THE SMART WAY TO FIGHT CORRUPTION (II) by Prof @ayittey April 29, 2012Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: Africa, corruption, Nigeria
1 comment so far
George B.N. Ayittey, Ph.D.
Despotic regimes, after protests from Western donors and rising public disgust, occasionally make feeble and scurrilous attempts to combat corruption. But most, incredibly, they enact more measures to “control” it. Asked to curtail corruption, Tanzania set up a Ministry of Transparency! It gets better. Asked to curb runaway government spending, Mali set up a “Ministry of Less Government Spending”! Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results. But I would define lunacy as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. More control measures to fight corruption fits this definition.
Coconut Combat against Corruption
President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia, which drifted increasingly toward authoritarianism under Vladimir Putin, launched a “Forward Russia” campaign in October 2009 to fight corruption. But in July 2010, Medvedev admitted that it had achieved little results. He lamented that “government ministers do not carry out his orders – the direct consequence of a corrupt bureaucracy over which the external controls no longer hold sway . . . Nearly 80 percent of Russians say that corruption is a major problem and that it is much worse than it was 10 years ago . . . A majority say Medvedev is right about the problem of corruption and think he is sincere about it. But 71 percent in the most recent poll say any government efforts to fight corruption will amount in the end to window dressing. (The Washington Post, Oct 27, 2010; p.A12).
To fight corruption, prosecutors in Belarus are attempting a novel approach by trying to teach Belarusian officials not to take bribes by taking them on prison tours. For example, in March a group of officials from the Belarusian Ministry of Agriculture visited a detention facility on Volodarskogo St. in Minsk. “According to Belarusian General Prosecutor’s Office more than 26,000 people were convicted of corruption crimes in Belarus in 2009. It is quite a number for a country with a state apparatus of around 25,000 public officers, which equals one for every 427 common citizens” (http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=belarus-finds-new-means-to-fight-corruption-2010-04-26). In other words, there were more convictions of corruption than the number of public officers! Perhaps, some were guilty of double or even triple dipping of hand into the public kitty.
China takes more harsh methods to stem corruption: It executes corrupt public officials almost every year:
July 14, 2010: Wen Qiang, former director of the Chongqing Justice Bureau, was convicted of corruption charges involving organized crime. He was sentenced to death by a lower court for accepting bribes, shielding criminal gangs, rape and failing to account for his cash and assets.
August 7, 2009: Li Peiying, a former senior aviation official who had been convicted for bribery, was executed, the Supreme People’s Court said. Li, former chairman and general manager of Capital Airports Holding Co (CAH), was sentenced at Jinan Feb 6 after allegedly taking bribes of 26.61 million yuan ($3.9 million) in 1995-2003 and allegedly misappropriating 82.5 million yuan in 2000-03.
July 10, 2007: Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of China’s State Food and Drug Administration, was executed for corruption. He was convicted of taking 6.5m yuan ($850,000; £425,400) in bribes and of dereliction of duty at a trial in May, 2007.
Though China is prosecuting and punishing corrupt public officials for all to see, its efforts are futile because the cause of the problem is the state interventionist and control behemoth itself. The execution of corrupt public officials only attacks the symptoms of the disease. Even then, the solution itself – execution – is creating an even more pernicious and unintended consequence – human and capital flight. Which corrupt official, after stealing billions of yuan will sit there and wait to be caught, prosecuted and executed?
In recent years, many Chinese officials and bankers have escaped prosecution by fleeing abroad with large sums of money, often to other parts of Asia or to North America. The Ministry of Commerce has estimated that 4,000 corrupt officials have fled the country with roughly $50 billion in the past two decades: (http://neweconomist.blogs.com/new_economist/2005/09/more_china_read_1.html). However, another source puts the figure much higher. “As many as 10,000 corrupt Chinese officials have fled the country over the past decade, taking as much as $100 billion of public funds with them, according to an estimate by Li Chengyan, head of Peking University’s Anticorruption Research Institute. (Christian Science Monitor, Oct 31, 2008).
In Africa, various measures have been taken to fight corruption, ranging from the window dressing to the harsh. One of the harshest occurred in Ghana when the military regime of Fte./Lte. Jerry Rawlings executed eight military officers in June 1979 on charges of corruption, and abuse of power and treason. Among them were three former military heads of state and Commodore Joy Amedume, who was shot for allegedly taking advantage of his office to acquire a bank loan equivalent to about $20,000. Ironically, these harsh measures did not solve the corruption problem in Ghana; it grew worse.
The Causes of Corruption
While corruption exists in the private sector, I will restrict this discussion to the more serious cases of corruption in the public or government sector as the victim is the public or the tax-payer. Corruption is mainly defined as theft, embezzlement, misappropriation of public money and the use of public office for private gain. Two main causes of corruption may be identified.
The first are situational factors. Anytime a weak link appears in the bureaucratic system – for example, unavailability or scarcity of a service or product, delays in securing a government service and excessive red-tapeism, etc. – opportunities for bribery and corruption emerge. A bribe may have to be paid to secure a passport or a controlled commodity or to “grease the palm of a bureaucrat.” The system of state controls and regulations – such as price and import controls – create shortages and black markets, where rent-seekers can extract a premium or a bribe for the supply of the scarce commodity. In this latter case, the solution is to remove the price control altogether. Nigerians cannot demand the retention of the petroleum subsidy, which creates shortages and breeds corruption, and complain about corruption at the same time. In many other cases, the removal of state controls may minimize the incidence of corruption.
The second stem from the nature of government itself: The concentration of economic and political power, the institution of one-party state systems which lack accountability, and the muzzling of the press to expose corruption and wrongdoing. Though corruption exists in all countries, in this peculiar system, public officials can use their office to amass wealth with impunity.
The typical African government approach to fight this type of corruption is to set up an officious mind-numbing Anti-Corruption Commission or Task Force with a twist of chicanery. It is a like a bunch of crooks asking another set of crooks to go catch a thief. A czar is appointed amid pomp and pageantry. But he is given no prosecutorial powers, nor sufficient budget. And when he sniffs too close to the “fat cats,” he is instantly slapped down, sacked or worse. Such was with John Githongo of Kenya. He had to flee the country in 2005 because of threats on his life. Nigeria’s anti-corruption czar was sent off to UK for “graduate studies” in 2007. Zambia’s was sacked in August 2009 and, in South Africa, the Scorpions – the country’s effective graft-busting unit, was dissolved in Feb 2008. Back in 1996 when four ministers were fingered for corruption by a commission set by the government itself, the despotic regime of Fte./Lte. Jerry Rawlings issued a Government White Paper to exonerate them! In Tanzania, the anti-corruption czar, Hosea Williams, was himself implicated in a corruption scandal!
The Smart Way
“He who does not understand the cause of a problem cannot solve it” says an African problem. Bribery and corruption are merely symptoms of some fundamental disease. Executing corrupt officials or setting up an anti-corruption commission addresses only the symptoms but not the root causes, which are generally due to institutional decay, break-down or mal-function.
There are 7 critical state institutions: parliament, civil service, judiciary, security forces, the media, electoral commission and the central bank. Each institution is supposed to police and cleanse itself. To do so, each has its own special “code.” For example, the civil service has the civil service code and then there are the military code, the police code, bar code and even academic code. The codes enjoin members of that particular institution to uphold certain professional and ethical standards. For example, the civil service and police codes debar civil servants and police officers from taking bribes. Thus, to deal with such cases of petty corruption, the codes need to be enforced. It is pointless to punish bribe takers without enforcing the codes.
The public can get involved. For example, in this day and age, mobile phones with cameras are everywhere. Snap pictures of police officers taking bribes and present them to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to punish the bribe takers for violating the Police Code. If the IGP repeatedly fails to do so, agitate continuously for his sacking. This approach is “focused”; it provides evidence and targets the IGP to solve a problem within his jurisdiction.
The same approach can be taken to deal with petty corruption in the civil service. Violators of the civil service code,, which forbids bribe taking, should be exposed and punished. At every ministry, there should be a “Suggestion/Petition Box.” Alongside it should evaluation forms which anyone can fill to describe the quality of service received. If a bribe was demanded before a passport was issued, a note to that effect should be dropped in the Box. To ensure that senior officials of that ministry do not read the complaints and “sit” on them, perhaps it may be recommended that only a police officer opens the Box, prepares a report and makes it available not only to the Minister but to the media as well.
A much better approach is to establish a Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, where all cases of corruption – petty or grand – shall be reported. This Directorate must be independent of the Executive; that is, the director cannot be appointed by the president. It must have its own budget and must be relatively autonomous in order to do its work. It shall report to Parliament. Botswana has established one successfully: http://bit.ly/JrexdM
Just as each institution is required to police itself, the government as an entity is also required to do so through this process. The government has a Comptroller-Accountant-General, Auditor-General and Attorney-General. These are the 3 key officials to target in the war against corruption. Each year, the Comptroller-Accountant-General is required by law or the constitution to submit an accounting report of all government expenditures, both at home and abroad in the embassies. This report must be submitted to the Auditor-General within a specified period of time.
The Auditor-General goes through the expense account with a fine comb, noting suspicious payments, financial irregularities and malfeasance. For example, suppose he noticed that $40 million has been spent by the Ministry of Education to build three classroom blocks. He may query this in the Auditor-General’s Report. The Auditor-General’s Report must, within 90 days, be submitted to three key entities: the President, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament and the Attorney-General. Upon receipt, the PAC may haul in the Minister of Education to explain how his ministry spent $40 million on three classroom blocks. If the Minister is unable to answer satisfactorily and PAC suspects embezzlement, it may refer the case to the Attorney-General for prosecution and recovery of the loot. Then the Attorney-General hands the case over to the State Prosecutor to seek conviction in court. In a federal system like Nigeria, exactly the same mechanism is replicated at the State level. There are the State Comptroller-Accountant-General, State Auditor-General, State Attorney-General and Public Accounts Committee in the State Legislature.
In general, this is how the government system is supposed to cleanse itself. Additional measures may be enacted to enhance the cleansing system. For example, “Report a Bribe-Taker for a Reward” program may be instituted, whereby a civil servant who takes a bribe can be reported to the Directorate. If found guilty, he can be sacked and made to refund the bribe. A “Whistle Blower” program may also be adopted, whereby anyone who reports an imminent fraudulent transaction which will cause say $50 million financial loss to the state, will be rewarded with 10 percent of the amount saved or $5 million.
Fortunately, the normal cleansing system is beginning to work in Ghana and Tanzania. In Ghana, the 2010 Auditor-General’s Report was duly produced and submitted. A sharp-eyed MP, Hon Ken Agyapong, noticed that a huge sum of GH¢58 million or $37 million had been paid to one individual, Alfred Woyome, a self-acclaimed financier of the ruling party, as judgment debt when he had no contract with the government. The MP began asking questions that ultimately led to the eruption of the “Woyome corruption scandal.” To make matters worse, the Auditor-General attempted to correct what he claimed were errors in his report: That only GH¢17 million, and not GH¢58 million was paid to Mr. Woyome in 2010. But Mr. Woyome himself said GH¢58 million was paid to him. So who was telling the truth? Could the Attorney-General, Betty Mould-Iddrisu help? It turned out that it was she who put pressure on the Finance Ministry to pay the judgment debt. At first, the President, John Atta-Mills, claimed he knew nothing about the payment to Mr. Woyome. Then, later, he said he tried to stop the payment on two occasions. Suddenly, cabinet was reshuffled and the embattled Attorney-General became the Minster of Education. But the heat was getting too hot and she resigned. There are calls for the Auditor-General too to resign. Presently, Woyome is on bail as his case winds through the courts. Hopefully, the loot will be recovered.
Tanzania is another country that is beginning to do things right. The Auditor-General Report was released on time and the media had a field day: http://bit.ly/HMEiWW The cost of bloated government bureaucracy and financial malfeasance were scandalous. Irate MPs on the Public Accounts Committee demanded action: http://bit.ly/IdDOu8. Hopefully, the public outcry will force the president to act by asking the Attorney-General to prosecute the corrupt, even those within his own party.
This is how the normal cleansing system is supposed to work. Forget about setting up an Anti-Corruption Commission like the EFCC in Nigeria. By the time the commission is set up, it is too late. The loot is already gone, un-retrievable. The normal cleansing system can be strengthened by:
Making the Accountant-General, Auditor-General and Attorney-General independent of the Executive by having them appointed by Parliament,
Setting up a Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime that is independent of the Executive and reports to Parliament, as Botswana has done,
Implementing additional measures, such as “Report Bribe Takers for a Reward” and a “Whistle Blower” program.
To conclude, one needs the following tools and institutions to fight corruption effectively and smartly:
1. The Civil Service and Police Codes,
2. Annual Auditor-General’s Reports, which detail financial irregularities, over-spending and profligacy,
3. A vigilant Public Accounts Committee in Parliament to detect the irregularities and demand action.
4. A relatively free press to expose the corruption and mobilize public opinion to demand action.
5. An aggressive Attorney-General and State Prosecutor to prosecute the corrupt, and
6. An independent judiciary to uphold the rule of law and punish the corrupt for all to see.
In most African countries, the normal cleansing system has broken down. The civil service and police codes are gathering dust on shelves. Auditor-General’s Reports are seldom seen under military dictatorships, one-party rule or de factor one-party states or when parliament is overwhelmingly dominated by one party. For much of the 32 years the military ruled in Nigeria, Auditor-General’s Reports were scarcely produced. The first Report, in decades, was released in 2006. After the 1994 military coup in Gambia, there was no Auditor-General’s Report until 2008. Tanzania was a one-party state until 1991, when multi-party democracy was introduced. Even then, CCM, the old party stalwarts were already entrenched in the bureaucracy, munching away like maggots and it was difficult to dislodge them. They frustrated every effort to cleanse the system. Though CCM re-invented itself to dominate parliament, opposition MPs are securing a foothold.
A free media is needed to expose corruption but does not exist in most of Africa – only in 10 out of 54 African countries. In most countries, the media is owned or controlled by the state, which is not likely to expose embarrassing corruption scandals.
Even if all five of the six requirements are met, the judiciary can still be a problem. In Nigeria, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecuted bandit governor, James Ibori, but the Judge, Justice Marcel Idowu Awokulehin exonerated and set him free on Dec 17, 2007. Evidently, the judiciary needs to be cleansed too. There is the Bar Code and the bar Association can do the job. Fortunately, Kenya is beginning to do this, sacking judges and disqualifying others as unfit to serve.
The fight against corruption can be won by, first, having each state institution police and cleanse itself by enforcing its own code and, second, by having these state officials – the Comptroller-Accountant General, Auditor-General and Attorney-General – as well as the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament do their jobs. The president should not get involved in this. The Anti-Corruption Commission he sets up is a farce because, quite often, he himself is the chief bandit.
The writer, a native of Ghana, is former Professor of Economics at American University and currently President of the Free Africa Foundation, both in Washington, DC, USA. His latest book is Defeating Dictators (Palgrave/MacMillan, 2011).
MY NIGERIA, I CAN’T FEEL YOU by @Babatundejnr April 29, 2012Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: corruption, Nigeria, Probe
I had the pleasure to see “The Helper” once again recently and in the last scene of the movie that depict the old Mississippi and it racist act, the lead actor Viola Davis said some few words that caught my attention; “No one has ever asked me what it feels like to be me. Once I told the truth about that I felt free”. And that statement draws a battling question inside of me and my mind sharply and quickly asked; what it means to be a Nigerian?
Without thinking unpatriotic, I quickly shred the question and listen to Mary J. Blige soundtrack in the movie “The Living Proof” (Very nice song, if you ask me) but my mind won’t allow me to rest until I give a worthy answer to the question. So I consciously ask myself the question again, what does it mean to be a Nigerian? How does been a Nigerian feels like? For the record, I was born in Nigeria. I have lived every bit of my life in Nigeria. I have seen part of Nigeria but yet I asked this question.
This is not because I don’t understand my citizenship, nope it not. And this is not because I don’t know laws that govern the land, yes I do. But I think it because, been a Nigerian is beginning to have a different meaning. It been long, I have felt been a Nigerian. Maybe I have this feeling because I listen and read news of different events in the country. From politics to policies and policy makers, from education decay to inefficient and inadequate health facilities and down to government and their second skin called corruption, maybe this sad news cumulate to what makes me feel less Nigerian than I should feel.
You can find me guilty for feeling this way, am sure I won’t argue, I will gladly serve my time and move on. But before you pass that judgment, can I ask when last you felt been a Nigerian. What does been a Nigerian mean to you? What made you felt proud of been a citizen of Nigeria? What is/are the benefit(s) of been a Nigerian? I am not trying to judge your citizenship neither do I doubt that I am a Nigerian (at least by birth and origin). Yet can we answer this sincere question with an honest answer, what does it feel like to be a Nigerian?
In the second verse of our national anthem, one of the stanzas says, “help the youth the truth to know”, so I asked what is that truth that we need to know? What is that hidden treasure that we need to discover? What is that timeless truth that would put life back into our lives? Because apparently, how it feels to be a Nigerian is now looking blur. And we need to re-discover that pride of a nation. We need to re-discover the essence of been the future of this nation. If you ask me, I will say it a daunting task because been a Nigerian don’t feel like sh*t again.
If you’re reading this and you feel disgruntled by this article, then you’re not different from me. I am also disgruntled by what is happening to me and in my nation. Have you read the Farouk Lawan’s report on fuel subsidy scandal? Have you read or listen to news on the Police Pension Scam? Did you follow the capital market public hearing and the scandal that follows? Did you know the outcome of the Power probe?
Did you know the amount “allegedly” signed by one Accountant-General of Nigeria within 24hours and how many times he signed such amount of money within that time frame? Did you hear the response of British PM David Cameron on James Ibori’s money laundering case; “If the amount of money stolen out of Nigeria in the last 30 years was stolen in the UK, then the UK would not exist again”~ David Cameron, British PM.
Maybe, this is what it feels like to be a Nigerian; a corrupt “nation run by idiots for fools” ~Pastor Tunde Bakare. Maybe the activist pastor is right to call we Nigerians “fools” because what qualifies a people who have been trapped upon by so much corruption that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah would ask why us and not them, God (if given the opportunity). Because the dexterity in which some people in government loot the tax payers money will puzzle the devil for some minutes. This and many more are what makes one feel less of been a Nigerian.
So today, I say, My Nigeria; I can’t feel you not because am unpatriotic or that I have chosen another before you, no I’ll never do that but the daily happenings in the land is taking away the sanity of my citizenship. This despicable violence, lack of good governance, responsibility and accountability is quickly eroding my once beautiful stories of you. My Nigeria; I can’t feel your breathe again. Can someone tell me what it feels like to be a Nigerian once again?
‘Wale Babatunde (@Babatundejnr)
THE SMART WAY TO FIGHT CORRUPTION (Part I) by @ayittey April 27, 2012Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: Africa, Ayittey, corruption, Looting, Nigeria
George B.N. Ayittey, Ph.D.
There is serious looting going on in Africa. These are not the grand-daddy cases where a million here, a million there disappears. Rather, there are cases of kamikaze banditry, where entire treasuries are being carted away by unrepentant bandits with impunity.
Quite often, the chief bandit directing the operations is the head of state himself.
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo once charged that corrupt African leaders have stolen at least $140 billion (£95 billion) from their people in the decades since independence (London Independent, June 14, 2002). The fortunes of African presidents were published by French Weekly (May, 1997) and reprinted in the Nigerian newspaper, The News (Aug 17, 1998):
General Sani Abacha of Nigeria 120 billion FF (or $20 billion)
President H. Boigny of Ivory Coast 35 billion FF (or $6 billion)
Gen. Ibrahim Babangida of Nigeria 30 billion FF (or $5 billion)
President Mobutu of Zaire 22 billion FF (or $4 billion)
President Mousa Traore of Mali 10.8 billion FF (or $ $2 billion)
In the decade since 1997, the problem has grown worse. The bandits have honed in the skills, resorting to new techniques and tricks to fleece their people. In August 2004, an African Union report claimed that corruption costs Africa an estimated $148 billion annually (Vanguard, Lagos, Aug 6, 2004. Web posted at http://www.allafrica.com). It has probably reached $200 billion today. When this is compared to the paltry $25-$30 billion Africa receives in foreign aid from all sources, it becomes apparent that Africa does not need foreign aid. Here are some of the big thieves:
The late Muammar Khaddafi’s fortune exceeded $60 billion.
Over his 23 years in power, “Mr. Ben Ali—who is being tried in absentia—and his relatives amassed a fortune in banks, telecommunications firms, real-estate companies and other businesses, giving them control over as much as one-third of Tunisia’s $44 billion economy, according to anticorruption group Transparency International. The family displayed its wealth by throwing extravagant parties and jet-setting among several mansions in Tunisia and overseas” (The Wall Street Journal, June 20, 2011).
Mubarak was said to have amassed a £25 billion (or $40 billion) fortune for his family since grabbing power in 1981 (The Sun, UK, Jan 31, 2011).
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir “has been accused of siphoning off up to $9 billion of his country’s funds and placing it in foreign accounts, according to leaked US diplomatic cables” (BBC News Africa, Dec 18, 2010).
To place this in perspective, the Atlantic Monthly (May 20, 2010) provided an analysis of the net worth of all 43 U.S. presidents – from Washington to Obama – and found the combined net worth to be $2.7 billion in 2010 dollars. Thus, Abacha, Babangida, al-Bashir, Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak, Houphouet-Boigny, Khaddafi, and Mobutu each stole more than the net worth of all U.S. presidents combined! Said Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmichael), former founder of the Black Panther Party, “[Modern] African leaders are so corrupt that we are certain if we put dogs in uniforms and put guns on their shoulders, we’d be hard put to distinguish between them” (The Washington Post, April 8, 1998; p.D12).
Of course, there were Robber Barons in America’s history too: Rockefeller, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Morgan, Astor, Jay Gould, James J. Hill. But they used the loot to build railroads, steel mills, banks, oil companies and their enterprise drove the American industrial age from 1861 to 1901. By contrast, Africa’s kleptocrats stash their loot overseas – a double whammy.
According to a March 26, 2010 report by Global Financial Integrity, Africa lost $854 billion in illicit financial outflows from 1970 through 2008 and the outflows from Africa may be as high as $1.8 trillion (http://www.gfip.org).
The worst cases of corruption have occurred in Angola, Cameroon, Congo DR, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, with Zimbabwe not far behind. Back in 1995, critics of the Moi government in Kenya claimed that “many of the people in government had the biggest accounts in foreign banks and that there was more money from Kenyans in foreign banks than the entire Kenyan foreign debt, which is about $8 billion” (The Washington Times, August 3, 1995; p.A18).
A 2011 report commissioned by the United Nations Development Fund estimated “that between 1990 and 2008, $34 billion disappeared from Angola’s public coffers” (The Wall Street Journal, Oct 15-16, 2011; p.A10). If that loot is divided by Angola’s 19 million people, each would get $1,789, which would make Angola a middle-income country – not the desperately poor where 70 percent live on less than $2 a day.
Nigeria is the classic African example of a vampire state. Between 1970 and 2004, more than $450 billion in oil revenue flowed into Nigerian government coffers. But much of it was looted by Nigeria’s kamikaze military bandits. According to David Blair of London Telegraph (June 25, 2005):
“Nigeria’s past rulers stole or misused £220 billion ($412 billion). That is as much as all the western aid given to Africa in almost four decades. The looting of Africa’s most populous country amounted to a sum equivalent to 300 years of British aid for the continent. Former leader Gen Sani Abacha stole between £1bn and £3bn. The figures were compiled by Nigeria’s anti-corruption commission.
Nigeria’s rulers have already pocketed the equivalent of six Marshall Plans. After that mass theft, two thirds of the country’s 130 million people – one in seven of the total African population – live in abject poverty, a third is illiterate and 40 per cent have no safe water supply. With more people and more natural resources than any other African country, Nigeria is the key to the continent’s success.”
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, set up in 2003, said that £220 billion ($412 billion) was “squandered” between independence from Britain in 1960 and the return of civilian rule in 1999. “We cannot be accurate down to the last figure but that is our projection,” Osita Nwajah, a commission spokesman (Telegraph, June 25, 2005).
The stolen fortune tallies almost exactly with the £220 billion of western aid given to Africa between 1960 and 1997. That amounted to six times the American help given to post-war Europe under the Marshall Plan. If one divides that loot by Nigeria’s 162 million people, each would get $2,,543, which would also qualify as a middle-income country, not the poor one where 60 percent earn less than $2 a day.
And it gets better: President Obasanjo went after the loot the Abachas had stashed abroad. Much public fanfare was made of the sum of about $709 million and another 144 million pounds sterling recovered from the Abachas and his henchmen. But this recovered loot itself was quickly re-looted. The Senate Public Accounts Committee found only $6.8 million and 2.8 million pounds sterling of the recovered booty in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) (The Post Express (July 10, 2000).
Bribery, embezzlement and theft — sometimes on a grand scale — divert enormous resources from public coffers into private hands. Unchecked, it eventually blossoms into a “culture of corruption.” Corruption has several deleterious effects on the ruling regime, the economy and the country. It:
Seriously undermines the credibility of any despot and the effectiveness of his regime. His calls for “belt-tightening” are often greeted with cynicism or derision when he lives in opulent style. He rapidly loses popular appeal or support. In fact, it is often what triggers attempts to oust him from power as too many despots have been overthrown on charges of corruption.
Breeds inefficiency and waste. Contractors and suppliers fail to deliver because they have bribed some official. Infrastructure has crumbled in many African countries because contractors failed to perform. The educational system has sharply deteriorated. Roads are pot-holed. Hospitals lack basic supplies because they have been stolen or diverted, and patients are often asked to bring their own bandages and blankets.
Corruption tends to corrode popular confidence in public institutions. State institutions begin to decay and break-down. Nobody cares because tenure of office and promotions are based not on competence and merit but on personal loyalty to the president, ethnicity, and sycophancy. Institutions such as the civil service, the judiciary, parliament, and the police disintegrate and fail to function since they have all been perverted.
Corruption aggravates the budget deficit problem. Expenditure figures are padded. Ghost workers proliferate on government payrolls. Scores of ghost workers are added to the government payroll and their salaries collected by workers, defrauding the government of millions in funds. Revenue collectors are notoriously corrupt, pocketing part of tax proceeds, waiving taxes if they receive large enough bribes.
Corruption drives away foreign investors: “Government contracts in Nigeria, say international businessmen, are among the most expensive in the world `mainly because of excessive margins built into such contracts for personal interests.’ Those personal interests can be seen attending expensive schools in Britain, or parked outside plush government villas: a Maserati or Lamborghini is quite normal for an army chief” (The Economist, 21 August 1993; Survey, 5).
Corruption leads to economic contraction and collapse. Corruption and capital flight, which flourish under non-democratic systems, seriously stunt economic development. At an April 2000 press conference in London, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan lamented that: “Billions of dollars of public funds continue to be stashed away by some African leaders – even while roads are crumbling, health systems have failed, schoolchildren have neither books nor desks nor teachers, and phones do not work” (The African-American Observer, April 25-May 1, 2000; p.10). While corruption and capital flight exist under all political systems, their incidence tends to be more pervasive when rulers are not held democratically accountable.
(The concluding part follows soon)
Follow the Author on twitter @ayittey
BENUE’S OPAQUE BUDGET by Nasir Ahmad @elrufai April 27, 2012Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: agriculture, Benue, Boko haram, budget, education, Nigeria
We continue our analysis of the budgets of the state governments with the North-Central State of Benue. Bordered by Nasarawa state to the north, Taraba state to the East, Ebonyi and Cross River states to the south, and Kogi state to the west, Benue state was created in February 1976, when Benue-Plateau State was separated into Benue and Plateau states by the Murtala-Obasanjo administration. Benue state is acclaimed to be the nation’s food basket because of its rich and diverse agricultural endowments which include yam, rice, beans, cassava, potatoes, soybeans, sorghum, millet and coco yam.
The state produces over 70% of Nigeria’s Soya-beans and is home to one of the longest river systems in the country – River Benue, which has the potential for viable fishing and tourism industries complete with festivals similar to the one in Argungu. The river has the potential to generate electricity, to support dry season farming through irrigation and improved transportation through inland waterways. There are also proven reserves of solid minerals like Limestone, Gypsum, Anhydride, Kaolin, Salt, Lead and Zinc, Clay, Coal, Calcite, Gemstones and Magnetite. The Benue Basin has proven quantities of natural gas and there is the likelihood of crude oil as well. The state has many tourism assets like Ushongo Hills, Ikwe Holiday Resort, Enemabia Warm Springs, Dajo Pottery,mTiv Anger Weavers and many traditional festivals. The traditional music and dances of the state attract thousands of Nigerians and foreigners, with potentials for significant development.
With a land mass of 34,059 sq km, Benue State had a population of 4,223,641 in 2006 – now estimated at nearly five million – a little above the population of Congo and more than twice the population of Botswana. Abdullahi Shelleng was the first military governor of the state (March-1976-July 1978). Aper Aku was the first democratically elected governor under the National Party of Nigeria and served from October 1979 to December 1983. More recent governors are George Akume (May 1999- May 2007) and Gabriel Suswan. Suswan holds an LL.B from the university of Lagos, a masters degrees in Law from the University of Jos, and in public administration from the University of Abuja. He was a two-time member of the House of Representatives, and began his first term as governor in May 2007.
According to the NBS poverty profile 2012 based on data up to 2010, of the population of the North Central zone, 61.9% is relatively poor, 57.4% is absolutely poor, 38.6% is food poor – an irony indeed for a zone with such generous agricultural endowments. Benue’s poverty incidence is high at 36%, which means that more than one out of every three persons is poor: as opposed to one in seven for Lagos, and more than half – 58% in Yobe state. Benue’s unemployed population is a whopping 25.4 % or more than one in every four working age person is unemployed, as opposed to neighboring Plateau’s 14% and FCT’s 13%, and above the national average of 21.1%. Benue States has one of the highest incidences of HIV infections in the country, accounting for about one out of every eight infections nationally.
So what should Benue State be doing in the face of these endowments and challenges?
Education is one of the key indices to measure state government effectiveness. It should be investing a large percentage of its budget on improving public education. The government must deliver affordable and quality healthcare. It should also invest in key infrastructure to attract investors to its agricultural, fishing, tourism and mining sectors. It should address the needs of its farmers for title to land, rural roads, storage facilities and Argo-processing capacity. Are the authorities doing that?
We were unable to obtain the detailed budget of Benue State anywhere. Even members of state assembly contacted were reluctant to provide more than sectoral summaries. Gabriel Suswan had on the 22nd December 2011 presented a budget of N105.5 billion to the state house of assembly for the 2012 fiscal year. The budget would be financed with N59.9 billion from FAAC, N15.2 billion as IGR and N30.3 billion from other sources – meaning loans and grants-in-aid. Typically Benue received about N40 billion every year from FAAC, so the amount expected this year is a bit optimistic. However, after review by the house of assembly, the budget figure was scaled up by N7 billion, bringing the total figure to N112 billion. In terms of federal allocations between 1999 and 2008, of the total N3.7 trillion allocation that has been distributed amongst the 19 Northern states, Benue received N203.4 billion, making it the 6th largest beneficiary.
Of the total budget sum, N58 billion amounting to 52% is earmarked for recurrent expenditure, and N54 billion, about 48% is set aside for capital expenditure. This means that this rural state is spending much more on running the government than securing the future of its citizens. It should scale capital investment to closer to 70%, and reduce recurrent spending accordingly.
The sectoral breakdown of the budget shows the following structure; N34,406,400,000 (30.72%) for the Works and Transport, N14,336,000,000 (12.8 %) for the Finance ministry pay of loans and set up effective revenue generation mechanisms; 4.82% or N5,376,000,000 for Agriculture, Water Resources got 9.1% or N10,192,000,000. The Rural Development ministry was allocated N11,670,400,000 or 10.42%, and the Health allocated N4,592,000,000 or 4.01%. Judging from the distribution if the budget, these figures alone, one is inclined to question the spending priorities of the Suswan administration.
The largest allocation of N34,406,400,000 or 30.72% of the budget is set aside for the works and transport. In addition, the state house of assembly approved a Fixed Rate Development Bond Issue 2011/2016 of N13 billion for the state. Listed in March 2011, the five-year, 14% coupon rate bond proceeds are for the completion of roads and other projects like water supply in Markurdi, Otobi and Katsina-Ala. Questions remain though – how much of the N34.4 billion is from the proceeds of the N13 billion bond that will be need to be paid back over a five year period? How much of the N13 billion bond was spent so far, and what was it spent on? Venue citizens probably know these answers.
It is indeed a paradox that while Benue state is endowed with one of Nigeria’s biggest rivers with very good water traffic, the citizens live in perpetual water shortage. Regarding River Benue, one would wonder why the state isn’t exploring its hydro tourism/hydro electric potentials; starting up cruises or exploiting its reputation as a major Nigerian river towards developing water transport or building a whole sporting industry, water games and all. Looking at the figure of N10,192,000,000 (9.1%) allocated to Water Resources, the first question that should come to mind is, how much of the N13 billion bond was specifically spent on water projects?. How much of these funds are directed into the areas listed?
As a state with abundant agricultural potentials – land that is very fertile and about 80% of the state’s population is involved directly or indirectly in sustenance farming, wholistic ficus on agricultural production is the key to the state’s future. Sadly, Benue has a reputation for wasteful agriculture as the state lacks basic storage infrastructure. Agriculture is not yet mechanized beyond sustenance such that it will amount significantly upon the states IGR. A careful state endowment and value chain study, with investments in key areas will enable Benue feed most of Nigeria’s population. That is one area for the attention of the authorities
On the bright side, doing business in Benue is relatively easy. Amongst the 36 states and the FCT, Benue was ranked 10 in the ease of doing business, with 8 procedures that will span a minimum of 36 days, 6 places behind its Plateau counterpart. Plateau State’s doing business ranking is number 4, with 8 procedures over a 31 day period. This relatively easy business climate is doing well for Benue, considering that in 2010 the states combined IGR was N6.8 billion, in 2011 it increased to N11 billion, and in 2012, there is an IGR projection of N15.2 billion.
The state deserves some credit on its attractiveness to investors, in 2010, the Benue Cement Company merged into the Dangote group, thereby increasing its capacity in cement production, in 2011, the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (TRANSCORP) subsidiary, Terago Limited, leased, renovated and recommissioned the Benue Pioneer Fruit Juice Concentrates Company for 10 years at the cost of N1 billion. Also in 2011, an MoU for the revitalization and management of the near moribund Taraku Oil Mills was signed. Interestingly all these industries were established during the life of the earlier administration of Governor Aper Aku.
Educationally, Benue is a disadvantaged state. In the 2008 academic year, 41,410 Benue students sat for WAEC, and only 1,879 or 4.5% scored 5 credits including Maths and English, the same year, only 389 students from Benue State were admitted to Nigerian Universities, compared with 3,569 and 4,030 for Edo and Enugu states – the leading performers. This trend should be of concern, especially in a times such as this, when a core focus of government should be to reduce its unemployed population so they do not constitute a threat to society.
Another worrisome aspect of the budget is the allocation to health: an allocation of 4% or N4.5 billion of the entire budget sum when health should be a priority sector for the state. The special adviser to the Benue state governor on HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases said that there are no fewer than 400,000 persons in the state who are carriers of the disease, out of three million infected Nigerians. Considering this situation, does Benue aim to safeguard the health of its citizens with this level of spending? Maybe, laudable is the fact that the state government renovated all general hospitals in the state, has partnered with Essential Pharma to curb the menace of fake drugs within the state, and is one of the few states to upgrade its Action Committee on Aids to an Aids Control Agency. There is need to do more in both preventive and curative healthcare provisions.
Benue’s recurrent budget is more than three times its IGR. It is therefore incapable of standing on it own and is one of the “parastatal states” that rely on monthly FAAC hand-outs to exist. Interestingly, in spite of this, there is a strong movement for the creation of another state out of Benue for the benefit of the political elite Idoma ethnic group! The government is doing much better on the IGR front than most states in the country, but must scale down the size and cost of its administration. It is investing aggressively in transport infrastructure and that is commendable but more investments are needed in education, healthcare and agriculture. Tourism, mining and hydroelectricity are all areas that Benue can focus to deepen its comparative advantages within the Nigerian nation. Until these are addressed and urgently too, the people of Benue should be looking at voting differently in the next election.
Two Sad Events
This week started with a depressing note for me, and got worse yesterday with the bombing of ThisDay’s offices in Abuja and Kaduna. On Monday, the sensibilities of Nigerians were challenged by a motley crowd of hired thugs protesting AGAINST the excellent report of the Farouk Lawan Committee on Fuel Subsidy. I was depressed. Have we become this bad that people can shamelessly support what is wrong? Do these protesters have parents? Have we lost all our values to illicit money and now ruled completely by corruption?
As I was struggling with these, learning that Boko Haram has targeted the offices of ThisDay worsened my state of mind. How can those that report news be the problem or the target of anyone? How can anyone justify the killing of another? Where is our sense of community? thee attacks must be condemned by all well-meaning Nigerians. We call on the authorities to rise up beyond the usual platitudes and speeches and protect the lives and property of our citizens. May the souls of the departed rest in peace. Amen.
TAMBUWAL’s SPEECH April 25, 2012Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: Fuel subsidy scam, Nigeria
Find below the opening speech by the House of Representatives’ speaker on the first hearing of the House on the report by Farouk Lawan led committee on the fuel subsidy.
“The probe of the oil Sector has raised so much dust from certain segments of the polity such that it became clear that the intention was to frustrate it. For those who regard the oil sector as a secret society or sacred cow, I wish to state without equivocation that it is not. All public agencies in the oil sector are the creation of Acts of the National Assembly and this Honourable House has no powers to legislate for the creation of secret societies. Similarly all private sector corporate bodies operating in the sector are the creation of the Corporate Affairs Commission and that Commission also is not vested with any powers to incorporate secret societies. Let it therefore be known that in our drive to sanitize the polity, there are no sacred cows and we do not intend to discover any.”
“However, that is only one part of the job. We now have the more crucial duty of considering the report and recommendations of the committee. Usually in a matter such as this, one is accustomed to hearing differing opinions presented passionately. Or passions presented as opinions.”
“But we must never forget who we are and where we are, because Nigerians are watching us very closely and history will judge what we do here today. I therefore urge each and everyone of you to look at this report dispassionately.
“Be fair in your comments and set aside all primordial sentiments so that we can do justice to this important document.”
“Let me reiterate the fact that we are discharging a Constitutional assignment here and it is therefore incumbent upon us to do our duty without fear or favour. Let me also remind you that we are fighting against entrenched interests whose infectious greed has decimated our people. Therefore, be mindful that they will fight back, and they do fight dirty.”
“I have heard all kinds of insinuations, including the one about anti-graft agencies waiting for a ‘harmonised version’ of this report before taking any action. Let me quickly say here that this is at best an excuse that can not stand after all the same agencies accept and investigate petitions from individuals, how much more resolutions of this House. There will be no such document so they should just go ahead and do their job and where they find any person or body culpable, they should proceed in accordance with the law.
“Our only interest here is to mitigate the suffering of Nigerians by showing how the subsidy regime has been hijacked for the benefit of a few. At the end of our deliberations we hope that the executive arm will act upon the resolutions of this House and bring more transparency to bear on the system.”
“Together we can do all things constitutionally required of us but not without sacrificing our personal comforts, personal aspiration and even personal opportunities that do not benefit the public good. For as many are prepared and determined to make these personal sacrifice and to stand on the side of the ordinary Nigerians whose mandate we hold, I say let’s march on dear colleagues”
FINDING OUR VOICE April 25, 2012Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: Fuel subsidy scam, house of Representatives, Minister of petroleum, Nigeria, NNPC
I think of the next 12years at least. What would Nigeria look like if we fail to act? The #occupynigeria protest that came alive the first two weeks in January has brought up a lot of secrets in the Nigerian system; most obvious the uncovering by Farouk Lawan led committee of a Fuel Subsidy scam in which a humongous theft (total N1.06trillion) allegedly aided by key players in President Jonathan’s administration.
Just yesterday, Japheth Omojuwa sadly found a set of paid Nigerians protesting against the report submitted by the committee which indicted the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Allison-Maduekwe in the fuel subsidy scam. The report, in itself an eye-opener into how our leaders seriously plunder the system, is a shocking but awakening signal to the apathy of the
Nigerian masses. In improved economies, stealing N1.06trn out of a country’s budget is a grievous crime.
Moreso, a lot of this indicted in this scam would have honorably resigned in an attempt to preserve the dignity of their name or what’s left of it. Not so in Nigeria. The show of shameless brandishing of a political will, strengthened by the support of a quiet presidency has weakened the resolve of the citizenry. Nigerians are poor, not only because of visionless, clueless and inept leaders, but more because of the avarice of vampire leaders sucking the very life out of the system: stealing with reckless abandon,
What do we do? Sit and watch as usual or in the light if unfolding events, prepare for the Real and first citizen motivated, well-structured and strategically thought-out #occupynigeria?
First, there is an Information gap we have to bridge. As observed in the January protests, the information deficit on the streets needs to be strengthened. If only the people in Port harcourt who demonstrated yesterday really knew that those they call “their own” were part of those who caused them immense pain and untold hardship, would they do the same?
You have an opportunity, to use whatever tool you have at your disposal: word of mouth, articles, explanation, etc to inform the men on the streets. The street is where the real power lies, the artisans, the apprentices, the market women; and all who bear the direct burden of the deliberate wickedness of our leaders. People need to know. People need to be educated about proper acts of Good governance so they can act based on informed standpoints and not sentimental/bias positions.
Do you seek to find your Voice? Looking at the troubling issues, would you sit down and act unconcerned? Before our eyes, the government through it’s cabal, is short changing the future of our generation and posterity. In 12 years time, who would these street children have grown to be if they are trained and brought up by the streets? Would my daughter be safe in our poor society if I fail to do something? Will our females be able to walk on the streets without fear of molestation/assaults from people who have grown to be outlaws based on the disparity in the system?
Please reflect for a moment: WHAT WOULD NIGERIA BE IN 4 YEARS IF WE CHOSE PASSIVITY, IF WE FAIL TO TAKE A STAND? What of the future and posterity? What if our leaders had acted right 20 years ago? How long will we continue to live in a society without justice, with decadence, with disparate inequalities, impoverished citizenry, with insecurity, with the direct and shameless looting of our resources by a few? How long will we sit and watch people die every day, in hardship?
A country of 160million people is held ransom by people under 1000, a fourth of our budget (for 160million) stolen by people not up to 1000! We live in a country so rich, yet so poor, where the people live in the manacles of slavery and unbelievable hardship. “How many people have a job that pays about N100,000 a month?” Not up to 5%! Why are children not in schools? Whay are the schools not working? Where are the funds going to? Why are schools under-funded? Why is their so much waste in the budget? The resources that should have gone to funding many sectors has been stolen by the very “untouchables” of the Jonathan administration!
Why are the people impoverished? Because their leaders ensure they are. Will we keep watching while paid miscreants protest and we do nothing? Why are you sitting on the fence? Why are you not concerned? This is present day Nigeria: enslaved by men of our own color, tribe, religion, blood! Better put, people of the same skin, same tribe enslaved by the same people in the country. Nigerians leaders in general, act in oppressing and suppressing the citizenry without cause.
Second, We need to stand, and speak, and act for what is right; with integrity, without compromise, without seeking ego gratification, without seeking recognition! You can never suppress justice for too long. We need to ask questions. The first protest in January #Occupynigeria set that tone, and we must never relent in sustaining it. This next move will be massive, will be calculative, will be strategic, will be daunting, but it’s a must unless the Jonathan Administration do the will of the people. We have found our voice in #occupynigeria, We must not lose that voice.
I am @seunfakze
FUEL SUBSIDY OUTCOME: TERMINATION OF ACCOUNTANTS/AUDITORS April 21, 2012Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: Fuel subsidy scam, Nigeria, Okonjo Iweala
FEDERAL MINISTRY OF FINANCE
News release. April 19, 2012
SUBSIDY PAYMENTS: FINANCE MINISTRY TERMINATES SERVICES OF ACCOUNTANTS AND AUDITORS
Concerned about the management of the subsidy regime, the Federal Ministry of Finance has for the last two months been reviewing aspects of the implementation of the subsidy regime related to its functions. The review has produced a lot of useful details on what was wrong with the system and what needs to be done to ensure improvement going forward.
The review process kicked off in February when the ministry and relevant government agencies held a meeting with bankers and marketers at the instance of President Goodluck Jonathan. This was followed by a subsequent session with the accounting and auditing firms to re-evaluate their work.
Based on the review, the Ministry has taken the following steps:
• The services of the audit and accounting firms responsible for certifying the documents and claims of marketers before payment have been terminated. The companies are Akintola Williams and Co and Adekanola and Co.
• The Ministry has established a committee made up of credible and experienced persons from the private and public sector with strong technical component under the chairmanship of Mr. Aigboje Imoukuede to examine the claims of payment arrears for 2011 currently being made by marketers. This is to ensure that only genuine claims are honoured.
• The ministry is also finalising a new and more effective system to replace the current arrangement and, in this regard, a second committee has been set up to propose a good way to forward.
Based on other outcomes of the review, the ministry will take further actions as necessary.
In a related development, the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) has put on hold further depletion of the Excess Crude Account (ECA).
Paul C Nwabuikwu
Senior Special Assistant to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance
THE FUEL SUBSIDY REPORT April 21, 2012Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: corruption, Fuel subsidy report, Nigeria
Please download and read
Like wildfire, everyone (at least those keening interested in justice in Nigeria) since Monday, 16th of April was glued to each news/tweets emanating from the court room in London regarding the money laundering case of an ex-convict (Yes! Ex-convict in an Abuja case, which he denied that he’s not James Onanafe Ibori) and ex-governor of Delta State, Nigeria.
After years of British tax-payers money in investigating the defendant, on the 17th of April, 2012, the judge pronounce his judgment over the highest money laundering case in the United Kingdom, $250Million and the defendant; James Onanafe Ibori bagged 13 years in the UK prison.
For people like me, justice have been served. Though delayed yet justice after years of running and gaining support from some questionable “elements” in his home state and in Nigeria. James Onanafe Ibori will never forget the 17th of April, 2012 and some of us will not forget too soon.
Aside some other intricacies that surround the trial, the role of UK DFID in aiding the crime committed by the defendant and his previous lawyer (who is also serving prison terms along with James Ibori’s wife and mistress) brings a lot of questions to mind. And one of the important question that the government of Nigeria, Civil Societies and concern citizen should be asking is, is the West (Banks & agents) aiding money laundering and looting of states treasury in Nigeria? The fact that no single ill-gotten wealth can cross the atlantic without the assistance of some scrupulous individual, group or organization from the West validate the fact their is/are fifth columnist among the West in Nigeria or Africa.
In an era of terrorism, it will be important for the Western and Africa nations to work side by side to check mate this act of money laundering in order not to finance inhuman or terrorist act against any unsuspecting nation(s). The fight against corruption can never been won from one side. It is a two-sides fight and no nation should be found wanting on the battle ground. Fairness will require that European Union strengthen her laws against money laundering as much as they assist Anti-corruption agencies in Africa.
The collective stolen wealth by some African leaders and then transferred to the West is far more than the aid coming from the West since 1960. The Western nations can not continue to close their eyes to this greedy and devilish act by some African Leaders and their collaborators in the West. This is the next chapter, that the West is also responsible for the money laundering offenses committed in Africa or by Africans inasmuch as they aid or don’t check mate their financial institutions or agencies that perpetuate this act.
As much as the citizen of Africa demand for accountability and good governance from their leaders, we also demand responsibility, trade fairness and justice from Europe, US and the rest of the World. The world can not treat Africa differently and we demand for a new chapter in this generation. This time must be different and Africa and the rest of the world must work together to be that difference.
‘Wale Babatunde (@Babatundejnr); Guest Writer.
BOKO HARAM: The Danger of the UN-saved by @babatundejnr April 15, 2012Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: Boko haram, Nigeria, Terrorism
These are trying times for Nigeria and it quite a daunting challenge for the leadership at the center. The continuous terror attacks are pointing to one singular question; are we under-siege? Is the republic under attack.
Recently, the faceless yet known terror group called Boko Haram released a video widely circulated on the internet, where the leader of the terror group threaten to kill the commander-in-of the Armed Forces, the President of the Republic.
I personally view this threat as a threat to the entire people of Nigeria. It is irrelevant who occupies the seat of the President, no individual or group no matter how powerful should threaten the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. (That is all).
This piece is not to discuss the danger of the terror group, I believe we all know that. But to discuss the danger of the unsaved among us. Historical understanding of various terror groups that have existed in the world shows some similar pattern of psychological behavior most especially in the manner of recruiting members into their groups.
Researches have shown that terror groups have the following in common, beliefs, stories, image, and a leader. It is in-line of these understanding that this article will explain the possible danger that Nigeria would need to combat in the face of the daunting challenges facing the nation.
Firstly, what it takes to inspire the beliefs into the consciousness of prospective members is a thin task. While some of their prospective members share in their subconscious some of the terror beliefs, it only require a slight push to inspire and accept these beliefs into their consciousness.
Another is the stories that inspire these beliefs, they are stories that are common to their existences. Stories that reminds them of what their lives are and what it should be. In recent times, some of these stories have some adulterated Islamic faith attached. And due to the faith background of some of their prospective members, they can be savvy by this adulterated teachings.
Thirdly on the list is the image, which represent what they are fighting for. This is the most important aspect of the formation of terror groups. Looking at various terror groups, the image can either be an idea, concept, groups, institution or government. During the IRA in the United Kingdom, the group fight was against the catholic which resulted into countless killings. The Nazi was against the existence of the Jews. And in recent times, the Al-qaeda is against the “imperialism” of the western government. And so is terror groups like Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Tuareg in North Mali and Militant(MEND & co) and Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Finally, Like every societal organization, terror groups have leaders. Some are military leaders, rebel leaders while in recent times, some are spiritual leaders. The leader is the representative of the group and he direct or influence the decisions of the group. There should be no doubt that the Nigerian Security have the full particulars of the leaders of the terror group(s) in the country, it will be important that they do everything possible to apprehend these leaders. Just as the US did to Al-qaeda.
The important question is, if the government is battling with the insurgent group in the northern part of Nigeria, what is the government doing to reduce or mitigate against any prospective member of the group. It will out-rightly be a fallacy if the government does not know that some people might be sympathetic to these terror groups.
The danger will face in this insurgent is not only to put an end to their continuous attacks but to also ensure that we “kill” the idea or ideology behind the terror group. This is a daunting tasks that might takes years but it is imperative that government and the people initiate the process of rebuilding a society about to enter a moribund of decay.
PS: I’ll be sharing how government and the people can help save the unsaved in subsequent article. Stay Tuned.
‘Wale Babatunde (@Babatunde); guest writer