By Adewale Sanyaolu Despite being a country with the second largest deposit of bitumen in the world, Nigeria, according to Foraminifera, a marketing and research firm, spends about N2 billion yearly on importation of asphalt, a derivative of bitumen. The occurrence of bitumen deposits in Nigeria is twice the amount of existing reserves of crude…
We love drama. We are perpetually suspicious of our security agents and agencies. And anything that brings up our security agencies up in bad light we tend to turn it into reality television, something close to BBNaija. Once we hear that DSS, NSA, the armed forces are in the limelight, we all adjust our seats and focus. Take the case of the police and the ‘missing budget documents’ again…
Is there anything Nigerians won’t accuse the Nigerian Police of? I know we don’t love that particular law enforcement agency and somehow policemen in this country have managed to convince us they can manage without our love. Indeed on many occasions, we have caught them in acts that look like they don’t care what we think of them. My people say if people think you are a thief, you should avoid being caught cuddling a goat. But our cops, they like to not just cuddle a goat, they sometimes strap the hoofed things on their backs like newborn babes.
I once attended a Police workshop where one of the speakers said the Nigerian Police is not by any stretch of imagination the most corrupt organization in the country but unfortunately policemen are the only ones who advertise their sins. While other bad Nigerians will code their corrupt acts by slipping enveloped bribes under the table, only policemen take bribes in the open and still give change while everybody is watching. Yeah, that is why even Satan can shake his black head and sneer,’ Nigerian policemen are corrupt’. You see their local trouble?
Every time Nigerians see policemen at checkpoints, they turn their noses up: what is it that they want again? We forget that the fact that their presence scare certain criminals. We forget that they risk life and limbs standing in the open protecting us even if they do other businesses while wearing ‘our’ uniform. So, we all know we don’t like all our policemen all of the time. That doesn’t mean they are all businessmen o. Many of them are so lovable you want to give them full frontal hug. But those are not the ones we see or talk about regularly.
Because we generally think policemen are sinners, even when they are doing their jobs, all we feel is suspicion. We are quick to condemn them, always watching them with ‘corner eye.’ And because they have developed thick skin over the years, the average Nigerian policeman just goes on like a-policeman’s-got-to-do-what-a-policeman’s-got-to-do. Somehow he gets into trouble regularly doing what he’s gotta do.
You must have heard of how the EFCC raid of Senator Goje’s home has landed the police in another sinful trouble. According to Senator Goje, when the policemen who went to disturb his peace were leaving, they went with about two dozens of sensitive files including his laptop. Among the missing files was the almighty, all-important 2017 budget. Ah, did you just gasp? Some of us have been breathless since Wednesday. The police stole our budget? How can they do such a thing? When we had the budget, nothing was the way we wanted it, you can now imagine what will happen now that the whole budget is missing. The Senate is distressed. I am worried, on behalf of both the Senate and the general public. Why didn’t those policemen look at what they were carting away? What did they need the budget documents for? I thought those raids were for dollars and pounds and euros still in mint, untouched condition? Couldn’t those guys tell a file from untouched dollar bills? And how are we sure even if the ‘missing files’ are found now, some figures would not have been tampered with? Can you see another set of local troubles for the police? But I am sure the budget documents will surface like they did last year and we will live happily again for another year.
Again, how did you feel the first time the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, came into the Osborne Bank of Ikoyi mix? And I am not talking about your excitement about all that money. I have gone to Paris to shop and to Hawaii on vacation, several times in my head. So, I know all about the excitement angle. I also know about the anger. How can one person, one agency keep so much money in one apartment when there is so much hunger everywhere? Think of all the polio and meningitis vaccines that loot could buy. What were they thinking locking up billions in a room? How did the money get there? Who carried it all the way up there? And while I was stomping around in my room and chewing on my lips and trying so hard not to curse straight out of the Bible, the NIA Director-General’s face showed up. Not in my bedroom o, a-beg, before whistle blowers will start blowing whistles that have no NAFDAC number. I had to pause.
NIA D-G? The man looked like an old-school banker or Vice Chancellor or some conservative daddy. And then, I asked, where had he been hiding all the time we were harassing the D-G of DSS, IGP, NSA and Chief of Army Staff and all the other chiefs of the security agencies? How did he escape our cameras and pens and midgets? The man looked so distinguished but that does not matter, does it? Maybe he just has carriage and his training might have a lot to do with that. But we the people are always suspicious of our security agencies and agents. So, I remained suspicious.
Then I learnt that the NIA is more an off-shore agency, which explains a lot, but it is still a Nigerian organization, how come it is that rich? Where did it get all that money, from that same budget document that has a propensity to appear and disappear? Then I learnt again that NIA accounts cannot be subjected to scrutiny like the accounts of the rest of us. Whistle blowing and whistle blowers be damned, the National Intelligence Agency, especially under the National Security Agencies Act 1986 (Cap 278LFN), is immune from all legal and illegal ‘olofofo’ because this is clear: “The accounts of the National Intelligence Agency shall not be subject to external audit but the Director General shall by first week of March each year, render to the President… certificate showing the total expended during the preceding period and the under which the expenditure was made and copy the National Security Adviser.”
Are you see what I’m saw?
So, why did the Federal Government bring down the sledgehammer on itself, because that is what suspending Mr Ayo Oke means? Does this administration not know its own powers and the powers vested in its own agencies? Did EFCC not know that there is a difference between raiding the residence of Senator Goje and NIA’s secret place? Was that all about inter-agency rivalry demon surfacing again or a bad case of institutional ignorance? If I did not know that NSA Act of 1986, how come the government also did not know?
If it is also true that the DG, NIA, is supposed to brief the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in March and in his April 2015 general brief on the state of affairs of the agency, the DG NIA itemized the $289 million intervention fund approved and released to the agency by the Jonathan administration in November 2014, why are we all acting shocked and bewildered? Is it also true that in another memo to the NSA in January 2016, the D-G gave more details of the funds, including projects being undertaken, the amount expended, balance in the bank and cash at hand? Did these memos get lost or how come those who should know did not know?
My people, did you see why I called the man old school? Tell me how many people you know in public office who would keep such huge sums in trust for a government who apparently didn’t know it existed? Chaaiii. Did I not hear recently of some people selling oil kept in their tanks?
Now I know why it was reported that the old man wept when the suspension hammer came down on him. Keeping all that money for a people who are bent on ridiculing 37 years of his life and life’s blood must have broken his heart into smithereens.
Wait, was it also true that the NSA set up an audit team, which inspected the projects and submitted its report in February 2016 after the briefing in April? Is it also true that the NSA wrote back to the DG, NIA, on May 17, 2016, explaining the detailed report of NIA’s projects and that the president was pleased with the agency’s foresight in developing the critical infrastructure outlined in the report? Were those the documents presented to the probe panel during the eight hours of grilling of Mr Oke?