Nigeria is currently ranked 136th on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2014, and the government would like to celebrate that this is an 8-point improvement from the country’s 144th a year ago.
However, the bone of contention is why a country of more than 170 million with a 60 percent or 33 percent poverty rate (depending on whose statistics you choose to believe) should be perpetually tagged as corrupt; when in actual fact only about 1 percent of the population has the “capacity” to be corrupt or perpetuate the level of corruption that attracts global attention.
In the past four years, countless investigations/forensic audits/panels of inquiry have been initiated by the government to look into various allegations of misappropriation of funds. In 2012, a House of Representatives committee investigation on subsidy payments between 2009 and 2011 found about $6.8 billion drained from government coffers.
In 2013, the Oduah-gate story was an inquiry into alleged $1.6 million diverted by then minister of aviation, Stella Oduah, for the purchase of two (or three?) bulletproof luxury vehicles.
In late 2013 and 2014, then CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, raised alarm of over $20 billion missing oil money accruable to the Federation Account from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The list goes on and on.
The common factor among these puzzling investigations is the unique inability of the outcome of these commissioned investigations to convert to any form of decisive action on the part of the government. For instance, government is still making huge petrol subsidy payments to product marketers. Only after a recent public outcry were the margins adjusted to reflect an almost eight-month crash in oil prices, with a lower pump price.
Given these antecedents, the entire nation has grown somewhat apathetic to the serial investigations into corruption without any decisive action on the part of government. As we say, “it’s all motion and no movement”.
So, what will be the outcome of the now concluded forensic audit of missing oil monies by PricewaterhouseCoopers? Has the NNPC been indicted? If yes, what actions will be taken by government?
In a nutshell, the findings of the report are that NNPC owes the Federal Government at least $1.48 billion and has been paying for kerosene subsidies to the tune of $3.38 billion, despite an order issued by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua to stop this payment.
How do we launder our image when the agency of government responsible for regulating the most critical revenue source for our economy is found wanting? And why have the executives of the NNPC remained in their positions all through the audit and up till this time of an indictment?
Very recently in Brazil, the head of the state-run oil giant, Petrobras, and six executives all resigned in the wake of a corruption scandal of similar magnitude as ours. Back in 2007, former chief executive of Swiss offshore oil company, Noble, resigned over allegations of bribes to officers at Nigeria’s borders.
We therefore call for a decisive action now that the truth has been laid bare. Such action is needed to show the world that we are serious about tackling corruption. Without that, we continue to pay lip service to the anti-corruption campaign from election to election.
It is imperative that the government uses this golden opportunity to prove to the global community that Nigeria is truly against corruption. Let actions speak louder than mere investigations.