Thoughts on the Nigerian Buratai Savings Scheme

July 4, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters



Prince Charles Dickson

In practically all fields of human endeavor in Nigeria, if you cast a lot, the odds are that it would fall on a retired thief, an active thief, or an aspiring thief.

That is, every recruitment shortlist is likely to confront you with the risk of picking a person who is living on the remainder of past thievery, or a person who is currently plundering his present position, or a person who is waiting for an opportunity to create a new all-time high looting record!

This is one of the reasons why the tendency is for people to treat obvious cases of corruption with hesitancy. Their guilt or ambition restrains them from condemning in absolute terms. They know they have stolen like the disgraced person or they have a dream to steal like they did.

Add the above to the fact that stealing and corruption in Nigeria is ethnically based, political affiliation driven, and faith justified; you would then understand why we are a nation at war with itself when it comes to tackling corruption.

So, the Nigerian politician, or public office holder is an expert in Ponzi schemes; a form of fraud in which belief in the success of a non-existent enterprise is fostered by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money invested by later investors. The Buratai tale, as narrated by all sides, is “a classic Ponzi scheme built on treachery and lies.”

Very quickly, before I dive into the few paragraphs that make my admonition for this week…my thoughts as gathered in this essay are not about the Dubai tales of Arabian nights by supporters and foes (Internet terrorists) of the Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, but it is about the saving culture of what the ordinary Nigerian would refer to as the Nigerian Big man, who more often than not is a politician or public office holder.

Nigeria does indeed have a serious problem with corruption. And while Nigeria has also made substantial commitments to crack down on corruption, it is almost an exercise in futility because of the wonderbank saving skills of our public office holders.

So let me take us on a Ponzi scheme saving ride…Fayose has been saving so much, we all are witnesses, in fact Zenith was custodian and EFCC and legal minds are higa-haga-ing on immunity of prosecution.

I am not sure, but there are countless ex-governors who are Senators and Ministers, collecting several streams of income…these men are seriously saving, ask Fashola, Theodore Orji, Akpabio and co…

Come to Plateau, go to Benue, stay in Ogun…you will be shown properties bought by the savings of governors and public officials. These men save so much we see their savings even more than their Dubai based savings.

We see the savings they have mounted through the gladiators’ mansion they build in their respective home states. These public officials save so much that one wonders why ordinary civil servants can’t learn this simple culture of saving.

In 16 years of democratic governance, have you seen Tinubu‘s savings? Or are we so blind to how much Dariye of Plateau saved. Even Jang saved, and currently Lalong is saving and yet they all have not by their combined savings saved Plateau state.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, despite their poor job in prosecution of high profile economic theft, sorry I mean savings,…has in less than 11 months shown us the savings of ex-Defence Chiefs, whether army, Airforce or NIMASA, some big man is saving like my brother and friend Buratai.

However, given the pervasiveness of our saving culture in the country, Nigeria needs more than a defence from the Army Authorities on how its chief acquired choice properties outside the shores of the country. The sad truth is that anti-corruption efforts by the Buhari administration in its first year have been slow and, to say the least, twisted, and hidden under the faux naïf that corruption is fighting back.

The success or otherwise of our fight against corruption is largely dependent on the requisite public buy-in—the war on corruption cannot be fought by Buhari alone, but it can be fought by the very aptus and proceritas that the saving culture of our elite class are handled.

Although most Nigerians agree corruption is endemic, in most cases they also participate in small-scale transactional practices that undermine the country. In order for progress to be made, Nigerians must abstain from corruption in every form, not just condemn it.

And this can only be done, when the country’s value system—which celebrates even wealth obtained by questionable means—is greatly flawed. Strategic and effective public education must be developed to ensure a change of attitude and show people the true and damaging effects of corruption. Young people, in particular, should be brought on board to begin to build a new culture of hard work, of merit, of fair play and not the mysterious and indefensible savings that are not far from Ponzi schemes.

For starters, Nigeria needs a national anticorruption strategy that focuses on key areas, such as citizen-centered service provision, public procurement, asset recovery, enforcement of existing laws, and revitalization of existing agencies.

Mr. Buhari should also coordinate and strengthen agencies whose purview includes corruption. Nigeria has several commissions, bureaus, and tribunals that have the power to investigate and prosecute corrupt practices. But the current administrative set-up makes coordination extremely difficult. It is important to provide clear administrative protocols that make for more effective and cordial relationships among these institutions.

No matter how good Buhari’s strategy is, synergy and partnerships throughout the country are vital to his anticorruption crusade. The president must counter the narrative that the anticorruption war is only being waged against certain savings account holders, thieves of the national pudding are not only of a particular political affiliation or leaning.

Mr. Buhari needs to start providing access to very inessential information with unnecessary legal bottlenecks, has he paid the loan he took for purchase of party nomination forms, he needs to, not by legal representation address citizens on the true position of his qualification.

Governors need to state what they earn; major savings should be public knowledge in as much as they enjoy several privileges…

For example how many soldiers can save like their CoS has saved. Buratai and Buhari must enlist the help of countrymen and women and impress upon us the urgency of the cause. Without our support, without civil servants being paid a legitimate living wage, that allies with realities of the economy and these earnings paid on time, with such citizens able to save without any Ponzi scheme, a more open and accountable Nigeria will remain a fantasy; for how long–only time will tell.










Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.


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