The Nigerian simply on his own (2)

(By Simbo Olorunfemi)

The system is lax. Anything goes. The oil industry is in the hands of international oil companies who declare to us what they want. Everyone who matters, you would think is on their payroll, the Americans tell us. They pass crumbs to the nation and scavengers who hover around, from time to time. When it comes to the downstream sector, the private sector, pretending to be active, collude with the regulator to rig the system. Making fraudulent subsidy claims, over-invoicing, round-tripping forex, and deliberately owing banks are some of the ingredients they have mixed up to conjure profits for themselves. No one cares to put them in check.

Continued from yesterday

THE capital market is only a microcosm of the all-round rot in the private sector, appropriately so too, since the players there cut across all the sectors.  Efforts have been made to tackle the deliberate and systemic fraud that permeates banking. But a lot of the dirt is actually hidden under the carpet. From rogue share-holders, fraudulent managers to debtors who all collaborate to play the system, the Nigerian banking industry is an ephemeral castle erected on the quicksand of anything goes. At the moment, a lot of the so-called majority shareholders, owners and their proxies, professional debtors (who borrow with a mind-set of never paying back), round-tripping experts and managers are robbing shareholders and customers, declaring obscene profits, even when the nation’s productive economy is on its knees. Those who should know are in the know – it is all a lie. Those who know will tell you it just does not add up.

   The system is lax. Anything goes. The oil industry is in the hands of international oil companies who declare to us what they want. Everyone who matters, you would think is on their payroll, the Americans tell us. They pass crumbs to the nation and scavengers who hover around, from time to time. When it comes to the downstream sector, the private sector, pretending to be active, collude with the regulator to rig the system. Making fraudulent subsidy claims, over-invoicing, round-tripping forex, and deliberately owing banks are some of the ingredients they have mixed up to conjure profits for themselves. No one cares to put them in check. Where are the ‘subsidy-thieves’ of yesterday? Soon, they will remind us how the removal of the so-claimed subsidy is the ‘SURE-P’ to all the problems.

   The evidence of a rabid, primitive form of crass capitalism is all upon us. It is unregulated. It is wicked. It does not give a damn. On account of this, the Nigerian consumer is short-changed every corner he turns. From the fuel-dispensing station, where he gets less than he is made to pay for; the telecommunications companies who charge him for services not rendered; power holding company that has arbitrarily fixed tariffs, refused to make available pre-paid meters to him, forcing him to pay outrageous bills every month;  the Federal Road Safety Corps, which has forced new number plates and driver’s licence on him; the Lagos Motor Vehicle Administration which compels him to pay N200 every year for SMS to remind him to renew his vehicle licence, it is a system calculated to rob the Nigerian of what belongs to him. The bank dips its filthy fingers into its customer’s account and takes for itself what it likes in the name of sundry charges. The Nigerian pays school fees, health bills, insurance charges, house rent, air fares difficult to justify by reason of the quality of services rendered. The Nigerian is slapped at the airport, treated shabbily by airlines, and preyed upon by the embassies, who have taken a cue from the way the homeland treats her citizens.

   Public governance is at an all-time low. Corporate governance is one big fat lie. Sadly, the effects of the abdication of duties by those elected to govern and administrators in the public sector are even more evident in the laxity that characterises the private sector and the impunity with which most of the players carry on. The so-called organised private sector is only another side of this poorly-mint coin. Whichever way he turns today, the Nigerian is simply on his own.

• Concluded.

• Olorunfemi, a brands and political strategist, works for Hoofbeatdotcom, a Nigerian communications consultancy.

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