The Anti-Corruption Network has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to find the strength of character, moral fortitude and dedication to duty that this High Office demands.
In a statement signed by Dino Melaye, its Executive Secretary, identified a “dark and dangerous trend” which can lead Nigeria to the brink of a precipice:
• The Obasanjo regime left the country with over $18 billion in the Excess Crude Account and some US$ 34 billion in Foreign Exchange reserves, in addition to paying off our foreign debt of over US$34 billion including the interest.
“By contrast, in just four years, from 2007 to 2011, the Goodluck/Yaradua’s administration (together with late President Yar'Adua) has managed to exhaust the Excess Crude Account, and diminish our Foreign Reserves to negligible levels,” the statement said.
• An enormous escalation in government debts to over US$ 44 billion of domestic. (11.2 trillion Naira debt in total), while external debt now stands at US$ 4 billion, although receipts from petroleum production in those same four years are over US$ 300 billion (48.9 trillion Naira).
• The various probes into malfeasance in administering the subsidy regime estimate the bill to the nation at between N2.3 trillion for just last year. The statement notes that this does not even factor in the arbitration award (judgment) against NNPC for US$5.5 billion for over lifting by NNPC of crude oil during your tenure as President.”
• The Yar’Adua/Jonathan administration has received appropriations of over 16 trillion Naira in the last four years, compared with a total of 12 trillion Naira appropriated during Obasanjo’s entire eight years. Yet we are now in debt of nearly N11.3 trillion.
• This year, the National Assembly appropriated N800 billion Naira for petroleum subsidy, but several accounts indicate that those funds have already been exhausted, applied not to this years' consumption of petroleum products, but to servicing last year’s debts.
“Under this administration and under the watchful eye and direction of the Honourable Minister of Petroleum, NNPC continues to deduct funds from the proceeds of sale of crude oil at source before remitting the balance to the Accountant General and Central Bank of Nigeria eight years after such practice was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.”
Looking at all this, the group stressed that the only thing more egregious is that the National Assembly has yet to take the matter up as is their constitutional role and the purpose for which they represent their constituencies.
Wondering if Nigeria has gone bust in the midst of an oil boom, Anti-Corruption Network noted, “Under this administration the greatest concentration of wealth has flowed into the fewest hands, and much of that wealth has been spirited away to foreign countries.
“A combination of corruption and incompetence has led some commentators to compare this administration with a criminal enterprise. Such a combination is among the greater threats to the health and viability of our young democracy. It is conduct so illegal and in such blatant disregard of the constitution, laws of our land and the integrity of the diverse polity that is Nigeria that it begs the question as to whether it can raise to the level of gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of the President’s office.
The Anti-Corruption Network further pointed out that the entire process of crude oil sales is approved through Mr. President’s office and from the Minister of Petroleum, and warned that as chairman of the board of NNPC, the President and the minister bear responsibility for the deductions and thus for the violations of the Constitution they swore to uphold.
“Under this administration, and in contravention of section 83 of the constitution, and section 44 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, borrowing was made, often in the form of Sovereign Debt Notes issued by the Debt Management Office, to finance products imported into Nigeria and without approval of the National Assembly to borrow said amounts and in excess of funds appropriated by the National Assembly to meet the petroleum subsidy bill,” the statement said.
Addressing the President directly, the group said, “Under your administration and in contravention of existing presidential directives deregulating the price of Kerosene, importers of kerosene were eligible to recover payments from the petroleum support fund when no such sums had been appropriated for the same and in violation of sub-sections 80(3) and 80(4) of the Constitution, laws, rules and regulations for eligibility for payments under the Petroleum Support Fund.”