September 27, 2023

Why doesn’t corruption bother us anymore? By Ochereome Nnanna


THE recent disclosure by the Nigerian Extractive Transparency Initiative, NEITI, of massive corruption in the oil sector under the government of Muhammadu Buhari has gone down the drain without causing the required stir. Neither the Federal Government nor the people whose money was allegedly looted has moved a nerve.

Nigeria has become a desensitised society. It is now akin to a sick person who no longer feels pain in his body. When you get to that level, you are almost dead. Just imagine! NEITI, the Nigerian chapter of a worldwide initiative to monitor corruption and promote transparency and accountability in the oil sector, recently addressed the media and made damning allegations.

NEITI was established by an Act of the National Assembly in 2007. Therefore, it is a semi-independent organ of the Federal Government, much like the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, but operating with global models of oil industry monitoring. This means that even before coming public with its findings, NEITI must have made its report known to President Bola Tinubu. Also, the Senator Godswill Akpabio-led National Assembly has not responded to this earth-shaking news.

Now, the enraged Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has decided to kick the Tinubu government awake by giving it a seven-day ultimatum starting on Monday, September  25, 2023, to take action on these findings or face legal action. The importance of this ultimatum is that the Tinubu government will be forced to send its lawyers to defend it in court and explain why it failed to do its job of probing the alleged looting, recovering taxpayers’ funds, and punishing the culprits.

NEITI had revealed that the total sum of $15 billion was not remitted to the Federation Account by key oil industry operators like the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Ltd. NEITI also disclosed that the N200 billion committed to the revival of the refineries in 2020, which was supposed to be completed in 2021, vanished into thin air while the refineries remain comatose, two years after the deadline.

An interesting aspect of this sad saga is that “Mr. Truth”, Buhari, was the self-appointed Minister of Petroleum Resources for eight years. The pillaging of the oil industry, including massive oil theft, took place under his watch. More interesting is the fact that his successor and partner in power mongering, Tinubu, has not only taken over as president, he has also installed himself as Petroleum Minister. Tinubu’s unperturbed attitude toward NEITI’s trumpet-blowing speaks volumes. Nigerians have every reason to be worried and alert.

This  Emi l’okan (it is my turn) syndrome is not just an idle political sound bite, it is an unfolding ideology. The configuration of his government is a replica of the Buhari regime’s structure in terms of brazen ethnic, regional, and personal capture of the commanding heights of the Federal Government. It is a structure of corruption and brigandage after years of intricate plotting and spending to attain the presidency.

The way the Tinubu government is structured and its opening moves do not inspire any renewed hope in me. I expect only a slightly improved version of  Buharism. But if Tinubu responds patriotically and effectively and does justice to this crime against the nation, the old saying not to judge a book by its cover or not to use the morning to judge the day will be happily remembered.

Re: Ochereome’s book, Buhari:Tinubu: How They Snatched, Shared Power

AS seen on Facebook, Writer, Obum Anagbogu    

THE  book is the real deal. 

The real McCoy of the whole affair—a bold move, the ultimate outlet. In undertaking to do it, the astute journalist has definitely evaded the censorious strictures that are the hallmark of newspapering in Nigeria. The late great Pini Jason, as a columnist, literally cried himself hoarse with his trenchant pen. I do remember the title of one of his pieces, once upon a time: ‘Providing Amenities for Every Tom, Dick, and Harry’.  

Another was: ‘Where Did Our Money Go?’ And then: ‘Wanted: an Embarrassed Leadership’.Celebrated editorials in their own right. Those were his last days. But the phenomenally tone-deaf powers-that-be took no notice.  Since his passing ten years ago, things have of course now taken a turn for the unspeakable worse, so much so that those of us who still occasionally exercise the mere formality of lamenting the sorry state of our affairs in the country can no longer pretend to have any further locus standi to continue on that deucedly delirious Sisyphean trajectory, now a mere indulgence, alas! Beyond jeremiad!   The bird’s long flown!  

He’s made use of his intellect and power to sire what I suppose will remain one of the worthiest causes an egghead would put his name to: doing a book. From Prof. Emeaba’s joyful review of the book in the Vanguard, we can already catch glimpses of the author’s generosity and penmanship. I mean to say that it takes courage—real manly courage, borne out of borderless anguish steeped in exigent humanitarianism—to be able to say or maintain some of the bold positions the writer has taken in his book. He’s not economical with naming and shaming names, something he couldn’t have done under the auspices of the publication he works for.

Thus, the execrable limitations of the columnist or journalist who’s condemned ultimate to always lie in wait for news, for the so-called politicians to perpetrate their ceaseless évil rounds against the people they so lord it over for the germ of his or her near-vapid or increasingly ‘barren’ pieces are thereby broken, hopefully for all time! Eureka!  

From my borough, I can only bellow to Chief Nnanna: Sequel! Sequel! Sequel!