By Ibrahim Bala
I watched with delight on NTA this morning, the program, Good morning Nigeria, hosted by clever and creative Kingsley Osayande, along with astute and attractive Jummai Yusuf. The topic was, P and ID, MATTERS ARISING.
It would be recalled that last year, a British court had authorized P and ID to seize more than $9.6 billion of Nigeria’s foreign assets, an amount more than the country’s annual budget on health and education combined, because of the loss of twenty years of presumed profits, plus $1.2 million per day in interest, since the project went bust. That ruling was adjudged to be the biggest UK arbitration awards ever.
However, the award was stayed last November, after Nigeria appealed, alleging that P and ID was unqualified for the work and that the contract was won illegally through bribery. In granting the right to appeal, Nigeria was asked to pay $200 million in the interim. P&ID refused to accept the accusation, saying Nigeria invented the bribery allegations to distract attention from it’s own mismanagement.
Determined to upturn the judgement, which is causing a lot of stir in Nigeria and beyond, because the sum is over 20% of both the country’s reserves and the value of its annual exports, the presidency authorized the ministry of justice, under Abubakar Malami, to layout to the court exactly how the bribery scheme worked, and how the alleged recipients were paid through shell companies in large sums of cash.
In the layout, with the help of EFCC, which also sought the assistance of Irish and U.K. law enforcement, the government accused international parties of trying to scam the country.
Since last week, the Nigerian Government has been celebrating, because it had succeeded in securing what it called, a “landmark victory” in its pursuit to overturn the 10 billion dollar judgement awarded against it. The Royal court said, “following a review of written submissions by the Nigerian government, which contained new evidence concerning the matter in dispute, the court has decided to grant Nigeria’s applications for an extension of time and relief from sanctions.”
Although the ruling is just a temporary reprieve for Nigeria, as it merely provides an opportunity for the court to review the new evidence of a miscarriage of justice, as alleged by the Nigerian government, and does not amount to a repeal of the award to P and ID, by the simple fact that the court is ready to listen to Nigeria and suspend execution, means eventually, the scam would be stifled.
The show today on NTA, which had the duo of Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, and his counterpart in the ministry of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, who in conjunction with a financial analyst via skype I suppose, digested in details, the Knitty gritty of the contract, alongside the reasons for suspecting the scam. All the important aspects and details of what ought to be done or what was not done, as far as due diligence is concerned, were brought out.
The painstaking thoroughness and fluid presentation of Malami was magnificently mesmerizing. If the case was presented in the court, in the same manner, using the same details and dexterity, one can say without ambiguity, that the con-trick of the scammers has been skilfully casted. For P and ID therefore, the case can be presumed dead on arrival, I suppose.
The most important take from the program is the one million naira question put forward to Malami by Jummai Yusuf, which is, “Are we expecting to see the possibility of many high profile heads rolling”?
Malami was quick to answer thus, “There is the possibility of multiple and uncountable heads rolling”. Wow!
Indeed Jummai had thrown a challenge, to which all concerned must not just ensure a follow-up, but a persistent pressure and consistent call on the government, to do the needful, by chopping off these heads and making them roll repeatedly on the roads.
Similar promise was made before, at the early stage of the Buhari regime, that treasury looters, particularly those involved in the infamous arms deal, would be named and shamed. The government never did.
The Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai was widely quoted by the media, rightly or wrongly, that there are people sponsoring banditry and terrorism in Nigeria. And that if their names are released, many people would be shocked. Nobody is in shock, because such names were never released.
Gen.T.Y.Danjuma had equally been reported saying, If I talk about Nigeria, nobody would sleep again. Everybody in Nigeria has been sleeping since then because he refused to open his mouth.
It’s thumbs up for the show today, even though as with many programs on TV and Radio, the producer, who is the architect and brain behind the program is not only unseen but almost always unacknowledged. This particular program was produced by Ibrahim Wada, and I say to him, WELL DONE.
Bala Ibrahim, a Media Advisor writes from Abuja