By Jaye Gaskia
As we approached the 2011 general elections, and given the circumstances under which the preparations were made, and under which the elections were eventually held, corruption, treasury looting took a steep upward spike!
Of course since crude oil is our major export and in the absence of any other viable sector, consequently our major source of revenue, the sector became the main focus for treasury looting, and the fraud and grand corruption which was needed to accumulate the wealth with which to fund the elections.
Hence the ruling political elites in general, and the ruling party in particular turned their attention to the Fuel subsidy regime, and the many loopholes and weaknesses in the system that could be exploited to literally steal trillions from the treasury.
Thus it was that so-called daily consumption of Petrol [PMS] rose sharply from 25 to 30 million liters per day between 2006 and 2010, to 60 million liters per day in 2011! This in turn led to a spike in fuel subsidy payments from well under N600bn in 2010 to well over N2.5tn in 2011!
The resultant near bankruptcy of the economy precipitated the fuel subsidy removal debate, led directly to the January 1st 2012 announcement of the removal of subsidy; and directly triggered the January Uprising of 2012!
Hence the roller-coaster of numerous probes, initiated in direct response to the uprising to calm nerves, while also intended to hoodwink and divert attention of an increasingly angry and politically aware citizenry. All the revelations from all of these probes, the recommendations of which were never seriously intended for implementation, have served to confirm this historic levels of state perpetrated fraud, state protected treasury looting, and state condoned public theft and economic gangsterism.
Yet inspite of all the revelations, inspite of all the facts that directly and indirectly implicate serving ministers, the presidency itself, the NNPC, PPPRA, DPR, etc, absolutely no one official, with technical, managerial, or political supervisory responsibility has been investigated, let alone indicted, and prosecuted!
We can only conclude from all of these that historic episode of treasury looting was sanctioned at the highest level of government.
Now as we approach another general elections, the 2015 elections, and under even more daunting circumstances than those surrounding the 2011 general elections; the political elites in general, and the imploding ruling party in particular seem to be leading us once again down the road of another historic levels of economic banditry; the record breaking levels of crude oil theft, which stood at under 200,000 barrels per day in 2011, but which has now doubled in just over a year to 400,000 barrels per day in stolen crude oil; with the attendant loss to the economy of $14bn annually in revenues that could have accrued to the coffers of the state.
Now this is a shift in strategy with respect to the nature of the grand theft, though not with respect to the source of the crime – crude oil, our main export and revenue earner!
Knowing full well that the level of heightened scrutiny now put on management of the fuel subsidy regime, thanks to the January Uprising; as well as the highly sensitive nature of the issue; would not permit a return to a re-run of the 2011/2012 fuel subsidy scenario; the ruling elite, and regime seems to have thought out what it felt would be a safer route to unprecedented levels of treasury looting and amassing a war chest for the 2015 elections and any other eventual post 2015 scenario which could develop.
Their answer and choice is crude-oil theft! Thus it is that in just one year we have witnessed a spike in crude-oil theft to unprecedented levels of 400,000 barrels per day [by the way this is the entire production capacity of the new oil field in Kazakhstan]; amounting to annual loss to the economy [and gain to the organised crime syndicates] of over $14bn.
Now this is by any standards a huge war chest, not only to wage a divisive and bitterly contested election; but to also enable the not so Ex-Militant Generals, who have been threatening war and destruction if their favourite candidate, the serving president, [who is yet to publicly declare his intention to seek re-election, and is yet to be adopted as his party’s candidate; if he should lose the 2015 presidential elections], fulfill their threat of war!
We are forced to reach this conclusion by the strong circumstantial evidence available! Ex-Militant Generals, and their troops are awarded multi-million dollar/ multi-billion Naira pipeline and maritime security and surveillance contracts; crude oil theft continues its astronomical upward spike under the watch of these Ex-militant generals; the Presidency goes to self-destructive lengths to seize control of the ruling party machinery, precipitating a split of the NGF, and subsequently of the PDP into ‘New’ and ‘Old’PDP, and the PDM; while Ex-Militant generals and so-called ‘elder Statesmen’ from the Niger Delta continue to threaten hail and brimstone, and even threaten the end of Nigeria if their candidate is not returned to office! These are just too numerous coincidences. They do represent a pattern, and a trend, one that is directly inimical to security and safety of ordinary citizens.
Just so we understand what is at stake here, a little reminder is necessary: the actual amount of the various security contracts annually to our public purse is: Tompolo – $22.5m; Asari – $9m; Ateke & Boyloaf – $3.5m each making $7m in total! This is annually and yet inspite of these; or more appropriately, because of these security contracts, we are now losing $14bn annually to criminal gangs, that we can only assume are being protected by these Ex-militants, and who must therefore be linked to, and under the protection of the state at the highest levels!
It is upto us as ordinary impoverished citizens, who have seen our poverty levels grow steeply from 54% in 2004 to 70% in 2012; who have seen unemployment rate rise sharply from 8% in 1999 to 23.9% in 2011; and who continue to be homeless; to rise up, once again take a definitive stand, take our destiny into our own hands, Take Back Nigeria and stop this inept, greedy, and incompetent elite from destroying our lives and nation, and further ruining our future.
We must not allow them to use us and play us against one another as they pursue their ultimately selfish and greedy ambitions. They do not care about this us, much less about this nation. They hold diplomatic passports and foreign passports; they have secured dual citizenship for their children; they impregnate their wives here, and fly them at public expense to give birth abroad just so their kids can have foreign citizenship; they steal and loot our treasury dry here at home, and buy their choicest properties abroad, while saving the bulk of their loot abroad, to boost the economies of other countries! They are not patriotic; they are not Nigerians!
They have destroyed education, healthcare delivery system, and other basic infrastructures at home; they escape the consequence of their destruction at home by going abroad at public expense to access these same basic services and infrastructure; and now they are threatening and marching ceaselessly towards destroying the nation itself!
And of course while they have a choice, we do not have a choice. This is the only home we know, the only home we have; it is up to us to make it work for us; it is up to us to realise that the greatest obstacle to our realization of ourselves is our parasitic ruling elite; it is up to us therefore to Take Back Nigeria from their death grip.
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