By Ben Igiebor
Fellow countrymen and women, in the last few years, our country, abundantly blessed by God, has known and experienced more than its fair share of troubles arising mainly from mismanagement and misappropriation of its resources by her leaders.
We have waited for decades, for change and improvement but alas, none has come. Now we have a national conference looking at the very salient issues of our continued co-existence as an entity, and only next year, we are supposed to go to the polls to select a new set of leaders.
Countrymen and women, the issue of mismanagement and misappropriation of our resources is the single most important issue that needs to be addressed by us all, before we all troop down to the polling station, yet again.
Not doing so is to continue to deceive ourselves that all is right, in the face of endemic poverty, massive unemployment, poor infrastructure and insecurity. We are all aware that our country has been suffering from serious mal-administration for decades but strangely, what have we done about it? Why have we never really tried to deal with it? Now is the time, before we troop along again, like sheep to the slaughter.
Out of over $600 billion Nigeria has earned from oil since exploration began, how much has gone into building our country? Perhaps only about 12% of the entire lot, hence the poverty and impoverishment that continue to stare us in the face daily, in the midst of plenty. So the question we should be asking is, whatever happened to the 88%?
We all know that the bulk of this has gone into the coffers of our so-called leaders, into the vaults of foreign banks and into acquisitions of properties and businesses here and abroad. Of course, we the people have no means of ascertaining, who has taken what, but we need, before anything else, to establish where this vast fortune has gone, before we can sit back, reassess our position and then move forward.
Let us show our great gratitude to our past generals who fought to keep Nigeria united but at the same time inquire why they thought it fit to reward them- selves and their friends, by the acquisition, with our own resources, of our oil blocks, which rightfully belong to us all and should produce revenue for our common good.
As it is now apparent to us all that neither the EFCC nor the Judiciary can look into these issues and come up with satisfactory answers for us, it has become necessary to set up a Truth Commission, to ascertain the truth about what has happened to our commonwealth, with a view to putting an end to all the loot- ing, embezzling, diversion to private coffers and personal acquisition of our re- sources.
Let us give all our past leaders, at national and state levels, the opportunity to give us all, an account of their stewardship, their net worth today and when they came to power and tell us if they are willing to hand back to us any undue wealth they may have acquired, while in office. Not in a court-house setting but in a conducive and friendly atmosphere.
Government need not involve itself in this as, if they do, we shall never get to the bottom of the matter, going by antecedents. A committee or commission should be set up, made up of 30 or so Nigerians, without political leaning now or in the past, without blemish whatsoever, God-fearing individuals, most likely from dedicated Christian and Muslim leadership background (perhaps of the rank of Bishops and Imams), traditional rulers, judges of proven character, lawyers, university lecturers, representatives of Nigerians in Diaspora, etc, who will sit and listen to ALL our past and present leaders give Nigerians an account of their stewardship, what each feels he/she has contributed to the growth of the country (or state) and more importantly, the truth about if they unduly enriched themselves while in office or not, and if so, if they are prepared to hand back to us, the people, what they got unduly, i.e. the net difference between emoluments due them while in office and their current assets, including any oil blocks they may have been allocated.
This should be a wonderful opportunity for all our leaders to come clean with us about their leadership and any criticisms they may be facing about mishandling of state funds, while in office. They owe it to us, their families and to posterity. Refusal or reluctance by any leader to make him/herself available should be treated as contempt and be dealt with by Nigerians in any way they deem fit.
We need to get to the bottom of what happened to our commonwealth!
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