By Olabode Jegede, Moses Adeniyi, Ismail Adekunle, Sunny Enakireru
Following a report which revealed that Nigeria’s leaders stole $600billion between 1960 and 2019, there are strong criticisms on leaders who led the nation into state of economy shambles.
A foreign magazine had estimated $600billion believed to have been stolen from Nigeria since its Independence in 1960.
The Economist magazine in its report mentioned, former head of states, Sani Abacha, and former governor of Delta State, Mr. James Ibori, who served a prison sentence in Britain after admitting to plundering $79million from the public purse.
In the same report, Chatham House, a British think-tank, estimates that $582billion has been stolen from Nigeria alone since it won independence in 1960.
Responding, the spokesman for the Yoruba Socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Comrade Yinka Odumakin in a chat with Nigerian NewsDirect described Nigerian politicans and elites as an organized bandits.
Odumakin lamented that despite the trillion of dollars the country has made since the discovery of crude oil, the per capita income of average Nigerians today is an eyesore.
He further stressed that with the level of decay and looting of public funds which according to him is the “accomplishment of Nigerian Leaders”, the $600billion report may not be untrue.
“Nigerian politics and leadership has been an organised banditry; a criminal project which is the reason why inspite of all the trillion of dollars this country has made from oil, we are still where we are today.
“All our infrastructures have collapsed; there are no light, water, drainage, roads. Everywhere you go to, you see poverty.
“Today we are the global stream secretariat of poverty.
“Where has all the money gone to, (it has gone) into stealing. That is why we won’t be very conservative of the report because stealing has been the greatest accomplishment of Nigerian leaders from independence till now.”
He added that corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of the country which has caused grave effects on the Nigerian economy.
He said “every sign you can talk of in Nigeria today, diversely flowed from corruption by the leaders.
“Today, the Northeast is the centre of banditry and insurgency, but many people do not know the underlining economic assumptions.
“Across Nigeria today, over 60 per cent of the citizens spend 80 to 90 per cent on food. But the people of the Northeast spend 121 per cent of their income on food.”
He further castigated the recent decision of some state governors negotiating with bandits, stressing that the authority of the government is collapsing.
According to him, “All these are fallout of the stealing of the leaders. They’ve stolen all our commonwealth and today our country as I have said has been an organised banditry.
“You can find many of the fraudsters in the Senate, House of Representatives, and as Governors. So politics is the only crime you commit in Nigeria today with no consequences.”
He, however, noted that looting and corruption will be better tackled with decentralisation of power to reset the Nigerian polity.
He stressed that the restructuring should be such that will enable state governments to generate their resources themselves which will enable citizens to hold leaders accountable.
Odumakin said, “To tackle corruption in Nigeria today, we need to reset. We need to dispatch power to the federating units.
“Every section should be allowed to generate its own resources. When you start that, the people will be able to hold their leaders accountable.
“As long as we continue the banditry of the federal government governing the country, cornering all the resources, and storing them in Abuja, the people will find it difficult to hold the leaders accountable.”
In his own reaction, the former President/Chairman of Council, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Prof. Segun Ajibola counters the estimated funds stolen by Nigerian leaders, expressing that corruption has eaten deep in the nation’s economy both in Naira and in dollar.
According to him, “Our revenue is exposed when we know that over 90 per cent of foreign exchange earning comes from bonds and others coming from oil & gas.
“The money that is supposed to be available, corruption by the way of diversion, or whatever form has taken such funds. The result is very obvious.”
In addition, a lecturer with the Pan African University, Dr Austin Nweze, said, “Apart from corruption, money borrowed by the government for infrastructure, others are used for personal gains and not the mean purpose of its borrowing.
“Well, it is part of the possibilities that our leaders have stolen $600 billion but the amount is what I do not know.
“This government has borrowed trillions of dollars in this year using about 60 per cent to service debt.
“Look at the 2020 budget, with that burden, we cannot perform anything. So, what is happening is what has been happening since independence.
It is like this budget is used to prepare for another election. The $5 billion former President, Olusegun Obasanjo borrowed in 1978, after FESTAC has finished. These are part of the things he paid off when he had a debt relief some years back.”
So, corruption has really taken a large chunk of the nation’s investment. the question is what is UK doing if they so much love Nigeria.
A lady from London through a video that went viral said that the more important is not about the money but why should the British allow such money to flow in. now, they are saying the Nigerian leaders has stolen $600 billion since independence, it could be more than that. So, it is a terrible situation.
The health care system has collapsed, the Education system is affected, no power, no industries and no infrastructure in which part of the money would have been used to such sector. These are common goals and it has affected Nigerians because if you give out every money that is generated, each Nigerians must be receiving over a million. So, it affects every Nigerian, directly or indirectly. If they had used that money for infrastructure, the quality of life would improve. If not for corruption, we will have power. If not for the GSM, the telecommunication sector will continue to be that way. Human Developing Index (HDI).
In Human Developing index (HDI), Nigeria ranks at the bottom and it was all this indices, the high crime rate. If they have invested and made money available for small business to grow, they will create jobs and people can work. Also, they build a strong middle class because now, there is no middle class at all.
During Yar’ adua regime, he made his own projection of “Vision 2020” that Nigeria will be among the 20th largest economy in the world which is just next year. So, how far have they gone in terms of infrastructure?
Brasil was 10th as at the 2020 vision by Yar’adua came up, between that and now, brasil, about two years ago, has overtaken over Britain to become 6th in the world. There was corruption in their country too. So, any economy that has a strong middle class, that economy can grow because the growth of any economy is the middle class as they determine what is to be consumed and the direction the economy goes both the political system and all that.
But, we do not have a middle class.