Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wole Soyinka beckons for mass protest over fuel subsidy scam

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Monday  asked Nigerians to warm up for another round of massive demonstration over revelations of endemic corruption on fuel subsidy debacle, remarking that the trend has brought huge embarrassment to both Nigerians and the country across the world.

Soyinka, who made this remark at a joint press conference he addressed along with Save Nigeria Group (SNG) in Lagos, also tasked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and Other Related Offences (ICPC) to quickly commence without any delay the prosecution of culprits of the scam with a view to bringing them to book.

In the same vein, Convener of SNG, Tunde Bakare, said if concrete steps were  not taken towards prosecuting culprits of subsidy scam within two weeks, SNG would have no option than to call people out for a massive protest of the menace. He also demanded for the appointment of a private prosecutor to handle the case.

Soyinka who said he wondered if he was living in the world of reality or world of fantasy when he read through the figures rolled out by adhoc committee of the House of Representatives which probed the scam, regretted that Nigerians were being dehumanised and treated as third class citizens in their own country.

He said: “We are being overwhelmed into insensitivity by sheer excess. Those numbers, I have studied very carefully some of these figures and I had had to take a couple of hours to read after every paragraph, after every
figure to ask myself and pinch myself whether I’m really living in the real world or whether  there is some fantasy world that is  projected on the pages of  newspapers.”

The sources of these figures can be cited, reaction of House of Representatives has been noted and we haven’t had any of these figures disputed by relevant instruments of the government.

“There is a point that one can no longer use words like contempt and disdain. We ‘ve moved beyond this, we are being treated not even as second class or third class citizens, but when you are wronged this way, you are dehumanised because it is not just insult from arrogance,… it is material assault on the resources of ordinary people. The populace should be ready for another determined march against corruption.... And even before that takes place, I believe there is enough prima facie case for EFCC and ICPC and other investigative and prosecuting bodies to move in.

“From the situation now, we have become objects of ridicule to the whole wide world. The comments of international monitoring community and what those of us who travelled around have to undergo from commentaries against our nation, the humiliation is just too excessive and I think it is enough. Nigerians must be prepared to march, must be prepared to come out en masse and demand a termination of these years of insolence against the ordinary people.”

Bakare, who was accompanied by President of Campaign for Democracy (CD), Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin and SNG spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, reviewed the output of House of Representatives’ probe of the subsidy scam and regretted that government officials rolled out controversial figures with the intention to fool Nigerians. He insisted that N3 trillion allegedly spent on subsidy last year was questionable, saying the huge sum was deliberately stolen from the treasury under the guise of subsidy.

The SNG leader also queried the difference between the figures tendered by the Accountant -General of the Federation (AGF) and the committee, alleging that a third of the entire appropriation for the 2012 was stolen by government officials last year.

Bakare regretted that "the clearance of Gombe Governor Ibrahim Dankwanbo, who was the Accountant-General of the Federation in 2009 and who was alleged to have issued cheques of N999 million in 128 places in 24 hours totalling N127 billion, raises another serious matter.”

He added that "passing the buck to the (Petroleum Products’ Pricing and Regulatory Agencies) PPPRA does not answer the issue as the impression this gives is that the governor may have been exonerated in a deal to ensure that he does not spill the beans, if push comes to shove. These double payments must be traced and the nation must know where the money ended."

He praised the House of Representatives for the probe, pointing out that the probe revealed that the management of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) denied the receipt of the money said to be paid to it by the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) adding that ministers of finance and petroleum who served during the period of the scam, should also be prosecuted.

Bakare also remarked that the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan claimed ignorance of how N3 trillion was spent for subsidy by the administration under his watch shows that he is unfit to rule the country. "The country has been stolen broke by mindless looting. The states are yet to receive their allocations for March. It portends great problem for the economy,” Bakare added.

He demanded for the appointment of a private prosecutor to handle the case. "Given the low confidence the people have in the anti-corruption agencies in dealing with political corruption in Nigeria, we are demanding the appointment of a private prosecutor to deal with these prosecutions.

"The counsel to be so appointed must be a man or woman of proven integrity with a team of lawyers recommended by the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) working with such private prosecutor. Civil society organisations should be allowed to appoint their own counsel,” he said.

Also speaking, CD leader, Okei-Odumakin, lamented that the country was swimming in corruption, which he said resulted in collapsed infrastructure, failing health sector and high mortality rate.

This Day

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Mass protests across Nigeria over fuel subsidies

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