Agenda For Looters

Posted: July 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

ImageBy Jaafar Jaafar

I hate calculations right from my kindergarten days. I was then good at 1+2=3 and some simple multiplications that did not go beyond 2×3=6. Anything that goes beyond this looked more of Mandarin to me. I later found myself in a state of cognitive dissonance at Kofar Nassarawa Primary School when figures were slowly juxtaposed with alphabets.

In my college and university days, nothing significantly changed. Maths remained like cockroach to me. But by sheer providence of objectives questions, I ‘rigged’ my way to become sophomore when I passed Maths for Social Science with E during my university days. Can you see OBJ’s (read Obasanjo if you like) rigging power? Attahiru Jega (yes, Jega, when he was the VC of BUK) then signed my certificate (of return)!

Today’s discourse is not mainly about Maths but rather about the calculation of loot and setting an agenda for looters. Looting is not alien to Nigeria and Nigerians. It is like a trait in our genetic makeup which makes us vintage Nigerians. A shoe shine boy can rub Stella Pomade on your shoes as Kiwi neutral. A sugarcane seller will palm foamy part of the cane on naive kids as the sweatiest part. A tax collector will print his personal invoice. Construction companies will tamper with the initial contract specification or use low calibre metal rods on overhead bridge in order accommodate 15 percent kickback. This is how we draw ourselves back.

Now let us steer the discourse back to the issue of calculation. I was really amazed recently when I read a tweet revealing the mind-blowing power of a billion naira. The tweet says if a person steals N2 billion, and he is spending N50,000 daily, it will take him 100 years to spend the money. You see, from invective, rumour, humour, down to preaching, one sees all manner of stories in the social media. When your mind got wounded by a wildest rumour today, you may be healed tomorrow with a dose of fact. Such is the nature of social media.

Despite my congenital numerophobia, I had to make the calculations to erase the doubt in my mind. Here we go: 365 days make a year. Yes. So if you spend N50,000 daily for 365 days, you will spend a total sum of N18, 250,000. Right. When you multiply N18, 250,000 by 100 (years), you will arrive at N1,825,000,000. Still, you have a remaining N175 million. So if one wishes to be fikish, one can add 25 days ‘accrued’ from the 25 leap years in every century. With just the leap year spoil, you can come up with ‘something’ that can drill a couple of boreholes at Ikare-Akoko or build a ward at Yadakunya Leprosy Hospital.

Dear looter, do you know how many dialysis machines N1 billion can buy? I learn that the cost of dialysis machine is in the region of $15,000 (N2.4 million) to $60,000 (about N9 million). So if you divide 1 billion by 2.4 million, you will arrive at about 416 million units of dialysis machines. Isn’t this amount more than enough to decorate our hospitals with dialysis and X-ray machines?

Here, a looter who stole N2 billion can save two things: lives and 1 billion naira. If they can withdraw the money from your numerous proxy accounts or haul back their loot from the Swiss vaults, many people with renal problem, who otherwise would suffer to death, can be saved. In Nigeria, you will think buying the equipment is more difficult than buying drones or owning nuclear technology. Why don’t we improve the standard of our hospitals this year, and then focus on another problem the following year?

There are many members of the National Assembly who can give out N1 billion the way we give N20 donation for mosque maintenance or offertory in church. In the Customs Service, there are many billionaires who can feed millions with just a cup from the kegs of their wealth. Likewise in the extractive industry and the Civil Service, there are enough billionaires to make life better for Nigerians. Surprisingly, these billionaires do not only evade charity but also tax. A local council will force a poor roadside vulcaniser to pay tax but cannot collect ground rent from the rich. Paradox.

If a pension fund looter can be ‘cleaver’ enough to steal Old Age Pensioners’ (OAPs) lifetime saving, I wonder why he couldn’t have the nous to commit some percentage of the money to charity. With Boko Haram killing innocent Nigerians openly in a pocket of attacks, corruption is secretly executing a genocide against Nigerians on a richter scale.

I was recently privileged to see a bill of quantity and cost of building a four classroom block with two offices. The ultra-modern classroom, which was build at the cost of N15 million, has long-span aluminum roofing sheets, suspended ceiling, tiled floor, extra-strong doors, among others. So if these looters can be conscientious enough to give some percentage of their loot to education, the literacy level will improve.

Looter live in castles, while their siblings and relations live in huts or rented multi-room apartments that can pass as pigpen. They take their children to study abroad but they cannot pay the school fees of their nephews and nieces studying at home. Can’t you see how heartless we can be?

Life expectancy in Nigeria is just about 50 years. So this makes it somewhat impossible for a looter to live for 100 year, that is even if he began stealing public funds when he was being pushed in a buggy. The 10 billion Tafa Balogun loot could take him centuries to spend. James Ibori loot will take him up to the new millennium. Abacha loot, which is calculated in billions of dollars, could even last for eternity.

Apart from our homegrown looters, we have these multinationals who feign commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). According to a blog injusticefacts.wordpress.com, “the top 200 corporations [in the world] are bigger than the combined economies of 180 countries.” But it’s dismaying to note that most of these corporations made the Bribe Payers Index (BPI). The fact is that if all the bribe givers will refuse to give, there won’t be a taker anymore and life will be better for Nigerians.

I just wish the looters will see logic in my agenda.

Jaafar, a public affairs commentator, can be reach through jafsmohd@yahoo.com

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