Opportunity Cost of $125million PTDF Fund: The Forgone Conclusion

No Comments » March 22nd, 2007 posted by // Categories: General Articles



OPPORTUNITY COST OF PTDF $125 Million: FORGONE CONCLUSION

By Dr Olayiwola Ajileye

 

As a Nigerian in Diaspora, one cannot but take more than a cursory look at the current PTDF drama in Nigeria, the Obasanjo-Atiku-Nnamani Axis. It is exuding appalling odour of shame of grand corruption. It is classic with a taste of unaccountable leadership activities, recklessness and utter disregard for desires of ordinary Nigerian yearning for minimum social amenities necessary for human dignity and existence. This government has often said that their reform agenda is producing results for Nigeria, our economic situation has improved. But majority of common Nigerian citizens have often wondered, what effect has the reform had on their day to day struggle for existence? What proof do they have as a family or as an individual when they have not been able to afford three square meals and conveniently improve their standards and quality of life over the past eight years? Yet what we hear and read daily is that our national economy has been turned around and our debt has been paid off. But for who? It is a question one cannot still beat the chest that majority of long-suffering Nigerians masses have found an answer to, if the current spate of revelations and allegations of mismanagement and selfish appropriation of public fund and resources is anything to go by.

 

It is ironic that the very set of people we have elected and mandated, paid by tax payers’ money, to be the custodian of our national wealth and international image are the very people imploding on us and making us a laughing stock among the comity of civilized nations. By their reckless abandon of decency and decorum in political life, they are making a mockery of our democratic heritage.

 

When governance and public service has been reduced to personal duty, when servitude and solemn personal sacrifice has been flushed through the drain of grandiose pride, when arrogance and selfish ambitions have been given pre-eminence in running of public office, these are the inevitable fallouts and who bears the brunt? Nigerians home and abroad do!!!

 

With respect to the PTDF $125 Million (N16.6 billion), MOFAS account, Marine Float account and their respective mismanagement of this fund, one do not need to be an economist of the mould of Okonjo- Iweala or Prof Soludo to know how poor and patriotic Nigerians have been chronically deprived of what benefits could have accrued to them, if the funds had been used for the public goods.

 

Is there any wonder why despite all the trumpeted noise on the economic reform, public services reform, international image reform, and our socio-economic indicators suffers so much inertia towards the minimum standard expected of an oil-rich nation like Nigeria? It is on record the Nigeria has made over $300 billion as Oil revenue during his existence as a sovereign nation. But what can we show for it? What legacies have we got to show for this enormous amount of natural wealth, other than open oppression and grand corruption?

 

PING PONG GAME OF OUR FUTURE

While the PTDF N16.6 billions was being bounced around different bank accounts in Nigeria, 18 out of 1000 mothers die during childbirth due to lack of adequate antenatal care, illiteracy, malnutrition, gender discrimination, deplorable home environment, decaying hospital facilities, rock-bottom staff moral and inadequate staff strength with outdated skills.

 

While interest was accruing on the dedicated account of PTDF with N16.5 billions, 15/1000 child under five years old are dying of malnutrition, homelessness, absent parental care, maternal deprivation, malaria, HIV, communicable diseases, pitiable psychosocial milieu, insanity, poor home environment, lack of portable water, cholera, bird flu, environmental degradation and dehydration.

 

The entire health system has shut down, doctors are on nationwide strike, and even the gladiators of PTDF theatre stage cannot trust the health system they have put together for long-suffering Nigerians, they have to be flown abroad for routine medical procedure. I remember that when Bill Clinton needed a heart surgery, he used his nearest health service centre, when Tony Blair needed an intervention for his heart, he used his constituency NHS service, and Fidel Castro is kept alive by the indigenous health facility he invested in as a leader. The same cannot be said for our own leaders, it is a shameful fashion for them to jet out for torn ligament and limp back into the country as if it is normal and they  expect sympathy from disenfranchised, h nigerians. One of the best Trauma and Orthopedic Surgeons in the UK is a Nigerian; one of the best Neurosurgeons in the USA is a Nigerian, the Immediate past Chief Examiner and President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in a Nigerian. What does that say about our situation? Your guess is as good as mine.

 

While the argument still rages on whether the PTDF N16.5 billion has been wholly or partially accounted for, diverted, managed or otherwise, 500, 000 Nigerians are going to lose their jobs with the attendant socio-economic and livelihood implications on their dependants, 8 out of 10 University graduates remains unemployed either in private or public organizations, pensioners are dropping dead on the queue for their legitimate entitlement for years of meritorious service to the nation. They have become victims of ‘Old Age poverty syndrome’ just because they served a nation and trust that when their strength cannot allow them more service in the frontiers of national treasure building, Nigeria would come to their aid.

  

While the current government is scrambling around for the attention of the world by portraying our leaders and businessmen as undependable and untrustworthy, our legislature sit and watch the avid rape on our democratic heritage and pride our founding fathers shed their blood for. They have even colluded to cover the shame which is already dancing like a masquerade in the village market square. The honest ones are not given or allowed a voice to present their reports because it involves the “hallowed and sacred office of the Presidency” and as such it has to be protected. Who cares? That is the whole point, if they have derided their sacredness, the more reason that it should be made open for public jurisdiction. Where in this modern world does that misguided allegiance to the sanctity of a tainted Presidency occur? If the president or vice-president violates the constitution of a country, there is no more sacredness in its person anymore; it is open to odium and crisis of confidence. No person is greater than Nigeria. In modern society, they have to be held accountable or rather; they declare themselves accountable and resign to clear their names. Then they will get the loudest ovation. Not in Nigeria, my motherland.

 

The controversial PTDF $125million and all the monies recovered by the EFCC so far could have turned our health, road, transportation, education, energy infrastructure around if it had been purposefully targeted at those development goals that common man on the street can benefit and relate to, and not paper-based theoretical yardsticks of trumpeted achievement that is far distance from an average Nigerian. One do not need the World Bank to advice us that if those funds had been used for aggressive investment on affordable, equitable housing facilities across the landscape of the nation, many Nigerians would not have ended up under the bridge at night, many children would not have been victims of malarial death, neither would people have been victims of collapsed old dilapidated buildings.

 

The opportunity cost of these misappropriation and selfish diversion of the PTDF funds has meant that many Nigerians studying abroad in various Universities and Colleges have to spend more productive hours working in bars, care homes, shops or even expelled, to make ends meet and also meet their scholarly financial obligations simply because our elected government would rather satisfy the mundane needs of presidential consorts and associates than invest in our future and human capita development.

 

The forgone conclusion of the foregoing is that while the wheel of indictment and counter allegations rolls about the PTDF N16.5 billion, MOFAS, Marine Float Accounts and indeed other accounts that we are yet to be made aware of, many Nigerians will still go to bed or lie on their mats, as the case may be, without knowing where they are going to when (and if) they wake up, without any hope of living a life where basic amenities are least of their worries.

 

Suffering in the midst of plenty can only best describe the opportunity cost of the growing evidence of personal abuse of public trust and funds by our leaders on the scale we are currently witnessing.

 

Dr Olayiwola Ajileye writes from the West Midlands United Kingdom

drajileye@hotmail.com

 

 

 

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