Fighting for our Lives; Part 2 – MDAs stand for ministries, departments and agencies of Federal and State Governments and in some cases Local governments. Before the Senate Adhoc-Committee on Transportation it was revealed that between 1999 and 2007 the Nigerian Ports Authority generated revenues of N548 billion. Of this amount only N11 billion was transferred to the Federation account and the balance of N537 billion was spent by the management of NPA without due process.
While admitting that the actions of the authority were irresponsible, its managing director Mr. Abubakar was unable to provide explanation of how N65 billion was spent yearly.
Other than chiding Mr. Abubakar it does not appear that a forensic audit would be ordered by the committee to unravel how NPA spent these monumental sums of money. This becomes more distressing when there is nothing on record to show the capital projects executed by the NPA during the period in question.
Recall that during the Obasanjo administration most of NPA facilities were under concession. It turns out that part of the NPA strategy was to appoint third party organizations to collect and warehouse revenues on its behalf.
This way these revenues never officially entered the accounts of NPA, although these were moneys standing to its credit in the account of third parties. These third party organizations were then able to raise job orders regarding various port facilities of NPA implying that the authority was indebted to them.
NPA then approved these job orders directing third party organizations to utilize the monies standing to the use of the authority to execute the job orders. Amortization as the process is called entails the collection and expending of public funds through third party private organizations with the monies probably disappearing into a black hole.
This leaves government revenues severely short changed by Amortization process while management of the MDAs and collaborating third party private organizations smile to their banks. At the receiving end of the Amortization process are ordinary Nigerians who wallow away in abject poverty in the midst of billions of Naira expended for the benefit of the privileged few in government and their collaborators.
Government ministries, departments and agencies at both the Federal, State and Local Government levels are engaged in the use of third party organizations in the collection of revenues. Even more bizarre is the continued use of these third party organizations in the collection of taxes by some States and Local Governments although the Federal Government has stopped doing this.
What is clear is that MDAs, the majority of who still receive subventions from government, are having a field day in how they generate and disburse internally generated revenues. The problem is probably more pronounced at the Federal level which has cornered to itself the choicest responsibilities with more revenue generating opportunities.
Thus MDAs such as NNPC, DPR, NPA, NIMASA, FAAN, NAMA, ETF, Customs, BPE, FRSC, JAMB Immigration, NTA etc have the latitude to generate and expend obscene amounts of money without being accountable. If these MDAs spending were backed by value, the situation would even be pardonable but that is often not the situation.
From airports, to roads, ports, maritime facilities, and the oil sector infrastructure are dilapidated and aging. Public services are virtually non-existent and where available, are only rendered to those who are prepared to enter through the eye of the needle. It bears repeating that governments exist for the benefit and wellbeing of the people but in Nigeria the reverse is and has always been the norm for decades.
That many Nigerians still die from preventable and treatable ailments while MDAs launder public funds using the Amortization process is a tragedy. That the public power sector is comatose plunging ordinary Nigerians into darkness and unemployment while MDAs are awash with billions of Naira is pathetic.
That private education has become the norm, creating generational disparities between the children of the rich and poor while MDAs intelligently recycle public funds into private funds is barbaric. That the Niger Delta is starved of much needed funds for development while MDAs develop private interests through the Amortization of public funds is disastrous.
That public infrastructure in Nigeria is designed for 18th century reality while MDAs utilize public funds for developing the infrastructure of private interests is criminal.
Hopefully a continuing fall in the price of crude oil may force a reluctant government to shift its attention from its usual cash cow to harnessing the other cash cows that we know as MDAs.
It is not as if this shift will ordinarily benefit the average Nigerian or improve the quality of our collective existence. When government succeeds in channelling public revenues generated by MDAs into public accounts, this will be a step in the right direction towards public accountability of MDAs.
At least we will be able to ascertain how much money is available to government from internally generated sources and revenues earned from sale of crude oil. When next wewant to ascertain the level of corruption prevalent in government we will at least have a broader picture to look at since the pie has increased in size.
As we approach General Elections in 2011, there is a sense in which Nigerians must understand that we are fighting for our individual lives and for our posterity in ensuring free and fair polls.
Fighting for Our Lives