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Thursday, 14 February 2013


Nigerian elites are definitely in a very hot race of their lives to cover up their collective act of economic genocide that they have since the last five decades unleashed on an unprecedented scale on the citizenry by their unbridled quest to consistently corner to their private pockets the commonwealth of our Nigerian nation.

In the last few months, evidence emerged that some of these members of the political elite have engaged in writing and publishing books to white-wash their roles in the poverty dilemma that has bedeviled Nigerians.

These new generation authors among the political elite want to paint themselves as messiahs of the masses.

From the Southern state of Rivers, erstwhile governor Dr. Peter Odili recently introduced his widely advertised autobiography titled; conscience and history; my story”, in which he sought to debunk the groundswell of allegations of misappropriation of state fund when he presided over as governor between 1999 to 2007.

Peter Odili, an accomplished medical doctor whose wife (Mrs. Mary) has risen to the pinnacle of her legal profession to take a seat at the prestigious Supreme Court of Nigeria, has come under considerable criticism for not making use of the huge crude oil revenue accruable to the state of Rivers from the federation treasury as the largest crude oil producing state, to better the lives of the population when he took charge for eight years as the governor.

Peter Odili is accused of benefitting from an absurd court injunction which perpetually appears to have stopped the Economic and financial crimes commission (EFCC) from ever arresting and charging him to court to answer to certain charges that huge public fund developed wings and flew into private bank accounts during his eight years sojourn in the River state government house as the chief executive who enjoyed the immunity clause as provided for by section 308(1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).

Questions were asked how come that a court of law in Nigeria, in this instance, the Federal High Court, could grant a perpetual injunction frustrating the discharge of constitutional duty by a body created by the legal statutes to fight corruption and economic crimes.

Still, observers wonder why the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has yet to successfully quash the subsisting injunction at the appellate level or transfer the matter for investigation and prosecution to the police or the independent corrupt practices and other offences commission (ICPC) to take up the prosecution of former governor Peter Odili for those same allegations for which EFCC has been stopped by the so-called perpetual injunction of a Federal High Court, Port Harcourt Division.

All together, the conclusion that can be drawn from all the emerging scenarios in the Peter Odili’s botched trial is that the political elites who control the machinery of law enforcement and dispensation of justice have entered a grand scale conspiracy against the ordinary people who would have expected the court system to compel the erstwhile Rivers state helmsman to answer to those charges of corruption and for the court system to reach an acceptable determination of that matter without let or hindrance.

In the new book colourfully published by ex-governor Peter Odili of Rivers State, Nigerians were copiously told that he was transparent and accountable while he served the good people of Rivers state just as the author blamed the then Nuhu Ribadu – led Economic and financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for embarking on 'wild goose chase', blackmail and vendetta against him for daring to stand election for the highest office in the land in the 2007 presidential election against the interest of the powers-that-be in Abuja.

Odili wrote in his book thus; “On 12th December 2006, a spurious and anonymous petition was posted on the internet from a questionable ‘source’ alleging corrupt practices against the Rivers State government under me. These allegations were contrived into a petition by the EFCC under Nuhu Ribadu’s hand, to the President (Obasanjo) the same day”.

Odili in his book also claimed that; “On the 13th of December 2006, Mr. President directed EFCC to investigate. On the 14th day of December 2006, EFCC submitted a so-called ‘interim’ report to the then President who promptly minuted for my response on the same 14th December, 2006, but forwarded to me on the 15th of December 2006, a day to the National convention [of the Peoples Democratic Party]”.

“We submitted our response on the December 15th 2006, by which time it had become clear what the whole exercise was about – ‘get Odili out of the race for the presidency at all cost”.

He then proceeded in the same book to extensively display photographic evidence to demonstrate that the resources of Rivers state under his administration were transparently disbursed and applied.

Although I have no superior reason to contradict those graphic evidence adduced by Peter Odili in his book but one salient question begging for answer is why  there is so much poverty and gross underdevelopment in Rivers state even with the huge resources at the disposal of the state administration?

By and large, the poverty trap in which most Nigerians have found themselves is generally as a result of the deadly conspiracy of the political elite because of the mistaken belief that a population under occupation by economic poverty will not have the serenity of mind to ask the right probing questions and demand for sound answers from their political leaders.

These elites also forgot conveniently that a hungry man is also an angry man. The fact that there are too many hungry and angry Nigerians is not in dispute. The high crime rate is one clear evidence of this stark reality.

Another example will suffice to show that members of these political elite who benefitted from the system have now resorted to writing books to hoodwink the reading public.

The former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) who had served as the Director General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), accused of selling off choice national assets to cronies of government officials has also written his own book.

“The Accidental public servant”, by Mr. Nassir El Ruffai is currently receiving extensive bashing from a cross segment of the political elite for misrepresentation of facts and for simply elevating fictions and figments of his imagination into the realm of reality.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who got bitter dose of attack in the new book by Mr. El Ruffai, has taken up advertisement spaces in national newspapers to puncture some of the narratives contained in the book by the former Abuja minister who was banned by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from holding public office for ten years following allegations of fraud which he allegedly committed as the minister of the Federal Capital Territory.

The former minister of Abuja was accused of serial land scams and for converting choice landed assets in the nation’s capital to his private assets using his children as fronts. He has gone to the Federal High Court to seek to squash his indictment by the National Assembly.

In the book by the former Abuja minister, he disclosed how he cleverly maneuvered and/or manipulated the extant law setting up the Bureau for Public Enterprises [BPE] as the then Director General to procure fund budgeted for the agency which he generously handed out to the then foundation chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr. Nuhu Ribadu.

Ribadu, who was then an assistant Commissioner of police was handpicked by then President Chief Obasanjo on the recommendation of his then Federal Attorney General Mr. Kanu Agabi (SAN) to head the new anti-graft body which President Obasanjo set up few years after he had set up the Independent Corrupt Practices and allied offences Commission [ICPC].

To underscore the general state of sophisticated conspiracy of the elite to continue to enthrench economic crimes that impoverishes the greater percentage of Nigerians, the Economic and Financial Crimes  Commission (EFCC) was set up by President Obasanjo without making arrangement on how it will obtain take off fund to prosecute an all out war against economic crimes in compliance with the Constitutional provision in section 15 (5) which provides that “the state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power”

This conspiracy of the ruling elites and their cronies in the private sector of the economy to perpetually imprison the greatest majority of Nigerians in the absolute poverty trap came out in the open recently when the former education minister Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili who recently retired from the World Bank as Vice President for African region, alleged sensationally, that the late Yar’adua and the current Jonathan administrations have squandered $67 Billion USD of public fund which the Obasanjo’s government handed over to the incoming government.

Rather than set machinery in motion to extensively verify the allegations, what the government has done so far is to issue unintelligent responses attacking the messenger instead of responding intelligently to the message. This is the pattern adopted consistently by the ruling elites to undermine the regime of transparency, accountability and zero tolerance to corruption and the consequence of this is that greatest number of Nigerians are trapped by absolute poverty even while the tiny fraction that make up the elites smile to their banks with the nation’s wealth.

The general state of impunity needs to be overthrown through consistent civil society- driven mass action and intense pressure so that government officials are compelled to respect the law and for institutions put in place to check profligacy and heist of public fund are empowered to carry out these duties.

The suffering masses of Nigeria must stop chasing after mere bread and butter to fill up their hungry stomachs but must turn their civil attention to how the nation’s wealth are disbursed, applied or misapplied and shout to high Heavens for justice to be done.

Religious leaders have betrayed the trust of the ordinary Nigerians by aligning themselves with the oppressors of the masses who are the political elites. Some of these religious leaders have lost their moral voices because they are living ostentatious lifestyle like flying in private jets bought through suspicious means. Our freedom is in our hands as ordinary Nigerians.

Joseph Stiglitz, one of the three economists to share the 2001 Nobel Prize for the Economic Sciences spoke eloquently about the evils of poverty in the following words; "The number of people in poverty in many of the countries actually increased. In some of the cases, it wasn't just that the gap between the poor and the rich increased, but the people at the bottom actually went down..."

The above is the perfect scenario depicting our Nigerian existential situation in which nearly 110 million of the 167 million population are in absolute poverty. Should we let this huge moral burden of poverty trap in which many of our people are enslaved to continue even with rich resources being cornered to private pockets of political elites, to continue?

* Emmanuel Onwubiko, Head, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA      blogs   


Monday, 4 February 2013


Last Christmas period most of us staying in the urban areas such as Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, River state and foreign territories did make the annual ritual of mass return to the South Eastern region of Nigeria to spend time with loved ones and also attend to the multidimensional development -focused village meetings convoked by the elders-in-council.

As far as I am concern, I make it a religious, cultural and traditional obligation to always travel to Arondizuogu in Imo State to touch base with my people and join other progressive-minded citizens to brainstorm on how to move our home town forward from the perpetual poverty infested terrain dominated by absolute lack of social infrastructure to a twenty first century human habitation.   

After embarking on this yearly pilgrimage to Arondizuogu for over twenty years, I have come to accept the fact that unless the entire suffering populace in Nigeria team up to say no to the evil status quo of gross underdevelopment and monumental heist of the nation’s commonwealth by the few elite that are less than a percentage, then we will continue to dwell in poverty, mass unemployment, unprecedented corruption and what corruption breeds such as terrorism, political instability and violence/insecurity.

You may wonder why yours faithfully have drawn this conclusion but please take a little time and reflect on what steps you think people who are perpetually at the receiving end of the vicious circle of criminal neglect by the political elite can take to better their situation and free themselves from the terrorism of corruption and large scale embezzlement of public fund.

Over the years we have carefully followed developments regarding the nationally shared allocations that go to the different federating units but often the rural dwellers who are basically peasant farmers are neglected to a point that basic social amenities such as rural roads, electricity power, good and workable health care infrastructure and even markets whereby they can display and sale their farm produce are not available.

Because of these poor state of infrastructure, the rural farmers are left at the mercy of middle men who buy off these produce from the farms at give away prices thereby perpetuating the poverty circle in which these farmers are trapped. Again, the rural poor have no access to medicare and the high cost of transportation and health care services in nearby urban cities are way too out of the reach of these rural poor thereby subjecting them to the dehumanization and increasingly diminished dignity as human beings even as most of them die before any help reach them.    

Like most people who took time to travel to their village homes for the 2012 Christmas season, I witnessed first hand, the stark reality of majority of my rural people living in squalor and I also witnessed the absence of any kind of local or state government presence just as the local bridges constructed by the people through communal contributions are almost collapsing for lack of maintenance.

Therefore, a rational reflection of the situation of massive poverty under which most Nigerians live even with the statistical evidence that Nigeria is resource rich, will only take the thinker to one logical conclusion-corruption is same as terrorism. Transparency International best defined corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gains. Terrorism is generally seen as the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. Wikipedia the online encyclopedia stated that terrorism has been practiced by a broad array of political organizations including the ruling political elite to further their political objectives.

Away from semantics, we must realise that it is because of large scale theft of public fund by the political elite and their collaborators in the top hierarchy of civil and public service in Nigeria over the past several decades which intensified since 1999 that poverty and lack of development have become the cancerous afflictions that have led to the untimely demise of scores of citizens.

It is because of corruption by the ruling elite that security infrastructures have collapsed making it inevitable that armed non-state actors have being terrorizing the civil populace without the properly and constitutionally constituted armed forces and security agents effectively rising to the occasion to defeat the unprecedented insecurity all across Nigeria.

Corruption and the diversion of public fund by the elite is responsible for the institutional rot in the Nigeria police Force which has changed this otherwise strategic public institution to the shameful position as one of the most indisciplined, and most  professionally incompetent policing institution in the world.

It is because of corruption and economic crime perpetrated by the public office holders and hierarchies of key institutions that made foreign security experts to dismiss the Nigeria Armed Forces as institutions whereby the members are poorly trained, poorly equipped and grossly indisciplined.

On Monday 5th November 2012 The Guardian of United Kingdom published a story titled; “Nigerian army’s Mali Mission stalls amid doubt it can fight”.

The doubts on the fighting capacity of the Nigerian army emerged amid the effort by the Economic community of West African States (ECOWAS) to deploy military operatives from member nations to confront the fighters of the Angor Dine, the largest of the Islamist groups that at that time controlled northern Mali.

These doubts compelled the leadership of the sub-regional body to appeal to France to rout these terrorists that held sway in most parts of Northern Mali making use of the firepower in their arsenal.        

The Guardian of United Kingdom had reported about the Nigerian army thus; “The shocking state of the Nigerian army has delayed plans for a military intervention in Mali, amid reports that it lacks the capability to fight on the frontline”.

According to the report which was viciously rebuked by the Nigeria’s military authority, The Guardian of United Kingdom also found out that operatives of the Nigeria army are bereft of training and are deficient in the modern fighting weapons.

“The Nigerian Forces lack training and kit, so they simply don’t have the capacity to carry out even basic military maneuvers. They have poor discipline and support. They are more likely to play a behind-the-scenes roles in logistics and providing security”, The Guardian of UK reported quoting competent sources.

Now the question to be asked from the above is what has happened with the huge budgetary releases to the Nigerian defence sector since 1999 that democracy returned? Why have the Nigerian Custom Service, the Nigerian Immigration and the armed forces unable to stop the incursions of armed bandits from the neighboring countries to launch vicious terrorism attacks in parts of the north of Nigeria?

Corruption and outright theft of these huge public fund meant for the defence sector since 1999 is responsible if you ask me.

The British Prime Minister Mr. David Cameron only recently at the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland, lambasted the government of Nigeria for not accounting for the over $100 Billion USD that Nigeria generated from export of crude oil in only 2012.       

About the same time, Nigeria’s former education minister and immediate past vice President of the World Bank Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili accused the late Yar’adua and the current Jonathan federal administration of misappropriation of over $64 Billion USD that the President Obasanjo administration handed over on May 2007.

Prime Minister David Cameron had told the World thus; “A few years back a transparency initiative exposed a huge hole in Nigeria’s finances, an eight hundred million dollar discrepancy between what companies were paying and what government was receiving for oil-a massive, massive gap. The discovery of this is leading to new regulation of Nigeria’s oil sector so the richness of the earth can actually help to enrich the people of that country”.

The British Prime Minister then made a revelation of monumental proportion regarding how only in one year Nigeria made over one hundred billion United States dollars from export of crude oil but the gap between the tiny rich elite of less than a percentage and the poor majority has widened dangerously.

David Cameron said: “last year (2012) Nigeria oil exports were worth almost a hundred billion dollars. That is more than the total net aid to the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. So put simply: unleashing the natural resources in these countries dwarfs anything aid can achieve, and transparency is absolutely critical to that end….”

Speaking of transparency, the revenue generated by the Nigerian government is not transparently accounted for thereby foisting widespread poverty and insecurity on Nigerians and Nigeria.

The latest independent Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) audit report of oil and gas sector for 2009 to 2011 shows that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in one instance among many others, received $4.84 billion from the Nigerian liquefied National Gas (NLNG) on behalf of the Nigerian government, which was yet to be remitted into the CBN/NNPC JP Margan account or the Federation Account by the NNPC.

This same NNPC has reportedly approached foreign creditors to borrow $1.5 billion loan because it is reportedly broke. What a cesspool of corruption!

The report which was published by NEITI on February 1st 2013 showed that in whole, the total financial flow to the federation account from the oil and gas sector from 2009 to 2001 was $143.5 trillion.

The breakdown shows the amount is up from proceeds from the sales of equity crude, royalties and signatures bonus, concession rentals, gas flaring penalties, petroleum profit tax and companies income tax.

Now, where are the above monumental resources and why is there so much poverty, unemployment and insecurity in the land?
The answer is corruption and impunity by the elite that have continuously terrorized the citizenry to a point that poverty has now dehumanize a majority of the citizenry.

Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili who was two times minister under President Obasanjo typically supported my affirmation that corruption is the same thing as terrorism when she reeled out the statistics to show that the population of the poor has grown in leaps and bounds even when the nation has received generous foreign exchange/revenue from crude oil exports which are however stolen by the elite.

According to Mrs. Oby Nigeria is a paradox of the kind of wealth that breads penury because the trend of Nigeria’s population in poverty since 1980 to 2010 suggests that the more we earned from oil, the larger the population of the poor citizens. It appears that Nigeria is not only resource cursed but also cursed by the terrorism band of political elite who are holding all of us as hostages.

But some critics have however fired back at Mrs. Ezekwesili questioning her moral high ground to accuse other governments of corruption when in actual fact the government of Obasanjo in which she served, actually elevated corruption to the highest level.

Thisday Newspaper of December 19th 2006 published a story of the presentation by then Vice President Mr. Atiku Abubakar who accused his boss President Obasanjo of misappropriation of N10 billion belonging to the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF) to bribe members of the National Assembly to change the constitutional two terms limit to enable him allegedly pursue a third term.
The then Vice President had made this weighty allegations under oath while testifying before the Nigerian Senate.

Now if these humongous amount can be callously diverted by the political elite how else do we expect that the poverty and insecurity that besiege a majority of Nigerians and are  terrorizing our lives will just go away just like that without Nigerians waging a collective fight against the terrorism of official corruption?

Our situation in Nigeria was captured by three erudite scholars in their book “The criminalization of the state in Africa”.

The trio-Jean-Francois Bayart; Stephen Ellis; and Beatrice Hibou had in that book aforementioned argued lucidly that the growth of fraud and smuggling are interwoven with politics.

The book examines the plundering of natural resources, the privatization of state institutions, the development of an economy of plunder and the growth of private armies. The book suggests that the State itself is becoming a vehicle for organized criminal activity.

The authors emphatically propose criteria for what they call gauging the criminalization of African states and indeed moved on to the realm of pragmatism by presenting what is regarded as a novel prognosis: they successfully distinguished between the corruption of previous decades and what they now prefer to identify as the criminalization of some African states now taking place.   
The authors rightly argued that major political office holders in Africa are now able to connect with global criminal networks.

Tell me if this corruption going on in Nigeria which is economy of plunder by the political elite is not terrorism what is it then?

For them the term economy of plunder refers to the acquisition by representative of public authority of economic resources for private purposes. For me this is the highest manifestation of terrorism on official scale.