“Payment of N999m to unnamed entities 128 times to the tune of N127.872b”
The above line is one of the shocking details from the recently released Nigerian House of Representatives’ ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy. If this is shocking, what would you say about the fact that the man who made these payments – all within 24 hours – left unindicted by the plenary session of the House? What would you say about the fact that the man responsible for this act is now the governor of a Nigerian state? This is just one pointer to the fact that given the opportunity to show that his government abhors corruption, everything so far points to the fact that the government will indeed go out of its way to protect allies of the president indicted by the probe panel report.
One of the indicators played itself out before me the day the House of Representatives started its session on the report. A group of “protesters” marched through the streets of Abuja protesting against the report of the probe panel. This would not have been an issue save for the fact that unlike regular protesters who have to plan against police brutality, guns and tear gas, these sponsored ones had several police vans and men for protection.
The police killed at least 20 Nigerians during the January protests, and in the last few days the State Security Service arrested the chair of United Action for Democracy (UAD) for planning a protest to get the government to go to work on the recommendations of the report but here we had a group of protesters in branded shirts and caps carrying messages showing their solidarity with the most indicted person in the report, Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison Madueke. Some of the protesters reportedly earned as little as N1000.00 but that is a stark contrast to how much the paid Google adverts would cost those behind the now ubiquitous web ads endorsing the minister. The endorsements may likely run for as long as the fuel subsidy probe report stays at the front burner.
Just days into its place as the most reported piece of news in Nigeria, bomb blasts have curiously started going off in quick succession and have become a distraction from the fuel subsidy scam and indeed, other scams. Whether Nigerians will be carried away depends on how early they realize that living from one news item to another will not save the country. We must learn to ensure some issues never get washed off the shore of public discourse until something is done about them. The fuel subsidy scam is one such topic because it is arguably the biggest scam in the history of Nigeria. The sheer audacity of those involved showed at least one thing; they acted with the realisation that they were at least equal to the law if not above it. Anyone who has the ears of the President of Nigeria is in many ways above Nigerian laws. In Nigeria’s fight against corruption during the Obasanjo years, no one went to prison that was on the side of the President. In Jonathan’s government, no one goes to jail for any reason save for petty thieves who go about stealing car stereos and picking pockets. The big thieves only get rewarded with bigger positions to do more.
Take a cue from the sessions of the House of Representatives sitting on the probe report. The presiding officer and Deputy Speaker of the House guided the session so much so that he ensured the Minister of Petroleum escaped direct indictment. DPR, NNPC, PPPRA and the ministry of petroleum were all indicted in sums running into trillions of naira. One woman was in charge of the ministry and all the named agencies and this person would somehow want the world to believe that while all of the thievery was going on, she did not detect anything. If that were the truth, it would mean that she is the most incompetent of all the members of the Cabinet. In either scenario, she ought to be at least out of a job by now. With Nigeria, do not be shocked if she becomes a governor in 2015.
This is @omojuwa
Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.