Pius Adesanmi: How to spend recovered looted funds

by Pius Adesanmi

Well, we finally got a partial list and a partially fulfilled promise from the Buhari administration after the President’s compulsory rite of passage in his dealings with the people: the own goal of making promises nobody asked you to make and then having to be dragged kicking and screaming to fulfill your promises after suffering avoidable dents on the integrity front.

In such circumstances, you really cannot blame pro-corruption activists, freelance enemies of the anti-corruption war smarting from the loss of free yams, yesterday’s goats and their caterwauling social media hangers-on, time prisoners still fielding Goodluck Jonathan for the 2015 election, and other assorted usual suspects from trying to cash in on the needless own goals of President Buhari and his handlers by working from the familiar script of trying to delegitimize the entire anti-corruption project altogether.

Their right to try and guarantee the failure of the anti-corruption effort through sustained badmouthing and bellyaching is guaranteed by democracy, and so is our right to find no use for their antics and tactics beyond pure entertainment and comic relief.

We have repeatedly tried to assure the administration that these various categories of enemies of the anti-corruption efforts have nothing to say about the weaknesses of the said efforts that anybody should lose any sleep over. They have zero moral basis from which to make the transition from silent enhancers and facilitators of Goodluck Jonathan’s, Dasuki’s, and Diezani’s years of economic genocide to credible critics of the current anti-corruption war. Hey, they are criticizing the current anti-corruption war because there is an ongoing war to criticize!

There are of course genuine voices to be listened to in terms of how to constantly help the administration and Professor Itse Sagay’s committee improve upon their efforts and work on perceived weaknesses in terms of process and procedure and also matters of perception, fairness, and balance. There are also incurable Buhari praise singers to be avoided if the administration is not to allow herself to be convinced that the anti-corruption war is perfect because it is run by a deified and an infallible President.

With these potential pitfalls in mind and, also, bearing in mind that President Buhari and Alhaji Lai Mohammed cannot be allowed to get away with not fulfilling the promise of naming names and shaming the shameless, we must now turn to the question of what to do with the funds recovered thus far.

President Jonathan did recover some funds – especially from the Abacha stash. Depending on which direction her gele was facing and whether she was addressing audiences in Nigeria, Europe, or Washington, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala kept changing her narrative of what was done with the funds until she finally had to admit grudgingly that a healthy chunk of the funds had been funnelled into the Dasuki ATM for the election. She waived some kind of authorization document to absolve herself.

The Buhari administration must learn from this. We shall legitimately want to know what happened to the current funds before 2019. And we shall definitely expect people to have been outed, given a fair trial and sentenced to death if we have the death penalty on our books for economic treason. We don’t? Okay, I could live with hefty prison sentences.

There is already talk that the recovered funds could take care of 30% of the deficit in the current budget.

No, I do not support ploughing the recovered loot back into the budget. It should go into a dedicated fund for accelerated development projects all over the country. The challenge will be how to ensure that funded projects are 21st-entury or futuristic infrastructure that do not suffer from contract inflation and corner cutting by contractors.

When you build or refurbish hospitals, roads, classrooms; when you provide water projects (not boreholes) for communities, there should be a plaque commemorating such projects and indicating clearly the source of the funds – this is what was stolen from you, and this is how we have spent it after recovering it.

In President Buhari’s shoes, I would spend this money on an Adojutelegan basis. I would start in the hometown of the supervisor of the monumental corruption that is now yielding the recovered funds. He is also the hero of the fiercest enemies of the anti-corruption war who have been polluting our airwaves, heehawing that no funds were recovered, or the figures have been exaggerated, etc.

In President Buhari’s shoes, I would embark on a major water project in Otuoke. I understand that a borehole had to be hurriedly built when President Jonathan was on his way out. This should not be the case. A former President’s home town deserves a standard water project. There should be a 21st-century water project in Otuoke taking treated pipe-borne water to every home in the town. I would conclude this project in one year and invite Mrs Ngozi Okonjo Iweala to cut the tape and commission it.

Next, I would set up a committee to identify and compile the names of many of the fiercest deniers of the Jonathan/Dasuki/Diezani corruption industrial complex. It is not difficult to identify those who are denying the corruption or brazenly embracing and supporting it. They are all very vocal and visible on Facebook and Twitter. It will not be too difficult to identify their hometowns and villages.

My good guess is that the home towns and villages of these people are likely to be the hardest hit by the corruption of their hero: rickety schools, dilapidated clinics, no roads, nothing. I am also guessing that if you contact the development unions or associations in their home towns and villages, you would find out that many of these pro-corruption town criers on social media would be absent from the list of active participants in town or village development projects and efforts. If the community raised money for a borehole in the last five years because the money to provide water had been looted by the Jonathan corruption industrial complex, it is a safe bet you would not find their names on the list of contributors.

In Buhari’s shoes, I would use the recovered funds to construct 21st-century roads, rehabilitate primary and secondary school classrooms, build hospitals and clinics, fund standard water projects, etc., in the towns and villages of such identified enemies of the anti-corruption war.

I would start by renovating every classroom in Reno Omokri’s village and have the project commissioned by Tolu Ogunlesi. I would then go to Femi Aribisala’s village, build a 21st – century hospital with recovered funds, and have it commissioned by Oby Ezekwesili, the lady in whose presence he was delegitimizing the anti-corruption war recently in a debate.

All over the country, there is no shortage of pro-corruption activists whose home towns and villages took a tragic hit from the corruption industrial complex of their hero. Use money recovered from the corruption supervised by their hero to develop their home towns and villages.

No, it is not pettiness.

It is what the Yoruba call Adojutelegan.

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This article was first published on SaharaReporters

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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