Nigerians Populace Should Protest Subsidy Scam - Soyinka

•SNG calls for prosecution of culprits

Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka yesterday urged Nigerians to prepare for a massive demonstration against the fuel subsidy scam.

The literary icon noted that the petrol subsidy saga has brought global embarrassment to Nigeria.

The eminent scholar advised the anti-graft agencies - the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) - to prosecute those involved in the scam.

Soyinka said: “The populace should be ready for another determined march against corruption. The level of thievery is not unrelated to the level of violence we witness today.”

The former university don spoke in Lagos at a media briefing organised by the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), led by its Convener, Pastor Tunde Bakare. At the event were the leader of the Campaign for Democracy (CD), Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, SNG spokesman Yinka Odumakin.

Bakare, who reviewed the House of Representatives probe on the subsidy scam, noted that “the crisis in the oil industry is not about subsidy but about corruption”.

He noted that government officials flouted the guidelines for fuel importation by reeling out controversial figures to deceive Nigerians.

The preacher said the N3trillion reportedly spent on subsidy last year was questionable, adding that big money was deliberately stolen in the name of subsidy.

The SNG Convener queried the discrepancy between the figures tendered by the Accountant-General of the Federation and the committee, saying two-thirds of the appropriation for this year was stolen by government officials last year.

Bakare said companies involved in fuel importation and unpatriotic auditors are culpable in the scam, adding that they are guilty of economic sabotage and corruption.

According to him, the House of Representatives has endeared itself to Nigerians by proceeding with the probe of the scam.

He said the probe has shown that the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) denied the receipt of the money allegedly paid by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Bakare said those perpetrating fraud in the NNPC should be unmasked.

He added: “The clearance of Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Dankwanbo, who was the Accountant-General of the Federation in 2009 and who was alleged to have issued cheques of N999million in 128 places in 24 hours - totalling N127 billion - raises another serious matter.

“Passing the buck to the PPPRA does not answer the issue. The impression this gives is that the governor may have been exonerated in a deal to ensure that he does spill the beans, if push comes to shove. These double payments must be traced and the nation must know where the money ended”.



Bakare said the investigation should be comprehensive, emphasising that the ministers of Finance and Petroleum, who served during the period of the scam, should be prosecuted. He said since President Goodluck Jonathan claimed ignorance about the circumstances surrounding the scam, he is unfit for the highest office in the land.

The cleric added: “The country has been stolen broke by mindless looting. The states are yet to receive their allocations for March. It portends great problem for the economy.

Bakare warned that rolling out tanks by government at the Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, was meaningless, stressing that that venue is not the only area of protest.

He stressed: “Given the low confidence the people have in the anti-corruption agencies in dealing with political corruption in Nigeria, we are demanding the appointment of a private prosecutor to deal with these prosecutions.



“The counsel to be so appointed must be a man or woman of proven integrity with a team of lawyers recommended by the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) working with such private prosecutor. Civil siciety organisations should be allowed to appoint their own counsel as observers”.

Soyinka, who said he was overwhelmed by the disclosures, chided the government for insensitivity to the plight of the public. He declared that the current administration has disdain and contempt for Nigerians.

He said: “When you are robbed in this way, you are dehumanised with insults and arrogance. There is a material assault on the resources of Nigeria”.

Soyinka said the populace should be ready for another determined march against corruption, insisting that those found culpable in the scam should be probed and brought to book.

He said Nigerians who travel abroad are alarmed at the report of criminality and lack of conscience in Nigeria.

He warned anti-graft agencies to learn from the Ibori saga by doing a thorough work to avoid ridicule and making Nigeria a laughing stock in the international community.

Urging Nigerians to be vigilant, Soyinka added: “Nigerians must be prepared to prepare to march and halt the trend of corruption”.

Dr. Okei-Odumakin decried how corruption has killed the nation and caused the collapse of infrastructure, wobbling health sector and high mortality rate.

She added: “Nobody is above the law. The ministers of finance and petroleum who served during the period of the scam should be prosecuted and brought to book.”

Nigerians Populace Should Protest Subsidy Scam - Soyinka