If there is anything the indictment of suspended NPA boss,Hadiza Bala Usman by the panel set up to investigate her for failing to remit N165bn into government coffers has highlighted,it is the need for Nigerians to rigourously pursue a government that will go about recovering the humongous sums looted under the Buhari administration.Nigeria has effectively been reduced to a borrowing country over the last 7 years not by a government providing massive infrastructural development but by one that plunders what it brings home content in the fact that it can always go and borrow more.
The revelation by Rotimi Amaechi,the Minister of Transport that China is no longer interested in providing funds (loans in more honest terms) for the financing of joint projects calls for concern.China took over a Ugandan airport and some other assets over an unfulfilled loan obligation last year and would gladly encourage us to keep borrowing to lay their hands on as much as they can.If they aren’t then it could very well mean that we have a debt portfolio so unhealthy they can no longer provide even money they have under-taken to.
Quite frankly,no one expects anything serious to come out of the Bala Usman indictment.Before her,there was the case of Ibrahim Magu,the former EFCC chairman who was indicted by a Presidential panel.Before his appointment as EFCC chairman,Magu had been indicted by the Police Service Commission for removing and tampering with EFCC files and by the DSS for living in a N20M per annum apartment paid for by shady persons he was moving around with.Buhari knew all these and still insisted on him after he had been rejected by the Senate perhaps because Magu fitted into his plans.It took a face off with a closer associate of the President, the Attorney General,Abubakar Malami for him to lose his seat and despite strong recommendations by the Salami panel that he be prosecuted,the Buhari administration has looked the other side.T
he NDDC which once famously claimed it spent N187bn in 7 months amidst scandalous accusations of fake,unfulfilled and over-inflated contracts including some by the current Minister of Niger Delta,Goodswill Akpabio is more or less a dead case.To speak of loose change,the President’s son-in-law absonded with $64M and he is still no where to be found because he is not Sunday Igboho or Nnamdi Kanu.Buhari will always go and borrow more for the party to continue.
Nigeria is steadily edging closer to the N40trn debt mark; a shocking N32.5trn difference from the N7.5trn this administration inherited from the GEJ administration.As Nigeria hangs on for dear life,it is very important that loot recovery forms a very vital consideration in who should become Nigeria’s next President.While of course there is the need to have a shrewd administrator to aggressively trim the excessive costs of governance like a Peter Obi is sure to do,the fact is there is very little or no room for growth if we are servicing existing debts and borrowing some more to stay afloat.
The most practical solution to this problem is chasing down the massive sums looted under this government in the name of palliatives,maintenance of refineries and the sorts and put them to beneficial use.If that will happen,then to be honest,no one from the APC fits the bill.Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi whom many deem the brightest prospect in the party has already promised to ‘continue where Buhari stopped’.He and others with their heads up Buhari’s ass cannot be trusted to go about recovering the scary figures borrowed in our names; monies we will still be paying 2 generations from now.The President’s support for 2023 comes with INEC and the whole security apparatus and as such,no one can be trusted to look Buhari et al straight in the eye after so much ‘help’ and do what is right.
With APC governors,Vice President Yomi Osinbajo and Party leader,Bola Tinubu saying Buhari is doing his best with regards to insecurity,no one in the party can be trusted to go back and eat their vomit by asking questions about the trillions purportedly spent on defense over the years.Excluding all allocations for 2022,this government has spent a purported N10.06trn on defense since 2016 while of course,Nigerians have been left to depend on a virtually non-existent military.
Buhari himself told the Saraki Senate he withdrew $496M from the Excess Crude Account to pay for 12 Super Tucano Airplanes without Senate approval as the law demands because he had to meet a deadline.That contract wasn’t awarded till 7 months after he had written the Senate and the details released by the US Pentagon on its website show the contract was for $329M with a not-too-exceed sum of $344M.Buhari owes us an explanation as to where $167M or in the latter case,$152M of our money went.That is just one case.No ally of the President can be trusted to retrieve these sums supposedly borrowed for our collective good and put them to judicious use.Buhari is working,isn’t he?.
The 2023 elections are a make or mar occasion for Nigeria.We are swimming in huge debt with little or no chance for significant growth but the good news is that all hope is not lost.The bulk of these huge sums can be recovered from the very few persons in government that have commandeered them for themselves while Nigerians have been left with a comatose economy and huge debts to pay.All that will depend on who becomes Nigeria’s next President.
Yes,there is a need to distance yourself from any candidate talking trillion naira plans because they clearly don’t have a grasp of the situation at hand and Yes,there is a need to take seriously anyone focused on cutting costs and growing the nation with realistic plans.But above all,side with anyone who in addition to that,is honestly worried about what the sums looted under this administration would do if recovered and why Nigerians shouldn’t be left to suffer for their leaders.
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is based in Kano
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily