His Excellency, Executive Embezzler

His Excellency, Executive Embezzler

By Okey Ndibe (okeyndibe@gmail.com)

Last week, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused three former Nigerian governors – Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State, Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo, and Aliyu Akwe Doma of Nasarawa – of stealing billions of naira of public funds. One newspaper reported that the three men allegedly mismanaged or embezzled more than 100 billion naira between them.

alt

Two of the three men, Mr. Daniel and Mr. Alao-Akala, made court appearances to face multiple counts of money laundering and embezzlement. In a country where shame still has some purchase, a man accused of unconscionable theft would wear an expression indicating his recognition of the gravity of his alleged office. Even if falsely accused, such a man would comport himself in a manner that leaves nobody in doubt that he takes the charges seriously.

Not, alas, the former governors of Ogun and Oyo. Both Daniel and Alao-Akala arrived at the respective venues of their trial with the swagger and strut of candidates for induction into rolls of honor. Each brought a retinue of idolizing cheerleaders. Sporting flowing white agbada, they smiled and laughed and pumped fists and shook hands and waved to ecstatic supporters.

If anything, the body language of the two accused men left the impression that they mistook their trials for political rallies. Scratch that: it was as if they were stars at a political carnival, mobbed by adoring fans out to shower them with gratitude for peerless service. The atmosphere was nothing if not exuberant. It was the Bode George syndrome on steroids. Three years ago, Mr. George, a former military governor and confidant of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, was docked on charges of mismanaging billions of naira during his tenure as chairman of the board of the Nigerian Ports Authority.

As if determined to mock his trial, turning its solemn proceeding into an occasion for fashion and entertainment, Mr. George arrived at each court session with his posse of supporters, most of them elegant women who spotted matching dresses and expensive paraphernalia. Unimpressed by the fashion extravaganza, the judge found Bode George guilty and sent him – and his co-accused – straight to jail.

If Bode George's fashion parades did not sway his judge, why are Daniel and Alao-Akala plying the same route? Why did they act as if they were in court to be decorated with medals for exemplary public service? Do they see themselves as heroic and populist who are being unfairly persecuted for championing the cause of the downtrodden?

Far from it! Nigerian prosecutors want both men to account for billions of naira they reportedly pocketed through fraudulent means and in illicit schemes. In other words, the EFCC has set itself the task of proving that Daniel and Alao-Akala are crooks, pure and simple. Should the commission's case hold up in court, the two ex-governors are bound to earn spots in the nation's public ledger as "His Excellency, the Executive Embezzler."

In fact, if the anti-corruption agency persuades the trial judges that the accused are guilty, then the two former governors face the prospect of several years in jail – in addition to stiff fines. Why would a man in such potential jeopardy trivialize his trial by behaving as if he were the chief celebrant at an owambe outing, complete with praise singers?

One answer, of course, is that the two ex-governors know what the rest of us don't know: that their trial is a ruse, a ploy, a gimmick designed to titillate the Nigerian public and to maintain the fiction – with the international community – that Nigeria takes seriously the war against corruption.

Heck, it's actually not true that the rest of us don't know it. Certainly, Nigerians have seen little or no reason to believe that the apparatus of law enforcement and the machinery of justice mean business when it comes to combating corruption. There's much anecdotal evidence to support the perception that anybody with loads of cash can buy his way around the Nigerian police. Besides, Nigeria has been terribly unlucky in several of its attorney generals. Often, it's as if the occupants of that hallowed office see their primary duty to be the protection of the worst of plunderers.

Think about it: Nigeria has been the stage for a series of national and international scandals, but without a single Nigerian official being held to account. There's the whole question of what happened to billions of dollars that Nigeria reportedly earned during the first Gulf War, when retired General Ibrahim Babangida was running the country. The late economist, Pius Okigbo, investigated the matter, but nobody knows where his report can be found.

There was the Pentascope scheme, in which – by some account – Nigeria lost more than N100 billion. The National Assembly made moves to probe the scandal, but the whole affair soon fizzled into nothingness.

Thanks to the feud between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his deputy, Atiku Abubakar, we learned about the questionable ways that the cash in our country's Petroleum Trust Fund was disbursed. Neither man was seriously questioned on the matter.

There was the Siemens bribe scheme. In late 2008, officials of the Germany-based engineering giant agreed to pay a record-setting fine of $1.6 billion to the German and US governments to settle an investigation into the company's practice of paying bribes in exchange for contracts in several countries, including Nigeria. Then Nigerian ruler Umaru Yar'Adua vowed to find and prosecute any Nigerian official who accepted the inducement. Till date, not a single Nigerian official has been indicted.

Then, there was the mother of recent scandals: Halliburton. It involved an extensive bribe scheme in which executives of Halliburton, a company once headed by former US Vice President Dick Cheney, confessed to bribing several top Nigerian officials in order to secure huge liquefied natural gas contracts. In March 2009, the office of then attorney general Michael Aondoakaa stated that Nigeria had sent an official request to the US government for the names of Nigerian beneficiaries of the bribes. You guessed right: That statement was as far as Nigeria ever went before the whole story disappeared from the pages of newspapers – and Nigerians were lulled to forgetfulness.

Incidents of proven or alleged betrayal of the public trust have since lost their capacity to shock Nigerians. It's conventional wisdom in Nigeria that most, if not all, public officials – both in elective as well as appointive posts – help themselves liberally to public funds. What's even worse is that many Nigerians have become so jaded that they openly defend deplorable and brazen acts of corruption. On blogs and other Internet forums, some contributors invest energy inventing all kinds of justifications – or excuses – for public officials (among them, presidents, governors, ministers, legislators, local government councilors) who loot public treasuries.

Many Nigerians would often garland the necks of pickpockets with tires, douse them in fuel, and set them on fire. But some of the same merciless Nigerians would argue that politicians who pocket billions of naira in stolen funds must be accorded respect due the office they hold. Some Nigerians would not insist that occupants of exalted public office must conduct themselves nobly. Yet, when a public official is called by the proper name earned by his or her ignoble conduct – for example, for stealing – some misguided apologists rush forward to demand that the office itself guarantees its occupant some form of beatification.

President Barack Obama earns $400,000 per annum. Even his most inveterate critics would agree that the man works hard for every dollar he's paid. Amazingly, no Nigerian governor – and few of Nigeria's local government chairmen – would agree to swap salaries with Mr. Obama. Why is that so? For one, because most Nigerian governors collect N300 million or more each month – more than $2 million – in an entrenched scam called security vote. Each month, then, many a Nigerian governor pockets enough cash to pay Mr. Obama's annual salary four or five times over!

For that matter, every three months, members of Nigeria's legislature collect enough cash in "constituency allowances" to pay the US president's salary three times over. Yet, with the exception of a handful of public officials, it is difficult to make the case that Nigerian leaders work hard.

But you must give them this: Nigerian politicians know how to laugh hard, even when they stand in the dock accused of betraying those they were sworn to serve.



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Re: His Excellency, Executive Embezzler
Chi2 posted on 10-18-2011, 10:56:40 AM

His Excellency, Executive Embezzler


By Okey Ndibe (okeyndibe@gmail.com)


Last week, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused three former Nigerian governors – Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State, Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo, and Aliyu Akwe Doma of Nasarawa – of stealing billions of naira of public funds. One newspaper reported that the three men allegedly mismanaged or embezzled more than 100 billion naira between them.


alt


Two of the three men, Mr. Daniel and Mr. Alao-Akala, made court appearances to face multiple counts of money laundering and embezzlement. In a country where shame still has some purchase, a man accused of unconscionable theft would wear an expression indicating his recognition of the gravity of his alleged office. Even if falsely accused, such a man would comport himself in a manner that leaves nobody in doubt that he takes the charges seriously.


Not, alas, the former governors of Ogun and Oyo. Both Daniel and Alao-Akala arrived at the respective venues of their trial with the swagger and strut of candidates for induction into rolls of honor. Each brought a retinue of idolizing cheerleaders. Sporting flowing white agbada, they smiled and laughed and pumped fists and shook hands and waved to ecstatic supporters.


If anything, the body language of the two accused men left the impression that they mistook their trials for political rallies. Scratch that: it was as if they were stars at a political carnival, mobbed by adoring fans out to shower them with gratitude for peerless service. The atmosphere was nothing if not exuberant. It was the Bode George syndrome on steroids. Three years ago, Mr. George, a former military governor and confidant of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, was docked on charges of mismanaging billions of naira during his tenure as chairman of the board of the Nigerian Ports Authority.


As if determined to mock his trial, turning its solemn proceeding into an occasion for fashion and entertainment, Mr. George arrived at each court session with his posse of supporters, most of them elegant women who spotted matching dresses and expensive paraphernalia. Unimpressed by the fashion extravaganza, the judge found Bode George guilty and sent him – and his co-accused – straight to jail.


If Bode George's fashion parades did not sway his judge, why are Daniel and Alao-Akala plying the same route? Why did they act as if they were in court to be decorated with medals for exemplary public service? Do they see themselves as heroic and populist who are being unfairly persecuted for championing the cause of the downtrodden?


Far from it! Nigerian prosecutors want both men to account for billions of naira they reportedly pocketed through fraudulent means and in illicit schemes. In other words, the EFCC has set itself the task of proving that Daniel and Alao-Akala are crooks, pure and simple. Should the commission's case hold up in court, the two ex-governors are bound to earn spots in the nation's public ledger as "His Excellency, the Executive Embezzler."


In fact, if the anti-corruption agency persuades the trial judges that the accused are guilty, then the two former governors face the prospect of several years in jail – in addition to stiff fines. Why would a man in such potential jeopardy trivialize his trial by behaving as if he were the chief celebrant at an owambe outing, complete with praise singers?


One answer, of course, is that the two ex-governors know what the rest of us don't know: that their trial is a ruse, a ploy, a gimmick designed to titillate the Nigerian public and to maintain the fiction – with the international community – that Nigeria takes seriously the war against corruption.


Heck, it's actually not true that the rest of us don't know it. Certainly, Nigerians have seen little or no reason to believe that the apparatus of law enforcement and the machinery of justice mean business when it comes to combating corruption. There's much anecdotal evidence to support the perception that anybody with loads of cash can buy his way around the Nigerian police. Besides, Nigeria has been terribly unlucky in several of its attorney generals. Often, it's as if the occupants of that hallowed office see their primary duty to be the protection of the worst of plunderers.


Think about it: Nigeria has been the stage for a series of national and international scandals, but without a single Nigerian official being held to account. There's the whole question of what happened to billions of dollars that Nigeria reportedly earned during the first Gulf War, when retired General Ibrahim Babangida was running the country. The late economist, Pius Okigbo, investigated the matter, but nobody knows where his report can be found.


There was the Pentascope scheme, in which – by some account – Nigeria lost more than N100 billion. The National Assembly made moves to probe the scandal, but the whole affair soon fizzled into nothingness.


Thanks to the feud between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his deputy, Atiku Abubakar, we learned about the questionable ways that the cash in our country's Petroleum Trust Fund was disbursed. Neither man was seriously questioned on the matter.


There was the Siemens bribe scheme. In late 2008, officials of the Germany-based engineering giant agreed to pay a record-setting fine of $1.6 billion to the German and US governments to settle an investigation into the company's practice of paying bribes in exchange for contracts in several countries, including Nigeria. Then Nigerian ruler Umaru Yar'Adua vowed to find and prosecute any Nigerian official who accepted the inducement. Till date, not a single Nigerian official has been indicted.


Then, there was the mother of recent scandals: Halliburton. It involved an extensive bribe scheme in which executives of Halliburton, a company once headed by former US Vice President Dick Cheney, confessed to bribing several top Nigerian officials in order to secure huge liquefied natural gas contracts. In March 2009, the office of then attorney general Michael Aondoakaa stated that Nigeria had sent an official request to the US government for the names of Nigerian beneficiaries of the bribes. You guessed right: That statement was as far as Nigeria ever went before the whole story disappeared from the pages of newspapers – and Nigerians were lulled to forgetfulness.


Incidents of proven or alleged betrayal of the public trust have since lost their capacity to shock Nigerians. It's conventional wisdom in Nigeria that most, if not all, public officials – both in elective as well as appointive posts – help themselves liberally to public funds. What's even worse is that many Nigerians have become so jaded that they openly defend deplorable and brazen acts of corruption. On blogs and other Internet forums, some contributors invest energy inventing all kinds of justifications – or excuses – for public officials (among them, presidents, governors, ministers, legislators, local government councilors) who loot public treasuries.


Many Nigerians would often garland the necks of pickpockets with tires, douse them in fuel, and set them on fire. But some of the same merciless Nigerians would argue that politicians who pocket billions of naira in stolen funds must be accorded respect due the office they hold. Some Nigerians would not insist that occupants of exalted public office must conduct themselves nobly. Yet, when a public official is called by the proper name earned by his or her ignoble conduct – for example, for stealing – some misguided apologists rush forward to demand that the office itself guarantees its occupant some form of beatification.


President Barack Obama earns $400,000 per annum. Even his most inveterate critics would agree that the man works hard for every dollar he's paid. Amazingly, no Nigerian governor – and few of Nigeria's local government chairmen – would agree to swap salaries with Mr. Obama. Why is that so? For one, because most Nigerian governors collect N300 million or more each month – more than $2 million – in an entrenched scam called security vote. Each month, then, many a Nigerian governor pockets enough cash to pay Mr. Obama's annual salary four or five times over!


For that matter, every three months, members of Nigeria's legislature collect enough cash in "constituency allowances" to pay the US president's salary three times over. Yet, with the exception of a handful of public officials, it is difficult to make the case that Nigerian leaders work hard.


But you must give them this: Nigerian politicians know how to laugh hard, even when they stand in the dock accused of betraying those they were sworn to serve.



..Read the full article
Re: His Excellency, Executive Embezzler
Ariteni posted on 10-18-2011, 11:30:09 AM
This excellent piece should be read along with Sonala Olumhense's Monopoly money ; Seyi Oduyela's Owners of Nigeria. Unless and until by every means necessary[/B the youths make Nigeria uncomfortable for looters, the insult which their excitement represents on the rest of us will never cease.

Thanks to this prolific writer for this piece but Okey faces accusation of
[B]selective commentary
because about a month ago when serving Governors mobilised crowd and sprayed money at Gov Bola Tinubu's trial with pictures all over the internet, he did not say a word; just like the corruption of HE Orji Uzor Kalu and Chris Ngige are exempted from his powerful pen whose latest South East victim is Gov Peter Obi!
Re: His Excellency, Executive Embezzler
Eire posted on 10-18-2011, 11:52:13 AM
I blame Nigerian citizens for allowing this nonsense continue for 51 years without any sort of physical attacks to run these people out...

So far, article writers are still giving Nigerian citizens a break for their continued silence and docility. It will seem that no matter what the citizens put up with it is not their fault but that of the criminals who were allowed to brazenly continue with reckless abandon.

I will never blame any Nigerian politicians, my blame will continue to rest at the doorsteps of the daft citizens
Re: His Excellency, Executive Embezzler
Hawk posted on 10-18-2011, 14:48:26 PM
I beleive God is gradually working to redeem Nigeria from the Executive Embezzlers. Recall that previously European and North American countries used to be safe heave for looted money from Nigeria. Then came 9/11( fancy word for the date of Al-Queda bombing in USA) which triggered Anti-Money Laundering law enforcement all over advanced nations. Now illegai money laundering is illegal whether from the terrorists or from dubious Nigerian ex-governors. Now American banks are disclosing bank accounts of Ex-Nigerian Government officials.
God is still working, I beleive.
Re: His Excellency, Executive Embezzler
Yankari posted on 10-18-2011, 15:24:51 PM
@Hawk
'I beleive God is gradually working to redeem Nigeria from the Executive Embezzlers'.

Typical lazy Nigerian response! The same way North Africans waited for him to redeem them. I hope your chair is very comfortable cause i will be a very long wait, 51 years have gone by already. Siddon dey wait!
Re: His Excellency, Executive Embezzler
Patcho posted on 10-18-2011, 16:07:06 PM
I see nothing wrong the Governors have done.
If Nigeria doesn't deserve the treatment, they know what to do.
But they do. Thanks @Eire.
Re: His Excellency, Executive Embezzler
Hawk posted on 10-18-2011, 18:55:36 PM
@Yankari
QUOTE:
Typical lazy Nigerian response! The same way North Africans waited for him to redeem them. I hope your chair is very comfortable cause i will be a very long wait, 51 years have gone by already. Siddon dey wait!

Thank you for reminding me. I forgot to add that we should be doing something while God continues to intervene.But I still beleive in God's intervention. With God we can achieve redemption without going the North Africa way.Even nations achieve independence with different strategies.
Re: His Excellency, Executive Embezzler
Dioro posted on 10-18-2011, 20:35:11 PM
just like the corruption of HE Orji Uzor Kalu and Chris Ngige are exempted from his powerful pen.....
Aritine
Abeg make you explanate (as Zebrudaya would say) the "corruption of Chris Ngige" abi you just dey type because you see key board.
Re: His Excellency, Executive Embezzler
Chi2 posted on 10-18-2011, 21:00:41 PM
@Hawk
QUOTE:
Recall that previously European and North American countries used to be safe heave for looted money from Nigeria. Then came 9/11( fancy word for the date of Al-Queda bombing in USA) which triggered Anti-Money Laundering law enforcement all over advanced nations. Now illegai money laundering is illegal whether from the terrorists or from dubious Nigerian ex-governors. Now American banks are disclosing bank accounts of Ex-Nigerian Government officials.


Did it occur to you that if European and US banks stage war against money laundering in their banks, ill-gotten monies could find their ways to the Caribbean countries and other smaller smaller European countries like Andorra etc.
Re: His Excellency, Executive Embezzler
Patcho posted on 10-18-2011, 23:42:45 PM
@Hawk:
"But I still beleive in God's intervention."

God intervenes and we cannot apportion time to His will.
9/11 you gave is a good example, same way the Bristish didn't see terrorism when they handed over power to the North in 1960.

What will change Nigeria order will come from God using outside forces, not from docile Nigerians. With Muttalab, the rise of MEND, Boko Haram dexterity, the South-Sudan example {the need to carve out a small area rather than a big for nothing entity}, etc..., the march is on. And the real owners of Nigeria are watching with Gun against anybody who would foment trouble.
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