Politicians stole more than US$400B in oil money from Nigeria while 95 million live in extreme poverty
By Kiana Wilburg, Oct 25, 2020 , Source - Kaieteur News Online - https://www.kaieteurnewsonline...-in-extreme-poverty/
More than 90 million men, women and children are living in extreme poverty in Nigeria
Kaieteur News – Nigeria is home to the world’s 10th largest reserve of oil and gas deposits. With such a massive scale of resources, oil and gas have become the lifeblood of the African nation’s economy. But since the discovery of oil in 1956 in the Niger Delta, the people are no better off.
In fact, more people are wallowing in poverty today when compared to the 1950s.
Goodluck Jonathan, former President of Nigeria
In fact, the latest Poverty and Inequality report released by the nation’s National Bureau of Statistics states that the number of Nigerians that are in extreme poverty have increased exponentially to over 95 million.
So where exactly did this nation’s oil money go?
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), unscrupulous leaders have pilfered the national coffers and stashed away billions of dollars in foreign bank accounts. The Office that was established in 1997 noted that by some estimates, close to US$400 billion was stolen between 1960 and 1999 alone. This is equivalent to 284 of the emergency budget passed by the PPP/C Government for 2020.
The UNDOC also noted that Sani Abacha alone, the Nigerian military leader who served as head of state (1993–98), is estimated to have stolen the equivalent of 2 -3 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product for every year that he was President. UNDOC said that concretely, the billion dollars that was stolen from the national coffers since oil was discovered could have translated into millions of vaccinations for children; thousands of kilometres of roads; hundreds of schools, hundreds of hospitals; and thousands of water treatment facilities. Because of greed and corruption, that never came to be.
Despite seeing millions of its people continue to live in extreme poverty, many politicians that would follow and promise to effect “change” would only end up trying to implement their own schemes to funnel the nation’s wealth into their pockets and that of their families and friends.
The corruption therefore continued unabated irrespective of laws, which these very politicians passed to ensure good governance.
Research conducted by this newspaper shows for example, that during the reign of former President Goodluck Jonathan (2010–2015), corruption was pervasive. In late 2013, Nigeria’s then Central Bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had informed President Goodluck that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the company through which the government of Nigeria regulates and participates in the country’s petroleum industry, failed to transfer US$20 billion in oil revenues to the national coffers. The money went missing following appointments Jonathan would have made to the executive arm of NNPC.
When the matter was brought to his attention, the former President dismissed the claim and replaced Sanusi, claiming that it was his mismanagement of the bank’s budget that led to the state of affairs. But a subsequent forensic audit would prove that Sanusi was telling the truth all along. In spite of the new findings, no one was charged and the money was never found.
Since Jonathan’s departure on May 29, 2015, more corruption cases followed. These include US$2.2 billion being illegally withdrawn from Nigeria’s Excess Crude Oil Accounts, of which US$1 billion was supposedly approved by Jonathan to fund his reelection campaign without the knowledge of the National Economic Council, an oversight body made up of state governors and the President and Vice President.
Also, transparency bodies in Nigeria later found that US$11.6 billion was missing from the accounts of Nigeria’s Liquefied Natural Gas Company.
They also discovered that 60 million barrels of oil valued at US$13.7 billion was stolen under the watch of the national oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation over a four-year period.
So what has oil done to Nigeria in the end? It is safe to conclude that this resource has led to a great sea of corruption, waste and dysfunction.
Will this be Guyana’s story too? Only the actions of the nation’s politicians will tell.
To be continued….