By Odimegwu Onwumere
Nigerians are divided by the hocus-pocus Farouk Lawan and Femi Otedola-led bribery episode the two-of-a-kind are playing without any show of shame. This was also how the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) nearly tore the audacious Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) into shreds when the Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, reportedly in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, said in Ethiopia on May 11 that the fund would begin operation in June, not minding the state governments’ pending case at Supreme Court challenging the legitimacy of the Excess Crude Account and the middle government’s transfer of $1bn from the account to the Sovereign Wealth Fund. The NGF was of the view that the law setting up the SWF was substandard to the establishment. The NGF’s argument was that all money ensuing to the federation must be shared. It was a public awareness that 28 states went to the Supreme Court to challenge the FG for maneuvering the excessive crude fund and non-diminution of money due to the account.
The players of the bribery episode perhaps were out for something: To mislead Nigerians not to remember the many dramas they were watching without any form of entertainment before the Lawan-Otedola duet came to public notice. Mr. President must be confused by now and also newspaper columnists tremendously confused of what to say or write weekly because Nigeria is breaking the world record of news with smelly news that oozes out per second. The country was not done with the Oteh-Hembe bribery scandal, the truth behind the fuel subsidy removal, insurgencies etc. than the Lawan-Otedola music of bribery without rhythm broke the record of bribery allegations ever heard of in Nigeria. Who expected it this soon that bribery would go scientific in Nigeria where bribe-takers and bribe-givers would be recorded and telecasted for students of criminology to review in the future. Azi gba kwa!
When the news of the direction the SWF was heading to became public knowledge some governors and Nigerians characterized what Okonjo-Iweala had announced as Executive Lawlessness with inconsistent with the rule of law and yet to convince Nigerians. They bemoaned that why must the FG act unilaterally on an issue before the highest court in the land. The state therefore demanded that the FG should pay to the local government councils and states all dues to them without any deduction. But the NGF divided over the setting up of the SWF by the FG against the former’s hard stance of states governed by opposition parties. The impersonation of the fund was politicized and some of the governors especially of the opposition political parties passionately kicked against it. Yet, that episode was kept on suspense and everyone wants to know the next step that the FG and the NGF would take. But here Nigerians are watching the Lawan-Otedola sordid bribery drama which will soon be kept on suspense too, like other embarrassing dramas the Nigerian leaders were playing before it.
The catching of Lawan with pants down in the bribery mess, who was once regarded as Mr. Clean, because of the role he has played in the Integrity Group five years ago in the House of Representatives, it is difficult to believe any public office holders again saying that he or she will not support what will undermine the commonwealth of Nigerians in general. Even when the masses object, just as the governors took the case of SWF to court and the Federal Government was insisting on going ahead with the implementation of fund. The governors are not in support of the SWF, but the malevolence-minded persons would always do their biddings.
What these lawless money mongers do is just to be sharers of the commonwealth of Nigerians in general without being resourceful enough to be creators of wealth and job for the common Nigerians. They just share their national cake, Nigerians nature-given cake. They talk about Reforms and Restructuring, without the unsuspecting Nigerians knowing that what they mean is everything should go to them as national cake to be shared. They do not see their submission here to be wrong and misleading, inasmuch as it concerns money sharing. They maroon Nigerians to palpable misrepresentations in many forms. They embezzle the money from crude oil from the Niger Delta, and leave the people of that region to only health hazards they encounter on daily basis because their region is polluted by flaring of gas and crude oil exploration.
When it comes to sharing of money in Nigeria is when most of the public offices come out and pretend to be working. They flex muscles as if the interest of the masses is paramount to them, but they are just myopic financially. Hardly is the government and its agents talking about the need for more investment. Even when they do, their appetite for such is as much greased as looting the money earmarked for such investment immediately. It is then such name as the Sovereign Wealth Fund will be given a proper definition, but its purpose carpeted, and how it works will be the masterplan of Abuja.
Nigerians have never had a balanced story of how their money goes in the hands of these oligarchs and kleptomaniacs masquerading as leaders. They are just leeches. They only leave Nigerians with the impression that they are working when there is nothing to show for their media-bloated works. They are masters in politicizing everything. They even show that they know the law more than the jurists; hence they don’t wait for the court to interpret the law. This is the level lawlessness is growing everyday in Nigeria because there is unquestionable money to share at interval.
These lawless money mongers would criticize Nigerians to any level of wanting everything to go for free in the country’s service and would do anything to harass innocent citizens should they revolt, because they knew that they have only succeeded in sacrificing innovative solutions to the country’s economic survival on the platter of fraud. Instead of one national economy for Nigeria the lawless money mongers would want 36 or 774 economies.
Their demonstration is always unfavorable to the National economic rebirth. And this is their biggest strategies of their continued efforts to malign the ordinary Nigerian. They would want to amend the Constitution or sign into law a lifetime Pension Bill. Supercilious as they and their ideas are, they aptly lack investment policy but claim that they are the policymakers of the economy. They spend any of the economy’s proceeds on white elephant projects. A mismanager is their other name. They would make every anxious effort to retrieve the country’s economy by setting up a body or the other, like the Excess Crude Account, purposely to carp up the nation’s foreign reserve, pay-off her foreign debt, as well as fund some capital projects, amongst other benefits, but their character towards that is just as the country and its economy they want to salvage. Their ideas are always awe-inspiring but later they bring their iniquitous behaviours to the gallery for people to frown. They don’t care that the nation is lacking in basic infrastructure, but they will rather mount legal suits on issues they even know that the Constitution of Nigeria does not allow, just to make the policy to suffer a set-back.
But how long shall Nigeria continue this way? Forcing the government to rescind policies has become the game plan in many quarters, for the single purpose of sharing of money among the tiers of government, leaving mismanagement of the unplanned funds in the hands of the lawless money mongers – the beneficiaries. They engage in distasteful personal fortification to the detriment of Nigerians. Straight away, there should be a re-birth in the thinking and leadership of these lawless leaders. They always fight over their loot without anything serious on ground to show for their stewardship. They cry blue murder when questioned, forgetting the fate of Nigerians they have subjected towards untold hardship. They don’t care about the nagging fear that Nigeria has been taken for a ride by no other people but the lawless money mongers. This brings to bear that the NGF’s case against the FG over the issue of the SWF. This case is not for the common good of Nigerians but for the rapacious governors’ own egotistical curiosity; and the Lawan-Otedola futile exposition is the politics of the leaders to always change the direction of common Nigerians not to understand the economic-politics that go on in Abuja.
Therefore, the economy’s windfall should stop being seen as a fat bonus to loot by the leaders. Somehow, it was because of this loot in the psych of the leaders that made none of the governors came out openly to condemn the petrol subsidy removal in January. Let the leaders broaden their knowledge on the theory, practice and the ruses behind this all significant economic apparatus. This is what is needed in Nigeria to make her a reimbursement house of ideas. The leaders should showcase intellectualism, and stop posting disgusting bribery films in the already defrauded mentality of an average Nigerian.
Odimegwu Onwumere is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State(CONIRIV). Mobile: +2348032552855. Email: email@example.com