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As EFCC Chairman Vows To Shift Fight Against Corruption To Real Estate

By J.D. EPHRAIM

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This is going to be serious. When they steal and put it in real estate, they provide jobs for the poor. Those who steal and do not invest, change those proceeds into dollars and hide the billions in their houses without notice.
Can you remember the case of the serving female minister and the $37 million dollars (I hear when converted it is about N15 billion) If kept in Naira it can be noticed, but the dollars were noticed only when the Bank MD attempted to deposit it into the system.
Please do not touch real estate. That is where the poor feed. Shift your attention somewhere, to the source and block it. Apart from providing jobs, at least the real estate cannot be taken outside Nigeria, it remains here.
The stealing and corruption under Goodluck Jonathan had human face. They bravely and “patriotically” invested such proceeds in the country, thereby providing jobs for the poor. Now, they steal more than before and do not invest in the country for fear of being caught.
The Government said they borrow humongous amounts from China and other international sources of finance, yet you do not see what they do with it, on ground. They hide all the proceeds, make the Naira to depreciate against the foreign currencies, because demand is generally higher than supply. So, the dollar appreciates continuously. The proceeds are then laundered outside the country.
There are no investments inside the country and therefore such proceeds do not help in creating jobs for the poor. People are dying of hunger. Poverty and crime are rising daily. Inflation is rising daily, as well.
A lot of the peasant farmers can no longer go to the farm. Crime seems to be sustained through ransom -kidnapping. Is there anybody with brains in the government? Are there no reputable economists? Government is paying attention on the wrong things (symptoms), and people are in excruciating pains.
The middle class has collapsed. Those that seem to be thriving are people in government because it would seem they know how to steal and hide it. Please EFCC, help the poor. Allow real estate, so long it provides jobs, and concentrate on unearthing those who steal, and covert the proceeds to foreign currencies. Let real estate continue to provide jobs and accommodation.
In reaction to my above, a friend asked whether it was proper for the thieves to go free with their loot, only because such thieves create jobs for the poor? The friend then asked that even if it were so, who can we say then that the poor are working for? For that reason, the friend says all thieves should face the law.
If everybody is stealing and are not investing in anything at all and the EFCC cannot fish them out, as we trust they will not, then what is the use of unrecovered and hidden money to the economy?
For instance, hear the U-turn they are now making on the serving minister that stole: the allegation was made by EFCC Chairman, and they are now denying having said so, and that it is fake news.
The only difference is that it is alleged that it is a “past female minister” and not a “serving one.” Yet, the words came from him. It means we now have a lost opportunity to recover, yet the real estate sector will still suffer, because of the present attention to it.
I agree that stolen money is stolen money, whether it is ploughed into circulation, or not. I was arguing from the economic standpoint: that money outside circulation is hurtful to the economy. I was not arguing from the moral, and legal standpoint, which says that all stolen money, whether invested or not, is bad or immoral. Of course, it cannot be legal. It is simply illegal.
Cast your mind back to the so- called “Abacha loot”. Money returned seems to have been re-looted. There was no accountability. We also hear of the brickbats between the Accountant-General and the National Assembly. Look at the recoveries within the country; do you know where these funds are today? Nigerians are fundamentally corrupt; I apologise for saying this. Unless there is re-orientation of the psyche of the people, we shall continue to journey in circles, with no progress.
Since we are so, and there is no hope of any change, money kept outside the system and money kept inside the system and invested- either by giving loans by the banks in which they are kept, or invested directly by the culprits, which of them is helpful to the economy and which is harmful?
I will prefer the one that is helpful to the economy, since I am not sure the recovered funds will not be re-looted again . It is a matter of being realistic and not being moral. Of course, I would like all looted funds to be recovered and ploughed into the system. At least they will be available as loans . But looking at what has happened so far, I am not sure such recovered funds will not, or will not be re-looted again.
Now, if they descend on the real estate sector, such investments will go and the recovered funds may be re-looted while both genuine or otherwise investors will be discouraged. Where do the poor stand in this?
When trying to save the poor and vulnerable, you must think deeply, so that you do not multiply the pains of the poor. Certain actions may look foolish, but if they will benefit the masses, for which government exists, it will be good.
The raison d’etre of the State is the creation and promotion of the welfare of the people and preservation of life and property. Government is neither a limited liability company, nor is it blind law- enforcement agents. They are for the welfare of the people. But that does not mean that those who brazenly steal should be allowed to go free with the loot without facing consequences.
Unfortunately, this seems to be the case today. I may be right, I may be wrong, but I hold that the law should be evenly and equally applied, having the welfare of most of the people in mind, especially the poor.

J.D. EPHRAIM

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