A nerve-chilling disclosure came yesterday as the former Vice President of the World Bank for Africa and former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, said in Abuja that a staggering $400 billion of Nigeria’s oil revenue has been stolen or misused since the country’s independence in 1960.
Ezekwesili also declared that while oil accounted for about 90 per cent of the value of Nigeria’s exports that over 80 per cent of that money ended up in the hands of one per cent of the population.
Presenting a paper titled “Corruption, National Development, The Bar and The Judiciary” at the on-going 52nd yearly general meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ezekwesili said the fight against corruption and demand for good governance must transcend the actions or efforts of government.
According to her “in fact results reveal that as much as 20 per cent of the entire capital expenditure will end up in private pockets annually. The negative effects of corruption is starkly demonstrated by the fact that based on current track record, Nigeria will miss all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target set in 2000 despite the richness of is natural and human resource endowments.
“There is no doubt that at the heart of any progress towards meeting these goals is the quality of governance at all levels of government and yet the general perception since validated by the revealed large scale corruption in the petroleum sector especially but not limited to the management of the subsidy scheme by all the relevant agencies of government is that of poor governance of public resources and assets in Nigeria at every level of government.
“Poor governance of public resources and assets in Nigeria is worsening at every level of government, across our institutions of state, the private sector and fast engulfing the wider society. The other and perhaps more significant way corruption hurts is it’s impact on the government bottom line and those teacher-less, desk-less schools only hint at the extent of the problem in Nigeria. An estimated $400 billion of the country’s oil revenue has been stolen or misspent since the country’s independence in 1960,” she declared.
She noted that “in one study by my former institution, the World Bank, a data modeling revealed that annual worldwide losses due to corruption amount to between one to four thousand US dollars… The Global Financial Integrity estimated that between 1970 and 2008, Africa lost more than $854 billion in illicit financial outflows, an amount, which is far in excess of official development inflows.
“Another report of the Transparency International (TI) put the amount of bribes companies paid politicians and other public officials in developing and transiting economies annually at $ 40 billion in 2009…” she added.
She stated that civil society organizations, the NBA and the nation’s judiciary and non state actors can play a significant role in making public budgeting more transparent and accountable and engage in the various stages of the budget process that can strengthen the oversight process and accountability in the use of public resources.