Politics of looting the Public Fund?

by Rev. Uche Dr.Obodoechina

It is always with great consternation that one reads at the pages of Nigerian Newspapers of one politician or the other carting away millions and billions of money belonging to the public into one's private accounts. It is not just one politician or one civil servant in an exalted position of trust.

It is gradually becoming a culture and a tradition in Nigeria that public funds belong not to the public but to the most senior officers in government establishments who have access to the funds. It is not just the issue of those in higher or lower echelons of power. It has become gradually but systematically a way of life of most Nigerians in higher and lower places of service to defraud the public of its assets.

It is not happening in one state alone. Neither is it only among ex- Governors or ex -chairmen of local government councils or ex-Senators and ex-Ministers. The practice is widespread. Even among ex-leaders of Students unions in our institutions, retired heads of schools in rural villages and even some of our self-made pastors and men of God are all neck- deep in this cankerworm. It is not a sickness of those who are retired from the services.

It is a practice even among those serving today and now. The difference is about the moment of information. For those still serving, efforts are always being made to present the unsuspecting public with spurious accounts records of a faked stewardship while in service, while for the retired or the tired, the cats are let out of the bag as soon as they are out of service.

One discovers that all that glitters is not gold. As a result of this situation, the entire nation is in trouble. Looting of public fund and properties has become fashionable. It has also brought to the death of the common good. People do not seen to be worried any longer about the dysfunctional state of the common good of the community. Self-interest and egoism have become the order of the day.

It is not just painful enough that public funds are carted away at the whims and caprices of men and women in state trust, but that the public itself, instead of condemning such cultures of fraud canonize and honour such brigands with public titles and encomiums. What a perfidy?

It is therefore not surprising, with what attitude and mind-set we struggle to serve the public. Neither is it surprising why altruism is not an important virtue among a good number of us. In fact, it is not surprising that a few of us in Nigeria today are getting daily super rich while the majority are further degenerating into greater penury.

The poverty in question is not only at the personal level. It is a poverty found at levels of the society life. It affects every dick and harry. Take for instance. when a particular fund being carted away by these daylight robbers, was meant for a particular public project for the common good, like water or electricity for the community and this project was not executed, the entire community becomes poorer for the project than one would ordinarily imagine.

The effect of this form of poverty of service cannot be quantified. Generation yet unborn will be made to suffer for this lack. And so we ruin the future of others by our licentiousness. But what does the government do with the looted funds recovered from our corrupt public servants who have become lords and masters? Is there any certainty that such recovered funds are ever invested in the projects for which they were originally meant for? Or are they simply being transferred from one private bank account to another?

There ought to be transparent regulatory framework to ensure that public funds are judiciously utilized for the purposes of which they were approved. I know that such frameworks exists in our various public finance ministries and banks. But who bails the cat? It is embarrassing that the quality of production of goods and services in our public institutions do not match the competent and trained capacities of such institutions. It seems evident that we are both the architects and the victims of our own misfortunes!

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