Prof Farooq Kperogi, the United States-based Nigerian social critic, has reacted to the alleged theft of N80billion by the suspended Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had recently nabbed Idris for allegedly stealing and using proxies to obtain prime properties located in Kano, Lagos, Abuja, Dubai, United Arab Emirates and London, United Kingdom, at the expense of Nigeria.
In his latest column, Kperogi argued that Idris’ action also amounted to blasphemy against Nigeria as well as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which had been on strike for months.
The US-based scholar said the suspended AGF should be prosecuted, citing the recent outrage that trailed the death of Deborah, the student Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto who was killed by a mob over alleged blasphemy.
He said, “I am intentionally appropriating, and extending the semantic boundaries of, the term “blasphemy” for this piece because it seems to be the only term that inflames enough passions to get Nigerians to talk, listen, or act.
"Alhaji Ahmed Idris, the suspended Accountant General of the Federation, has “blasphemed” the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Nigeria, and even decency with his stratospheric pillaging of the nation’s resources. One of the consequences of his theft is the closure of our public universities.
"He should be “beaten,” “stoned,” and “burned” with speedy prosecutorial vengeance to avenge his blasphemy. If blasphemy is “the act of depriving something of its sacred character,” Idris has more than stripped our public universities of their “sacredness” by being partly responsible for the ongoing strike by ASUU, which has put the futures of our youth on hold.
"Idris was arrested last Sunday by officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for stealing at least 80 billion naira. The Punch of May 19 also reported the EFCC as saying that Idris used proxies to obtain prime properties “located in Kano, Lagos, Abuja, Dubai and London” at the expense of Nigeria.
"While it’s heartening that the EFCC has finally arrested and detained him for the staggeringly monumental fraud he’s been perpetrating for years, it was ASUU that first called attention to the questionable source of his wealth when no one cared.
"Prof Lawan Abubakar, who coordinates the Bauchi Zone of ASUU, issued a statement on behalf of ASUU last year in which he called attention to Idris’ unexplained wealth and grasping acquisitiveness.
“We would want Gentlemen of the Press to assist us in the conduct of two Investigations,” he said. “The first is to uncover who bought the version of the Sokoto Hotel in Kano with a whopping sum of N500million cash down and demolished it the next day for ongoing development of a multi-billion-naira shopping mall.
“How and where did he get money for such investment? The second assignment is to assist uncover who is hiding to invest multi-billion naira in the Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange. How and where did he get money for such investment?”
"It turns out that Idris actually got the bulk of his ill-gotten wealth on the back of the despair and agony of university lecturers. He blatantly stole lecturers’ salaries through the fraudulent Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), which ironically bills itself as a safeguard against fraud.
"Idris made N16,000 for every university lecturer who enrolled in IPPIS. The IPPIS also indiscriminately and inexplicably deducted thousands of naira from the salaries and allowances of lecturers every month.
"Just days after his arrest, many friends told me, they started getting bank alerts notifying them of the payment of backlogs of unpaid allowances— and possibly payments from the reversal of illegal deductions.
"So, the IPPIS is basically designed as a conduit to siphon the legitimate earnings of university teachers and other public sector employees, and Idris milked it for what it was worth. How can one person be that monumentally avaricious and unfeeling? How can one person visit so much anguish on so many people for so long without consequences—until now?
"Freedom from the torment of the IPPIS is one of the reasons ASUU is on strike—and why our children are mindlessly vegetating at home and wriggling in emotional pain. That’s secular blasphemy (if you would forgive the counterintuitive terminological paradox) worthy of the toughest “red lines”— if we care about the future of Nigeria.”
"Finally, I wish someone would indoctrinate Nigerians to be as angry, touchy, intolerant, and pushed to draw “red lines” over injustice, misgovernance, elite cruelty, etc. as some people in the Muslim North are over “blasphemy.”
"Leaders would always be on their game, on their guard, and on their best behaviour. And Nigeria would be one of the best places to live on earth."