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Opportunity Cost of $125 Million PTDF Fund: Forgone Conclusion

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Author: Dr Lai Ajileye
Posted to the web: 10/13/2006 1:29:31 PM


THE Nigerian government have often said that their reform agenda is producing results for Nigeria , our economic situations have improved. But majority of common Nigerian citizens have often wondered, what effect has the reform had on my day to day struggle for existence? What proof do I have as a family man when I have not been able to afford three square meals and conveniently improve my standards and quality of life over the past eight years? Yet what we hear and read daily is that our national economy has been turned around and our debt has been paid off. But for who? It is a question I can’t still beat my chest that majority of long-suffering Nigerians masses have found an answer to if the current spate of revelations and allegations of mismanagement and selfish appropriation of public fund and resources is anything to go by.

It is ironic that the very set of people we have elected and mandated, paid by tax payer’s money, to be the custodian of our national wealth and international image are the very people imploding on us and making us a laughing stock among the comity of civilized nations. By their reckless abandon of decency and decorum in political life, they are making a mockery of our democratic heritage.

When governance and public service has been reduced to personal duty, when servitude and solemn personal sacrifice has been flushed through the drain of grandiose pride, when arrogance and selfish ambitions have been given pre-eminence in running of public office, these are the inevitable fallouts and who bears the brunt? Nigerians home and abroad do!!!

With the respect to the PTDF N16.6 billions, MOFAS account, Marine Float account and their respective mismanagement public funds, one do not need to be an economist of the mould of Okonjo- Iweala or Prof Soludo to know how poor and patriotic Nigerians have been chronically deprived of what benefits could have accrued to them, if the funds had been used for the public goods.

Is there any wonder why despite all the trumpeted noise on the economic reform, public services reform, international image reform, and our socio-economic indicators suffers so much inertia towards the minimum standard expected of an oil-rich nation like Nigeria ?

While the PTDF N16.6 billions was being bounced around different bank accounts in Nigeria , 18 out of 1000 mothers die during childbirth due to lack of adequate antenatal care, illiteracy, malnutrition, gender discrimination, deplorable home environment, decaying hospital facilities, rock-bottom staff moral and inadequate staff strength with outdated skills.

While interest was accruing on the dedicated account of PTDF with N16.5 billions, 15/1000 child under five years old are dying of malnutrition, homelessness , absent parental care, maternal deprivation, malaria, HIV, communicable diseases, pitiable psychosocial milieu, insanity, poor home environment, lack of portable water, cholera, bird flu, environmental degradation and dehydration.

While the argument still rages on whether the PTDF N16.5 billion has been wholly or partially accounted for, diverted, managed or otherwise, 500, 000 Nigerians are going to lose their jobs with the attendant socio-economic and livelihood implications on their dependants, 8 out of 10 University graduates remains unemployed either in private or public organisations, Pensioners are dropping dead on the queue for their legitimate entitlement for years of meritorious service to the nation. They have become victims of ‘Old Age poverty syndrome’ just because they served a nation and trust that when their strength cannot allow them more service in the frontiers of national treasure building, Nigeria would come to their aid.

While the current government is scrambling around for the attention of the world by portraying our leaders and businessmen as undependable and untrustworthy, our legislature sit and watch the avid rape on our democratic heritage and pride our founding fathers shed their blood for.

The controversial PTDF $125million and all the monies recovered by the EFCC so far could have turned our health, road, transportation, education, energy infrastructure around if it had been purposefully targeted at those development goals that common man on the street can benefit and relate to, and not paper-based theoretical yardsticks of trumpeted achievement that is far distance from an average Nigerian. One do not need the World Bank to advice us that if those funds had been used for aggressive investment on affordable, equitable housing facilities across the landscape of the nation, many Nigerians would not have ended up under the bridge at night, many children would not have been victims of malarial death, neither would people have been victims of collapsed old dilapidated buildings.

The opportunity cost of these misappropriation and selfish diversion of the PTDF funds has meant that many Nigerians studying abroad in various Universities and Colleges have to spend more productive hours working in bars, care homes, shops or even expelled, to make ends meet and also meet their scholarly financial obligations simply because our elected government would rather satisfy the mundane needs of presidential consorts and associates (e.g buying 607, Prado Jeep) than invest in our future and human capita development.

The forgone conclusion of the foregoing is that while the wheel of allegations and counter allegations rolls about the PTDF N16.5 billion, MOFAS, Marine Float Accounts and indeed other accounts that we are yet to be made aware of, many Nigerians will still go to bed or lie on their mats, as the case may be, without knowing where they are going to when (and if) they wake up, without any hope of living a life where basic amenities are least of their worries.

Suffering in the midst of plenty can only best describe the opportunity cost of the growing evidence of personal abuse of public trust and funds by our leaders on the scale we are currently witnessing.

Dr Lai Ajileye writes from London


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