AKIN OSUNTOKUN: DIALOGUE WITH NIGERIA , Email: akin.osuntokun@thisdaylive.com

To the legion crises and catastrophe-in-the-making that the incumbency of President Mohammadu Buhari is bequeathing to Nigeria must now be added the alarming penchant for rank dishonesty. Under a self-inflicted pressure for a disintegrative quest for reelection, Nigeria has become captive to a steady stream of tragicomedy display of the unraveling of the Nigerian presidency as a credible and believable institution. At the latest outing where he was receiving a campaign organization led by a serving public servant, the comptroller General of the customs, no less (when is the turn of the director general of the state security services? the inspector general of police? and perhaps the central bank governor?) here was what President Buhari said

“So Nigeria was earning 2.1 million times 100 times 16 years, 7 days a week. “When we came, it collapsed to $37-38 and it was oscillating between $40 and $54 sometimes. “I went to Governor of Central Bank, thank goodness I did not sack him, he is still there. I went with my cap in my hand and say oya. He said there was no savings, only debt,” “I agreed to work with him and the roads we did from PTF exist from here to Port Harcourt, to Onitsha, to Benin and so on…. and one of the former Heads of State between that time was bragging that he spent more than 15 billion American dollars, not Naira, on power. Where is the power? Where is the power? And now we have to pay the debts,”

I have compiled the below listed excerpts as direct rebuttals of his flight of fancy. And in the light of this new pathology of the audacity of lies I will urge readers to keep these responses in mind because the lies that they readily refuted are liable to be repeated ad nauseum impervious to truth and Godliness.

On the price of crude oil export ‘According to the United States Energy Information Administration, the below stated are the US landing price per barrel of crude oil imports from Nigeria-from 1999 to 2013. Not exactly, on account of the constraint of space and in order not to belabor the issue, I took the highest monthly price as the price per barrel indicator for each year. Information was not provided for 2014 and 2015.

1999(USD 27), 2000(USD29), 2001(USD29), 2002(USD31), 2003(USD36) 2004(USD52) 2005(USD67), 2006(USDUSD77), 2007(USD98), 2008(143), 2009(USD79), 2010(USD95), 2011(USD126), 2012(USD130), 2013(USD121)’. -Thisday

On debt ‘In October 2005, Nigeria and the Paris Club announced a final agreement for debt relief worth $18 billion and an overall reduction of Nigeria’s debt stock by $30 billion. The deal was completed on April 21, 2006, when Nigeria made its final payment and its books were cleared of any Paris Club debt’- All Nigerian publications

And in reference to this achievement, Femi Adesina wrote that “President Buhari believes that Chief Obasanjo’s place in global history is assured for successfully handing over POWER to a civilian government in 1979 after serving as a military Head of State, and returning to POWER in 1999 through elections to stabilize the polity, during which he most remarkably negotiated a debt relief for Nigeria”

On the claim of inheriting no savings from his predecessor ‘As many rightly predicted, President Muhammadu Buhari has agreed to bailout bankrupt Nigerian states—which have been unable to pay the wages of public workers in the past few months—after approving a N713.7 billion ($3.5 billion) relief fund. The fund is part of a three-pronged relief package. Of the total sum, N413.7 billion ($2.1 billion)—sourced from LNG sales proceeds—is recognised as a special intervention fund, made available to pay outstanding wage commitments. The remaining N300 billion ($1.4 billion) is a soft loan to states. The soft loan will be provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria’.-All Nigerian publications (August 2015)

On the alleged 15 billion dollars expended on power by Obasanjo “To inform the uninformed, the so-called $16 billion power expenditure was an allegation against Chief Obasanjo’s administration and not his claim. The President also queried where the power generated is. The answer is simple: The power is in the seven National Integrated Power Projects and 18 gas turbines that Chief Obasanjo’s successor who originally made the allegation of $16 billion did not clear from the ports for over a year and the civil works done on the sites. “Chief Obasanjo challenges, and in fact encourages, anybody to set up another enquiry if in doubt and unsatisfied with the EFCC report and that of the Hon. Aminu Tambuwal-led ad-hoc committee”

On PTF ‘Of all the roads rehabilitated by the PTF, only 1984.5kms of roads representing 24% were carried out in the entire South; from where the bulk of the PTF revenue came since the south consumes over 70% of refined petroleum products. Out of this paltry figure, South West got 10.5% while South east and south south combined, got only 13.5% of all the roads, despite being ravaged by erosion and swamps. What this means is that all the Southern States had 4,440.43 kms or 24 per cent of road rehabilitation as against 13,870.47 kms or 76 per cent in the Northern States. The North-West States of Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara had a lion share of 5020 kms or 27.42% because the Fund’s Chairman, puritan Buhari and the military dictator Sani Abacha were from there; The North-East States of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe picked 23.48 per cent. This is the zone where Salihijo Ahmed, the late Chief Executive of Afri-Project Consortium APC, the sole consultants that supervised all PTF projects came from’-The submission of Afenifere to the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission (HRVIC) led by Justice Chukwudifu Oputa.

Perfection of Rigging

‘INEC had said that it was still in possession of 7,920,129 permanent voter cards yet to be collected from its offices across the nation. A breakdown of the uncollected PVCs as at March revealed that Lagos had the highest number of 1,401,390 followed by Oyo with 647,586 and Edo which had 449,001 while Kano had 195,941. The figure also showed Bauchi State as having the least number of uncollected PVCs, 15,542, followed by Bayelsa and Plateau which had 28,533 and 25,300 cards respectively’.

The puzzle that crystallized from this report is the dramatic disparity in the PVC collection rates between Lagos and Kano in particular, and between the North and the South in general. It is counter intuitive to believe that given almost the same voter population figures, upwards of 1.4 million PVCs remained uncollected in Lagos against a figure of 196000 for Kano. Extrapolating from the entrenched culture of inflating population figures, there is little doubt that the voter register for both megacities are inflated and fictitious. Giving the impression that Kano voters are more than 90% compliant is to rationalize the anticipated inflation of votes for the Presidential candidate for whom Kano state is deemed a political stronghold-a recurrence from 2015.

One of the acceptable imperfections of the Nigerian status quo is the fundamentally flawed statistical data profile of the country especially the head count. The ‘look the other way’ nonchalance is a foundational conspiracy between the British colonialists and the Northern dominated national political elite. The received wisdom is that this foundational conspiracy was expressed in the paternalistic desire of the British to bequeath the political domination of Nigeria to its favored protégé-the northern region; and consequently contrived this desired outcome through the manipulation of the Nigeria population census to favor the North over the South.

Though relatively rendered inconsequential (in the first republic) by regional autonomy, population figures were not without significant profit. And the controversy it would spawn started right from the first attempt to conduct census in post independent Nigeria… ‘ The first attempt, in mid-1962, was canceled after much controversy and allegations of over counting in many areas. A second attempt in 1963, which was officially accepted, also was encumbered with charges of inaccuracy and manipulation for regional and local political purposes. Indeed, the official 1963 figure of 55.6 million as total national population is inconsistent with the census of a decade earlier because it implies a virtually impossible annual growth rate of 5.8 percent’.

One of the abiding peculiarities of Nigeria is that the full knowledge of these fraudulent figures notwithstanding, it has remained the most acceptable and the standard for extrapolating the validity of subsequent enumeration of Nigerians. Such subsequent exercises have been little more than a variation and proportional upward review of the figures initially attributed to each region and states. These are the statistics upon which access and allocation of resources are predicated-so called distribution of the national cake. It is the basis for the creation of wards, local government councils, federal constituencies and states upon which revenue allocation and distribution is predicated. To the extent that this fraud is perpetrated across the length and breadth of Nigeria it has become the norm for which nobody or section is held culpable and accountable. And in consonance with the logic of power politics, it is the biggest player who dictates the pace and magnitude of the fraud and distortion.

In the current rundown to the 2019 general elections, the latest manifestation of this dilemma was brought to light in the report of Sunday Vanguard ‘This report will show why the new move (disguised as Voting points Settlements, VPS, is not different from the failed lopsided allocation, which saw the North handed over 21,000, while the South had less than 9,000 PUs. In addition, it will show the possible crookedness embedded in the hasty move less than 10months to next year’s general elections. Finally, just as it is with the presently unchangeable lopsided 774 LGAs, on which revenue is shared, the push to discriminately share out this so called VPS comes with the potential of rendering useless and discombobulate, the provisions of Section 133 (b) which deals with the issue of spread in voting to determine wide acceptability of a President.

Conversely, the tokenism of attempting to solve a few instances of far-flung PUs and ease voter participation, which is the usual position of INEC, is negligible in the face of the potential universal consequence for the South specifically, and for the future of Nigeria’s integrity in general’.