500 Billion Naira Oil Money Is Missing.. By Chiechefulam Ikebuiro

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Oil-theft-oil-thiefFela’s Army arrangement (from where i got the subject of this piece) was a classic amongst others. In that particular song he sang about corruption especially about a certain 2.8billion Naira that got missing. About how ‘dem set up inquiry’,how’ dem say money no lost’,how ‘ dem dabaru every body’ and ‘inquiry come close’.

That was years back and he knew who took that oil money. Since he dropped that classic, money has continued to miss with reckless abandon and today, our 500billion Naira oil money is missing, we do not know yet if we will ever find it.

At the beginning of 2012, we woke up to the announcement by the president that there was going to be a removal of the fuel subsidy, meaning we had to pay more for fuel. We were not going to have none of that. But as is the norm here, they did all they could to convince us that is the solution to all our problems. They said the life of the ordinary man will be impacted. They promised us employment; they said the education sector will improve, that power supply will be amongst the best in the world, they promised us standard health care and all.

They said a few individuals had been milking us for years and that the subsidy removal will remove the food from their mouth and transfer same to us-the people. They told us our problems were finally over.

We still protested nonetheless. Those that hit the streets did. Everybody complained one way or the other and that was it. The protest ended and we lost as usual. They got their wish.

Enter SURE-P. This is an initiative similar to the PTF if you remember. The Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment programme was introduced to make people feel the positive impact of the subsidy removal. The programme has committees and sub committees from infrastructure development, to public works, to maternal and child health care and so on.  This was set up in February of 2012 and we are yet to feel the impact of SURE-P.  This is supposed to be an initiative that will bring relief to citizens experiencing hardship as a result of that subsidy removal and today the story is the same. There has been no improvement. We in fact are having it worse. It is just so plain to see and nobody should come and tell us otherwise. Most people do not even know the existence of the SURE-P. The state of our infrastructure is not improving. Health care is getting worse. Our women and children (especially in the rural areas) are dying from curable sicknesses. The unemployment rate is soaring. I understand ten thousand naira is given to like 100,000 people from the SURE-P account. Is that way to go?

This SURE-P is like a hoax. It is in fact a business venture for a select few. The impact is not felt at all compared to what the PTF did. Let’s not even fool ourselves. I am yet to be convinced. I have not seen jack.
To make matters worse our 500billion Naira is missing. This money we understand is supposed to be for SURE-P. Now the SURE-P has a special account with the CBN. This means the NNPC pays the subsidy cash into this CBN account for SURE-P.

According to a member of the SURE-P committee Kabiru Mafara representing Zamfara state, 800 billion Naira has been generated so far from subsidy as against 300bn that has been claimed by the SURE-P. Hear him “This committee wrote to the relevant organisations that benefit from this SURE-P when it was inaugurated. It was said that the subsidy regime was going to be N32 a litre and this committee wrote the NNPC to ascertain the quantity of fuel being imported from the time this subsidy programme started.

“NNPC replied the committee that from January 2012 to December 2013, which if you calculate it will give about 21 months.. they gave a breakdown of the quantity per month. When you put up everything, it comes to roughly 25 billion litres per month.

“Now, if you multiply 25 billion by 32, you get about N800 billion, and what SURE-P told us when they came here when we invited them was that they collected about N300 billion at N15 billion flat rate per month. So if you multiply 21 by 15 billion, you will get about N315 billion. So what we are talking about is the amount involved, which is N500 billion, where is it? That is what we wanted NNPC to tell us.”

“Maybe CBN will tell us this is what NNPC is remitting to them he continued; maybe NNPC will say no, we have been remitting this amount of money, but CBN is remitting on N15 billion. So, they are remitting only N15 billion; then we will ask CBN: how did you come about the N15 billion flat rate, because this thing can’t be a flat rate?”

So the question still remains, where is our 500billion Naira? It is evident from the above statement that our oil money is missing.

As usual, the NNPC did not show up to explain. Will it ever give us an explanation? Only time will tell. It looks most unlikely though, because the amount of sleaze that’s been going on in the NNPC stinks and nobody’s been brought to book. It is looking like somebody from NNPC is holding this government by the balls.

Is the SURE-P being undermined? I think not (time will tell too). Thus far, it has not even impressed, even with the amount it claims to have gotten.
This grand corruption should not be swept under the carpet. I am surprised that this particular sleaze has not generated a lot of heat as Stella and the Bullet proof BMW.  We are not even done with that, then this. As usual committees will be set up and it drags on and on and we all forget. That has always been their strategy. This trend must stop. Think of what 500 billion Naira can do!

This is another test for the Goodluck Jonathan led government (while we await what comes out of the Oduah case).

I just want to remind the government that while we are at setting up committees to tackle corrupt practices, Ghana our neighbour is teaching us how to go about it. You must have heard that the Deputy Minister of Communication of Ghana was recently sacked because of some careless STATEMENT. Yes, she just talked. She has not actually done the deed. She allegedly said she won’t leave government until she’s made 1 million dollars and then bang; she gets the sack! Will that ever happen here? Not in this life time! Not in a million years. Our government and its attack dogs will come at you blazing. Barking like rabid dogs. They’d ask you when it became a crime to talk.

To think this is the same Ghana whose citizens we chased away from here some years ago because they were becoming a nuisance? Now they are leading the way in almost every facet and we even refuse to follow. Our people now take pride in enrolling their wards in Ghanaian universities and fact is they seem to have made the right choice!

It is time to rise against corruption before it kills us all.

This recent sleaze should be looked into thoroughly and whoever is culpable should get the coldest part of jail. This is another test for this government to really prove its stance against corruption as we all know that is the number one reason why we are where we are today.

I hope they don’t dabaru everybody in this case as well as the BMWs just like they did Fela a while back. Baba knew who stole his 2.8 billion Naira then; can we at least know who stole our 500 billion Niara?

God bless Nigeria.

Chiechefulam Ikebuiro
thalynxis@yahoo.ca
@thalynxis