Rumour’s Argument on Nigeria’s Stolen and Wasted Resources
By way of definition, Rumour is a Nigerian who knows what is happening or can correctly intuit the happenings in the country but does not have any official means of informing Nigerians. So he/she simply spreads the information through the markets, football watching arenas, in the public transport vehicles, social media, churches and mosques, community and club meetings, fellow staff in the office and at political and other social rallies. One critical point here is that Rumour knows a lot about Nigeria. On the abuse of Nigerian resources, Rumour classifies it into two broad parts: stolen and wasted resources. Stolen resources are missing resources. Wasted resources are those lost due to mismanagement by the government of Nigeria.
As a young boy growing up in Nigeria in the early 1980s, Rumour told me that $2.8 billion got missing during the military government of General Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ-rtd) which lasted between 1976-1979. But no one has challenged him in the court of law over the matter; and Rumour insists that even the government was aware of it and did nothing. In Naira terms today, this amounts to N854 billion.
Rumour also had it that during the reign of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB-rtd) which lasted between 1985-1993, $12 billion was discovered missing from the crude oil windfall of 1991. This was even confirmed by late Dr. Pius Okigbo’s Commission’s Report at that time. No one challenged IBB and government did nothing to prosecute the matter to a successful conclusion. In Naira terms today, this amounts to N3.7 trillion.
Late General Sani Abacha’s loots between 1993-1998, according to Rumour, ran into billions of dollars: $4 billion was recovered by OBJ and Umaru Musa Ya’Adua, $500 million recovered by President Mohammadu Buhari (PMB) and now missing and another $322 million recovered by PMB earmarked for the rehabilitation of the Northeast is not well managed. Rumour further informed Nigerians that Chief Femi Falana (SAN) is not happy about the unknown state of affairs of the $4 billion earlier recovered. In Naira terms today, all amounts to N1.5 trillion.
Rumour further informed Nigerians that $16 billion meant for building power plants across Nigeria went missing under OBJ as civilian president (1999-2007). Like the others, no one has successfully challenged him in court over the matter, and the government has done nothing about it. In Naira terms today, this amounts to N4.9 trillion.
Col. Dasuki, a former NSA Chief under the immediate past regime of Dr Goodluck Jonathan is being prosecuted for sharing out $2.1 billion security funds to prominent Nigerians who were billed to help the PDP win the 2015 elections. Rumour said that even Dr Reuben Abati, then a media chief to President Jonathan got N50 million. Dasuki is being prosecuted by the government; so what about Abati? In Naira terms today, this amounts to N640 billion.
Rumour insists that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the government’s organization responsible for the management of the country’s oil and gas industry, is a strong member of Nigeria’s club of looters. Rumour recounts that the EFCC has accused the NNPC of a missing $20 billion during the last administration. Yet nothing concrete has happened to all those who led and are leading the corporation to give account of the money. In Naira terms today, this amounts to N6.1 trillion.
Rumour, who is the timber and caliber of the rumour industry in Nigeria said that the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, made away with some small money: N47.2 billion and $487.5 million while in office. The current government is insisting on bringing her to account for these monies linked to her account. Meanwhile, in Naira terms today, these amount to N196 billion
So in summary, Rumour added up these large-scale missing or stolen of public funds to be N17.9 trillion from 1976 to 2016 that is 40 years. Rumour argues that this translates to N447.2 billion per year and N1.225 billion daily.
On wastages, according to Rumour, Nigeria has been wasting its resources whenever it imports things she ought not import. Rumour considers Nigeria’s importation of steel, petrol and foreign education as wasteful.
Nigeria is abundantly blessed with iron ore, the raw material resource with which steel is produced. Yet The Guardian newspaper, according to Rumour, reports that the country spends about $3.3 billion annually for the importation of steel (see The Guardian, Friday, November 30th, 2018, page 21). It means that for the past 40 years, Nigeria may have spent $132 billion importing steel. Yet Nigeria has Ajaokuta Steel, Katsina Steel, Jos Steel and Delta Steel companies.
Rumour has it that Nigeria is the 6th largest producer of crude oil in the World. Petrol is produced from crude oil and Nigeria has two refinery companies in Port Harcourt, one in Warri and another in Kaduna.. Yet Nigeria imports petrol daily from abroad. Rumour says that he does not have any iota of idea about exactly how much Nigeria spends on petrol importation and that this figure is not known to any human being on earth except NNPC who makes sure that figure remains topmost secret forever. But to have an idea how much Nigeria wastes on oil, Rumour has it that Nigeria loses about 150,000 barrels of crude oil daily to crude bunkering. The NNPC which manages Nigeria’s oil has no solution to this. So at an average current rate of $50 per barrel of crude oil, Nigeria loses $7.5 million daily, $2.7 billion yearly, $109.5 billion in 40 years and a total of N32.9 trillion in Naira terms today.
On education, Rumour argues that a painful lot is wasted by Nigerians when we consider how much they spend in sending their children abroad for education. The Guardian of 28th August 2017, on page 4, stated that “Nigerians spent $1.5 trillion on foreign education in 2016, says a Canadian university teacher”. It went further to state that the money was spent mainly in universities located in the United Kingdom, USA and Canada. This amounts to N457.5 trillion in 2016 alone. At annual budget of N8 trillion, few Nigerians spent funds in a year that would have been used for 57 years by the whole country. This foreign education thing has been on even before 1960 when Nigeria gained independence. So if we take only 40 years and at an average of $750 billion yearly, it means $30 trillion for 40 years. In Naira terms today, $30 trillion translates to N9.15 quadrillion.
Rumour’s argument is that stolen resources, like wasted resources, always yield no ultimate positive fruit. This is based on the principle that you cannot gain anything useful from a foul resource. Nigeria’s last 40 years of existence (1976-2016) has been stolen and wasted to the overall value of N9.241 quadrillion, that is N9241 trillion. Nigeria’s painful failure is Africa’s frustration. Therefore Nigeria should be held responsible for the failure of Africa and indeed the black race. Rumour will present solution package in the next article on this debate.
Okachikwu Dibia writes from Abuja, Nigeria.