Maga don pay! The Scam Shop called Nigeria.

Maga don pay, is an expression popularised by Kelly Handsome, which is apparently used by Nigerian fraudsters when an unwitting victim is swindled and has paid the targeted cash over. I can picture a few Nigerians in Abuja singing this song at the moment.

I woke up to an amazing story yesterday that some Mr. David Edevbie had flown to Jeddah to have the Nigerian supplementary budget signed.

I am not here to merely reiterate the already known facts about Yar’Adua’s absence, but to provide a synopsis, which hopefully someday, would / could serve as a reference point when certain principal actors are to be tried, for tried they would be eventually.

In the ensuing paragraphs, I would be presenting a list of the key scammers who have perpetrated what is perhaps the biggest fraud in the history of any African country.

The plot
About two months ago, the Nigerian budget was said to be about 50% implemented. A linear extrapolation implies that by the end of the year, the budget would be 60% spent. Allowing for a kleptocracy, Christmas handouts and all, an 80% utilisation level would even be deemed fair deal by most Nigerians.

However, 3 days before the end of the year, Mr. David Edevbie flies out to sign an additional $2.4billion supplementary budget. It is even made more galling by the fact that about 30% of this budget is meant to “settle” the Niger Delta militants (read “miscreants”).

The fact that this budget has been signed by a man who was too ill to temporarily hand power over to his deputy seems to have been overlooked. It is a trivial thing that the president was too pre-occupied with Arabian matters to even pass a comment on the latest enfant terrible to emerge from Nigeria, The Underwear Bomber. The only official remark that came in this regard came from the office of the VP via the Ministry of Information.

The fact that no one in the government has been able to state authoritatively where the President is currently domiciled is quite unimportant. The fact that the president was unable to present the budget to the senate due to ill-health is a moot point. Yet, he was able to read a 400-page document within minutes and append his signature to it and resign back to coma.

Yet, the President has refused to hand over. Or so we are made to believe. And by the way, his unwillingness to hand-over means as you are reading this, Nigeria has 2 Chief Justices of the Supreme Court. Because by some tortuous interpretation of the Nigerian Constitution, the incumbent Chief Justice can swear in his own successor whilst he, the incumbent, is in office. We are in this embarrassing position because the President did not hand over to his Vice in an acting capacity. Yet he was able to read, understand and approve a 400-page document in minutes.

It is irrelevant that in less than the time it would take an aeroplane to go from Abuja to Jeddah, Mr. David Edevbie left Abuja and got the president to read a 400-page document and append his signature. (This is assuming that the hospital has its own international airport!). I read about 900-words per minute when typed on an A4, yet I don’t think I would read and understand completely a 400-page document in 20 minutes. Throw in figures and one’s comprehension/speed ratio diminishes considerably. How the president managed to read this, despite his illness beats me.

In terms of sheer brazenness, ingenuity and downright fraudulence, not even a drug cartel or La Cosa Nostra could have dreamed up this twist in the latest installation of the Yar’Adua saga. (These are pretty much the words of a fellow blogger.)

The first thing this act does is to promote not just Nigerians, but Nigeria as a nation to the top of the list of scammers. Shamefully, we are no longer a nation known for citizens who scam; we are a nation that scams. As a fraud, none would be crasser in its entirety, none would be less puerile in concept and none could be more criminal in execution. Yet, it has been foisted on a nation of 140 odd million peoply by a collective of less than 600 individuals – a complicit (if tacitly) national assembly of 469 individuals, a Federal Executive Council, James O. Ibori and a few of their hangers-on.

The second thing, which can be inferred from the rate at which the budget has been gulped between October and December 2009 is the impoverished state that the Nigerian treasury would be in at the moment. In some other satirical piece I wrote, I expressed my opinion that nothing engenders looting like uncertainty. I can safely conclude that the moment David Edevbie requested that a supplementary budget be signed, my fears about the state of the treasury were confirmed.

The Principal Actors

President(?) Umar Musa Yar’Adua (UMYA or PUYA)
In what would amount to the most colossal dereliction of duty, an embarrassingly inept President Yar’Adua left Nigeria on 23 November 2009 ostensibly to attend a quick medical check-up, which has been turned out to be a protracted sick-leave. His illness is not what makes him culpable for this reprehensible act, but his repeated failure to hand over to his deputy on his previous trips for medical attention, with its attendant implications on this (hopefully not terminal) trip.

His absence forces one to wonder if indeed he has been performing any role effectively since he assumed power.

Some have expressed doubts whether he is till alive. My belief is that he is still alive, but so severely incapacitated that the possibility of him saying “ina kwana” is out of the question. Definitely, in my opinion, he is in no position to speed-read a 400-page document and sign it.

Mr. Michael Andoaka
For his ingenious ability to come up with innovative interpretations of the Nigerian Constitution and his unmatched ability to implement such interpretations on the fly, I am obliged to treat MA as a formidable chess opponent. His intelligence and, in my opinion, belligerence have been critical in keeping other principal actors out of jail and also in bringing this plot to daylight.

He has just informed the nation that PUYA is not compelled to inform the national assembly if he is unable to discharge his duties, moreover the president can discharge his duties from anywhere in the world (I dare add, “and beyond!”). This creative exploitation of a silence in the constitution paved the way for the budget to be flown by a supersonic fighter jet to Jeddah for PUYA’s signature.

The National Assembly
This is a tricky one, even for me, despite my angst. Yet, if the national assembly is a collection of people chosen to represent and defend the interests of their wards at the Federal level, this is perhaps the biggest coup that has ever been executed against the Nigerian populace. A coup executed not by the military, but the very people who should embody all the higher ideals and ambitions of the plebeian who voted them into power.

In its sheer negligence, if not active involvement, in circumventing the constitutional transfer of power to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the National Assembly is the biggest reprobate in the tale of this scam shop called Nigeria. No one has called for an impeachment of PUYA, yet the NA has been content to look the other way (and in my opinion, abet) the other principals who have perpetuated this mess.

Oh, I realise there may be financial undertones to this whole thing, even for the National Assembly. Pat Utomi pointed out on his FB page once that the National Assembly with a population of less than 500 people has a budget which exceeds that of many states with population of more than 5 million people. Did anyone really expect them not to approve the supplementary bill?

It is instructive to note that only 3 bills have been READ this year in the House of Representatives (per the national assembly website). Yet, the supplementary budget was passed with alarming speed.

The Godfather – James O. Ibori
Vanessa Williams once sang about saving the best for last. I am not really sure that applies here, but I have tried to save the biggest culprit for last. Put very blatantly, this bill is JOI’s way of saying “I am back!”; particularly after his recent victory at the Asaba High Court.

This is the individual personally responsible for the purchase of the election form on which PUYA started his presidential bid in 2007. This is the man who is acknowledged to have a hand in the appointment of Mr. Michael Andoaka. Mr. David Edevbie, the now famous principal secretary who went to Jeddah to obtain the signature of PUYA for this budget, was his Finance Commissioner whilst he was the governor of Delta State in Nigeria. This is the Godfather. Marlon Brando, please move over.

The icing on the cake for JOI is that 30% of this budget – $706million – is dedicated to the settlement of militants in his erstwhile playground. A payment system where no receipts are obtained and none are offered. I would not guess who would be in charge of this disbursement.

Not since the Gulf-war oil windfall has such a swindle been pulled on a nation. And quite unlike the Gulf War oil windfall which accrued over about 6 months, this is $2.4billion overnight payout, with JOI as the puppet master.

Some day, I envisage it would be payback time one way or another for these individuals and bodies. I hope someone would readily use this “short” piece of mine as some reference.

A bit of digression here: for those who still play the ethno-religious card, let me say it here, the vampires who suck the life-blood of Nigeria do not distinguish themselves by tribe or religious beliefs. Why many people still shout “Northerner, South-South, Yoruba, Igbo” etc beats my imagination. JOI is definitely not a northerner.

I do not know where this would end, but I am certain of something – something’s got to give. I foresee 1 of 3 scenarios.

• Some bigger bunch of plunderers come along and violently sweep this present lot of kleptomaniacs away;
• Total state failure and an auto-degeneration of civil law sets in with its attendant effects (call it militancy, revolution, armed robbery, kidnapping… those are mere symptoms of a failed state);
• Nigerians would resign themselves to the worst bout of suffering ever seen on the African continent – we would make Somalia look like a paradise in no time.

Oh, by the way, I am no pessimist, but with a $2.3billion kitty to prosecute an election, I would kindly advise Prof. Pat Utomi to save his arsenal for another day. Come 2011, there is no vacancy in any post held by the PDP – if it still exists by then.

On way or another, brace yourselves for a long rough ride

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