Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan and N1.5 Trillion by Olusegun Adeniyi
The Senate Committee on Public Accounts
last week revealed how the Federal Government under President Olusegun
Obasanjo; his successor, the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua and
current President Goodluck Jonathan grossly abused public funds from
some Special Funds Accounts to the tune of over a trillion Naira.
that there was more to the story
beyond the headlines, I had to work my contacts in the Senate to secure a
copy of the report. Aside reportorial curiousity, my interest also
stemmed from the fact that I served under one of the three presidents
who incidentally is no longer in a position to defend himself.
Having read the 17-page executive
summary as well as the 179-page full report, including the verbatim
transcript of the public hearing conducted by the committee, I can say
very quickly that the issue is not that of stealing of public funds but
impunity (which I dare say is a very serious offence, especially in
financial matters) while more than 95 percent of the infractions
documented in the report happened under President Obasanjo between 2002
and May 29, 2007.
Even when these special accounts were established for
specific interventions and attracted statutory financial accruals--each
running into hundreds of billions of Naira within the period in
question, they were administered almost as slush funds.
Chaired by Ahmad Lawan, one of the
longest serving lawmakers in our country today, (having spent two terms
as a House of Representatives member between 1999 and 2007 before he was
elected to the Senate where he is currently serving his second term),
the Public Accounts Committee is one of the most productive committees
in the Senate and it has done extensive work on the management of the
It is therefore no surprise that its report, which
is very detailed, would raise some dust.
However, the critical issue is that
of transparency and accountability in the management of public funds in
our country and from the report, it is easy to see how certain
individuals sometimes act as though they are above the law. The weakness
of the National Assembly is also very glaring if almost $10 billion
could be spent outside the appropriation process, and in a most cynical
manner that conforms with neither the extant laws nor the purposes for
which these monies were earmarked.
Even when the lawmakers ordinarily
hold the power of the purse, we have unwittingly created a system where
about a billion dollars could be spent annually by the president almost
as he wished without clear guidelines.
Of the three special accounts looked
into, the first is the 3 percent "Development of Natural Resources
Account" which belongs to the Federal Government and was established to
fund the development of alternative mineral resources to oil and gas.
Essentially, it was to develop the solid minerals sector and within a
period of ten and half years, (from January 2002 to June 2012), the sum
of N873,400,023,790.19 had accrued to the account out of which
N701,489,494,960.61 had been spent by official record, leaving a
shortfall of about N162 billion.
The second account is the 1.46
percent "Derivation and Ecology Account" which also ,,,,
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