By Odilim Enwegbara
Governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum last week after the National Economic Council meeting announced that the sum of $1bn be withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account for fighting the Boko Haram insurgents which President Muhammadu Buhari and his government spokespersons had declared already “technically defeated” some months ago.
This announcement has since generated tremendous anger among Nigerians who mostly believe that it’s another way of raising the campaign money for the President’s All Progressives Party for the 2019 elections. But before getting to whether it is for political campaign purposes or not, it is important to make it abundantly clear that the ECA in question is an illegal account.
This is because there is nowhere in the constitution that the ECA is either mentioned or recommended as one of the legitimate accounts to be jointly owned by the three tiers of government. Be that as it may, the fact that the oil revenue is shared at every monthly FAAC meeting, there is no way state governments can unilaterally make that decision to draw $1bn from the same account supposedly owned by the three tiers. They need local governments to endorse such a drawing decision or else it will only require one bold no-nonsense council chairman to go to court to pray that that decision be made invalid since their local government was neither consulted nor participated in the decision to withdraw such huge sum for fighting Boko Haram.
More so, given the growing anger in the land that, after all, there are many other easier ways for government to raise more money than it requires without having to touch the ECA money.
If you have not read my recent piece, “The shocking forex fraud taking place at CBN,” I will invite you to go and do so. For those who have already read it, I invite you to read it again. Once you do so, surely, you will discover why the $1bn to fight Boko Haram may not necessarily be the major campaign finance source for the APC in the 2019 elections.
All the government needs to do is to ask its forex czar, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to do the needful, which will be to dry up dollar supply in the forex market. This will automatically weaken the naira to the level of N500/$ for example. Keeping the official rate still at N305/$ and selling $20bn at N500/$ during the next 12 months will definitely make the kill.
Here is the math. N500-N305 x 20,000,000,000 = N3.9tn. Try to subtract 20 per cent (N780bn) for the “big boys” at the CBN and at the country’s commercial banks, politicians will still have N3.120tn. Now, from this math, we can see that if politicians want to spend trillions in the 2019 elections, they wouldn’t have any problem raising such an unheard-of-amount.
But, then, is it wholly their fault? Of course, not. Here is why. As hypocrites who believe in having their cake and eating it, by demanding highest bidder upfront payment from politicians for our votes, we have driven our politicians crazy in raising the campaign bribe money. Now, we have the audacity to insist that our politicians are corrupt, removing ourselves from any form of blame.
That is why I personally think that we all are to blame for Nigeria’s rottenness. No amount of dodging to see ourselves in the mirror will work. As a people, we prefer free and easy money to hard work and honest ways of earning a living.
The day we all stand up against corruption in all its forms is the day our hypocrisy will disappear. It is the day we can then judge our politicians and others for stealing from our commonwealth. I can’t wait to see that day in my lifetime.
Odilim Enwegbara writes from Abuja.