Monday, 25 July 2011

Article: Executive Stealing

Nigerian Political Leaders
By Rufus Kayode Oteniya( 

In this era of the Middle East Revolution and an increasing dissatisfaction of the people with the government of the day, some truths are better kept as secret in order to preserving the status quo.
These truths must be kept away from the public eyes so that the people can believe that the government is working and Nigeria is on the way to the Promised Land.
If the intention of letting the people know the truth is meant to help set them free, one has to be courageous enough to divulge some of these truths regardless of their potential to cause the people  to demand accountability from their leaders.
Regardless of its bitterness, a harmful truth is far better than a useful lie. And it is generally believed as stated by Mohandas K. Gandhi that truth never damages a cause that is just and also according to the words of George Orwell, “during times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
Nigerians have been deceived enough and it’s time to know some truths.
We have been made to believe that all’s well; the government is working, electricity will be stable in a time soon; we are en route to meeting the Millennium development goals of 2015; and that we are set to be among the 20 most developed nations by 2020 whereas everything is working to the contrary and the people in government are doing nothing but 360° stealing.
Whenever they are not stealing our money, they are busy wasting it on frivolities.
In setting straight the records, I will be writing this series to disclose some truths the government will not like Nigerians to know. Here are some:
Presidential Jets:
According to the 2011 budget passed by the National Assembly on May 25, 2011, and signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan on May 26, 2011, the over bloated Presidential Air Fleet will be gulping a whooping N17,834,876,113 ($117m) in 2011.
Nigerians still remember the speed at which president Jonathan approved the purchase of three new jets for $155m in August 2010 in addition to the eight planes that were already in the presidential fleet. Our hope that he would be that swift in rehabilitating the blood sucking Sagamu-Ore-Benin and Lagos-Ibadan express roads never was. Who cares for the common man if Jonathan can fly safely?
Here are facts some Nigerians must not know about presidential jets:
·         Nigeria has 11 presidential jets to serve every Tom, Dick and Harry in government departments and presidential villa
·         David  Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom came to Nigeria last week on a Chartered British Airways Flight because the government has no single presidential jet
·         Queen Elizabeth II, other members of Royal Family, the Prime Minister and other ministers of the British Government are served by either the Royal Squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF) or chartered civilian aircraft or scheduled commercial flights.
·         On 19, Jul 2010, a responsible David Cameron (who does what he preaches) and his officials flew out to Washington DC to meet President Barack Obama on a regular BA flight. He even spurned First Class tickets to travel in the far cheaper Business Class. The move saved the government £200,000 in costs because usually, the PM travels on a BA chartered Boeing 747 or 767 - at a cost of £300,000 - or uses a RAF jet. It is Mr Cameron's attempt to lead by example on sweeping spending cuts across government to pay off Britain's crippling £155billion deficit.
·         The U S President typically uses one of two customized Boeing 747-200B jetliners designated as Air Force One, while the Vice President  uses a customized Boeing 757 designated as Air Force Two.
·         Britain does not pay for non official flights of the PM, little wonder David Cameron and his wife Samantha flew Ryanair in April to Spain to celebrate her 40th birthday.
·         American president must pay the cost of flight of his guests on Air Force One.
·         The presidential jets are at the beck and call of Nigerian president without any restrictions or control.
Executive Stealing:
At this juncture, no Nigerian is left in doubt that the members of the 6th National Assembly under the leadership of David Mark and Dimeji Bankole were just a bunch of looters who were awarding themselves jumbo allowances at the expense of the masses.  They were practically reaping what they did not sow and some of them were too busy spending their loots to the extent that hardly have time to attend the plenary sittings of the Houses.
It is too close to call if the members of the 7th National assembly are thieves like their predecessors but the moment they collect the first illegal quarterly allowance, they all become thieves with ‘immediate effect and automatic alacrity.’ Regardless of the hyped reduction, the allowance is still 100% illegal.
The executives are not left behind; in fact, the legislative plunder is like a child’s play compared to what the executives are illegally taking away from the system.
In addition to their constituency allowances, It is no longer a news that governors collect billions of naira as security votes which are unaccounted for and which makes everyone wonder which security they are providing with the money.
 While so much has been said about these legislooters, Nigerians must not know that most of the politicians they have elected as their leaders are nothing but execu-thieves,. They are thieves! They do much more harms than the petty robbers who are always subjected to jungle justice of lynching whenever they are caught on the streets of Lagos.
Few days ago, I watched on a social network a gory video of a necklace thief being lynched and burnt to death by the same society that celebrates or elects these billion naira thieves. While I was condemning this barbaric act in its entirety and wondering how lawlessness could be so celebrated with such impunity, I was forced to question why this same society couldn’t just think that what was good for the goose would be good for the gander! Why couldn’t they just go after those who have made poverty a permanent habitant of our society.
Who is a thief?
According to , a thief a is person who steals while it further defines stealing  as taking (the property of another or others) without permission or right, especially secretly or by force.
Going by the above definition, most of the executives from the local and state governments to the federal government qualify to be called thieves because they award themselves as much as they want as allowances and also illegally infiltrated security vote into the system.
Is security vote legal? NO!
The longer an illegality persists, the more legal it seems. Security vote which was an invention under the presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo started with Obasanjo and a few governors awarding themselves monthly, a few millions of naira, giving the impression that it must not be accounted for. It has now got to a level where many of the governors appropriate the sum ranging from several hundreds of millions of naira to billions monthly as security votes. 
Notwithstanding it’s illegality, Owelle Rochas Okorocha , the Imo State governor, during his inauguration on May 29, 2011 was openly announcing that he would slash the state’s annual security vote from N6.5 billion to N2.5billion to make provision for the free education programme.
As good as it sounded, it was like saying my predecessor was stealing N6.5b from you annually in the name of security vote but I would reduce it and only steal N2.5b.
Show me an executive from the presidency to the local government who does not take security vote and I will show you an executive who is not a THIEF.
While the president, governors and the local government chairmen were awarding themselves security votes, ministers under Yar’Adua and Goodluck were allegedly taking about N80m quarterly as statutory award. Where is this provided for in our laws?
According to Davidson Iriekpen in an article titled, Security Vote - For Whose Security? “the exact value of the vote is unknown to anyone. There is also no part of the appropriation where it is stated that such a pool of funds should be maintained as security votes in the country. Instead, the malaise has become one of the easiest ways governors allegedly misappropriate funds in their respective states.”
He further claimed that “every year, billions of naira are allegedly squandered under the guise of security votes. The funds suspected to be illegal, are purportedly being used to provide security for the president, governors and their domains, whereas they are being transferred into personal bank accounts. In spite of these huge sums of money, killings, kidnappings, cultism and other security threats are on the increase across the states.
At the federal level, funds are allocated to the Ministry of Defence for the upkeep and welfare of the armed forces and the police, yet billions are still voted for the President as security votes whose impact is unknown.”
And also according to human rights lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, security vote is an illegality and irresponsibility on the part of the country's leaders. He condemned the governors for appropriating security votes to themselves even when they know that it is unconstitutional. He also argued that the governors who indulge in security votes rob the society of essential resources.
In a report by former RMAFC chairman, Hamman Tukur to the presidency, he warned all organs of government to adhere strictly to the remuneration packages by his commission, saying "no other salaries, allowances and or benefits are to be paid to any political, public and judicial office holder. "He said the Federal, State and Local Governments flout the remuneration provisions made by the commission through frivolous foreign trips, arbitrary appointment of aides and use of excessively large motorcades.
He further said “based on the constitution, RMAFC has the final say on the remuneration package of National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly members, while a law need to be enacted based on the commission's proposals regarding the pay packages of executive and judicial office holders.”
Notwithstanding this warning, this illegality thrives from the presidency to the council. As the president take billions of naira in monthly security vote, he also take several millions in constituency allowance.
In the established democracies, politics does not make somebody rich overnight or how can you explain that after years as Attorney-general of Arkansas state, 12 years as governor of the same state and 8 years as the President of the richest and the most powerful country in the world, Clinton needed to take a mortgage in the year 2000 toward the end of his tenure to buy his only house then. And also after many years as a member of Parliament and 10 years as Prime Minister of the rich and powerful UK, Tony Blair had to take up a paid consultancy job to be able to meet up with his bills.
Do you know even any local government Chairman in Nigeria who does not own houses and fleet of cars?

1 comment:

  1. Why compare apples and oranges? The leaders of the countries on your list are citizens of "normal" countries each with a common language, a predominant national group, religion or culture-sine qua non requiremnts for national integration. Nigeria has none of these. And without this sense of "nationhood" and a common patrimony, it is virtually impossible for the "Nigerian people" to rise up against the looters. And where do you start? Is it with with the former heads of state who stole billions but are still Nigerian power brokers? Or with the former governors and their cabals who stole hundreds of millions of naira? The brazen looting of Nigeria will not end until the country is politically restructured. Thus the urgent need for a sovereign national conference after which the government will truly belong to the people. And they can proudly proclaim: "We the people of..."
    Cf. My article, "Nigeria: An Anomaly Among States."


Please restrict your comment to the subject matter.