Why are Nigerians outraged at the unraveling fuel subsidy scandal and the monumental fraud that characterized the entire process? Why should we feel betrayed when people we trusted to probe the fraud also ended up in the belly of the monster? Incidentally, how many people still remember the original sin: that Nigerians may have been defrauded up to N2.6 trillion in the name of fuel subsidies?
We should not be surprised because most of the indicted firms and individuals have close ties to the Peoples Democratic Party. After all, what should we expect when Olusegun Obasanjo, Tony Anenih, Ibrahim Babangida, Jerry Gana, Atiku Abubakar, Depreiye Alamiesegha, James Ibori, Peter Odili, Adamu Ciroma, Alao Arishekola, Ahmadu Ali, Bamanga Tukur, Doyin Okupe and others gather under a single umbrella?
If a list of 100 were to be compiled, with the names of people that have pauperized Nigeria and reduced the country to a theatre of unending tragicomedy, 80 of the names would probably be PDP top shots. And the remaining 20 would be ex-members who were forced out of the party.
Current or former members of the party who were indicted or even convicted of corruption at different times include former governors Jolly Nyame, Saminu Turaki, Boni Haruna, Joshua Dariye, Gbenga Daniel, Alao Akala, Abdullahi Adamu, James Ibori, Lucky Igbinedion, Olusegun Agagu, Obong Attah, Chiramoke Nnamani, Peter Odili and others. Though some cases were quashed by ‘power to the people’ chants, more odious cases of theft will come out when some serving governors vacate offices after the expiration of their tenures and the immunity they currently enjoy.
Of course, the PDP is not the only corrupt party in Nigeria, but its control of the federal government gives it access to unlimited resources. Which is why it was able to award open contracts and licenses to party funders and cronies to import fuel and pay them billions of naira whether the fuel was supplied or not.
The dubious membership and philosophy of the PDP aside, the ongoing charade called trial of fuel subsidy suspects is practically a manual on how to loot public funds in Nigeria and live happily ever after.
First of all, you must be a member of the PDP or have contacts within it. It won’t do any harm if your father was a former chairman of the party, or if he happens to be the current one. Contacts with ex Niger Delta militants are highly recommended. Once you get the nod to import fuel, begin by taking a deserved vacation abroad. When you return, submit invoices indicating that you have imported hundreds of millions of litres of petrol.
And the moment you get paid billions of naira for the fuel you never imported, submit another invoice for reimbursement of a few more billions. Then begin to share the money. Send some to your state governor, his wife and senior party officials in the state. Give some to the Dame, her relatives and other hangers-on. Critically, you must make sizeable contributions to the PDP and keep some of the money aside to help ‘capture’ your state and zone for the party.
Another tip: do not string a stray fowl, hungry goat, or tattered pair of shoes. Do not steal a bottle of palm oil or stale loaf of bread. That would land you in jail for 10 years or more without trial. Grab several billions from government or simply take the billions from a bank, then run it aground. With this, you are guaranteed a quick release, if charged at all. Or in the worst case, you’ll get a two-year jail sentence for ‘misappropriating’ hundreds of billions of naira, ala Bode George. You may even go scot free. Ask Peter Odili or Erastus Akingbola.
Next tip: it doesn’t matter that you may be in your 60s or 70s and already a multibillionaire. It doesn’t matter if your entire clan will be unable to spend the billions in several lifetimes, or that the amount can create thousands of jobs for other Nigerians if invested properly. Just take it. You will need it to bribe the police, pay your lawyers, buy the judge, influence the verdict or determine the appeal.
In the event that something goes terribly awry as happened to Bode George, you will need the money to live like a king in prison. If the food is inedible, have the best food delivered from the best restaurants or prepared by the best chefs. If the prison generator is not working, or has no diesel, order a tanker of diesel every week. If the prison medical personnel are not adequate, have your personal physician on standby. You will also need the money to organise huge receptions and pay for live coverage when released.
Final tip: Offer to return part of the stolen billions, but keep tanker drivers and unions on your pay roll to demonstrate that you have the power to make life miserable for Nigerians by disrupting fuel supplies at will, or when pushed too far.
Enjoy the drama.