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Agitations for new constitution/power devolution: Between celebration of ignorance and coup plotting – Elaigwu Apeh

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be certain absolute limits on constitutional amendment.

In 1965, Conrad gave a lecture on “Implied Limitations of the Amending Power” at the Law Faculty of the Banaras Hindu University, and afterwards wrote significant articles in Indian law journals on implied limits on constitutional amendment. The first and most important article was titled, “Limitations of Amendment Procedures and the Constituent Power” and was published in the Indian Yearbook of International Affairs in 1970. This article was also cited in the Kesavananda judgement. The second publication appeared in the Delhi Law Review in 1978 and was titled, “Constituent Power, Amendment and Basic Structure of the Constitution: A Critical Reconsideration”. In his lecture, which is said to have influenced Indian constitutional doctrine strongly, Conrad used extreme examples of constitutional amendments to draw attention to the idea of implied limits on constitutional amendments. See, Monika Poizin, “The basic-structure doctrine and its German and French origins: a tale of migration, integration, invention and forgetting, Indian Law Review, Journal homepage: https:ulwww.tandfonhine.comIloiIrilw2O.

The debate on the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution, lying somnolent in the archives of India’s constitutional history during the last decade of the 20th century, has reappeared in the public realm. While setting up the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (the Commission), the National Democratic Alliance government (formed by a coalition of 24 national and regional level parties) stated that the basic structure of the Constitution would not be tampered with. Justice M.N. Venkatachalaiah, Chairman of the Commission, has emphasised on several occasions that an inquiry into the basic structure of the Constitution lay beyond the scope of the Commission’s work. See, Venkatesh Nayak, “The Basic Structure of the Indian Constitution” 2016, International IDEALogo of Constitution Net.

On 13 May 2021, a panel of five High Court Justices unanimously adopted a significant ruling disqualifying The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The bill aimed to implement President Uhuru Kenyatta’s so called “Building Bridges Initiative (BBI)” and was supposed to be the most significant change to the state’s governmental structure since the constitution was adopted in 2010. It included the creation of 70 new constituencies, an increase in parliament-seats, the return of cabinet ministers to parliament-members, the creation of a Prime Minister position, together with Deputy Prime Ministers, and the creation of a Leader of Official Opposition in the National Assembly. Having been approved by the Legislature, the amendment awaited presidential approval after which it was supposed to go on to a referendum. The High Court ruled that the constitutional amendments are unconstitutional and, most importantly, that the so-called Basic Structure Doctrine applies in Kenya. Gautam Bhatia called the judgment “an instant classic” and “an example par excellence of transformative constitutionalism.” The judgment is not only a milestone from the perspective of comparative constitutional law; it might also change the future landscape of constitutionalism in Africa. See, Yaniv Roznai, “The Basic Structure Doctrine Arrives In Kenya Winds of Change for Constitutionalism in Africa?” 19 May, 2021, https//verfassungsblog.de/ the basic structure doctrine.

In the South African case of Executive Council of Western Cape Legislature v. The President of the Republic of South Africa & others, CCT/27/95; [1995] ZACC8; 1995 (10) BCLR 1289; 1995(4) SA 877, explained the doctrine as follows: “There are certain fundamental features of parliamentary democracy not spelt out in the Constitution but which are inherent in its nature, design and purpose… there are certain features of the constitutional order so fundamental that even if parliament followed the necessary amendment procedures it could not change them”.

In their wisdom, the courts did not lay down a list of provisions it considered to constitute the basic structure. Consequently, the claim of any particular feature of the constitution to be part of the “basic structure” is determined by the courts on a case by case basis. Whether or not a provision is part of the basic structure varies from country to country, depending on each country’s peculiar circumstances, including its history, political challenges and national vision. In answering this important question, courts will consider factors such as the preamble to the constitution, national objectives and directive principles of state policy (in countries which have them in their constitutions, such as Uganda), the bill of rights, the history of the constitution that led to the given provision, and the likely consequences of the amendment: Benson Tusasirwe, “The Basic Structure Doctrine and Constitutional Restraint:Take-away from the “Age Limit” Decision”, supra.

It is quite clear that by the basic structure doctrine, which is applicable in Nigeria as per Cocacola (Nig) Ltd V. Akinsanyo, supra, the efforts of the agitators and the National Assembly on the constitutional review are ultra vires and void ab initio. The kernel of the present review of the Constitution is devolution of power or restructuring. In Cocacola (Nig) Ltd V. Akinsanyo, supra, devolution of power or restructuring is clearly mentioned as one of the Basic Structures of our Constitution. If the agitation and the effort of the National Assembly is borne out of genuine ignorance of the basic structure doctrine in constitutional law, then, by virtue of this write-up, the exercise should be given decent burial. However, if the agitators and the National Assembly persist despite this write-up, then they are engaging in coup d’état. Above all, it is necessary for all to put aside the purported constitutional review and let us come to terms with problems of the nation created by our attitude.

I have taken a deep consideration of the agitations, principally the call for devolution of power. All I can read and understand is pure photocopy intellectualism, bankrupt in facts and logic. This has been ably captured by Simon Kolawole as follows: “Public debate in Nigeria, permit me to say, is not educative as you would find in many civilized societies. The predominant elements here are ethnic and religious emotions, garnished with delicate lies and dangerous half-truths. This first casualties, as always are facts and logic. There is the ‘herd instincts’ which makes us believe, say and do things like the people in our corner. The groupthink syndrome has stifled common sense and meaningful interlocution. For the fear of ‘dragging’, nobody wants to express an unpopular opinion. If you try to apply reason you may be shredded. As Professor Wale Adebanwi would say, it is treasonable to be reasonable in an unreasonable society”. Simon Kolawole, (True Federalism and other Fallacies, Thisday Sunday June 13, 2021 back page). For other great readings, see Simon Kolawole, “Restructuring and the 1963 Constitution”, (Thisday, Sunday, June 27 2021 back page) and Simon Kolawole, “We keep missing the point”, (Thisday, Sunday, July 3, 2021, back page).

Basketful of Corruption has made Nigeria Unitary State, not the Constitution

Nigerians are united in the practice of corruption as a way of life. From Ogun State to Yobe State, attitudes of Local Government Staff are the same; attitudes of businessmen and women in formal and informal sectors are the same; attitudes of States and Federal Civil Servants are the same; attitudes of trade unionist are the same; actions and policies of the Governors and members of the State Houses of Assembly are the same; and attitudes of ethno-regional and religions organizations are the same. Everything now is money. In fact, we are everything one but for our traditional dresses and mode of salutation.

The hallmark of the corruption is aggressive self-interest or self-first mentality. Ethnicity, regionalism and religiousity are tools for elimination of competition and all inclusiveness and therefore proved to be critical infrastructure for corruption.

Many Nigerians are ready to argue and indeed arguing that our problem is not corruption. So long someone is benefitting or potentially stands to benefit, there is nothing wrong with corruption. No amount of revenue generation and/or allocation can make any meaningful impact without a strong anti-corruption instrument. The ethno-regional and religious bodies, being part of the settlement infrastructure never talk of corruption as responsible for our problems.

When the ethno-regional and religious bodies ask of devolution of power, they are simply saying, devolve power and revenue associated with it so that there will be much more for devolution to them as part of the settlement infrastructure.

The South West is the leading exponent of true federalism/restructuring as political tool for ethno-regional chauvinism. However, our great father and leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in whose great name and action it is formulated, is quiet different in character, industry, great learning and patriotism from the contemporary exponents that only need it for their aggressive self interest.

There is nothing developmental that a State or group of States on regional platform want to achieve that cannot be achieved by the nature of our constitutional federalism.

By the unanimous adoption of corruption as a way of life, we have enthroned a common value and sociological validation that we are one, unitarism. The present constitutional provision on federalism is therefore extravagant. Corruption is the greatest driver of poverty and insecurity in Nigeria. We must place anti-corruption fight above all matters. Every Nigerian must own the fight against corruption.

Nigeria needs Mind Restructuring, not Constitutional Restructuring

Joko Okupe, founder of mindshift advocacy group stated that what Nigeria need most is the restructuring of their minds to always do the right things.

(Daily Sun, July 21, 2021, page 20).

According to Simon Kolawole, “Cost of governance” is not determined by the constitution, it is determined by the operators of the constitution The 1999 Constitution prescribes one minister per state, which means we can do with 36 ministers, but we decided to appoint 43. Should we blame the constitution for that? A governor appoints 1,000 aides and buys 1,000 Prado SUVs and we think the high “cost of governance” is caused by the constitution? Lawmakers create millions of naira for themselves as monthly allowances but we want to blame the high “cost of governance” on the constitution? In the end, it is the operators of the constitution that decide either to be prudent or wasteful with public funds. Having six regions will not automatically translate to a massive reduction in costs. This is Nigeria”. Simon Kolawole, “Restructuring and the 1963 Constitution”, (Thisday, Sunday, June 27 2021 back page)

Simon Kolawole further said: “Meanwhile, the 36 states are allowed to “compete” by the 1999 Constitution. Abia styles itself as the “SME capital of Nigeria”. Cross River says it is Nigeria’s best tourist destination. Must competition be among only six regions when 36

To be continued

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Opinion

No good roads in Ogun State?

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By Seyi Bakare

On July 2, one of the netizens on a social media hate campaign against the Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, over Ogun roads, Hauwa Allahbura (@HauwaAllahbura), wrote on X: “Ministry of Works Budget in 2024 N480mn. Governor STEEZE Budget is about N103bn. How will Ogun State roads be fixed? We beg you steeze governor, remove some budget from your steeze and fix the roads. #Dapofixogunroads.” Predictably, the tweet garnered endless likes and re-tweets. You see, the social media is the domain of emotion, not facts, and that is why(@HauwaAllahbura can peddle such garbage. A look at the Ogun budget under reference shows that N64bn was budgeted for the Governor’s Office while the Ministry of Works got N170 billion which includes payment for carry over projects from the preceeding year.
The N103 billion referenced by the mischief-makers was meant for the Governor’s Office, the Deputy Governor’s Office and agencies under the Governor’s Office, including the Ogun State Road Safety Advisory Council, Bureau of Public Procurement, Bureau of Pension and office of the Economic Adviser, among others. But supposing, for a moment, that N103 bn was actually allocated to the Governor’s Office, how is it less than N192bn? And just how can anyone who lays claim to literacy actually believe that such a paltry sum as N480m can be allocated to any ministry in 2024?

And now, let’s examine #Dapofixogunroads. The kernel of the campaign is that there are no good roads anywhere in Ogun State, and that Governor Abiodun must start building roads. The first question you have to ask yourself, honesty, is whether the critics actually know anything about Ogun State. This is because in the last five years, the Abiodun administration has constructed/rehabilitated over 600 km of roads in the state. For space constraints, one can only list a few of the roads: Ijebu-Ode-Mojoda-Epe Road, Abeokuta-Siun-Interchange Road, Panseke-Adigbe Road (Abeokuta), Molusi College Road(Ijebu North), Oru-Awa Ilaporu Road (Ijebu North), Ọba Erinwole Road (Sagamu), Ikola-Navy-Osi Ota Road (Ota), Ait-Raypower Road (Ota), Kemta-Somorin Road (Abeokuta), Joju-Iyana Ota Road, Fajol-American Junction-Gbonagun road, Olose Titun Vespa Road in Ifo, Baruwa road (Sagamu), Koko-Alari road (Ipokia), Iboro-Imasayi-Ayetotro road – Phase 1, Okeola Road (Imeko), Total-Itori township road, Igan-Ishanmurin-Odo Shikiti road (Ago Iwoye), Esure Road, Ijebu Imushin (Ijebu East) and Igbesa-Lusada Road. The Arepo-Journalist Estate Road, Lantoro-Elite-Idi Aba Road, Ejinrin – Idowa – Awa – Ibefun – Itokin Road, Awujale Road (Awujale, Stadium & Oke Aje) , Molipa / Asafa Isale / Ayegun / Ojofa Road In Ijebu-Ode, Asafa Oke / Fusigboye / Ojofa Street Road, Olommore-Sanni Road in Abeokuta, NNPC – MKO StadiumRoad down to Kuto bridge and IBB Boulevard, Idarika Street Road and Araromi / Sokoto Street Road are all in Ogun State, and guess who did them? A certain gentleman called Dapo Abiodun.

If you live around the areas covered by Iregun-Ita Osukun-Ilisa Road, Ijebu-Ode-Epe-Sagamu Benin Interchange Flyover Bridge, Ogbagba Street, Ijebu-Ode, Ilishan Market Road, Ilishan, Erunwon-Atan Road, Togburin -Agodo – Tigara, Molipa Expressway- Ibadan Garage, Ijebu Ode, Oyingbo-Olisa-Saka Ashiru-Ijebu Ode Road, Ikenne – Ilishan Ago Iwoye Road, Ijebu Ode Club Road, Ososa Road, Ajegunle Street, Sagamu and Gra Road, Ota, you would no doubt be aware that they are dividends of democracy under Dapo Abiodun. Of course, the boundaries of Ogun State isn’t determined by Twitter stupidity. Out of mischief, ignorance or political motivations, the critics have been throwing dirt at Governor Abiodun and his efforts to rehabilitate/construct roads across Ogun State. Many innocent people joined the bandwagon. After all, who doesn’t want good roads?

But here’s the point: most of the road targeted for attacks are federal roads. A prime example is the Lagos-Sango-Ota-Abeokuta road. Some context is necessary here. Ogun has more federal roads than most of the states in Nigeria and, sadly, most of them are in a deplorable condition. To the credit of the Abiodun administration, Ogun has actually intervened in so many of these federal roads, making them motorable. Take, for instance, the breathtaking, phenomenally beautiful Epe-Ijebu-Ode road that the then President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated when he visited Ogun State. It is a federal road. Using that road (which now serves as an escape route for people travelling from Lekki, Lagos Island, etc, who want to beat the traffic along the Mainland, etc) while claiming that Governor Abiodun has not built roads in Ogun State has to be classified as a form of mental illness. The people’s governor built that legacy road because of its economic importance to Ogun State. The Sagamu Interchange is a federal road, and so is the Atan Lusada Agbara road, and many more. Abiodun it was who built these masterpieces of engineering. The Laderin train station road built by Abiodun is a federal road. But if Abiodun chooses to expend all Ogun earnings on federal roads, there would be nothing left to do any state road. That’s where the problem lies.

It is quite unfortunate, isn’t it, that people persist in comparing Lagos to Ogun without bothering to know the federal roads in Lagos and their state. From Ikorodu to Ojota and from Ojota to Anthony Village, to Fadeyi, to Orile Iganmu, to Apongbon, and Marina, it is federal roads you are travelling on. From Berger to Seven Up and Oworonsoki, Third Mainland Bridge, to Lekki-Ajah road, the story is the same. That is also the case from Anthony to Oshodi, to Mile 2, Okokomaiko, Badagry and Osodi, down to Iyana Ipaja. Oshodi to Apapa, Tin Can Island and the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway. The point is this: just take away the federal roads from Lagos and look at the number of roads left for the Lagos State government to handle, then compare with the Ogun situation. Consider the speed with which the FG regularly takes care of its roads in Lagos, and the short shrift given to Ogun. Now imagine, just imagine, that the third mainland bridge is in a deplorable condition. Won’t it affect Lagos very badly? It is interesting that people attribute federal roads to Ogun State and want the state government to expend all its resources on them!

To be sure, Ogun has done so much on federal roads in the past. When Prince Abiodun came on board, he and Governor Sanwo-Olu wrote a joint letter to President Buhari requesting for the concessioning of the Lagos-Abeokuta road so that they could do it, toll it and return it back to the FG at a stipulated date. But the then Works Minister, Babatunde Fashola, objected to this and even when Governor Abiodun went to Ota and declared that that if the FG did not move to site within two weeks, Ogun State government would not hesitate to do the road, Fashola spit fire, saying Ogun State should leave federal roads alone. Indeed, there are federal roads that the Abiodun government did for which it is still awaiting reimbursement from the FG to date. This is not about passing the buck: the Twitter loudmouths should know the status of the roads they are complaining about.

Of course, the Abiodun government isn’t going to stop doing federal and state roads in the state. At the moment, five prime roads are being done per local government, as requested by the LGs themselves. The roads in a sorry state, highlighted on the social media, have been scheduled for repairs, but that should not stop a just rebuke of the FG and its ways in Ogun State. That the FG needs to do more in Ogun State cannot overstated. This is not about party politicking: it is a tradition that needs to be dismantled. If the FG approached its roads in Ogun with half the attention it gives Lagos, there would be no #Dapofixogunroads.

Another thing: roads are generally bad during rainy season, with floods everywhere, in large part because many people build on waterways. Besides, most of the areas complained about are overflows from Lagos. Many residents work in Lagos and live in Ogun. They came to Ogun because of landlord issues, exorbitant housing, rent and land costs in Lagos, etc. Most of these people living on the fringes even see themselves as residents of Lagos. No doubt, the upsurge and overflow within a short period is affecting planning, yet these areas have not been abandoned. It was the Abiodun administration that did the roads in Arepo and Akute after years of neglect. The claim that every road in Ogun is bad is sheer bunkum. Besides, those saying Ogun is making N120bn IGR should try and find out what building a kilometer of road with good furniture costs. It is actually close to a billion.

Governor Abiodun must engage the FG more; that’s not in doubt. But people should not vent anger uncritically. They should not serve as pawns in the hands of politicians eyeing 2027 and desperately trying to discredit a government working for the people.

Bakare lives in Atan, Ogun State and contributes this piece through [email protected]

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Opinion

Thievocracy: The paradox of Nigeria’s relationship with money (1)

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By Jimoh Olorede, PhD

A keen analytical observation would show Nigeria had, in 1999, only returned to thievocracy, which is also known as kleptocracy, and not democracy. The simple, common, widely-accepted definition of democracy as a system of consent of the governed is “government of the people, by the people and for the people,” while kleptocracy refers to a government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed.

The obsessive disposition to money and wealth acquisition by some Nigerian leaders and public officials is obviously counterintuitive to national development initiatives. And unless we jettison the ignoble and ignominious practices, we would only continue struggling to develop, but in futility. One of the greatest problems in Nigeria is the social value we place on money and wealth acquisition. This is a social attitude common to many Nigerians, and which has now become an attribute with which we are known as a people.

Money is a means to an end, but it’s unfortunate that many Nigerian leaders see it as an end itself. Yes, having money is good, just as a man needs it for many reasons including basic life necessities — food, shelter, clothing and healthcare. A man also needs money for comfort and convenience, to improve his quality of life, for security and stability, for personal growth and development, for freedom and choices and for relationships, connections and impact, by showing love and giving back to his community. Contrarily however, the obsession of some of our officials with money shows they love it more than their needs and what it means to have it, just as this ignominious disposition obviously demeans our reputation as a nation!

Regrettably, many Nigerian leaders perceive money as the ultimate goal. They fail to understand that having money doesn’t translate to happiness or fulfilment. Fulfilling life purpose comes from how we use our money, not just having it.

Many of the officials who have access to the nation’s treasury by virtue of their position as public office holders love money more than they actually need it. If some of them had their way, they would sell the entire nation just for their personal aggrandisement, forgetting they would consequently no longer have a country of their own. After all, this set of money-mongers with excessive love for money might be suffering from kleptomania, which is a mental illness in which someone has a strong desire to steal.

We are in a mess of socioeconomic and political troubles in Nigeria today mainly because of corruption and ineptitude of the past custodians of our nationalism as an independent state. Estimates by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2014, for instance, suggest that corrupt Nigerian officials stole around $130 billion USD between 2003 and 2013. This evidence further estimated that in 2015, Nigeria lost over $150 billion to corruption between 2003 and 2013. Similarly, the African Development Bank’s report in 2013 showed that Nigeria lost approximately $120 billion to corruption between 2003 and 2012, and the World Bank also estimated in 2014 that corruption and fraud in Nigeria’s oil sector alone amounted to around $60 billion between 2003 and 2012.

Paradoxically, Nigeria’s accumulated external debt in this same period — between 2003 and 2013, was approximately $12.4 billion, according to BudgIT, Debt Management Office (DMO) on national debt management framework, and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The obsessive disposition to material wealth by some of the nation’s officials, especially those trusted with power and authority, is absurdly incongruous. This set of black sheep of the Nigerian nation would steal money from our treasury, run it aground, leave it empty, and hide their loot in foreign countries to which we consequently run and beg for financial aid. Is it not an absurdity and incongruity that more often than not, we apply and always receive funds already looted from our country and kept abroad, given back to us as foreign loans.

For instance, over $700 million dollars stolen and kept in foreign countries have been received by the Nigerian government in the last four years. In just a year, between May 29, 2015 and May 25, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari-led government received nearly $9.1 billion dollars in stolen money and assets. On May 1, 2020 and in November 2022, the United States of America repatriated the sum of $311.797,876 and $20.6 million dollars respectively in assets stolen by former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and his co-conspirators. These facts in figures and dates, were as obtained from the U.S Embassy, the U.S Ministry of Justice, and the Economic Times.

More so, a recent figure as at 2023, shows Nigeria’s total public debt stock was N87.91 trillion ($114.35 billion). Out of this figure, external debt amounts to N31.98 trillion ($41.59 billion), while domestic debt gulps the remaining N55.93 trillion ($72.76 billion). This is what the present administration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu inherited.

But for corruption, leadership ineptitude, selfishness, national and social value misplacement, and endemic systemic failure, we obviously have no reason to be in debt as a nation blessed with numerous natural resources. Strangely, we are fiscally strangled by multilateral debts from institutions like the World Bank and the African Development Bank. We are indebted with throat-squeezing bilateral loans from countries like China, France, Japan, and Germany, and with commercial debts from Eurobonds and other international capital markets. These, among others, were Tinubu’s inheritances when he received the baton of leadership on May 29, 2023, as President and GCFR of the most populous African nation, with expectations that he would change the adversarial narrative with innovative initiatives as contained in his Eight-point Renewed Hope Agenda.

Dr. Olorede, federal institution’s Head of Department and strategic communication analyst, writes in from Iragbiji, Osun State, via [email protected]/08111841887.

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Opinion

The kleptocratic paradox of Nigeria’s relationship with money (1)

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By Jimoh Olorede, PhD

A keen analytical observation would show Nigeria had, in 1999, only returned to kleptocracy, and not democracy. The simple, common, widely-accepted definition of democracy as a system consent of the governed is “government of the people, by the people and for the people”, while kleptocracy refers to a government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed.

The obsessive disposition to money and wealth acquisition by some Nigerian leaders and public officials is obviously counterintuitive to national development initiatives. And unless we jettison the ignoble and ignominious practices, we would only continue struggling to develop, but in futility. One of the greatest problems in Nigeria is the social value we place on money and wealth acquisition. This is a social attitude common to many Nigerians, and which has now become an attribute with which we are known as a people.

Money is a means to an end, but it’s unfortunate that many Nigerian leaders see it as an end itself. Yes, having money is good, just as a man needs it for many reasons including basic life necessities — food, shelter, clothing and healthcare. A man also needs money for comfort and convenience, to improve his quality of life, for security and stability, for personal growth and development, for freedom and choices and for relationships, connections and impact, by showing love and giving back to his community. Contrarily however, the obsession of some of our officials with money shows they love it more than their needs and what it means to have it, just as this ignominious disposition obviously demeans our reputation as a nation!

Regrettably, many Nigerian leaders perceive money as the ultimate goal. They fail to understand that having money doesn’t translate to happiness or fulfilment. Fulfilling life purpose comes from how we use our money, not just having it.

Many of the officials who have access to the nation’s treasury by virtue of their position as public office holders love money more than they actually need it. If some of them had their way, they would sell the entire nation just for their personal aggrandisement, forgetting they would consequently no longer have a country of their own. After all, this set of money-mongers with excessive love for money might be suffering from kleptomania, which is a mental illness in which someone has a strong desire to steal.

We are in a mess of socioeconomic and political troubles in Nigeria today mainly because of corruption and ineptitude of the past custodians of our nationalism as an independent state. Estimates by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2014, for instance, suggest that corrupt Nigerian officials stole around $130 billion USD between 2003 and 2013. This evidence further estimated that in 2015, Nigeria lost over $150 billion to corruption between 2003 and 2013. Similarly, the African Development Bank’s report in 2013 showed that Nigeria lost approximately $120 billion to corruption between 2003 and 2012, and the World Bank also estimated in 2014 that corruption and fraud in Nigeria’s oil sector alone amounted to around $60 billion between 2003 and 2012.

Paradoxically, Nigeria’s accumulated external debt in this same period — between 2003 and 2013, was approximately $12.4 billion, according to BudgIT, Debt Management Office (DMO) on national debt management framework, and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The obsessive disposition to material wealth by some of the nation’s officials, especially those trusted with power and authority, is absurdly incongruous. This set of black sheep of the Nigerian nation would steal money from our treasury, run it aground, leave it empty, and hide their loot in foreign countries to which we consequently run and beg for financial aid. Is it not an absurdity and incongruity that more often than not, we apply and always receive funds already looted from our country and kept abroad, given back to us as foreign loans.

For instance, over $700 million dollars stolen and kept in foreign countries have been received by the Nigerian government in the last four years. In just a year, between May 29, 2015 and May 25, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari-led government received nearly $9.1 billion dollars in stolen money and assets. On May 1, 2020 and in November 2022, the United States of America repatriated the sum of $311.797,876 and $20.6 million dollars respectively in assets stolen by former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and his co-conspirators. These facts in figures and dates, were as obtained from the U.S Embassy, the U.S Ministry of Justice, and the Economic Times.

More so, a recent figure as at 2023, shows Nigeria’s total public debt stock was N87.91 trillion ($114.35 billion). Out of this figure, external debt amounts to N31.98 trillion ($41.59 billion), while domestic debt gulps the remaining N55.93 trillion ($72.76 billion). This is what the present administration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu inherited.

But for corruption, leadership ineptitude, selfishness, national and social value misplacement, and endemic systemic failure, we obviously have no reason to be in debt as a nation blessed with numerous natural resources. Strangely, we are fiscally strangled by multilateral debts from institutions like the World Bank and the African Development Bank. We are indebted with throat-squeezing bilateral loans from countries like China, France, Japan, and Germany, and with commercial debts from Eurobonds and other international capital markets. These, among others, were Tinubu’s inheritances when he received the baton of leadership on May 29, 2023, as President and GCFR of the most populous African nation, with expectations that he would change the adversarial narrative with innovative initiatives as contained in his Eight-point Renewed Hope Agenda.

Dr. Olorede, federal institution’s Head of Department and strategic communication analyst, writes in from Iragbiji, Osun State, via [email protected]/08111841887.

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