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THE REDEFINITION OF CORRUPTION & THEFT

As the President of Nigeria and leader of the largest political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the national treasury offered financial backbone.


PDP instantly changed to People’s Disbursement Party. Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) became the party’s Automatic Teller Machine (ATM). Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was the commercial bank whose ATM, the NSA’s office served party’s members.

It was natural, then, for Goodluck Jonathan, who had entrusted the nation’s treasury to the party for various re-election campaigns not to see anything wrong with how money was looted, embezzled, and misappropriated. There was nothing wrong with that, at least, in his eyes. Jonathan wouldn’t call that theft either because the nation’s resources belonged to the party in power; no accountability to the citizens required.

The emerging revelations of how the former NSA, Retired Col. Dasuki, became PDP’s puppet cannot be tolerated by any rational Nigerian. If security budget is meant to fund party machinery, including campaign projects, while Nigerians suffer in squalor, then we need to redefine how corruption and theft should be classified in our constitution

Clearly, the NSA orchestrated postponement of the Presidential election from February to March 2015, intensified insecurity in the country just to get more money for the party through illegal withdrawals from the CBN’s vault. These monies went to various party big-wigs to deliver their constituencies.

Stories of how these funds were shared are mind -bogging, stunning, and absolutely unimaginable. Former governors, senators, and other PDP leaders, including Anenih and Ahmadu Ali appeared on the list. Although it’s too early to validate their complicity, the mere fact that powerful party stalwarts like Odili and Bode George equally made the list should indicate absolute failure of moral discipline in our society.

Abacha’s loot was also looted through the NSA’s office. In all these stories, one thing is certain: everyone claims approval was given by the President, Goodluck Jonathan. It’s now easy to deduce why he saw nothing wrong with corruption or why he could not define it. To him, public funds belonged to his party, and he could play, legally play with it.

Maybe this simple analogy will explain to the former President the difference between Corruption and theft: illegal activities of public office holders is corruption. Corruption has many toxic offspring, and one of them is theft. Misappropriating public funds, including diverting security funds for PDP campaign is corruption as well as theft. Those who collected the funds in the name of delivering their political wards, are culprits in the theft whether they delivered or not, as long as the resources came through the NSA’s office for political purposes.

The former President enjoyed the last bounty of oil prices. At a point in Goodluck’s administration, oil prices rose to $120 per barrel, a situation that created excess crude account of almost $20 billion. Of course, the funds went to grease PDP’s super mafia cartel, with all the known national crooks. Niger Delta militants were signatories and beneficiaries of the account.

It’s now easy to understand the escalated activities of Boko Haram, the deadly sect in the north East. More Boko Haram activities meant more money for the NSA’s office, which further meant huge funding for PDP activities. This insane vicious cycle cost a lot of lives; but money as the object of their endeavour was more important than any human life. As far as I am concerned, there is no difference between soldiers of fortune, who enjoy protracted wars and these looters.

NSA’s office should thoroughly be investigated from Azazi’s time to the end of Dasuki’s reign. Nigeria must have lost trillions of Naira in the name of national security.

Those who have been accusing President Mohammed Buhari (PMB) of starving the nation of funds should understand that he actually met empty treasury, and it will take time to restock. While the NSA’s office is a single department, there are other sectors of our economy that equally lost trillions of Naira through illicit programmes. Since the early 1979, corruption has remained perennial in Nigeria. Buhari’s first appearance on the presidential stage from 1983 to 1985 would have curtailed it, but for Babangida’s coup. This time, Nigeria’s economy is in absolute gloomy state. How this government will turn around the tides, with the falling oil prices is another miracle yet to be conceived.

It may sound cynical, but the only way to reshape or rebrand Nigeria is to expose corruption; punish those found guilty, and introduce measures that will deter future perpetrators. For the nation’s Central Bank to allow withdrawal of $47 million in cash for distribution to a political party’s activists, is not only a great sign of recklessness, but immoral behaviour of the highest order. The governor of the Central bank at the time of these senseless withdrawals must also bear the brunt.

Nigeria is in a serious dire strait; any rational person should bear with the government, especially the liquidity crunch. There is no way this country will continue on the same path as Jonathan’s government. If, for any reason, such notion is reemployed in this administration, which is unthinkable, everyone will surely drown in the dungeon of perjury.

It’s hard, very hard for all Nigerians at this time because a few squandered our savings on unnecessary luxuries. We must learn to accept the new reality of austerity, prudence and thrifty. The time for wastage is over; those who looted our treasury must be made to cough out every penny. They may not have seen it as corruption or theft then because the former President believed in dishing out largess to his party members, but there is a new sheriff in town whose mission is to rescue the economy from further depression. This is the only method of taming corruption in the land. The inconvenience might be intolerable for now, but the fruit of this arduous exercise will keep us smiling later. The end of this patience will bring us Goodluck, without Jonathan.

The exponential level of corruption in this country became too routine that former President Jonathan believed it was a normal way of life. Like he said during one of his interactive sessions with the media, “everything is considered corruption in this country; stealing is different from corruption.” I hope that he is aware of the magnitude of embezzlement of public funds under his watch. In case he is not convinced, he presided over the most corrupt regime in the history of Nigeria.