Recently, a coalition of anti-corruption civil society bodies petitioned the EFCC that the erstwhile Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Muhaamed Bello Adoke to account for the sum of $3.2 billion allegedly belonging to the 774 local governments on whose behalf one Mr. Joe Agi SAN obtained the judgment.
According to media report, “…none of the local governments benefited from the $1.6 billion said to have been paid to the plaintiffs.”
The question on the minds of many Nigerians is: Who really authorized the disbursement of the funds?
I am not so good at mathematics, but I know for sure that a trillion is made up of several billions; and several millions makes a billion. If my knowledge of math is still with me, it is either this judgement is a sham or there is a deliberate distortion somewhere!
In a country with a reputation of corrupt judiciary doing the biddings of their pay master, one do not need to wait too long to buy “gbanjo” judgement using the Yoruba parlance language. We live in a country where the Judiciary that is supposed to be the last hope of the common man is providing no hope, but hardship. We all are witnesses to the fact that people like Justice Salami sold their conscience for their paymasters and were all ignominiously shown the way out of the famous institution.
At this point let us bring in former Minister of Finance, Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. She has to be brought in because, going by conventional wisdom, she served as the custodian of the nation’s treasury at the time so she cannot be “insulated” from the news. More curiously we ask: would Dr. Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala not have made the part payment of $1.6 billion? In her own case, did she collude with the Adoke because she too ignored the advice of the Debt Management Office? As the Coordinating Minister of the Economy at the time, did she not ought to have protected Nigeria by defending the position of the DMO instead of following Adoke’s dubious directive to pay the sum of a judgment debt of $3.6 billion?
While I do not envy the former finance minister at all for having to serve in the same administration with people like Adoke, we must resist the temptations to assume that everyone that served under Hitler was evil. After all, President Buhari served under one of the worst administrations in Nigeria’s history- General Sanni Abacha. So why should Okonjo-Iweala be guilty by association if Buhari is not guilty of the Abacha’s crimes?
The role of Okonjo-Iweala as finance minister is not to question expenditures or vouchers. Those are roles purely of the Offices of the Accountant-General and the Auditor-General of the Federation. For God’s sake, why should I, for instance perform the duties of a nurse just because I am the physician?
That leads me to my nest point, even if the monies were misappropriated, why should we blame Okonjo-Iweala for that?
If we take this line of thought as gospel, then we come to an answer such as this: A young man started working with a Commercial Bank as a Financial Control Officer. He diligently focused on his job that other things do not bother about any other things going on in the bank. He closed his eyes on the fraudulent deals going on among the top brass of the Bank for not wanting to be seen as a whistle-blower since he wasn’t employed for that.
This man won several awards both within and without the organization, but he soon discovered his diligence was not enough to prevent the Bank from going bankrupt. Should we say this man was responsible for the organization’s bankruptcy? Should he have blown the whistle? Should he have resigned when he became aware of the bad deals his superiors are engaging in even though it all started before he took the job? Whatever your answer is to these questions, this was the case with Okonjo-Iweala.
On this issue, I believe the coalition of the civil society should turn the searchlight and the heat on the bureaucrats at the Ministry of Justice and the then Attorney General of the Federation, Mr, Adoke (SAN).
The Yoruba people have a saying that for a child not to commit crimes is the reason he was given a name. Mr. Adoke has his own name which is definitely not Okonjo-Iweala! Therefore, leave Okonjo Iweala out of this mess.
Bade Adebolu is an accountant based in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti state. He sent this piece via email@example.com