When a renowned legal luminary in Nigeria, Professor Itse Sagay, heard that DCP Abba Kyari had been charged with a 25kg cocaine seizure by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), along with other senior members of the IG’s Intelligence Response Team (IRT), he noted that the news marked the end of an era of crime fighting in the Nigerian Police.
This turn of events for the super cop is by far the worst stain on the police in recent times. He was highly decorated and quickly rose through the ranks. However, behind the curtains he ate the forbidden fruit even as the leader of the disbanded Special Anti-Robery Squad (SARS) in Lagos State. Since his unmasking, there have been a torrent of unsavory reports about his “boys”. How they exploit and convert the assets of suspects for themselves; and withdraw from suspect accounts.
Besides Kyari’s connection to Instagram celebrity, Ramon Abbas, popularly known as Hushpuppi, there is now circumstantial evidence that he is the kingpin of a drug cartel operating between Ethiopia, Nigeria and Brasil. But this article does not deal with the details of Abba Kyari’s crime; it is more about the fact that he is a metaphor for the Nigerian condition, and he represents everything that is wrong with our system of governance, the structure of the country; politics, religion, security, education and culture as defined above.
His case, called Abba Kyari Syndrome (AKS), seems to reflect a condition that cuts across all institutions and levels of government, from Aso Rock to the smallest local government; from national juggernauts like NNPC to small units in departments; from big national icons like Dangote Plc to small businesses around the corner. But unlike other terminal illnesses like cancer, AKS is contagious, and it’s everywhere, even in religious organizations.
In recent times, we have seen the main symptoms of the AKS in the inability of the army to account for funds intended for the purchase of weapons. Under General Buratai, the $1 billion sum was approved by the Senate against the wishes of most Nigerians, but the army is still crying for lack of ammunition. In Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike recently accused an army captain of providing an exit cover for illegal refiners of petroleum products. In the Southeast, there are countless army-manned checkpoints, and available reports indicate that the AKS is in full glare.
But of all the security agencies, the Nigerian police are considered the worst, even though they are the closest to the people; and if AKS were to be cancer, his level in the font would have been considered stage four, which is why this condition is named after one of their own. In policing, the AKS has metastasized from police headquarters to zones, state commands, divisions, outposts and checkpoints.
Last week in Port Harcourt while on a bus a police officer after taking N100 from our driver said over 90% of commercial drivers in Port Harcourt do not have driving licenses or full car papers. So why are they on the road? Very simple, the AKS in them. Also in Rivers State, it was recently discovered that a divisional police officer owned an illegal refinery. But he was supposed to fight this plague; it kills the people of Rivers and the economy.
AKS among Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) is unprecedented, like stage four cancer, most MDAs wait for the doctor to call the time of death. Remember how Abdulrasheed Maina, a civil servant and leader of the defunct pension reform task force, stole more than 2 billion naira belonging to the pension board. What about the accusations made against the current Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, by the publisher of Sahara Reporters, how he amassed so much wealth during his tenure. Or should we even consider the federal government’s school feeding program?
According to Governor Wike, recently the Nation is bleeding, and for me, the epicenter of this financial hemorrhage is among the MDAs struggling with revenue generation. But of course, due to the endemic AKS, they continue to fail the country, causing a huge debt burden. At NIMASA, it was alleged that former doctor Dr Dakuku Peterside missed a second term due to corruption and waste. During his tenure, 3 billion naira was reportedly spent removing litter and water hyacinth, but his crime was to spend $600,000 a day hiring patrol officers for rapid response, neglecting those belonging to the agency. As if Dakuku’s tendencies weren’t bad enough, the current MD, Mr. Bashir Jamoh, has been charged with corruption amounting to N1.5 trillion naira and $9.557 million by a certain Jackson Use. If true, that means more than what amounts to ten percent of the 2022 budget is not accounted for in NIMASA.
The history of the NNPC’s sins is very deep and wide, and its pattern of plundering the federation’s account dates back to 2012. But the subsidy it tried to dismantle gave the NNPC another layer of cover to do more economic harm to the country. For example, the NNPC availed itself of an additional N402.423 billion after the CBN had already paid it N407. 801 for grant in 2010.
The current dirty gasoline saga is another stark indication of NNPC disease. We as ordinary Nigerians are at a loss for words to express our pain and shame at this enormous national embarrassment. We are even now hearing that this colossal mess will be cleaned up with N201 billion. But since Aso Rock is also sick, no one has been fired.
I will miss the space to continue on this trajectory to talk about the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which spent nearly 2 billion naira with nothing tangible to show, not even the all-important east-west road. Existing records even reveal that the NDDC owes contractors up to N3 trillion. Or, the religious leaders who exploit millions in the name of prosperity; speakers who sell notes for sex and money; or the workers who kill the small businesses where they work. Or what shall we even say of politicians who promise and fail? Our misfortunes are many; but the question remains, who will cure our disease? Who is able to bring a definitive remedy to our AKS? I don’t have a crystal ball to see 2023, but if President Muhammadu Buhari is an honest man, let him keep his promise by signing the electoral law. For us ordinary Nigerians, our hope is God, but our weapon of choice is PVC, in 2023. If we miss it again, we may not survive as a nation.
By: Raphael Pepple