No fewer than 53 policemen serving in the Presidential Villa say they have yet to be paid their Risk Caution Allowances since 2015, when they were posted to the Presidency. This was disclosed in an anonymous petition that the policemen sent to President Muhammadu Buhari, according to online news site, Sahara Reporters. The site said that in addition to the 53 persons affected, a further 127 others say they had yet to be paid their allowances in full. A government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said police authorities should be blamed for the non-payment of the RCA. Responding to the allegations, the Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Jimoh Moshood said all allowances and salaries of policemen attached to any place were being paid regularly, adding that no complaints from any of the security detachment to the President had been received by the police.

The Nigerian Ports Authority has commenced arrangements to facilitate the dredging of Calabar Port in Cross River. The Calabar port has been underutilised for years due to shallow waters and controversies surrounding the dredging of the channel but the NPA’s Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman said the current exercise will be completed. Bala Usman, who spoke at a stakeholders’ meeting in Calabar, said the NPA has placed an advert for the contract and is set to commence the survey of the channel this week in preparation for award of the dredging contract. The NPA has commissioned a signal station at the Dockyard in Calabar Port, to track vessel movement, and ensure safe navigation into the port.

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative says state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has not explained billions of dollars of missing revenue. While energy producers have cooperated and complied with requirements to publish payments, Executive Secretary Waziri Adio, whose agency is tasked with cleaning up Nigeria’s murky oil industry, told Bloomberg that the NNPC is yet to account for at least $22.7 billion earned from the sale of oil licenses and in dividends from its stake in Nigeria LNG Ltd. over a 15-year period, he said. He did say that financial accountability has improved in the oil and gas industry and his agency, which has produced reports covering the years from 1999 to 2015, is working on those for 2016 and 2017, which are scheduled for public presentation in July and November.

Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim has refused to resign, vowing to fight allegations that saw her embroiled in a financial scandal, the presidency said in a statement on 14 March. Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female head of state, has been accused of using a bank card provided by an NGO to make personal purchases. Last Friday Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth announced that Gurib-Fakim had agreed to resign, with a date set for her departure after Monday’s ceremony celebrating the Indian Ocean archipelago nation’s 50 years of independence. However a statement from the presidency slammed “weeks of attacks and false allegations” and said that Gurib-Fakim planned to clear her name and would not resign. “Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, having nothing to feel guilty about and able to provide corroborating evidence, rejects any idea of resigning,” read the statement.

Suggestions

  • Claims about unpaid salaries and allowances for security personnel in the Presidential Villa have persisted since Sahara Reporters reported a similar protest in late 2015. In October 2016, the Punch published a similar report, and then reported that President Buhari had approved not only payment of the outstanding arrears, but a 50 percent increase in such allowances. While we think that at this time, the risk of a mutiny is low, especially as the Guards Brigade, the military regiment charged with the protection of the President has not made similar complaints, it is very careless to leave what is essentially the Presidential Praetorian Guard open to compromise. We urge the federal government to do all that is possible to sort this out as soon as possible.
  • On the surface, the NPA’s announcement re the Calabar Port is good news. However, as always, a look at history might provide a picture of where this development might lead. The FG took over the Calabar Port in 1969 and after a rebuild, commissioned the current one in 1979. The port was designed to serve Nigeria’s Second National Economic Corridor (2NEC), as well as countries around the Lake Chad. The 2NEC has, like the port, been more or less abandoned. In 2006, $56 million was paid to two Dutch firms as part payment for a project to revitalise the Calabar Port, yet nothing was done. In 2014, another contract for the dredging was awarded, and again, there was no change. The Calabar Estuary dredging project was the subject of, along with Bonny and Lagos, a probe by the Senate, of dredging contracts costing at least $3 billion with no appreciable benefit. While it is vitally important for Calabar, Warri, and other ports to be utilised, taking the pressure off Lagos, this rinse and repeat action gives us no confidence that the work will actually be done.
  • NEITI is emblematic of the government’s foundering efforts at tackling official corruption. For all its good work and noble intentions, NEITI has not been armed with the institutional capacity to enforce its decisions. Adio summed his agency’s conundrum rather bleakly by stating that while NEITI’s annual audits have helped the government recover billions of dollars that would have been lost, the NEITI law “does not give us the power to compel compliance or to enforce our recommendations.” Heading into an election year, the prospects of the NNPC, the most favoured of Nigeria’s shadow political cash cows, suddenly becoming transparent and run in line with global best practices, is unlikely.
  • This week’s incident puts a dent on Mauritius’ reputation as a country with very low corruption, one predicted to be the first developed African country by 2022. History shows that bad habits tend to spread. In a continent where many leaders have been unable to tell the difference between personal and public finances, or draw moral lines, Ms. Gurib-Fakim’s actions may be a sign of what is to come. It took a long time for another country, South Africa, with its relatively strong institutions, to force a leader long accused of financial malfeasance out of office. Forcing such a leader in another country, such as Nigeria, with less independent institutions out, will be an uphill task. What happens in Mauritius – a bastion of clean governance and an investor darling – and if it spreads beyond the borders of that country, bears watching.