As I ponder the fate of Nigeria in the hands of the gazillion looters that fill our halls of power, I shake my head realizing how hard some of our fellow countrymen struggle to put simple three square meals on the table. But despondency overtake one when you realize these hungry countrymen are often times themselves the purveyors of small scale corruption that keep the engines of the larger loot humming!
Yes, I speak of the customs officer, the police corporal, and the civil servant even the office secretary that refuses to move an inch unless they are “settled”! I mean, literarily- Nigeria is screwed! With this manner of citizens where is the future? Today, offer any young person an opportunity to choose between a professional career and serving as the domestic servant of Bamanga Tukur, and I bet they’ll choose the later! That is the stuff of dreams in Nigeria; a country where connection is valued over competence.
Okay, so you never participated in that free reign of chop-chop that enveloped the land in those subsidy years. Those years of easy money, when a written consignment to import refined petroleum into one of the largest oil producers in the world could land you in overnight millions. Even if you missed out in that largesse, here is possibly how it could otherwise have been spent.
Assuming that 1.7 trillion Naira was not looted, I have tried to concur up couple of things it could potentially do for you and I:
1. $10 billion will put one world class InterContinental Airport at Lagos at a cost of $1billion, and 10 new regional airport you can be proud of at $250 million each, and the country still pockets $6.5bn of that money. Okay, we’ll take that and construct high-speed rail line connecting Lagos, to either Abuja or Port Harcourt; a 500-mile line running maximum at $100 million per mile.
2. Assuming the nation’s sophisticated transportation problem is not the issue, $10billion will jump start a $40billion Public-Private Sector program to build a national highway system to connect the top 50 cities in Nigeria (mostly state capitals); these inter-state highways will dramatically open up our hinterlands, save lives and improve commerce.
3. Granted, some commentators insist power is Nigeria’s number one problem; I agree. But given our $12billion experience with IPP, I am not one to assume throwing money at the problem will solve anything. Heck, we still have $6billion worth of equipment abandoned at the Lagos Port by PHCN. Okay, perhaps there is a better way: How about finance the build up of four 1.5GW nuclear plants on offshore islands in the Atlantic (Safety!). Total approximate cost is $30billion, this pays it down 33%- consumers finance the rest and we double our current supply in four years with a 4.5GW injection into the grid! Risky, you bet. But not as risky as the leaky pockets of the cabal!
4. But perhaps, you favor the soft stuff…the hospitals and the schools. What can $10billion do? 500 mid-size world-class universities built at a top to bottom, plug and play cost of $200million each. Or is it 1000 world-class primary health care center, and a trust fund to support their operation at $10million per site across Nigeria? Do the math, $4million to build and equip, $6million in fixed annuity account for 100 years will guarantee $500,000 in withdrawals on an annual basis assuming 10% growth. Even at 5%, these 1000 clinics that will deliver our pregnant women, cure cancers and relieve the sick will take in almost $300,000 in annual payout to finance such arrangement. We can count on 25% or more increase in life expectancy, and a grateful nation thereafter.
Perhaps if you like a combination of these projects- pick your poison and figure out how much poorer we all are because some common thieves were allowed to parade themselves in PPRA, NNPC, Ministry of Petroleum, Office of the Accountant General, the Presidency and the gazillion other offices set up across the land designed specifically to loot
Just before you lose your brains over this $10billion subsidy loot now revealed thanks to a yeo-man job by the House Committee, consider the other level of looting that continues in the upstream sector. Just recently, Dan Etete of Sani Abacha Petroleum Ministry fame sold an oil bloc he corruptly acquired under Abacha for $1.3billion! His was just the tip of the iceberg, Danjuma also sold- as do the billions that exchange hands daily in waived signature bonuses in that shady sector.
Want to try to change this state of affairs? Well, consider this, “a birthday gift or child-naming gift from an oil bloc owner to a government official could be as paltry as $2million dollars, and if the official’s father died, the condolence gift could reach mere $3 million dollars. When they want to bribe legislators, it is in millions of dollars and any ongoing investigation ends within weeks.” That is according to those that are in the know. Change definitely, will never come from within.
Oil lifting contracts, as well as oil blocs given at dash away prices cost Nigeria upward of $100billion yearly. Just imagine what the possibilities are; imagine for a second that you don’t live in or come from a nation of crooks!