By Justin Okadigbo
PAST RECORD: In August 2006, the EFCC had seized the sum of N104 Million from one Mrs. Nancy Ebere Nwosu. Nwosu testified on oath that the money belonged to Mrs. Jonathan, then the Bayelsa State first lady, and that she was a mere mule, contracted to launder the loot. The case eventually made its way through the EFCC’s convoluted investigative hoops, ending up in the court of Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court Abuja. Then, like all corruption cases involving favored members of the PDP family, the case fizzled out, never to be officially mentioned again. Even the fate of the seized money, which Justice Chikere ordered frozen, is still a mystery.
Another incident came to light before the dust of the first incident settled. The story, widely reported in September 2006 in the local and international media, was of yet another EFCC interception of funds traced to the then Bayelsa first lady. This time, the amount in question was an unheard of $13.5 Million. Like the previous loot, it was destined for laundering in offshore schemes. Mr. Osita Nwajah, the EFCC spokesman, gleefully announced the seizure. Again, the case disappeared into the the PDP’s labyrinth of impunity.
PRESENT RECORD: Our public debt is 17.8% of the GDP while crude oil accounts for 95% of our exports. Our foreign reserves have gone down from $72 billion in 2008 to $33 billion in 2011. Our gross external debt has been put at $9.689 billion and the Gross Domestic Debt has shot up from $13.6 billion in 2006 to $21.8 billion.
South Africa gave a contract for 5,000MW at just $3b, but Nigeria spent over $17b in 11 years on power to generate less than 2,000MW. The 2011 budget shows that the government will have to borrow additional N1.3 trillion in 2011, to finance a deficit. The National Assembly has widened the deficit gap further by jacking the budget up by about N700 billion!
Excess Crude Account was valued at $22 billion in 2007 but was down to less than $4 billion by 2010. Our Domestic debt grew rapidly between March December, 2010 by up to as much as $30 billion. The state of insecurity has become increasingly worrisome.
Manufacturers consume 8.7 million liters of diesel weekly for their operations, amounting to about N903 million weekly or N3.6 billion monthly. A total of 834 manufacturing companies closed their factories in 2009. 176 firms were shut down in the Northern area, comprising the Kano and Kaduna states manufacturing axis. In the South-East-178, the South West- 225, in the Lagos area, 214 manufacturers closed their factories. The implications in terms of job loss can only be imagined.
According to Prof Wole Soyinka, "Only four sets of people can vote for the PDP: (1) those who are intellectually blind. (2) those who are blinded by ethnicity (3) those who are blinded by corruption and therefore afraid of the unknown, should power change hands; and finally (4) those who are suffering from a combination of the above terminal sicknesses"
DOES IT MATTER WHETHER YOU VOTE FOR CHANGE OR CONTINUITY?
Justin Okadigbo writes from Houston, Texas