Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights & Good Governance Organizations (SBCHROs) has said that corruption under President Muhammadu Buhari has not only been institutionalised but has been codified and domesticated.
According to the group, while others who allegedly stole public funds used both onventional and unconventional means to siphon public funds and stash them abroad and skeletally invest some within through phony names or proxies, but today, they invest substantial part of same locally even while in office.
The group disclosed this in a statement signed by its convener, Emeka Umeagbalasi, who is board chairman of Intersociety, at the end of its media briefing at Sharom Hall of the All Saints Anglican Cathedral, Onitsha on Monday.
The group alleged that “three out of every five major investments in today’s Nigerian quoted investments, banking, real estate and other choice properties; oil and gas including petroleum filling stations; private universities and first class colleges; hotels, student hostels, shopping/market plazas, industries including industrial farms; media (print, radio, television and web); and palatial private houses etc are circumstantially linked to a serving or former governor; or a serving or former top federal public office holder including Minister; or a State/Federal legislator; or a serving State Commissioner; or a State/Federal top Judicial Officer; or a serving/retired top Police or Military formation Commander; especially from the rank of Police Superintendent and above; and Lt Col and above or its equivalent in other military or para-military organizations; all gotten through stolen public funds.
“These stolen public funds are stolen through codified corrupt policies and practices of security votes, over-bloated allowances and overheads as well as over-bloated severance packages (for retiring and retired public office holders especially at the State and Federal levels).
Others methods are through criminal processes such as illicit oil and currency exchange deals; contract kickbacks, borrowing and debt services kickbacks, over-invoicing, inflation of contracts, white elephant contracts; and siphoning, misappropriation and looting of public funds, etc; billions of dollars of public funds statutorily meant for public good are stolen annually from public coffers and criminally cornered, invested and privatized, the group said.
The group said that 98% of the country’s serving and former public office holders are living beyond their statutory incomes and legitimate lifestyles. Stressing that the worse of it all is that billions of dollars and their local currency equivalents are borrowed locally and internationally by National and Sub-National Governments in Nigeria, informing that only for 70% of the budgets substantially financed through the borrowed sums to be squandered in over-bloated recurrent expenditures especially through codified criminal processes of security votes, overheads and allowances of the country’s 17, 500 top public office holders and national and sub-national senior public/civil servants.
The group, which narrated how public office holders squander funds meant for public good in the country, said that elected public officers at Federal and State levels and 4,500 appointed top public officials at Federal and State levels; (excluding their public and civil servants), squander over N1.2trillion annually in salaries and allowances alone.
It added that the N1.2 trillion excludes annual overhead costs of the public offices manned by the 17,500 public office holders. These categories of privileged Nigerians found in the three tiers of government (federal, states and local governments) are responsible for squandering billions of dollars meant for good governance and public good in the country on annual basis and over the years.
“It is so bad that of the entire remunerations of the named public officials and civil servants, 90% is spent on their allowances excluding overheads, whereas only 10% goes to their statutory salaries.
“It is terribly shocking that the servicing of Nigeria’s 1,500 top federal public office holders and battalions of their aides; in addition to 90,000 federal civil servants as well as less than 700,000 policing and security personnel gulp 70% of Nigeria’s federal net annual budget, the group noted.
The group, while quoting Nigeria’s Salaries and Wages Commission, said, “Out of N40.9 billion spent on 1,152 State legislators annually, only N5.09 billion is spent on their salaries, while a whopping sum of N35.8billion goes to their allowances; out of N550billion spent on 11, 278 elected LGA officials annually, only N49.5billion is spent on their salaries and staggering N500.5billion is spent on their allowances; and out of N90 billion spent on 469 federal legislators annually, only N10 billion is spent on their salaries.
The group, therefore, called for the introduction into governance, what it said are the 12 core achievement parameters for a democratic and people-oriented government viz:
“They are: winning of election by popular votes (input legitimacy); ability of the elected to serve the people in the context of service to humanity (as opposed to transactional governance); avoidance of call to squander and heeding of call to serve; formation of a sizeable cabinet composed of persons of conscience; with technical expertise in various sectors of public governance; a cabinet type devoid of favoritism and nepotism.
“Others are: financial prudency or fiscal responsibility and maintenance of a moderate monthly wage bill; drastic reduction in governance running costs most especially in the areas of security votes and overheads and allowances of the political appointees; near zero or zero debts culture and ability to adequately mobilize both statutory and non statutory (non loan funds) within and outside the country for massive capital development of the governing area.
“The rest are: aggressive or multi sectoral and infrastructural development and provision, delivery and sustenance of social services and public utilities; provision of enabling environment and social incentives for the FDI inflows, private sector participation and general wellbeing of the citizenry including security and welfare (human security); periodic justice sector reform, promotion and advancement of human rights and rendering the account of stewardship at the end of every fiscal year and elected tenure.”