Nigerians in their millions who are grappling with a disheartening, excruciating economic conditions are once again jolted by the news of the missing N3.8 trillion from the Excess Crude fund. This has further heightened the psychological traumatisation Nigerians are going through as a result of years of mismanagement of the resources of the country.
Given the amount involved, the volley of altercation going on among those statutorily charged with the management of the funds was expected, but it would seem such altercation can hardly do justice to the case, which needs meticulous investigation in order to untie the web of knots that surround this fiscal scandal of such monumental proportion.
The stakeholders should be careful with what they say to the media about the issue to avoid jeopardising the ongoing investigation, on the one hand, and also not to overheat the polity given the tinder box nature of the issue in the psyche of the people who have been reduced to abject poverty and harassed into the silence of the graveyard. The investigation process should be allowed to run its proper course unfettered. If there’s any time for such investigation, it is now, and the Buhari administration should as a matter of duty he owes Nigerians pursue the case to logical conclusion.
However, this newspaper is careful not to jump to the conclusion that the money is indeed missing. It is unfortunate that what should ordinarily be a mere administrative process has been allowed to be politicised. We object strongly to any form of media trial of any person because it is an abridgement of their fundamental human rights. Our constitution guarantees that an accused is presumed innocent until proved guilty by a competent court of law.
But the change mantra of his campaign which was the cornerstone of his promise to the electorate would become meaningless if this matter is swept under the carpet. If the money is recovered, it will go a long way in repositioning the economy and provide much heft for the current administration to pursue its agenda of bringing a new Nigeria.
This newspaper is of the view that the revelation should provide avenue for further tightening of our fiscal system in the main to forestall a repeat of such a loose system that encourages untidy accounting system. It is high time we closed the so-called Excess Crude Account, as there’s no such thing in the constitution. There has been series of calls in the past for the account to be closed which were largely ignored in the past, but such calls have become relevant in the face of the current revelation.
As government it would seem odd and strange to breach extant law and circumvent the constitution which the ECA has become in the face of its glaring illegality. Let all the money go into the Federation Account, which constitutionally is the right thing to do. As a nation we can save money and invest without going the way of ECA.