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The arms contract investigation

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PHOTO: theeagleonline.com.ng

PHOTO: theeagleonline.com.ng

THE report of a 13-man audit committee on the procurement of arms and equipment in the armed forces and defence sector from 2007 to date, released by the presidency, may not be the final; but it is certainly damning. It portrays an atrocious system rooted in flippancy and arbitrariness, a system that treats the due process with disdain and, by so doing harm the public interest.

Surely, a nation intending to develop in concrete terms cannot overlook or be pretentious of the danger inherent in such permissive arrangement. It is in this regard that Nigerians are genuinely interested in a total unravelling of, not just the arms contract in issue, but all other government transactions presumably done in the public interest without commensurate effects.

Notwithstanding its interim nature, the report, along with its revelations are disheartening in a country where citizens are being ravaged by excruciating poverty. This is one more indication of the raised level of abuse of office, greed, insensitivity and depravity prevalent among some public officials. The investigation should be thorough, and whoever is indicted should be made to answer for his/her misdeeds.

The interim report on the arms supply contract, according to the Presidency, highlighted failed contracts, fictitious and phantom deals, items not supplied but captured in payments, missing items in inventory, transfers for unascertained purposes without contract documents to explain transactions.

The report also uncovered “illicit and fraudulent financial transactions” on a grand scale. This involves hundreds of billions in foreign and local currencies. So far, the committee has verified extra-budgetary inventions of approximately N643.817 billion. The foreign currency component is put at $2.193 billion – amounts which excluded grants from state governments and funds collected by the Department of State Security (DSS) and the police. In spite of the huge financial interventions, “very little” was allegedly expended to support defence procurement.

What is clear now is that there is a need to institute due process in governance and in public dealings; the country has suffered much international disrepute over the activities of unscrupulous public officials who are preoccupied with the mindless graft of public resources.

President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly ordered the arrest of the indicted persons. This is the least expected, provided the investigation is credible and exhaustive; such that it leads naturally to arrest and trials. The president is right to chase culprits, but he should ensure a comprehensive and transparent inquiry by the agencies saddled with the task. The president’s anti-graft war should not be seen to be selective but all-encompassing and diligent.

The arms deals report should serve as a lever for the president to fully activate his quest for sanity in the financial system as part of the general cleaning of the stable. The promise of a new dawn in public probity formed the plank of his political covenant with the people prior to his election mandate. Government’s ultimate objective should be to restore confidence in the polity and re-enact the Nigerian dream. The past few months have unveiled many untidy, sordid, mind-bending public financial transactions; showcasing the country as a corruption-riddled one.

The observation that the foreign component spent on failed contracts was more than double the one billion dollars loan approved by the National Assembly to fight the insurgency is alarming. Notably, the loan was endorsed at the height of protestations by some soldiers of being exposed to danger on the front lines without weapons. These allegations, narrowed down to the watch of the immediate past National Security Adviser (NSA), are worrisome. Notably, the officer has protested his non-invitation to the proceedings of the committee to defend himself. Government has equally denied his claim. However, the window is open to establishing the veracity of both claims and to prevent the miscarriage of justice.

Col. Sambo Dasuki has reportedly promised to reveal much in court if and when his trial begins, even as he denied the weighty allegations against him. The public cannot wait for his disclosures in the interest of the nation. Besides the exposure of the military to international ridicule in the war against insurgency, the listed infractions were “without prejudice to the consistent non-performances of the companies in the previous contracts awarded.”

There must be accountability in public service. President Buhari has a duty to get to the root of the arms procurement contract scandal. There is no reason to suggest that he cannot do that. He should also sustain the tempo of recovering the loot from the treasury as much as he could during his tenure. He has history on his side.



4 Comments
  • ZINNI

    Good move intended to sanitized the system,also we must remember those who stole our crude oil on the high sea,of which Lt.Gen.Buratai was a major actor,as task force commander in N/Delta,his current wealth is questionable,i.e towered above his income as COAS must also be investigated on crude oil theft,how much does he earn since the day he join the Army till date?his country home alone worth above his gross salary for 30years of service,Abuja properties alone are much,let`s also investigate him,i wrote a piece like this over 3 year ago about EFCC boss and this same Lt.Ge. Burutai`s wealth,that they are richer than most ex state Governors,just recently Lamrode of EFCC is about to face trial .
    Every one who are directly or indirectly involved in this Defence looting must be held accountable,whether they are Dasuki`s (ROYAL BLOOD)or from a peasant families,proper justice to get back our money,and also produce sponsors of Boko harams openly without bias.

  • OkwuBndu

    As long as the auditing and investigations are transparent, non-selective, impartial and without double standards, every reasonable Nigerian will support it and the prosecution of those found to have compromised their position and the trust placed on them.

  • loveontopover

    We cannot achieve much in our fight to curb or totally eradicate corruption in Nigeria because those who run the affairs of this nation serve only those in power and not the nation as it should be! Tell me how NCC, after imposing fines on MTN, went back to ask the president to decide what shall be done! Is that not what they are paid to do, regulate the telecommunication industry? Is it because MTN has already, like Shell, started giving them bribes?

  • opsy06

    Could
    the National Assembly stopped the Dasukigate from happening?

    Yes, the Dasukigate could have been avoided or the
    process been ruptured if our parliamentary has been at the forefront of
    performing their role and responsibilities. And this call for a questions on
    the various committees that was set up to do various oversights, checks and
    balances and put the executive arm on their toes . In reference to the 7th
    republic of both the Senate and House of Representative who were elected members
    during the period when the Former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki
    (retd.) held sway the office of the National Security
    Adviser to the President of Nigeria would have saved us this hullaballoo and
    High end 24/7 robbery on the treasury of over 180 million Nigerians.

    There are many questions that keeps arising, and at
    the end of day our legislators needs to rise above partisan differences and be
    ready to do a thorough job of legislation, if not different “–gate” will
    keeping rearing his head and this keeps us as a country for making any
    significant progress.

    I will urge Nigerians and every eligible voters in
    every election to please again, and again shun every sentiment, ethnic and
    religious bias in electing their leaders from the councilor, Chairmen/Chairperson,
    Governors, Parliamentarians, and the President.

    Having said this, the Dasukigate would have been
    stopped or avoided if our National Assembly has been forthcoming with oversights
    on various government ministries, MDA’s, parastatals, agencies and institution
    that work for the government of Nigeria. Sometimes it bothers me if our
    legislators know their oversight function. I will break it down for every
    legislators either at the local, State, and most importantly at the FEDERAL
    Level understand what

    Dictionaries
    define “oversight” as “watchful care,” and this approach
    has proven to be one of the most effective techniques that Parliamentarians has
    adopted to influence the executive arm of government. National Assembly
    oversight prevents waste and fraud; protects civil liberties and individual
    rights; ensures executive compliance with the law; gathers information for
    making laws and educating the public; and evaluates executive performance. It
    applies to cabinet departments, executive agencies, regulatory commissions and
    the presidency.

    The
    oversight power of National Assembly has helped to force officials out of
    office, change policies, and provide new statutory controls over the executive
    in the advanced democracies and we have seen example even in Nigeria too. That’s
    why I share in the outburst of frustration from GOVERNOR
    Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State how looting
    of funds by officials of the past administration went on without the former Minister of Finance Dr Mrs. Okonjo Iweala knowing how this funds
    are used even though it was something that was approved by the President .

    I have two questions
    for the former Minister , the first was when she was appointed and taking the
    Oath of Office , it was to serve Nigeria to the best of her ability by representing the President in that Ministry , if she was unable to get an
    action plan or specifics of what the funds will be used for . She could have
    resign and leave without been part of this criminal act. Secondly funds that wasn’t
    part of the annual budget, and there was no appropriation APPROVED from the National assembly, as a Minister of Finance are you supposed to
    approve the disbursement of such funds by the CBN.

    In all as much as I know
    our democracy is growing, I will encourage the 8th republic of
    National Assembly to tow a path of patriotism and diligence since bulk of the
    members and leadership are members of the ineffective and failed 7th
    republic National Assembly by providing a first class legislation to debatable
    issues that affects Nigerians and on a more sincere importance provides exemplary leadership when it comes to
    oversight on government ministries, MDA’s, parastatals, agencies
    and institution that work for the government of Nigeria

    Time and
    again, the oversight power of Congress has proven to be an essential check in
    monitoring the presidency and controlling public policy.

    Opeyemi
    Oyedeji