simply too many pretenders even in the Obasanjo cabinet and they wore split images. Most of them would sacrifice an arm and a leg to belong to that group of rapacious elite that Oby so much despises because of the callous way they continue to impoverish the poor. And I guess she knew any confrontation with this clique is bound to be met with something close to a deadly, custom-built earthquake.

And so when the retired World Bank chief kicked the Jonathan government in the groin, accusing it of wasting a large chunk of an estimated $67bn (N10.8trn) left in the nation’s foreign accounts by Obasanjo as at May 2007, she must have anticipated some sort of angry rebuttal from the President’s men. For a woman who rarely cuddles controversy, I want to assume that she was sure of the authenticity of the figures before rolling them out in a lecture delivered as part of the convocation ceremonies of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She must have been truly troubled to have coined the fiery words used in passing on that message. She must have been convinced that something needed to be done to reverse the gradual slide into economic stagnation. This is not just about what she said but the way she couched it.

Listen to her: “They squandered the significant sum of $45billion in foreign reserve account and another $22billion in Excess Crude Account, being direct savings from increased earnings from oil that the Obasanjo administration handed over to the successor government in 2007. Six years after the administration I served handed over such humongous national wealth to another one, most Nigerians, but especially the poor, continue to suffer the effects of failing public health and education systems as well as decrepit infrastructure and battered institutions.

“One cannot but ask what exactly does this level of brazen misappropriation of public resources symbolise? Where did all that money go? Where is the accountability for the use of these resources and the additional several hundred million dollars realised from oil sale by the two administrations that have governed our nation in the last five years? How were these resources applied or, more appropriately, misapplied? Tragic choices.”

For an administration with a short fuse for absorbing criticism no matter how flexibly constructive, it was not long before the dogs were let loose on this wife of a pastor. For daring to raise questions on accountability in governance in addition to having the effrontery to table humongous charges bearing on sheer waste against Jonathan and his late predecessor, Umaru Yar’Adua, Ezekwesili has come under ferocious attacks. She has been called a liar; a rabble-rouser; an unqualified interrogator; shameless peddler of incorrect figures and a grand-stander that should not be dignified with a public debate to verify the true figures. Between Maku and Okupe, picking the winner in the craze to unleash verbal expletives remains too close to call. They are sure earning their pay!

To be candid, no one had expected them to stay on the topic without hitting Oby below the waist band. As far as they are concerned, all is fair in this verbal war. Still, it was uncharitable for Maku to insinuate that Oby mis-managed the ‘humongous’ funds released to the Ministry of Education whilst she in charge of that sector. Unless he wants to confirm our fears that files bothering on corrupt practices by people in government are kept in a special cabinet in the President’s office to be employed just they can be employed as tools for blackmail should the need arise, I really cannot figure out what Maku wants us to make of his allegation that Oby squandered over N430bn without any remarkable shift or improvement in the fallen standard of education. I just hope Minister Maku, a one-time deputy governor in Nasarawa State, was not too young then to understand the damage the term ‘policy summersault’ has inflicted on the polity. He couldn’t have forgotten so soon that after Oby resigned and joined the World Bank, that sector was put under the care of a former governor who was more concerned with the grandiose arrangement for the celebration of his marriage anniversary than fixing a sector that was in complete tatters after Oby’s reform was thrown out of the window. In spite of the fact that lecturers had been on strike for over nine months and those who could afford it had sought admission for their wards in neighbouring countries including Togo and Cameroun, didn’t the minister go ahead to have the shindig of his life? In any case, if the government thinks it has a strong case against Ezekwesili, the appropriate thing to do is to drag her before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and not this whimsical allegation of wasting a ‘humongous’ N430bn by a regime accused of frittering away a whopping N10.6 trillion in five years.

Yet, we return to the real issue at hand. This outlandish and utterly humongous joke must stop. Ezekwesili’s allegations are too serious to be trivialised or waved aside by the government as yet another ranting by someone who once ‘mis-applied’ money entrusted in her care as a public officer. That argument simply doesn’t wash just as the primitive tactic of name-calling begs the question. If the government truly wants to come clean on this matter and convince us beyond any reasonable doubt that Ezekwesili manipulated figures in order to give it a bloody nose, then it should gladly accept the public debate. This issue surely deserves a dignified response and not the usual bulldozing whereby the “accuser or agent provocateur”, as Okupe puts it, is shouted into silence. Nigerians deserve to know whether it is true that we are in this quagmire due to the “tragic choices” made by some people in Aso Rock. We need to know when and where the rain started beating us!

It is soul-lifting that the National Assembly, specifically the House of Representatives, has stepped into the matter. We wait to see how far Okupe can go with his puerile argument that spent fund cannot be described as squandering of riches simply because it was budgeted for! Would the lawmakers accept the laughable excuse that Ezekwesili was merely ‘ playing to the gallery’ and that it was yet another calculated but ‘unsuccessful’ attempt to maliciously “incite” the public against Jonathan and bring his administration into disrepute unjustifiably? Surely the government would need more than Okupe’s gabbling and foul-mouthing Ezekwesili as a “wilfully perjured individual not worthy of any respect or recognition whatsoever.” Hmnn, maybe these attributes were parts of the things that endeared her to the World Bank where she excelled!

Be that as it may, the dusts being raised about how the nation’s money is being managed provides Jonathan an opportunity to clear his name that, in words and deed, he has truly transformed the much promised mirage of “breeze of fresh air in governance” into a reality. All he needs to do is to avail the nation of the facts, figures and what exactly the funds were spent on. Evidently, this is not the time to gloat about imaginary enemies hiding behind the huge ghost of misgovernance to damage anyone’s reputation. Good enough, Ezekwesili’s questions are routine and should be quite easy to deal with by any self-respecting government. Was there a brazen misappropriation of public funds? If no, then why was the nation’s foreign reserve gravely depleted and what was the money used for? Can someone render accounts on how the additional billions of dollars realised from oil sale by the two administrations that have governed our nation in the last five years have been applied? How were these resources applied or more appropriately, misapplied? And did we end up wasting the resources on what Ezekwesili dubbed ‘tragic choices?’ Haha, answering these questions shouldn’t be rocket science for eggheads in the corridors of power.

Obviously, these questions couldn’t have emanated from the warped rambling of a perjured mind. So, why are some people bent on heaping this humongous nonsense that shames a nation in historical proportions on us all? Must opaque management of public resources and crass disregard for genuine accountability forever remain a directive principle of state? Maybe while our VIPs plan a centenary to celebrate what citizens know not, it is beyond us to ask them to account for how they have spent our money. If they continue treading this wayward path, one day, the Arab spring would look like a picnic when the people rise to ask questions with one voice ringing loud and clear across the land!

 

– Yomi Odunnuga

Read original article via The Nation

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Buhari Appoints SSG, Chief Of Staff, Others

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the following appointments: Engr. Babachir David Lawal – Secretary to the Government of the Federation Alhaji Abba Kyari – Chief of Staff to the President Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd.) – Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service Mr. Kure Martin Abeshi – Comptroller-General, Nigerian Immigration Service Senator Ita S.J. Enang – SSA to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate) Hon. Suleiman A. Kawu – SSA to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives) The appointments are with effect...

President Buhari’s New Appointments; Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief of Staff, Others named

Col Hameed Ali (RTD) has been appointed as Comptroller General Customs by President Buhari. Babachir David Lawal has been appointed as Secretary to The Federal Government. Abba Kyari is President Buhari's Chief of Staff. Kure Martin Abeshi has been appointed as replacement for Comptroller General of Nigerian Immigration Service. Senator Ita Enang is appointed as Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on National Assembly Matters (Senate). Suleiman Kawu is appointed Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly matters (House of Reps). Other appointments to...

@Allsocks_: Six Beneficial Reasons Why You Should Wear Socks

Wearing socks provides many benefits despite that socks remains an item of clothing that is most times neglected because it’s not mostly visible. Some of the importance of wearing socks includes; Socks are very useful for absorbing the sweat produced by the feet. Without wearing socks, sweat from the feet will be absorbed by the skin and the shoe, this will produce a very offensive odur which can be equally embarrassing. So when you wear socks you prevent your shoe...

Usain Bolt Grabs 10th Gold At World Championships

Usain Bolt put his sprinting supremacy beyond doubt. With one of his coasting-at-the-end performances in the 200 meters on Thursday, Justin Gatlin still couldn't get close as the Jamaican won a record 10th gold medal at the world championships. Looking left and failing to see any red from Gatlin's jersey, Bolt lifted both arms and punched his thumbs into his chest to show once again he is the greatest sprinter of all time.

APC Governors Meet In Adamawa

APC governors, otherwise referred to as the Progressive Governors Forum have arrived Yola, the capital of Adamawa State, as part of their monthly meetings which rotated among  the 22 APC States. The Governors arrived at the Government House on Thursday and were ushered into the Government House chambers by the host Governor, Senator Mohammed Umaru Jibrilla. Governor Jibrilla described the meeting as the first in the State in the history of his administration and prayed...

Fake Doctors: MDCN To Verify Doctors Employed By FG

After the discovery of a fake doc­tor, Martins Ugwu, who worked in the Federal Ministry of Health for nine years, using the cer­tificates of his friend, Dr. Davidson Daniel George, the Medical and Den­tal Council of Nigeria (MDCN) has commenced verification of all doctors employed by the Federal Government. Registrar of the MDCN, Dr. Abdulmunin Ibrahim, said in an exclusive in­terview in Abuja, that the detec­tion of Ugwu, who rose to become the chairman of Nigerian Medical...

New SSG Appointed

Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State, has approved the appointment of Alhaji Bello Illelah as the new Secretary to the State Government. His appointment is contained in a statement issued in Bauchi on Thursday by the Permanent Secretary , Special Services, Malam Abdu Aliyu. Until his recent appointment, Illelah was the Special Adviser to the State Governor on Civil Service Matters. He had in the...

Buhari, Kukah Meet At Aso Rock

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday met briefly with the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Mathew Kukah at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Kukah, who was part of the National Peace Committee delegation that visited the President earlier this month, is believed to be against the government’s move to probe corrupt ex-public officials. He resisted attempts by State House correspondents to question him on mission to the seat of power. Kukah, who was almost running from the...

Pirates Attack Boat, Abduct 3 In Bayelsa

Unidentified gunmen suspected to be sea pirates on Wednesday, attacked two passenger boats and kidnapped three persons along the Ogbia to Brass waterways in Bayelsa. Asinim Butswat, Police Spokesman for Bayelsa Command, confirmed the development on Thursday but said that details were still sketchy, “I am waiting for details.”, Butswat said. It was learnt that the abducted victims were two Okpoama community Chiefs, identified as Chief Blessing Wagio and Chief Isaac Akono-Igolo, as well as...

57 Illegal Universities In Nigeria, See Full List

The National Universities Commission recently released a list of illegal degree awarding institutions operating in Nigeria. The NUC Executive secretary, Julius Okojie, warned that those who patronise the schools, do so at their own risk. “Certificates obtained from these sources will not be recognized for the purpose of NYSC, employment and further studies,” the NUC said. 1. University of Accountancy and Management Studies, operating anywhere in Nigeria. 2. Christians of Charity American University of Science...

Arase Moves To Remove Lamorde As EFCC Chair- Report

The Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, has written to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission indicating his plan to recall all police officers who have so far served in the commission for five years, authoritative sources at the police headquarters in Abuja say. In a letter, with reference number CB/33/80/IGP.SEC/Abj/Vol.52/60, and dated July 14, 2015, Mr. Arase directed the EFCC to compile a list of all officers in the category, and forward to his office...

World Bank Disburses $140m For Community Development In Nigeria

The World Bank yesterday said it was ready to commence disbursement of an additional sum of $140 million (about N30 billion) to 26 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to boost community projects in Nigeria. Already, the sum of $200 million had been disbursed in the first phase of the project. The project had disbursed US$ 200 million from 2009 to 2014 in the first phase of the Bank's Community and Social Development...

Lady Gaga Covered In Blood On EW Magazine Cover

Following those paparazzi shots of her shooting American Horror Story: Hotel in a magenta evening gown, Entertainment Weekly has an official look at Lady Gaga as the Countess on the cover of the new issue. She's wearing what appears to be a white silk dressing gown as well as that creepy glove with attached fingernail.

Justin Bieber Look-alike Toby Sheldon Broke Up With Boyfriend Before Death

Toby Sheldon who became famous for spending more than $100k to look like Justin Bieber has been found dead. Toby's body was found in a Motel 6 in the San Fernando Valley on August 21. He has been reported missing since August 18. Law enforcement say police found drugs in the room but it's unclear how he died. When Toby went missing, the LAPD said the disappearance may have been triggered by a breakup...

Akwa Ibom Tribunal; Who is really on the hot seat? #AkwaIbom

Day 61 of the Akwa Ibom Governorship Election Tribunal and the court was inundated with evidence namely INEC's election materials which included voters register, Forms EC8A and Forms EC8B. It took over 2 hours to bring in the truckload of files and the Respondents had to request for 1.5 hours break at the sight of the mountain of evidence. So the cross-examination did not begin until 4pm. The petitioners’ team led by Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, is leaving...

Gay Man Proposes To His Boyfriend In Church, Congregation Reacts (WATCH VIDEO)

Trevor Harper is said to have been dating Davis, his boyfriend, for nine years. He proposed to him in church while members of the church and his pastor gave him a standing ovation when he got down on one knee. https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=90&v=Esb7oBAHd7c Credit: cosmopolitan

Amber Rose Dumps Bald Look? See Her Long Hair With Bangs

Amber Rose shares this photo of herself wearing long hair with bangs and it got us wondering if she is considering a hairy situation. Which of the Amber Rose do you prefer? The bald Amber or the long haired Amber?

Prof. Ropo Sekoni: Who Is Afraid of a Female INEC Chair?

Even as an acting chair of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mrs. Amina B. Zakari has gotten more than her fair share of bashing, particularly from the political party under which she was invited to serve as commissioner for over four years. From the caustic character of the opposition to the current acting chair of INEC, particularly by spokespersons for the PDP and other surrogates, it is clear that the opposition to the Kazaure woman may...

Watch Taylor Swift Sing “All of Me” With John Legend

For her "1989" date in Los Angeles, Taylor Swift brought out John Legend for a duet on his emotional ballad "All of Me." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erAdTojj4AY Credit: cosmopolitan

Kanye West & Kris Jenner Caught On Camera!

The duo were caught on camera sleeping! James Harden, Khloe Kardashian "alleged" boyfriend, shares a rare photo of himself, Kanye and the queen mother, Kris Jenner during his 26th birthday. Kim K shared the picture of her sleeping mom and husband on twitter and captioned "Rager". https://twitter.com/KimKardashian/status/636671174018117632 Photo Credit: @KimKardashian/Twitter

Mugabe Booed In Parliament Over Economic Crisis

Zimbabwe's veteran President Robert Mugabe was booed and heckled by opposition lawmakers over the deteriorating economy as he gave his state of the nation address to parliament. Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lawmakers questioned his economic policies, jeering as the 91-year-old delivered a policy speech which lasted less than half an hour. He spoke as the UN confirmed earlier estimates that around 1.5 million Zimbabweans or 16 percent of the country's population will...