LADIES FIRST [AND LAST] By Bashorun J.K. Randle - Paul Ukpabio's Blog


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Saturday, 11 September 2021

LADIES FIRST [AND LAST] By Bashorun J.K. Randle


I congratulate Mrs Nwamara Catherine Nnaji, FCA on becoming the new national President of the Society of Women Accountants of Nigeria [SWAN]. It is not by pure happenstance that the current President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria [ICAN] is a lady – Mrs. Comfort Eyitayo FCA.

Unknown to most people women accountants, (going by the research findings/survey published recently by a highly reputable organisation) wield enormous influence in the affairs of our nation not only in their own right but also as wives, mothers, sisters (and other relationships) to very powerful decision makers right across the entire gamut – The Presidency; The National Assembly; The Judiciary; the Civil Service; Security Services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, Department of State Security Services) and the press.  Of course women Accountants are in the Cabinet (e.g. Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance); the banks; oil and gas sector (e.g. NNPC and its Joint Venture Partners); telecommunications; agriculture; commerce and industries; power etc.

Let us summon the courage to look beyond the pouting glamour girls who adorn the glossy magazines as “Influencers”.  Our nation is in crisis and we are compelled to contend with a precarious future.  If we are to be bluntly honest with ourselves, we must admit that much of the damage has been largely self-inflicted (mostly by men !!).

This is the time to call on the women accountants to come to our rescue.  We shall come back to the issue of security (or insecurity) which is threatening our entire nation.  For now, let us focus on the existential threat posed by the front page headline of “The Punch” Newspaper of August 27, 2021.


Also, on the front page of “The Nation” newspaper of the same date in bold headlines is the report:


On August 28, 2021, “The Punch” newspaper devoted its front page to the following report:


“The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, indicated on Friday that the Federal Government had not recovered N5.15 trillion owed to it by third parties.”

As confirmation of its deep concern, “The Sun” newspaper of August 28, 2021 delivered a pungent editorial on its front page:


“A new report has shown that Nigeria’s public debt stock is disturbing and may likely hit over N38 trillion by the end of 2021. The report also indicates that Nigeria’s debt portfolio, which was N33.1 trillion as at March 2021, increased by over 17 per cent between the end of last year and this year. Despite the increasing debt stock, it is disturbing that the government has announced new plans to borrow from both external and domestic markets. The Minister of Finance and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has disclosed that by the end of this year, the debt stock could reach N38trillion. However, some experts are of the view that it could be more than that and have even projected that it will hit N40trillion by December 2021.

The dwindling of government’s revenue due to volatility in oil prices in the international market will likely worsen the situation. And with less money accruing to the government from oil, it will be difficult to sustain the escalating debt. Not quite long ago, the World Bank warned that Nigeria would face imminent high-debt risk exposure due to failure to meet contractual debt obligations to creditors. But the position of the global financial institution was faulted by the Debt Management Office (DMO). In spite of that official disputation, statistics show that Nigeria is facing serious debt crisis unless the government prioritise its borrowing plans and invest in productive sectors.  As at May 2021, Nigeria’s debt service to revenue ratio was 96 per cent. This means that for every N1 earned, N0.98 is spent on debt servicing. In real terms, it means that about 90 per cent of total revenue is spent on debt servicing, a situation that is unsustainable. The matter is not helped by increasing overheads and rising infrastructure deficit. This is the worst the country has faced in decades. And the economic consequences are dire due to the apparent lack of definitive policy on how government intends to efficiently manage expenditures and reduce cost of governance.   The diversification effort, especially in the non-oil sector, has reportedly yielded little dividends because of rising insecurity across the country. Given the rise in global interest rates, which has made central banks in advanced economies to ponder the normalisation of monetary policy, debt service costs on external loans will rise, thereby pushing Nigeria’s debt beyond the point of sustainability. The prediction by experts is that Nigeria’s total debt stock could hit N40trillion in the coming months following the approval of the government’s plan to borrow another $6.2 billion. Between January and May this year, government reportedly spent N1.8trillion on debt servicing. The figure represents 98 per cent aggregate revenue within the period, which is 44.6 per cent lower than the projected revenue of N3.32trillion for the period. COVID-19 related shocks have weakened economic performance and revenue target. More so, not much has been done to broaden the revenue base in such a way that it will not affect the cost of living of the citizens.     

No doubt, worsening debt profile remains one of the challenges of the economy, especially since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power almost six years ago. Government policymakers have not shown enough creativity in managing the nation’s debts. For example, from $18.89 billion it inherited in May 2015, the nation’s debt stock has increased to over $32billion as at December 2020.  So far, Nigeria has taken loans worth $31.98 billion from the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund (IMF), African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and others. It also has an outstanding $11.6 billion loan from the International Development Association (IDA) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). Besides, Nigeria owes China, France, India and Germany $4.0 billion. This accounts for 12.74 per cent of the nation’s external debt reportedly put at $32.86billion. Considering the impending economic crisis that will follow binge borrowing, the government must borrow cautiously and invest the loans in profitable ventures. Even though we are not against borrowing, we advise that such loans must be judiciously used for projects that can repay them. Excessive borrowing by the government will likely mortgage the future of the country. If the incessant borrowing is not checked, Nigeria will enter another debt trap.  To avoid debt overhang, there should be a moratorium on borrowing by federal and state governments. Unrestrained borrowing will definitely hurt the economy.”

In the hope that the Society of Women Accountants of Nigeria [SWAN] will hopefully elicit a response [where the men have failed], let me share with you a letter which I wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR:

“March 24, 2021

President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR

President & Commander-In-Chief

Federal Republic of Nigeria

State House

Aso Villa,

Abuja FCT.

Your Excellency,



Here is an extract from “The Punch” newspaper of July 12, 2020.

Ned Nwoko:

“Since 2005, I have been at the forefront of the campaign to exit Paris Club. The then-President Olusegun Obasanjo bought into the idea because we had overpaid and there were many questionable debts and projects that needed to be unravelled and stopped.

With the support of the Finance Minister at the time, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, we took the step to exit. But even at that point, the Federal Government’s figures were wrong, which meant that states and local governments were hugely indebted to loans that they didn’t take or that they had already paid off. And that was where my role became very important. How does one tell a state like Abia that had paid off its debts that it owed over $700m? It is either the records were deliberately not kept or they were intended to mislead people. Yet, their money was being used to service foreign debts.

Again, it was the listening ears of Obasanjo that made it possible to ensure the right things were done. He was the one that authorised my company along with the old Gongola state (now Adamawa and Taraba states) to be used as a test case with the support of the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Debt Management Office, Accountant-General’s office and Central Bank of Nigeria. Of course, they realised we were saying the right thing and with that, refunds became mandated. Many ministries sat with us almost on a daily basis for three months and came up with the same conclusion, so it was a big revelation.

It was actually during President Buhari’s administration that refunds were made to the various states and local governments. Though it was President Obasanjo that began the process of reconciliation, the actual refunds were made in President Buhari’s government. So, we must also acknowledge the fact that if they (Buhari’s administration) didn’t want it to happen, it wouldn’t have happened. They agreed to refund over $5bn to states and LGs.”

It is the Consultants (from U.K. and the U.S.) who worked with us on these sensitive matters who are entirely baffled that regardless of our efforts and independent assessment of the issues, Nigeria was bamboozled. Some of the debts with which Nigeria was burdened and thereafter hoodwinked go back to the days of the “cement armada” scandal when our nation was nearly choked to death with imported cement which it would have taken us twenty-seven years to consume !!

Besides, two decades thereafter, the undersigned was part of the Port decongestion Committee which was mandated to physically examine the containers that had cluttered up our ports. Alas, some of the containers when opened yielded nothing but saw dust.

Tragically, the entire episode of Nigeria’s debts has been redolent with massive documentary frauds.

In the belief that we have a sacred responsibility to correct the false narrative, we are obliged to dig into our archives and retrieve our records of what actually transpired. The documents will be made available.

First and foremost, way back in 1993 when I was Chairman and Chief Executive of KPMG Nigeria, I was seated next to the Managing Director of Warburg Merchant Bank, Mr. McKenzie at a dinner in London. In the course of our conversation, he revealed that he would be retiring in a matter of weeks. However, he was somewhat in anguish over the fact that his bank had been appointed to manage Nigeria’s London and Paris Club debts but all his reports to the Nigerian government were ignored entirely. Nobody seemed to care. I assured him that upon my return to Lagos I would take up the matter with the Government.

Incidentally, at another dinner, the Chairman of Standard Bank, Lord Anthony Barber pulled me aside to inform me that his bank had a huge amount (about £100 million) which had been languishing with his bank in a deposit account for several years but nobody seemed interested in knowing what the money was doing in his bank or the terms thereof.

That was what prompted me on my return to Nigeria to alert the then Minister of Finance, Chief Anthony Ani about these developments. I also forwarded the documents which Mr. McKenzie had handed over to me. It was a huge mess and it was self-evident that dollar transactions had been jumbled up with pound (sterling) transactions and thereafter co-mingled with French Francs and Deutschmarks by the creditors. Besides, there were two worrying features – first and foremost, debts owed by the Nigerian Government and its agencies had been mixed up with private sector debts.

Secondly, interest (at compound interest  !!) was being charged on accrued interest payments that were alleged to be in default.

It was against this background that the Minister of Finance set up a Committee consisting of Mr. Akinlose S. Arikawe and Mrs. Thelma A. Iremiren (who at various times were Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance) and Mr. Stephen Oronsaye who was the Minister’s Special Assistant. They travelled all over the world, visiting the various creditors. Although I was not privy to their reports, I understand that they achieved considerable success in reconciling the debts.

As for the deposit lying fallow at Standard Bank, what became of it has always been a matter of speculation.

Anyway, I maintained a professional interest (as the Chairman & Chief Executive of KPMG Nigeria) in the trajectory of Nigeria’s escalating debts.

Perhaps, I should add that the facts were correctly stated by Aare Afe Babalola, SAN:

“The origin of Nigeria’s external debt dates back to 1958 when a loan of US$28 million was obtained from the World Bank. The funds, which were made available to the Nigerian Railway Corporation, were for a five-year tenor to improve Nigeria’s rail system and to build a new line into the North-eastern province for the purpose of expansion in production and trade. Later in 1964, the country obtained a loan of US$13.1 million from the Paris Club of Creditor Nations for the building of the Niger Dam. Subsequently, the much talked “jumbo loan” of $1 billion was obtained from the International Capital Market (ICM) in 1978, thereby setting the slippery slope of resort to huge foreign loans in motion and consequently changing the structure of Nigeria’s debts from mainly concessional loans to loans with harsher repayments terms.

Nigeria’s recourse to foreign loans first generated public outcry in 1985 when the then-military President, Ibrahim Babangida, obtained a $2.4 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund ‘to meet a critical balance of payments deficit’. Unfortunately, this trend has, till date, not abated with the external debt profile currently standing at N33 trillion as at March, 2020.”

At various stages during the regime of General Sani Abacha (1993 to 1998) my firm provided the government with reports which raised serious doubts about the authenticity of the debts. To make matters worse, our beloved country became a victim of its own naivety. We hired foreign consultants – Chase Manhattan Bank and others to reconcile our debts. These were the same creditors we allegedly owed huge sums !!

To make matters worse, the so-called reconciliation was merely the comparison/matching of the paper submitted by creditors with fake documents which had been fraudulently injected into the Central Bank of Nigeria’s computer system.

The nationals of a particular country took vast and notorious advantage of our nation’s reckless exposure to their advantage.

It is to the credit of General Abacha that he bluntly refused to honour the avalanche of dubious debts. He even publicly declared that the creditors should do their worst as he was ready to face any court anywhere in the world – be it the World Court or whatever.

What gave him the confidence was our report which tabulated what Nigeria had borrowed and what we had paid back. It showed clearly that we had actually overpaid our creditors !!

With that threat, the creditors were ready to grant huge discounts and concessions but following the death of General Abacha, they were back to their old game.

I would like to believe that the records of the discounts and concessions that were on offer would be available in the archives of the Ministry of Finance; the Central Bank of Nigeria and The Presidency.

While Chief Phillip Asiodu was the Secretary of Finance during the Interim Government which preceded the regime of General Sani Abacha, both the London Club and Paris Club debtors had indicated that they were willing to include Nigeria amongst the “HICs” [Highly Indebted Countries] which would qualify for the “Trinidad Terms”. Also available were “Toronto Terms” and the “Netherlands Initiative”.

To quote Francesco Abbate and Anh-Nga Tran-Nguyen (December 1992)

“In 1988, Paris Club creditors introduced the Toronto Terms, major policy advance in the rescheduling of the official bilateral debt owed by low-income countries. The implementation of the Toronto Terms has not, however, resulted in debt relief commensurate with the weak debt-servicing capacity of most low-income African countries.

Recognising the inadequacy of the Toronto measures, the governments of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have recently put forward proposals for massive debt reduction. The U.K. proposal known as the Trinidad Terms, consists of reducing the stock of Paris Club debt by two-thirds and rescheduling the remaining one-third over twenty-five years, with interest payments capitalised during a five-year grace period; debt service would then grow as a function of the debtor’s export capacity. The Dutch proposal calls for full forgiveness of official bilateral debt owed by the least developed and other low-income countries facing severe debt problems, provided they are implementing sound economic policies.

The debt-service profiles resulting from the implementation of the Toronto and the Trinidad terms (the latter with two different rates of growth of debt-service payments, 5 percent and 8 percent) demonstrate that the debt-service reduction under the Trinidad terms is substantial.  In fact, the Trinidad terms are concessional; the resulting grant element would amount to about 67 percent, while the combined grant element of the three Toronto options is only 20 percent.

Moreover, under the Toronto terms, debt-service obligations generally must be rescheduled repeatedly, sometimes every year (the assumption used in the chart). The resulting debt service would increase sharply from Year 9—reaching a level slightly below the debt service due in the absence of debt relief—and would peak in Year 14 at a level almost four times higher than the debt service under the Trinidad terms.”

In essence, some of us were somewhat blindsided (caught off-guard) when against the 67 per cent write-off which Nigeria had been negotiating in 2000, we settled for only 60 per cent write-off in 2005 and also handed over U.S. $12 billion from our reserves.

I presume that the records are in the custody of The Presidency and/or The Ministry Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Time and Space will not permit me to dwell on the events that followed the “DEBT FORGIVENESS” and the subsequent mismanagement (perhaps deliberate !!) and miscalculation of what was actually owed by the Federal Government and what was to be debited to the States. In the confusion that was inevitable, bogus refunds provided a bonanza for “consultants”.

A separate chapter would have to be reserved for the activities of Jeffery Schmidt and Robert Minton and their two companies – Predelit and Triolis which literally made a killing by buying Nigeria’s debt instruments on the secondary market and reselling them at a huge mark-up to the Nigerian government !!

I vividly recall my encounter with Mr. Naseem Goan who had purchased U.S. $1.5 billion of promissory notes (debts allegedly owed by the defunct Gongola State) and was willing to discount it heavily even if it meant buying cocoa, which had not even been harvested in Nigeria at crazy prices, to be exchanged/sold for dollars just to suck money out of Nigeria, regardless of the fact that even if you sold all the assets (including cattle, goats etc.), there was no way Gongola State could have accumulated such a massive debt not to talk of repaying.

Having witnessed all these, (and seeing the same mistakes being repeated) some of us are entitled to wonder whether the juice was worth the squeeze in lamentation (or nostalgia) over our VANISHING COUNTRY.

Separately, in the belief that it would be of interest to you, we are willing to provide you with our firm’s involvement with the tracing and subsequent recovery of the “ABACHA LOOT” for which we have not been rewarded with recognition or payment of our fees.

Warmest regards.

Yours Sincerely,

For: J.K. Randle Professional Services

Bashorun J.K. Randle, FCA; OFR

Chairman/Chief Executive”

I am tempted to suggest that the Society of Women Accountants of Nigeria should come to the rescue of the Auditor-General of the Federation [AGF] who has been having a running battle with the National Assembly on one hand and with MDA [Ministries, Departments and Agencies].

Here is a random selection of the queries raised by the Auditor-General of the Federation.

“There are several anti-corruption policies, programmes and agencies in Nigeria. Some of the institutions established to combat corruption are the Nigeria Police, Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal, court, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Financial Action Task Force. Others include Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, Fiscal Responsibility Commission, Bureau of Public Procurement, Office of Attorney General and Minister for Justice, and the Accountant General and Auditor General of the Federation.

At the legal and policy levels, we have the following: Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty Agreements; extradition treaties for corrupt persons; electoral laws against vote-buying and selling; whistle-blower policy; and the Treasury Single Account. Using technology, Nigeria is fighting corruption with the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System and Bank Verification Number while there is also a campaign against vote-buying and selling as well as media campaign against bribery and corruption.

The Auditor-General for the Federation, Adolphus Aghughu, last week, blew the whistle on corruption when he said that the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government failed to account for a total sum of N4.97tn in 2019. Aghughu said the MDAs failed to substantiate the sum after an audit of their financial statements. He made this known while laying the 2019 audit report to the National Assembly. While many of us might have heard of the office, many do not know precisely what it does or meant to do.

In case you missed it, the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation is a separate and independent entity whose existence, powers, duties and responsibilities are provided for under Section 85 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. Section 85(2) of the constitution provides that the Public Accounts of the Federation and of all offices and courts of the federation shall be audited and reported on by the Auditor-General who shall submit his report to the National Assembly. And for that purpose, the Auditor-General or any person authorised by him in that regard shall have access to all the books, records, returns and other documents relating to those accounts.

Similarly, Section 85(4) of the Constitution stipulates that the Auditor-General shall have power to conduct periodic checks on all government statutory corporations, commissions, authorities, agencies, including all persons and bodies established by an Act of the National Assembly. Furthermore, Section 301 vests the Auditor-General of the Federation with the power to audit the account of Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory. Section 85(6) of the 1999 Constitution states that “in the exercise of his function under the Constitution, the Auditor General shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person”.

In accordance to Section 85(5) of the 1999 Constitution, the Auditor-General shall, within 90 days of receipt of the Accountant General’s financial statement, submit his report to each House of the National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives); and each House shall cause the report to be considered by a committee of the House of the National Assembly responsible for Public Accounts. The main function of the Public Accounts Committees is to review whether public money was spent or not for the approved purpose and with due regard to efficiency, economy and effectiveness. Much of its work is based on the Auditor-General’s report. The committees hold public sittings to review audit findings. These public sittings are usually attended by the Auditor-General and his team as well as the Accounting Officer (Permanent Secretary) of the audited ministry or office. The ministry or office is expected to defend itself on issue(s) reported on and explain what they have done in respect to the report.

Thus, what Aghughu went to do last Wednesday at the National Assembly is constitutionally backed. Reading the snippet of the 2019 report of the Auditor-General revealed that Nigeria is not indeed winning the war against corruption. According to him, “From the audit carried out on the 2019 Federal Government Consolidated Financial Statement, unsubstantiated balances amounting to N4.97tn were observed. The N4.97tn unsubstantiated balances are above the materiality level of N89.34bn set for the audit. In auditing, materiality means not just a quantified amount but also the effect that amount will have in various contexts.”

Just imagine what the N4.97tn can do in fixing the country’s infrastructural deficit. The Auditor-General also opened the book of lamentation and reeled out some of the challenges his office is facing. He groaned that his office lacked the capacity to function effectively and efficiently especially relating to detection of mismanagement of public funds by the MDAs. Some of the challenges mentioned include: the absence of a Federal Audit Service Law, which is a big challenge as far as effective and efficient public sector auditing are concerned. This is a law that is needed as a basis of fiscal sustainability. Another problem incapacitating optimal functionality of the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation as far as thorough and appropriate auditing of financial statements of the MDAs is concerned is gross underfunding. The AGoF also mentioned office accommodation as part of the problems. According to him, staff members in the Lagos office are about to be evicted due to a series of litigation. There is also the problem of insecurity seriously affecting the office’s scope of coverage.

It is not the first time the Office of Auditor General of the Federation is making startling revelations on mismanagement of resources by the MDAs. In 2017, a similar whistle was blown but nothing came out of it. For example, data from the 2017 audit report revealed that about N9.7 billion released for the implementation of 32 projects in 17 states in Nigeria was unaccounted for. According to the report, N17 billion was disbursed for the implementation of 32 projects in 17 states including the Federal Capital Territory. However, N9.7bn of the funds is unaccounted for. This is preposterous!

From the earlier mentioned constitutional provisions, the main function of the Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly is to review whether public money was spent or not for the approved purpose and with due regard to efficiency, economy and effectiveness. Unfortunately, such public sittings to review the audit reports are rarely called for by NASS and when they do, the outcome of such probes are never made public or acted upon. That is why the culture of impunity among the MDAs in respect of financial accounting persists.

It is reports like that of the Auditor-General of the Federation that organisations like Transparency International rely on to rate Nigeria on its annual Corruption Perceptions Index. When we are categorised as being “fantastically corrupt” despite all our anti-corruption measures, it is because of these reckless and unsubstantiated spending by our MDAs. Often times, the Office of Auditor General has persistently decried the non-submission of financial reports by the MDAs and when our public servants are deemed corrupt, they cry of hate speech and wrong profiling.

As one of the anti-corruption agencies, the Office of Auditor-General of the Federation ought to be well-resourced to enable it perform optimally. It shouldn’t be operating from any rented apartment or be at the whims and caprices of any other authority as stipulated in Section 85 (6) of the 1999 Constitution. The National Assembly, particularly the Public Accounts Committees of the two chambers, should stop being the burial ground of the Auditor-General of the Federation’s reports. Instead, the reports should be promptly acted upon with recommendations for proper prosecution of the erring chief executives of any culpable MDAs by the ICPC, EFCC or the Office of Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

Without punishment for these flagrant misappropriation and mismanagement of scarce public resources, the culture of impunity will continue to soar.  Finally, as demanded by the Auditor General last Wednesday, the President should waste no more time before sending in the Federal Audit Service Bill for quick passage into law in order to strengthen the performance of the Office of the Auditor General.”

Our “SOS” [Save Our Soul] message to the women accountants is well grounded and is derived from our acute awareness of the superior credentials of our womenfolk in matters pertaining to feeling the pulse of our nation and their reflective (ultra-sensitive) antennae when danger looms on the horizon.

Our women accountants are not lacking in knowledge, stamina and guts.  It is the men who rely on swagger and bravado.  The crucial matter at hand is that of monumental corruption compounded by impunity and mendacity.  Of course, it would be farcical to suggest that women have not been culpable in the plethora of graft, sleeve and outright brigandage that have plagued our nation.

What is self-evident is that the financial indiscipline that has permeated all levels of government is frightening.  Even the private sector is neither excluded nor immune.

Perhaps, we need to come up with a vaccination against financial indiscipline.  We are now so neck deep in it that the women accountants may choose to inject us with several doses or leave us to our fate in the intensive care unit.

This is inconceivable that the Society of Women Accountants of Nigeria [SWAN] would confine its concerns to purely financial and economic matters.  All over our nation the terrorists have unleashed mayhem – kidnapping, arson, suicide bombing, armed robbery etc.

On its front page one of our national newspapers delivered the following definition:

“Terrorism is a calculated use of violence aimed at causing fear in a population in order to bring about a specific political objective.”

It added the following:

“Nigeria remains the third most impacted country in the world by terrorism – a position it has retained since 2015, the 2019 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) shows.

Only Iraq and Afghanistan are ranked worse than Africa’s most populous country, which has been dealing with violent insurgency in its north eastern region since 2009. The report was published by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace.

Other countries in the top 10 rank are Syria, Pakistan, Somalia and India. Yemen, Philippines and the Democratic Republic complete the list.

These ten countries accounted for 87% of deaths from terrorism in 2018. Nigeria accounted for 13%.

Sub-Saharan Africa recorded the second-highest number of deaths from terrorism after South Asia, overtaking the Middle East and North Africa, which is now ranked third.

Although the number of global terrorism-related deaths declined for the fourth consecutive year, Nigeria and Afghanistan witnessed an upsurge.

The surge in Nigeria counters the government’s claims that it has reined in the reign of terror in different parts of the country.

GTI says 2, 040 died in 2018 due to terrorism. The figure rose by 508, representing a 33% increase on the figures for 2017, which stood at 1, 532.

“The increase in deaths was the result of the intensification of the conflict between pastoralists and the nomadic Fulani people, with deaths attributed to extremist Fulani elements increasing by 261 per cent in a single year,” the GTI report said.

The uptick in the Nigerian terrorism death pushed up the number in Sub-Saharan Africa, making the region second most terrorised region in the world.

In spite of the spike, 2014 remains the darkest year for Nigeria when it was ranked second most terrorised country in the world. At that time, Boko Haram fighters unleashed the violent reign on the northeast and occupied a large swathe of land, which it called its caliphate.

The inability of the Goodluck Jonathan administration to substantially deal with the insurgents was one of the reasons the People’s Democratic Party lost out the centre.

President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general, who promised to halt the spread of Boko Haram insurgency was voted into power in 2015 even though he was an opposition candidate then.

While Buhari has overseen a measure of success in the fight against Boko Haram and its splinter group loyal to the Islamic State – Islamic State in West African Province – insurgents are still capable carrying of fatal attacks on military and civilian targets.

In the first eight months of 2019 alone, at least, 615 military officials were killed by Boko Haram, 2019 GTI shows.

However, the report indicates that deaths caused by Boko Haram dropped 42% in 2018 compared to the previous year, “an 89 % decline from their peak in 2014.”

Moreover, the fatality rate of Boko Haram attacks has fallen from 15 deaths per attack to four in the past five years. This is consistent with the Nigerian government’s claims of having substantially degraded the insurgents.

“The position of the Nigerian government is that the Boko Haram terrorism has been degraded and defeated. The real Boko Haram we know is defeated,” the Nigerian government said in a statement on July 30.

It, however, said the country was facing “a mixture” of Boko Haram remnants, criminal gangs and fighters from the terror groups in the Maghreb and other West African countries.

While Boko Haram was less fatal in 2018, GTI says “Fulani extremists” were rampant in their violence and “were responsible for the majority of terror-related deaths” in Nigeria.

The group, GTI shows, carried out 297 attacks and was responsible for at, least, 1,158 deaths. Over 200 of those attacks were described as “armed assaults,” and mostly targeted at civilians.”

The stakes could not be higher.  We have become a nation of warring ethnic groups under the grip of bandits, rapists and kidnappers.  Added to the cauldron is our ethno-religious crisis.  We are close to breaking point and we are in grave danger of being burnt out.  

Indeed, we are right in the eye of the hurricane while riding the storm.  It has become a harrowing experience without precedence anywhere in the world except for Somalia, Syria and Afghanistan.  Alas, instead of credit alert what members of the Society of Women Accountants of Nigeria have been getting is SECURITY ALERT !!

Tragically, most of the victims are women (some of them may well be accountants) and children.  The IDP’s (Internally Displaced Persons) provide chilling evidence of the violence which has totally redefined the contours of our social fabric.  The camps are overflowing with victims of rape and total surrender to monumental degradation.  For them, all hope is lost.  What they have witnessed directly in terms of abuse of their human rights is beyond imagination.  What prevail are brutality, ruthlessness and savagery in resolving conflicts, revenge and reprisals in a vicious circle of unrelenting bloodletting.  The men have been mostly slaughtered leaving the women in shock – to grieve and mourn.  Still hanging in the air are recurring allegations that those who are meant to protect them are as vicious and brutal as those from whom they fled when their homes were set on fire and everything else was destroyed.  Double jeopardy.

Can women accountants ignore the plight of those (including underage girls) who are being trafficked across the Sahara Desert only to end up in brothels in Libya and Italy or those whose organs have been harvested by unscrupulous merchants of death and agony?

Sometimes, women accountants end up as collateral damage.  A case in point is that of a Chartered Accountant who as an internal auditor of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).  I think his name was Bernard Umezulike and his wife was also a chartered accountant.  They lived at Festac Town.  Anyway, during the course of one of the endless probes into the affairs of NNPC, the Chairman of the tribunal threatened to disband the panel as some critical documents were nowhere to be found.  Umezulike promptly intervened and volunteered the information that he had copies of the missing documents and would bring them to the tribunal the following day.  To cut a long story short, at the stroke of midnight armed robbers broke through the ceiling of his house.  The only item they took was the briefcase stuffed with documents.  Before they left, they shot Umezurike in the presence of his wife and children.  His traumatised widow abandoned her job in Lagos and fled to the safety of her village.  Then of her patriotic and diligent husband was wasted for nothing.   The report of the probe has been gathering dust for overy twenty years.

Like the rest of us, women chartered accountants must be puzzled by the stacks and stacks of corruption probes which the government has merrily announced over the last sixty years.

Nothing seems to have changed.  The needle has not moved!!  If anything, the stench of corruption is even more prurient now than ever.  We were all on-lookers when the same projects (mostly bore holes) were commissioned over and over again by “Better Life For Rural Women”; followed by DFRI (Department of Rural Roads and Infrastructure) and Petroluem Trust Fund etc.  Now, they have been repackaged and relabelled as “Constituency Projects”!!  To add insult into injury our nation is littered with abandoned projects ranging from dams to bridges, power stations, silos, scanners, hospitals, housing estates etc.  Apparently, nobody is bothered.

On the subject of corruption, let me share with you my experience while I served as the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of Lagos State University.

After delivering an address to the graduating students in which I pleaded with them to be great ambassadors of the university by shunning corruption, it was time for what was tagged as “Questions and Answers”.  I volunteered to answer questions from the floor.  I was stunned when of the students delivered a bombshell:

“Mr. Pro-Chancellor, with all due respect  your generation has enjoyed corruption.  Now it is our turn, you want to stop it.  We will never agree.  Corruption must continue until everyone gets his own share.”

Perhaps we should add the number of children who are out of school (particularly in the north) to the huge burden with which all of us (especially women accountants) have to contend.  The frightening statistics are as follows:

There are 8 million out of school children, about 69 per cent of the country’s out-of-school children are in the North.

Over a wide range of issues women have proved their worth as chartered accountants, engineers, architects, doctors etc.  Even when you check those countries that have managed to cope reasonably well with the COVID-19 pandemic, they are mostly those under the leadership of women.  The facts speak for themselves.  While the men were fumbling, it was the women who acted with firmness and compassion.

I am sure most of you are aware that at various  points of our nation’s history, it was the women who fought bravely for justice and freedom.  A dip into the history of the Enugu coal riots and other epochal events leave us no choice but to salute the valour of our womenfolk.  During the colonial era, it was the women who stripped completely naked to contront the white demons who promptly took to their heels !!

Before matters come to such a climax let us at least listen to a video that has gone viral:  “THE WOMEN’S WAR”  by Dumebi Kachikwu (Roots TV).

“Your country needs you, You in times past delivered your people, save your nation.  You Nigerian women did this.

First it was in 1910, when the women of Agbaja, Kogi State stayed away from their homes – for a month in protest due to suspicious among them that some had been secretly killing pregnant women.  Their collective absence pushed the village elders to take actions to address their concerns.

Again in 1924, 3000 women in Calabar took to the streets to protest a market toll imposed by the colonial authorities.  In the southwest of Nigeria female organisations such as the Lagos Women’s Association., Nigerian Women’s Party and Abeokuta Women’s Union were formidable pressure groups that talked the talk and walked the walk.

Then came November 1929 when what is now famously known as the women’s war or the Aba Women’s Riot started.  This protest encompassed women from six ethinic group (Ibibio, Andoni, Ogoni, Efik, Ijaw and Igbo.

On December 2, 1929, more than ten thousand women demonstrated at Oloko, Bende against the restriction of women in government, the enumeration of men, women, and livestock by the acting district officer.  This event at Oloko was to spread to most parts of the Eastern region within the next four weeks in the Ogu Umunwanyi or Women’s War of 1929.

From November to December, women from Owerri to Calabar looted factories and destroyed Native Court buildings and properties along with the property of members of the Native Court.  The modus operandi of the protests also involved ‘Sit-in’ by the women.  During the events, many warrant chiefs were forced to resign and 16 Native Courts were affected most of which were destroyed.  It was the first major revolt by women in West Africa.

In 1930 the colonial government abolish the system of warrant chieftains and appointed women to the Native Court System.  These reforms were built upon by the African women, and have been seen as a prelude to the emergence of mass African Nationalism.  The independence we see in Africa today happened because the women of Nigeria challenged the status quo long way before the men found their voices.

Dear Nigerian Women,

It is 2021 and the evil in our land is far much worse than what you fought for in 1929.  The burden of the Colonial Masters is a walk in the park compared to the burden of our current rulers.

This country you nurtured is being desecrated as the blood of the innocent freely flows on our streets.  Unborn children are hacked from their  mother’s wombs, kids are beheaded, mothers are raped and slaughtered.  Your men, your fathers, your husbands, your sons are dying in their thousands.  They gather on social media sing lullabies of yesteryears.  Their lands have been stolen, their crops and possessions destroyed as they relocate to Camps for IDPs.   Your children have to pay back trillions of dollars in ill-advised loans.

Dear Mothers, hundreds of children are in kidnappers’ dens while your men pretend, they don’t know.  How can any leader, man or woman freely sleep when their children are in captivity.  Only a mother’s love can dare this evil.  Only a mother’s love can confront this monster.  Only a mother’s love can defy the division of tribe, tongue and religion.  Your love is a universal language that man can never understand.

Dear Women of Nigeria, rise up in your millions and fight for us.  Fight for the cowards you call father, husband, son.  Fight for your daughters so they are not taken into captivity.  The women of Agbaja stayed away from home to protect pregnant women.  The women of Aba shut down the town to protect the widows, children, their husbands and their families.  You have done it before, and you can do it again.

Maybe as you lead, your man will come out from their hiding places.  It is now THE WOMENS’ WAR.  Shut your kitchen.  Stop the school run.  Shut him out of your room.  Amplify your voices on social media.

Protest if your priest is preaching anything other than the children in captivity.  Shout down the Imam who doesn’t condemn this evil.  Let your government know that there are women in the land.  Drown out every other noise on social media with  your protest.  Let the world know your breast aches for your child in captivity.

Let Buhari know that your nine months of labour is a lifetime of love and care.  It is your war.  Fight.”

A member of Society of Women Accountants of Nigeria who is now resident in the United States of America was sufficiently provoked by the video to deliver the following indictment:

“Isn’t ironic that men willingly destroy and prevent women involvement, but want to cry back home to their mothers to help fix it like little boys.  And then after it is fixed they forcibly take it back and destroy it again.  It is never in the nature of the woman to allow what she has built to be destroyed.  Men do that all the time.”

Be that as it may, we have a sacred duty which compels us listen carefully to the women (especially women accountants).  They wield enormous power and influence especially at night !!  We would be shocked by the number of coups d’etat that owe their origin to the wives who challenged  their husbands to prove that they are not weaklings or lackeys who are forever content to remain as number 2; 3; or 4 in the hierarchy of power and privilege.

We cannot dismiss with a wave of the hand the claim, by one of our leading female chartered accountants, that Nigeria’s problems have acquired spiritual dimensions and that what we require most urgently are powerful prayers to neutralise the demons and monsters who are driving us at full speed to anarchy and chaos.  They have even resorted to assassinations ahead of the 2023 elections.  What are at stake are the soul, spirit and mind of our nation.

What women accountants are expected to bring to the task is a crusading spirit with the healing  touch to a nation that has been seduced by power and self-destruction.  Instead of peace, prosperity and security what is on offer are pain and sorrow inflicted on a daily basis – in linear dimensions until recently when impunity and mendacity went nuclear.

Ahead of the 2023 elections, the Society of Women Accountants of Nigeria [SWAN] must be in the vanguard along with other concerned professionals to pull our nation back from imploding or cascading into the ravine of disintegration.  Our votes must count.  In the meantime, SWAN is entitled to call for a ceasefire before matters deteriorate any further.

At the personal level, while I was at KPMG for thirty-four years I had the privilege of working with female chartered accountants so I can claim that I know the stuff members of SWAN are made of.  I cannot mark my own scorecard but I believe that our firm was transparently upright, utterly professional and always acted in what we believe was in the public interest.  Of court there is a price to pay.  I have neither pension nor gratuity but I am thankful that my reputation and integrity are intact, otherwise I would not have been invited as the Guest of Honour.  The KPMG brand is now being brandished by the former Arthur Anderson of the Euron fame.  What is important is not to abandon faith or lose hope in your chosen profession.

In his book:  “A Stranger In Their Midst”, retired Justice Charles E. Archibong (ex-St. Gregory’s College) delivered a stinging verdict of disdain and disillusionment on his profession – law and the judiciary.

“Why should a judge direct proceedings even in criminal trials when he is, or should be an integral part of the criminal justice system?  Sit back and get counsel waste your time and the resources of their clients.  Government particularly does not count costs.  What is the judge’s concern ?  He has been bought and paid for by the public purse.  A judge’s job consists largely of “being there, just being there.”  You show your hand at the end.  Maybe in three years’ time or maybe never as you are posted out and another judge starts the matter de novo.  No matter how much time whoever take to get nowhere, you do not hurry things along.  You keep your trap shut.  You are paid to allow lawyers and parties before you waste your time and that of others and oversee a misallocation of public resources without twitching a muscle.  It is called judicial composure.  Your pension depends on it.”

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