Tinubu’s mother of war (2)


I’ll start off today’s concluding portion of the treatise I started last week with the poignant question: Can President Bola Tinubu be that leader who will sincerely fight the corrupt in his administration where he finds them, and duel decisively with corruption where it has taken the nation hostage? Can Mr President kill that killer vice that is slowly killing our nation?

Without a shred of doubt, Nigeria is a heavyweight of wealth. She is an abode to innumerable wise men and women, and a depository of intense and intentional intellectuals. If you dub the Giant of Africa a safe harbour of heavy highbrows, and a nation with the savviest gathering of geeks and double-domes, you are richly informed.  On the unfortunate flip side, however, the same coast-to-coast fecund and flourishing Nigerian soil is also a sore and sorry site of an installed bunker of raging thievery in government, and a lewdly and larcenously landscaped cornfield of corruption where public servants play their filthy and foul games.

For many years, stories of corruption in Nigeria have been maddening, saddening, and disheartening ricochet revelations of how vile men and vain viragos have plunged the nation into the darkness of backwardness. Multitudes of conniving and contriving connoisseurs seem determined to run this nation raggedly naked. Manipulating marksmen who care less what the future holds for the country and its people oversee all things. Corruption is a nauseous, odious, and tawdry abnormality that makes you ask: “Who have Nigerians offended?”

The Principle of avant-gardism inspires citizens of all nations to band together to do things for the good of the country. But in Nigeria are concerted and deliberate efforts by a powerful few to pull down built bridges.

Every society has its peculiar needs. The greatest needs of Nigerians today are food and security. 120 million people are poor and hungry; and about 5000 people die daily from hunger. Mahatma Gandhi once said that, “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” With that many people in a state of hunger, Nigeria tops the list among 11 ECOWAS hunger-ravaged countries because leadership in all areas is corrupt. Those who truly serve the people are few. Their good works are seen in the roads they build, schools they reconstruct, ideas they share, education they reform, and heartfelt love for the people they display. Those who make serfs out of citizens are many. These ones have come to steal, kill, and destroy.

According to the corruption index of Transparency International, Nigeria ranks 150 out of 180 cruelly corrupt countries. The virus of corruption is responsible for the dying status of many government enterprises. Nigeria’s beleaguered power sector is one. With trillions of naira sunk into the project over many decades, darkness continues to hang over the country. Without regular power supply, revenues are depleted, businesses disrupted, workers are laid off by affected industries, and the economy is in strangulation.

Ten years ago, under President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria privatised 11 electricity distribution companies and six generating companies. The government felt that a full grip on the power sector and reengineering of it was necessary as it retained 100 per cent ownership of the Transmission Company of Nigeria. If you love Nigeria, your heart must bleed in pain when you think about the whooping sums of cash splurged with no positive results. The following are some of the spending in the last four years alone:

When President Olusegun Obasanjo was president, he allegedly spent $16bn on power projects without corresponding power supply to Nigerians. This forced immediate-past President Muhammadu Buhari to ask publicly: “Where is the power?” To date, nobody has answered that question.

In 2019 with Buhari as President, the World Bank approved a $550m loan for Nigeria to develop mini-grids and solar home systems based on its projections that the country’s mini-grid subsector was set to rapidly expand.

In 2020, the World Bank approved an additional $750m Power Sector Recovery Operation loan for Nigeria to achieve financial sustainability, enhance accountability, and ensure the supply of 4,500 MW/h of electricity to the grid by 2022.

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In June 2020, the government approved $120m for the continued construction and completion of the Kashimbila multipurpose dam in Taraba State, expected to generate 40MW and water for the community. The same year the government rolled out a $5.9bn stimulus plan to help support the economy.

In December 2021, under the Presidential Power Initiative, the government approved $1.9m and €62.9m for phase 1 of the Siemens deal aimed at modernising, rehabilitating, and expanding  the national grid.

In September 2022, Nigeria began taking delivery of the first batch of transformers following factory acceptance tests in Germany and Italy. According to the Technical and Commercial Proposal released in May 2019, the first phase of the project will add an additional 2,000 MW to Nigeria’s existing on-grid capacity. Despite all these splurging, Nigerians are still living in the dark. What happened to all these funds? Corruption is stifling Nigeria.

The government recently signed a six-year, about $3.8bn, contract with Germany’s Siemens AG for a three-phased electrification project aimed at increasing Nigeria’s power to 25,000 MW. The African Development Bank (already working with Nigeria on a $410m transmission project) invested an additional $200m through the Rural Electrification Agency to expand Nigeria’s power sector and improve access to electricity.

Energy and power experts believe that the country will require as much as $10bn in investment over the next 20 years to rejig things. The above are just a tiny bit of what has been expended on the sector without results. Corruption has flipped Nigeria into an intricate, complex, confusing conjuration, and head-scratching fabrication and conundrum. Every act of corruption is a declaration of war against a nation. If Nigeria wants to survive, she must wrestle this demon and triumph. In the wise submission of John Galbraith, the Canadian American economist, diplomat, public official, and very savvy thinker I referenced last week; all great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.

I asked this question of a few friends who are close to Tinubu’s government: “Do you sincerely think Tinubu can fight the corrupt and corruption in Nigeria?” According to one in the president’s Lagos orbit, “It is a Herculean task, but I believe most of the fight will not be to shame the corrupt but get stolen money back into government coffers.” Another friend responded: “Not at all. How does he stop the excesses of his friends who have to pass his agenda in the National Assembly?” Another one said: “He will try his best. No one person can fight the depth of corruption in Nigeria.”

Can President Tinubu be that leader who will sincerely fight corruption? I don’t know. What I know is that he has vowed to fight the fight. But fighting corruption, especially in Nigeria known as one of the world’s hotbeds of corruption, will not be a cakewalk. It’s gone too deep into Nigeria’s bones and marrow. It’s the air Nigerians in power breathe and the oxygen they desire to have lives and living. Fighting corruption will be Tinubu’s mother of wars! There are many corrupt people in authority he must deal with. But if he is determined to wrestle with the demon, we’ll stand by him and offer all the support he needs. He is our President, and Nigeria our country.


Twitter: @Folaojotweet ,

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