In 2009, Nigeria paid 209 billion naira as subsidy for petroleum products imported into the country. By 2011, i.e. two years after, the subsidy payment jumped to 2,700 billion (2.7 trillion) naira. In the two years, did the country consume 10 times as much petroleum products? In the two years, did the country have 10 times as many cars? In the two years, did the population of Nigeria multiply 10 times?
“Occupy Nigeria” protests followed. There were screams. As usual, there were government investigations.
The truth is, a lot of that money never went for oil subsidy consumed by Nigerians. Rather, people produced pieces of paper that certified they brought in the petroleum products stated on the pieces of paper as bills of laden that said thousands of metric tonne of petroleum products were brought in "so-and-so" ships. The papers were stamped in PPPRA by somebody so authorized there to confirm the petroleum products were brought in and payments of subsidy were approved for them. Yet the listed ships were never near the shores of Nigeria – even vessels that did not even exist, vessels that had been retired were listed.
And not even one of the perpetrators of these scams has gone to jail.
This is the only country in the world where you have oil thefts: vessels will licentiously come and load crude oil and just sail away. Everyday! And yet we have got the navy. We have got NIMASA. We have the security services. We have the oil companies themselves. Still every day we complain about the lack of economic and social development.
All this is because vested interests continue to rape this country. It’s got to the stage when we should start asking ourselves as a country: How have we allowed ourselves to be reduced to a level that is so far below our potentials?
We must recognize that at the heart of 90 percent of our problems – from boko haram to religious crisis, to ethnic crisis, to unemployment, to the lack of quality education, to the lack of quality healthcare – are the people who profit from the poverty and underdevelopment of the country. These people are called VESTED INTERESTS.
So long as these Vested Interests remain entrenched and we fail to overcome our fears of them and dislodge them, we are not going to reach our true and full potential.
Reference: Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (the Emir of Kano) in TEDx Talk.