Reports from a recent investigation have revealed that the Goodluck Jonathan administration which assumed office in 2011 still has a long way to go in its fight against corruption. Over N5 trillion in government funds have been stolen through fraud, embezzlement and theft since President Jonathan assumed office on May 6, 2010, a Punch investigation has found.
This amount is the summation of government funds said to have been stolen, according to the Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Task Force report; the Minister of Trade and Investment’s report on stolen crude; the House of Representatives fuel subsidy report and investigations into the ecological fund, SIM card registration and frequency band spectrum sale.
The investigation revealed the fraudulent activities carried out on a large scale in some ministries. The Ribadu report on the oil and gas sector for instance, put daily crude oil theft at a high 250,000 barrels daily at a cost of $6.3bn (N1.2trn) a year. This puts the total amount lost through oil theft in the two years of Jonathan’s government at over $12.6bn (N2trn).
Another fraud scheme was discovered in July 2012 when the House of Representatives Committee on Environment discovered a tree seedling fraud worth N2bn awarded by the Ecological Fund office.
Similarly, in the telecommunications sector, the 450MHz frequency, which was valued at over $50m, was allegedly sold for less than $6m (a difference of $44m or N6.9bn) by the Nigeria Communications Commission. In the same sector, the reps, earlier this year, commenced investigations into the N6.1bn SIM card registration project embarked upon by the NCC in 2011.
Reacting to the massive frauds that have greeted Jonathan’s tenure, Transparency International, in an email to Punch said that Nigeria would continue to slack in development as long as it keeps paying lip service to the fight against corruption.
“President Jonathan should insist that those accused of corruption are properly investigated and punished if found guilty, irrespective of their positions and connections. The judiciary must be seen as impartial and fair.
“To signal a break with the past, the government should set up an independent investigatory panel to review charges of corruption within government and the private sector. President Jonathan should endorse the panel and commit to ensure it has both the scope and the power to investigate and prosecute.
“This is not just a matter of justice; fighting corruption can affect the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. The current culture of corruption hurts the majority of Nigerians while the inequality gap widens.”
This report is coming just days after KPMG, a global audit and financial advisory firm, stated that Nigeria accounted for the highest number of fraud cases in Africa in the first half of 2012.
It is our hope that such reports like this would make the government take the fight against corruption more seriously.