The alleged hiding of stolen funds in private houses -By Chukwudi Enekwechi

Filed under: National Issues |



THE news trending in the social media about huge sums of foreign and local currencies being hidden in several mansions across the country by some of the nation’s for­mer leaders gives right-thinking Nigerians goose pimples. Can it, indeed, be true as we have read in various online portals such as Facebook, Nairaland and others, that the much sought after hard currencies and Naira amounting to over one billion dollars are hidden in various houses belonging to the wife, relations and concubines of one of Nigeria’s former leaders?

In most cases, such rumours in Nigeria turn out to be re­ality, as we are in a country where “wonders never end”, as they say in local parlance. Every now and then, our coun­trymen and women are regaled with news of one financial malfeasance or the other, and one begins to wonder when we shall extricate ourselves from such damaging scandals that keep unfolding from time to time.

In the latest stories in the social media, it has been re­ported how some posh mansions scattered across different parts of the country are stashed with millions of foreign currencies ranging from the dollar, Euro, pounds sterling, CFA and Naira. They are hidden in fortified safes con­structed by major construction firms in Nigeria. The im­plication of this is that such safes and their places of abode will remain impenetrable.

The reports indicate that in several houses, quantum amounts of foreign currencies are the occupants, rather than actual human beings. Some of those houses are also furnished lavishly as a way of concealing the real “oc­cupants”. This decoy is meant to deceive unsuspecting members of the public.

Obviously, what this implies is that the avowed com­mitment of the Buhari administration to tracing Nigeria’s stolen money may have injected such high level of para­noia, fear and trepidation, that patronizing the conven­tional banking system has become a no-go area for corrupt people. As much as this serves the interest of those that perpetrate this act, it is not by any means a good omen for our society and financial system generally. If found to be true, this hiding of money in private houses would be the highest betrayal of public trust and confidence. Irrespective of how demoralising this alleged monumental sleaze appears, it is consoling that the war against corruption which the pres­ent administration has embarked on is making appreciable impact.

It is only hoped that as the government endeavours to re­cover looted funds, Nigerians will offer it the requisite support to go the whole hog in sanitising the system. It is, indeed, re­grettable that sleaze has exacted a huge toll from our country, with the consequent hardship and privations associated with it. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to ensure that as a na­tion, we do not relent in the fight to reclaim Nigeria from the albatross of corruption.

In the latest instance as reported online, we find huge sums of money being given to relations, concubines, wives and what have you, and the question is, where does redemption lie? Even more interesting is that locations where the monies are hidden were listed. If the resources of the country are frit­tered away in this manner, obviously we are in for Armaged­don.

All hope is, however, not lost, considering the fact that security operatives have swung into action, and Nigerians ea­gerly await the outcome of their investigations. The mere fact that two aides of the former Nigerian leader have reportedly stepped forward to spill the beans, or act as whistleblowers as the social media reports indicate, goes a long way to show that Nigerians are indeed sick and tired of a situation where a few revel in opulence with proceeds of corruption while majority of the citizens wallow in abject poverty, squalor and want.

There is no period in our nation’s history when the war against corruption has been more desirable than now, consid­ering the negative effects of the malaise on our national life. The dilapidated infrastructure, unemployment, poor health care delivery, drop in educational standards and other ills be­deviling Nigeria are by-products of corruption.

Many observers have at different occasions attributed lack of visionary leadership for the propensity by those in author­ity to engage in corrupt practices, and this truly is the case, for visionary leaders usually plan ahead for their nations. In Nigeria, it seems that people entrusted with leadership respon­sibilities consider the interests of their immediate families as overriding that of the entire nation. It is, however, gratifying that the Buhari administration has found it necessary to clean the Augean stable by fighting corruption headlong.

Perhaps, this is the reason some former office holders have resorted to using their homes as “banks” of some sort by hid­ing stolen funds in them. Again, the sleaze will do more harm than good to the nation’s economy, if we consider the infla­tionary effects on the economy.

Firstly, it reduces drastically the foreign currencies in circu­lation for carrying out legitimate businesses and also weakens the naira against other world currencies, as we shall now have excess naira chasing few foreign currencies in circulation.

As patriotic citizens, this ought not to be the approach to nation-building and development. Sometimes, it raises the question of if Nigerians are different species of human beings, as we always do things in ways that befuddle sane people.

From the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, and up to this day, Nigeria is still recovering hundreds of mil­lions of dollars which the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, stashed in foreign banks. Yet, this did not serve any useful lesson for our successive leaders, as they continue to loot the nation’s treasury at will.

By engaging in unbridled corrupt practices, both Nigeri­ans living and those unborn are subjected to perennial pov­erty, misery, want and diseases, as the monies that ordinarily should be used to build the country are stolen and hidden in unknown places.

If it is, indeed, true as reported in the social media that over one billion dollars is hidden in various mansions across the country by former Nigerian leaders, then government must intensify efforts to recover the loot, and channel it towards ad­dressing the huge infrastructural deficits and other needs of the country.

With the fall in oil prices, every kobo must be accounted for, and the new government can only deliver on its electoral promises with available resources. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to ensure that past government officials don’t go away with their ill-gotten wealth. The day of reckoning is here with us and everyone, irrespective of status, should be called upon to give account of his or her stewardship. Nigeria can­not continue to go on a roller coaster ride in terms of fighting corruption as it has marred our growth and development as a nation. By the currency conversion rate today, one billion dol­lars will translate into about N220 billion which can be used to salvage the country.