INTERVIEW: Our govt officials don’t steal public funds; they don’t use private jets or fly first class — Swiss Ambassador

Hans Rudolf Hodel, Switzerland ambassador to Nigeria

Switzerland is a small but an extraordinary country that has largely tamed official profligacy and has succeeded in instilling a rare sense of accountability in its leaders and people, says Hans-Rudolf Hodel, the country’s ambassador to Nigeria. As a diplomat, Mr. Hodel is only allowed to fly economy class, not business or first class, much more a chartered or private jet commonly used by Nigerian elites. There are only two presidential jets used only when a large number of officials travel.

Mr. Hodel spoke to PREMIUM TIMES’ editors in Abuja in August about his country and its administration, Nigeria, corruption, Abacha’s loot, and more. Excepts:

PT: Switzerland like Nigeria is also a Federal state, but your country appears to have been able to manage its diversity successfully?

Ambassador: This is a subject I like to talk about very much because our federalism is really a success story. There are different types of federalism even in Europe, but for me the main difference between states or nations like ours, where the federalism comes from bottom up and states where federalism is decided by the central government….

Our nation was founded more than 700 years ago when people from three different regions- what we call Cantons- decided that they want to become independent and they threw out the Habsburg, the famous family which led to the founding of Austria and the huge success led to a huge empire. In present day Switzerland, there is a Castle called Habsburg. The Castle of Habsburg is in Switzerland. The last war against them was in 1315 when they had to disappear for good.

I had to explain this because it shows that people came together and decided that “we are stronger together”, it should not be every valley for itself and it’s better to do things together. For centuries, this remained our national idea. Hundred years ago that Switzerland was created and we had for the first time, a Constitution and the basis of that constitution is that all competences lie within the Cantons. We have three levels of administration; the Federal, the Cantons, which is like the states in Nigeria and what you call local governments, to us the Communities. But the decisive thing is the Cantons.

The Cantons have sovereignty about everything; but they said if we want to be able to defend ourselves against foreign powers, France, Austria-which was very powerful too-, Italy and Germany, then we have to do certain things together, and so like in every state, what will come to mind is what will be regulated at Federal and not Cantonal level which is Defence and foreign policy.

This was the competence that was given to the Central state.

But, of course, modern development does not allow you to do too many things at the local level and that is why more and more competences went to the Federal state. Nowadays, our Federal Constitution says all competences come to the centre if the cantons agree with that. Don’t forget that each canton also has its own constitution.

So, many competences are shared; for instance under Education, we have two Federal Universities; but all lower level schools and most universities are at cantonal levels. Police used to be at the Cantonal levels, but the bigger cities also had Police, at the moment, we have only Cantonal police; we have no federal police. We have a small unit at the Ministry of Justice called Federal police, but that is just for International Relations or some crimes involving explosives, but they have no uniform, it is just for administration.

Health, also remains a Cantonal competence, we have no Federal hospitals. Social Affairs is also a cantonal competence; that means that not just that they have the authority, but also that many things are not the same in all Cantons. Each Canton decides on its own how to conduct its affairs. It’s just recently that we began to unify the school year, which is now in autumn. Before, some cantons started in spring, others in autumn. That was causing confusion for people travelling or moving within Switzerland.

Some Cantons used to have seven years as mandatory school years, but now all have nine years. So you see a tendency of having more and more things go at a federal level.

This system is also a success because it is absolutely necessary that finances go together with competencies. That means if you are in charge of social security or health, you must also have the money to do it. So, all our three levels have their own authority on taxes; When I live in Switzerland, in a community like Bern, which is my home town, I pay taxes on my income to the city of Bern, I also pay taxes to the Canton of Bern and also pay to the confederation.

All these taxes are decided by the people themselves; that is a guarantee that the tax are executed well, because if my cantonal government in charge of the Cantonal University wants to improve it and needs more money, they have to convince the population that this one is needed and if they have to raise taxes for this reason, they will have to convince them so that people will be willing to pay taxes. Imagine how many countries in the world where people will agree to pay more taxes; in Switzerland, they do.

At Cantonal level we have taxes on income and wealth, while at the Federal level we have Value Added Tax, VAT. There is also income tax at federal level, but no wealth tax at federal level. That in a few words is how our federalism is working.

PT: In the light of what you just explained, how does your country ensure that corruption does not set in whereby people in authority corner what belongs to all citizens.

Ambassador: In Switzerland, people consider public wealth as their own; so if I will use my government’s money to do private things, then I will really have the impression that I am stealing from my fellow citizens because I am also a tax payer. For instance, whenever I travel for official duties, I fly economy because it’s my taxpayer’s money. I can’t say oh! Now I have an opportunity to fly Business or even first class because it is government money.

PT: As an ambassador, you fly economy? We believe Nigerian officials fly first class.

Ambassador: Oh yes, that is why I hardly meet them, I must fly economy. The only exception is that when you are first appointed and when you are going back, that is the first and last trips; you are allowed to fly on Business.

PT: Other top officials use presidential jets?

Ambassador: No we have only two presidential jets and they use them rarely. They are mostly used when a large government delegation is travelling, like when the Minister recently came here to lead a delegation to your government.

But, none of our Cantonal Governors fly official or private jets. Perhaps it is due to the proximity between citizens and their elected representatives. They walk in the street and take the trains to work just like any other citizen. For instance if I take a train to work, I may be in the same Wagon as the Member of Parliament representing my constituency or even the Minister who also often travels to work by train. That proximity favours a high degree of accountability as well.

Secondly, the fact that we don’t have any resources coming from the extractive industry, we don’t have oil, we don’t have minerals, so that “easy money” or that easy generated revenue, if I may say, is not there. So, the wealth that is generated is through the work of the people and the higher the value that the Swiss economy has become.

Therefore, that income that is generated is easily traceable when it is spent for public affairs.

That is a very strong point because cost of living is very high, what costs a dollar in other countries, costs five dollars in Switzerland. We have to earn this money, and so we have to be careful not to misuse this money so that we don’t become poor again.

Switzerland, two hundred years ago, was a very poor country and many citizens had to go abroad because there was not enough to eat in Switzerland. We have to be better than others, or we cannot maintain our level of living.

PT: I don’t know what you call leaders of your Cantons, here, we call them governors. But my question is on the level of their vehicle convoy?

Ambassador: Never! Our system of government is the same at both federal and cantonal levels. What we have is the Ministers coming together to form a government. There is not a President. For instance, our Head of State formally are the seven Ministers called the Federal Council. One of the seven persons is the president, but he is just a primus Inter Pares, he just presides over the Council of the Ministers once a week, one is vice president, and after one year, the Vice becomes the President, and the former president becomes a regular member. This is the same at Cantonal level. The Swiss do not like outstanding personalities who dominate the office.

On vehicle convoys, there was once a big scandal, it was in all papers because the wife of the president used her husband’s official car for shopping. Our Ministers have one official car, with a regular local registration plates, and he has one driver, so that he can work in the car, but there is no police car either in front or at the back.

Sometimes, the Ministers use the train, I remember one time I was coming back for holidays from St. Gallen to Bern as a student and I saw the Minister of Finance asking one employee of the Federal Railways when the next train going to Bern is leaving, and this fellow did not know that he was talking to the Minister of Finance, and we ended up taking the same Wagon with the Minister, I was seated right opposite him.

There is no reserve compartment for any top government official or police escort in the train for anyone. They don’t have to hide or fear anything from the population because they are doing the job that the population wants them to do.

PT: Was it a shock to you when you saw how our government officials generally move about and conduct their affairs?

Ambassador: No! I have served in many countries in the world, and what obtains here is basically what happens everywhere. People are actually shocked when they go to Switzerland, because the Swiss is the exception, not you.

PT: So even here you have only one official car?

Ambassador: Yes, but it is a bullet proof car, because my government has decided that in some special countries, we should have bullet proof cars for the ambassador, but they belong to the government. But I have a private car which is normally used by my wife. But when I am in another country, we always use private cars, we don’t have official cars. I buy the car I use with my own money, and whenever I am leaving I can decide to sell it or do whatever I like with it.

That is because I have a small allowance in my salary as part of transport. It is my decision to either go by taxi or train. The only privileged I have as an ambassador is that I normally have a driver.

PT: I know diplomats hardly talk about their areas of assignment, but without sounding as if you are interfering into Nigerian affairs, are you in a position to advise Nigeria on how best to curb this perception about corruption using your experience in your country?

Ambassador: A foreign ambassador is not here to give advice to his host country; we are not allowed to speak about Nigerian politics and similar affairs. I can explain how we do it in our country without saying it is a model for the world. I find it ok for Switzerland. But Nigerians must organise their country as they think is best for them; whether it is the government that should do that or the population. It is up to Nigerians to decide what is best for you, what I have to do is my job and have to adapt to the local conditions.

I think one of our added values is that because we don’t have 350-400 languages, we don’t have 170 million people; we have only four official languages and a population of 8 million. But at our own level we have that high degree of diversity within our country as well; religious diversity, language diversity, dialect and cultural diversity with the Italians, Germans, French and Romans.

So there are similarities between Switzerland and Nigeria, albeit on different proportions. So what we can do as an embassy rather than to come and give advice is to provide platforms of interaction between our two countries so that there can be a mutual type of learning, understanding and then people are free to take whatever they want back to their own country to say for instance this and this is a good idea, let us try and see how we can implement them.

To add to your previous question, I think a lot boils down to education as well. The way Swiss people are educated promotes an element of modesty in the system. We don’t go for people who stand out, that is why we have so many famous persons, Michael Schumacher and many others who have houses in Switzerland because people leave them alone.
If they go to other countries for instance and go to the shop, there will be a crowd around them, but Schumacher for instance before he got his accident can walk to the village bakery and buy his bread without anyone disturbing him.

That is a bit of the education that we have. For instance, we fly economy because I will surely feel a level of guilt to fly business for a flight that cost $5000 in business and $1000 in economy. The thing is what value can that $4000 difference add to my country, and that has always been the guiding principle.

If I am CEO of a very large private company, that is ok, but as a public servant, a government official, it is not possible. That is the kind of mindset that we have.

Interaction is very important. I am very appreciative of this exchange we are having, especially with a medium like yours. I am really impressed by the work you do here, I have you as a favourite news source on my Ipad. These types of discussions is what will help so much, not just to you but us as well, because that way we understand our host country better.

Coming back to education, let me add that we all went to public school, our best schools are the public schools; private schools are for those students who are not bright enough to go to high school without additional teaching. For students who are not bright enough and their parents have to take them to private schools for more teaching time so that they can be able to meet up with the required standard to get to the next level. I attended public schools up to my PhD Degree.

One thing also is that it’s people like you that have that transformative power. When we read your investigative pieces which facilitated our meeting with Tobore (Premium Times reporter) for instance, going through that investigative process which brought that story out, this touches the imagination of people well beyond Nigerian borders as well. So, I think it is through such independent-minded mediums, individuals that genuinely have the good of the nation and the good of the Nigerian people at heart that can expose abuses and corruption and also hold the leaders accountable. That is what is going to change Nigeria, if Nigerians want. It is very important for us to show support to people that have the good of their nation at heart.

PT: How much of Abacha loot has been returned to the country? You also said you don’t have oil and yours is a small country; do we benefit from trade relations with you?

Ambassador: Wherever I go in Nigeria, whoever I meet and who is a little bit linked to Media, we can discuss football, we can discuss art, handcraft, but every discussion we had, all lead to the Abacha question. This appears to be the real question and my answer is standard. In 2007 the Swiss government gave back 700 million Swiss Francs through bilateral agreement because we wanted to make sure the money does not disappear again.

So we had an agreement between Nigeria, the World Bank and Switzerland. The World Bank was guaranteeing that the money was used for the good of the people and that is it, all money is given back. Sometimes people mix up things. There was discussion about a son of Abacha who apparently lived in Europe; but the 700 million Swiss franc which is about $800 million Abacha money has been given back seven years ago.

On trade relation, it is mostly in favour of Nigeria. It is about $600 million export value from Nigeria, while we export about $220 million. We export mostly chemicals, pharmaceuticals and machinery.

For Nigeria, it’s sad to say, it is 100% oil and it is a pity because I travel a lot in Nigeria. In less than two years I have been to 27 states and I see that you have huge agricultural potential. Unfortunately, wherever I go, I see all these people trading on the road. Nigerians have the tendency to like trade and not that much for production. So, the potential that Nigeria has is not yet fully used such that the export structure of Nigeria is also reflecting that and, especially with Switzerland, it’s only oil. In that sense, Nigeria profits from our trade relations.

PT: You talked about oil, a lot of the commodity trades are based in Switzerland, and I am sure you have been following reports in the last two years about how the NNPC here has been largely colluding with Swiss traders to basically rob Nigeria of its resources. What is the Swiss Government doing about that?

Ambassador: About two to three years ago, we found out that there should be a better control, but you know it is difficult. The activities of some of these companies are not very transparent, some are based in Geneva but most are in foreign hands.

Switzerland is trying to convince these companies to certain rules that we are developing with other countries. There are also private initiatives such as the famous voluntary principles for instance; we have always tried to convince not only traders in Switzerland, but have also tried to convince Nigeria to join such initiatives.

Netherlands, UK are also active. The goal is to force them to have more transparency and to respect the rules in the countries where they are active. These rules are not just economic, but also involve human rights, including the rights of the workers, and that is what we can do. We cannot interfere directly in their day-to-day businesses because our economic system is that companies have to behave and obey the rules.

A lot of these issues that have now come out between the NNPC and Swiss-based companies were actually revealed by a Swiss civil society, which is also a testimony of the accountability monitoring and investigation of Swiss citizens and civil society. The government is very aware this represents a challenge for our image, so we are working closely with both the civil society and the private sector to try and address this.

One of the challenges is by enforcing rules and regulations, while legislating. It is difficult to do so if there is no international consensus and harmonisation on similar types of legislations and rules and regulations.

If Switzerland, whose economy is significantly dependent on a number of these major multinational companies, both for taxes and employment; Switzerland has become a hub; and if such legislations are imposed in Switzerland, it is easy for some of these companies to move out and go to either London, Singapore or wherever and to keep doing what exactly they have been doing, and then at the end of the day, we have put ourselves off site. So, a lot of what is being done now is to work together at multi-lateral level in order to harmonise some of these rules and regulations. There is a lot of bi-lateral agreement between the Swiss government and a lot of these multinational companies to work jointly on increasing the standards and respect for human rights and security in the conduct of their operations, making sure that whatever is decided at the headquarters is felt throughout subsidiaries that are operating on the ground especially in fragile countries.

So, there is a whole number of initiatives that Switzerland is spearheading. Of course one of them is the voluntary principle on human rights and security and another one is called the International Code of Conduct for private security companies and many others, but within our banking system and other companies that are operating in Switzerland.

As part of these initiatives, issues such as the Abacha case cannot come up again because we now have the Right Money Strategy programme in banks, which stipulate that the real owner of the money is always known; and the banking secrecy at the international level does not exist anymore. The idea was helpful for the development of the banks, but now we have seen that it aids criminals. The idea of the banking secrecy which still operates at the national level says that the authorities have no right to interfere in the affairs of the people. Authorities can only do so if one is seen to be spending may be 100% more than he earns and there is suspicion that he might be involved in criminal matters. That is just for people living in Switzerland, but at the international level, it doesn’t work like this, there is no banking secrecy anymore.

PT: Still on the Abacha thing, when you entered into an agreement with the World Bank and the Nigerian Government, are you aware then how the money was spent?

Ambassador: Yes, we have seen the report; what I can say is that it was not possible to do that in the sense of a project work. It was for financial regulation in Nigeria which was of course the responsibility of Nigeria. It was entrenched into the official budget of the Nigerian government. But the World Bank then checks in the field. For instance, where there is no university and one is set up there through the provision of schools, so we can say indirectly that this money helps in the building of schools which otherwise the Federal government would not have built.

There was a report, I have seen it once. I have not read it, it is rather thick. It was plausible we wanted to do a good job with the Nigerian government and there was cooperation because the situation was such that there was illegal money in Switzerland, but there was no government to claim it. This case cannot happen again.

A lot has also been achieved in terms of transparency and being reactive to situations. For instance, Switzerland was the first country to block the funds of former Tunisian president Ben Ali and Egyptian president Mubarak as well. There are serious efforts of legal and mutual assistance between the two governments now to return this money.

Sometimes it is difficult because when you are talking about countries in transition like in Egypt, where you have the election of Morsi and he is thrown out and a new one comes, so it becomes difficult to sustain a process of mutual legal assistance and a transparent process of returning money. Who do you return it to? Sometimes, a lot of efforts is also done to carry out paper work and often takes time and it is sometimes interpreted to mean Switzerland wanted to keep the money, which is absolutely always not the case.

Also there is a limit to how long the Swiss government will continue to block the money. For instance, if the government blocks a money on suspicion of being a proceed of crime, it will only be for some time. If the Nigerian government does not approach us to say such money was stolen from us, please help us to recover it; if Nigeria doesn’t do anything about it after three months, we have to give access to the account back to the owner; even if we know it was stolen. In the eyes of the law, it is the property of a civil person.


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  • Chris1408

    Nigerians need orientation at all levels. Unfortunately we have rulers and Not leaders, who are morally bankrupt and unpatriotic to lead the orientation. They don’t see themselves as public servants but masters. They see the treasury as their personal bank account. The people are to scared to ask for accountability.

    • redeem

      I laugh–and laugh i will–what the ambassador is saying is that we are not yet ready——-to transform our zones—————period———–because every individual depends on the oil revenue base in the South South—-for survival—————-we have 36 states in Nigeria—–which is said to be practicing Federalism of the lips instead of the lungs——————–In Switzerland they hardly rob Ebi from the Niger Delta to pay Musa–in the fulani north——-or the South——U do not take revenue from Berne to settle or help pay the salaries of civil servants or governors in Geneva————–The internally generated revenue in Geneva, remains in–Geneva–and that of Zurich- in Zurich—while what is due the Federal Government in Berne is remitted to her—————-In Nigeria-the seat of power in Abuja takes over 60 percent of my oil revenue———-while the remaining 40% is shared among the state———-So we see the governors relax in the comfort of their poverty stricken states–to enjoy free revenue—————–from the sale of crude oil from the Niger Delta——-to feed and buy air crafts as they like———-

      • redeem

        Tinubu among other oil rogues in Nigeria—has 2 private jets–where did he get the money to purchase them–as ex governor of lagos state–?——When we dare ask why the oil blocks in the SS—are under the control of the Fulani North– we get insulted -by d tripod———-While the people from the SS are politically psyched into believing that they are better off among 170m thieving almajiris–being imported into 9ja from the West african sub-region–our governors–from the SS–are tagged oil bunkerers———I have lived in Switzerland for over 4 yrs- so I know how the system operates– Rather than have the states work to create wealth by allowing the owners of the crude oil to control their God given resource—the oi-less zones -gang up to -insult and enslave those whose wealth are being used to erect almajiri schools for economic migrants from chad–Niger republic and Senegal———————-Not a single oil producing zone has been favored in the erection of special schools for the needy among the Riverine communities–or fishing ports–in d entire SS—-The president dare not go into such areas–else the bells of impeachment will begin to toll again–U are bonded around yr own resources————-such that u have no right to buy yourself a pair new shoes————-u will be called a thief in their bonded whore house in SS-where the oil bearing communities still remain the same as they were- when oil was first discovered in 1957-if not worst—————–cause they can hardly fish–farm–or even have clean water-from their fresh water ponds—Some now die b4 they reach the age of 45—cause of gas flares and too much acid rain——————while their slave masters sell crude oil in Switzerland-and operate foreign bank accounts quietly abroad-

        • redeem

          Rather than have fulani the north among others from the South- create farm settlements–for their people–they will rather import almajiris from Chad–and have them tell us after graduating from the schools we built with our oil money–that its their turn to rule Nigeria–that Jonathan stole their mandate—fine let them atikus buhari kwankaso and tambuwal-also tell us who killed abiola ati kudirat over his own mandate——– which we Nigerians freely handed over to him——until we learn to practice true federalism or we separate–9ja will never get it right————————–because of the control of the oil resources in the SS—the rulership of BNigeria is now turn by turn—————

          • Tonnero

            I have said it before and I repeat: your madness has reached the market place.

          • redeem

            wahala madness will reach the market place when yr poverty ridden environment cannot fend for itself instead–u send yr kids to stand along roads sides to sell made in china tea bags————————-instead of sending them to the farms—————let my people go—————————-awoooooooooooooof oil revenue is what will haunt u till death do us part–animals

          • endingNaija

            redeeweed, how now? your mouth no dey close small?

          • Ide4u

            Redeem is a perfect example of what hate and bitterness can do to man. He is so confused to the extent of replying himself

      • endingNaija

        Redeem, Can you explain $9.3million Cash For Arm For Private Jet + Goodluck Jonathan+CAN+Ayo Oritsejafor in South Africa please? Ayo Oritsejafor Redeem, who are those two Nigerians who together with the Israeli illegally took $9.3million on behalf of Goodluck Jonathan and CAN President Ayo Oritsejaweed to South Africa? Answer redeemweed! Are you one of the Nigerians?

    • Ide4u

      GEJ is the most corrupt president Nigeria has ever produced. He lives, moves and has his being in corruption. Lest I forget, he says stealing is not corruption!!

  • john234

    Nigeria will never change until public officers stop using their offices to enrich themselves, until every Nigerian citizen is carried along in the Nigerian projects, until the voice of the ordinary citizen counts, until the wealth of the country is equally shared to all citizens, until we have a president that can rise against corruption, ethnic discrimination, injustice, and impunity. Until then we will continue wasting our time with 1 million points agenda, transformation agenda etc.

    • Tunsj

      Agreed. But most Nigerians are timid.

  • ifebuche

    Lie of the Millennium. Swiss saints. And guys r buying it already.

  • Valentine

    WHY NIGERIA IS MORE CIVILIZED THAN SWITZERLAND ON THIS POINT…..

    “The only way to stop us from stealing is to stone us. The Nigerian followers are as guilty as the Nigerian leaders.
    Nigerian institutions are all compromised and there is no alternative to them as it is.

    Nigerians
    appear not to be against stealing and corruption but only against how
    long you stay stealing and being corrupt. Don’t ever expect those in
    public office to fight corruption on these facts.”

    ………….Governor Rotimi Amaechi
    (Rivers state, Nigeria)
    [June 30th, 2014]

  • Comfortkay

    It is not how long you rule that counts but how well you govern. Governance is about accountability and Performance, instead of performing GEJ and PDP are only interested in who gets what.
    Nigerian has suffered too much in the hands of their rulers and the above interview cannot help Nigeria situation, not this government in power can emulate Swiss way of governance and leadership.

    • Val

      WHY NIGERIA IS MORE CIVILIZED THAN SWITZERLAND ON THIS POINT…..

      “The only way to stop us from stealing is to stone us. The Nigerian followers are as guilty as the Nigerian leaders.
      Nigerian institutions are all compromised and there is no alternative to them as it is.

      Nigerians appear not to be against stealing and corruption but only against how
      long you stay stealing and being corrupt. Don’t ever expect those in
      public office to fight corruption on these facts.”

      ………….Governor Rotimi Amaechi
      (Rivers state, Nigeria)
      [June 30th, 2014]

      • Nicol

        @ Val:

        With Nigeria now in ruins, the next historical step is ‘retributory justice’ for those who caused the mess.

        The revolutionary justice to be meted out should extend to lawyers, accountants and to the business

        partners of these rogues – who used criminal and bogus means to assist in the siphoning of Nigeria’s life-blood. The judges of the courts who sell injunctions, take bribes and sell court verdicts should also
        get the same rough treatment on the streets. There is no alternative to such a revolutionary cleansing.

        • redeem

          separation is the answer–they did not steal revenue from cocoa—in the west–groundnut pyramids because the revenue were not shared with any–so give the SS resource control

      • redeem

        the question mumu like u should themselves is where the money that Nigerian elites steal comes from-

        • Ide4u

          The jet belongs to River State and not Amaechi. You should be concerned about those jets owned by Akpabio, Ibori and their likes. The Odili today is not a product of hard work but that of corruption. He pocketed $500mmeant for power projects and got a perpetual injunction from prosecution and ur uncle rewarded him by making his wife a supreme court judge. There was no stealing because of the greater accountability during the time of Cocoa and Groundnut. the land in the North are not wasted, most of the food you eat today comes from the North and not from that poisonous oil polluted Ijaw land. What a bitter pill to swallow!!

          • redeem

            is that the most essential need of the people of rivers state–when examined against the backdrop of what the ambassador said—-monkey

    • Ola

      Alhaji Raji Fashola – Lagos state’s most reckless governor – will be quitting office next year,
      but will be leaving not less than three (3) billion dollars behind as Lagos state debts;
      after blowing away seven (7) billion dollars in federally allocated revenues since 2007,
      plus, another eleven [11] billion dollars Lagos state received in charges, taxes and levies,
      totaling 18 billion dollars, but with no justification to show for this amount on the ground,
      and without Raji Fashola ever transparently disclosing the state’s post-budget accounts
      to the people of Lagos state. How can Nigeria ever make progress on these current facts?

      • Ali

        The 19 northern states exemplify worse form of official stealing. The 19 governors of the northern states very primitively share out state revenue amongst northern elites much like private funds without reference to any law or budget. Some of the millions go to the Emirs; gratis, some millions go to the District heads, some go to other northern criminal elites without a means of livelihood, whilst the rest is thankfully used to pay workers’ salary but with in-built allowance made even there for stealing via ghost workers entered on the payroll.

      • T.B Martins

        “Nigeria has descended into a hellish reality where for smart and capable people
        to ‘survive’ and have their daily bread they must prostrate for imbeciles.
        The whole Nigerian system – including the public themselves – wants oppressors,
        not people working for their collective progress, and so, when no one is planning
        the future of a country, such a country can have no future.”

        ……………………………..Iyabo Obasanjo
        (Letter to my father – December 18, 2013)

      • Tunsj

        May be he gave Tinubu some of the money.

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    Stealing,looting and embezzlement of our national commonwealth and flying in ten presidential jets while PDP chiefs and close friend of PDP president Ebele Jonathan i.e. Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and host of others fly around in private jets are the hall marks of a corrupt-ridden,anti-people arrogant government of Nigeria,an under-developed nation of 170 million people whose funds are embezzled and looted at will by the shameless clueless,ineptitude and ineffective president Jonathan and his league of criminals.

    • No Comment

      “In Nigeria, the pauperised many have sent a memo to the criminally-rich few:
      “We will not allow you to enjoy your ill-gotten gains in peace. We will hound you
      and pursue you everywhere you go. When you buy your Hummers, we will snatch them”.

      “When you send your children to expensive schools, we will kidnap them.
      When you retreat to your billion-naira homes, you will have to sleep with one eye open.
      With every knock, you will panic and tremble fearing it could be nemesis at the door.”

      …………Femi Aribisala
      August 28, 2013

      (Vanguard Newspaper)

    • redeem

      yr yoruba brothers control the oil blocks–in the SS—so keep quiet—————————

      • Ide4u

        If after almost 6yrs with your uncle in power and you are still ranting that Yoruba and Fulanis control the Oil Blocks, then something is fundamentally wrong with you people. Typical ijaw brain, tool dull and oblivious on how Cocoa from the West and Groundnuts from the fueled the Nigerian economy before crude oil. Ayo is not a pastor but a crooked politician in cassock destined for hell.

        • redeem

          @wahala—u must be sick——–if yr general cannot control boko haram–is it the oil blocks that we can retrieve from the fulanis

  • Bisi Ademola

    GOODLUCK JONATHAN AND CORRUPTION INCORPORATED IN NIGERIA

    See for example, it took 7 months for President Jonathan to remove Stella Oduah as Aviation Minister for corruption. Since her removal on 13th February it took President Jonathan another 7 months to replace her. In other words, it took one-quarter of President Jonathan’s term in office just to remove and replace an Aviation Minister.

    It then took President Jonathan another 15 months of letter-writing to remove an un-accountable Central Bank Governor – Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. And, except for the overlap of these two cases, removing and replacing Stella Oduah and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi took over half of President Jonathan’s term in office.

    Yet, President Jonathan has no positive result to show for both cases. Sanusi Lamido has since slipped into Kano palace and donned the toga of Emir to hinder further criminal investigation. Stella Oduah, on her part, prances around joyfully as a newly-elected Market Women Leader of Anambra state without facing criminal arraignment. Little wonder Nigeria is now an obvious failing state?

    • redeem

      -Again —–how lomng did it take the federal government of Nigeria to recover the abacha loot———from Switzerland——hours abi- where were u when buhari said abacha did not steal one kobo from nigeria—-that the allegations against him was cooked up by ijaws—————–where did sanusi go when he was removed as governor of CBN because of corruption–was he not protected and installed as emir of kano by the janjaweeds in APC from lagos led by tinubu? And by the way did buhari return the 100m sanusi gave him to help him contest the 2011 elections against Jonathan——-where did the money come from CBN abi————————-why not put on your thinking cap at times

      • endingNaija

        you forgot dis one bro BlackieUmu +redeemweed that your President Goodluck Jonathan returned the remaining Abacha loot to Gumsu ati Mohammed ati mama Abacha in Kano in lieu of Jonathan’s 2015 election!

        • redeem

          u must be half brain dead———–read the interview again ahd look at what he the ambassador said

          • endingNaija

            We are still looking for the two Nigerians Ayo Oritsejafor ati Goodluck Jonathan used to launder $9.3m to South Africa on the private jet of Ayo Oritsejafor-Pastor. Are you one of these NIgerians? Your answer will be helpful the unredeemable redeem.

      • Ide4u

        Buhari never said Abacha did not steal!! This is another creation of your water filled brain. Do you know how long Sanusi has been grooming to become an emir? Sanusi never gave Buhari N100m only inside your hate filled head. Unlike GEJ who was bribing everybody from the proceed of extortion of oil marketers by Diezani Alison-Madueke, Buhari’s frugal campaign were issue based. Hatred will kill you like a cockroach!!

        • redeem

          The late military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, did not loot the national treasury contrary to the general impression, two military former heads of state have said.

          Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who ruled Nigeria between 1983 and 1985, and his successor, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, gave Abacha the clean bill in Kano yesterday after the rememberance prayers marking 10 years of the death of Abacha, who ruled between 1993 and 1998.

  • The Revolutionary

    Thieves and victims can’t live together in the same house. For Nigerians to live together in peace and happiness,
    two things must happen. First of all, the entire stolen wealth in Nigeria must be seized from these official thieves –
    by force – and if the stolen property has been passed to children under a will the stolen property so inherited
    must be seized in the hands of the children in their own criminal status as ‘receivers of stolen property.’

    Secondly, all official thieves in Nigeria so dis-possessed of stolen property; including their children;
    who might have received some of the stolen property, must be given severe punishment –
    including hanging or public execution – as happened in Ghana. In all of history afterall the tree of
    justice is watered by the blood of rogues and by thieves put to the sword. Nigeria shall not be an exception.

    • redeem

      resource control because the money being stolen comes from just one source–the SS———————–dont give me that crap–how many fulanii governors went to jail during the era of ribadu

      • Ide4u

        How many Fulani governors stole public money like Ibori and Alame?

        • redeem

          @wahala———that is the point none stole abi—————-then why did ribadu mention to us that 31 governors were caught stealing and only alams was tried————-the thieves included tinubu—–whom ribadu late went to work for—————u see Nigerians–yet u claim to want to end corruption with yr regional lies——————

    • Tunsj

      I couldn’t have said it better myself. There must be a revolution before Nigeria can change. Thanks for your comment.

    • Sword of Damocles

      Words of profound wisdom. So it shall come to pass

  • Lanre

    Thank you, Premium Times for this educative interview from the Swiss Ambassador. I also wish to thank the Swiss Ambassador. It is a known fact that back in the ’90’s, his country (Switzerland) was the favorite destination for stolen money. Nevertheless, there is no hiding the fact today in Nigeria that governance has become a huge criminal enterprise. An enterprise run by a few sworn to an oath to loot and pillage the commonwealth. The solution lies in a Confederation of Regional Units as any other remedy is nothing but procrastination. In the meantime, let $20b and $9.3m remain missing and Jonathan, Sambo and David Mark can ride their own individual private jets. Nigeria has been taken over by hardened criminals at all levels.

    • Tunsj

      First Class Thieves.

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  • Otitokoro

    Thanks Premiumtimes for this highly educative interview. Nigerian elites both at regional and central levels have a lot to learn from this-though our problem is these elites do not READ, their illiteracy is so frustrating. This discourse reminds me of Obafemi Awolowo’s thesis and account of true federalism as the economic and political basis of progress in African states which are essentially multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious. Oh my God! When last did we have INTELLIGENT conversations in Nigeria? I cannot remember. Obafemi Awolowo must be turning in his grave! Bless his soul. Thanks so much PT. God bless you and your work. Africa will surely survive.

    • Tunsj

      I couldn’t have said it better myself. Those thieves have already destroy Nigeria.

  • UOU

    Mr Ambassador, But your Government(switzerland) is the architect of corruption, that encourages, compels and aide our Government officials to siphon our people’s monies to banks in your country, with your full evil knowledge and connivance yet you turn around to insult our sensibilities. This trash can only be told to Nigerians living in Nigeria not us in overseas. All the corruptions in Nigeria, Africa ,Asia etc, were planned, engineered and taught by this sort of yeye man and european hypocrits. We can solve our problems ourselves anyway, right in African way, by Africans, not by these satantic western countries. China never took after them in anything and china is doing beautifully well. All the atrocities in Africa and elsewhere are the handiwork of these EU countries.

    • endingNaija

      UOU, so you are saying as a Nigerian you OUO do not have the agency NOT to accept what you called “evil knowledge” of foreigners in encouraging corruption in NIgeria.? My brother the days of slavery is gone when you passed the buck to “colonialists” “slave traders” etc. I am not saying colonualists and slave traders are not evil. Of course, they were and are. But if in 2014 we are DUMB ENOUGH TO STEAL PUBLIC MONEY AND KEEP IT ABROAD-how sensible is it for you to blame others? Oga tell me. If we are DUMB enough to introduce ethnicity and tribalism to questions of corruption, why must you blame others. let me illustrate. Diezani Alison-Madueke steals the OIl Indutry dry on behalf of President Jonathan. people talk about it. And some Nigerians say “shut up it is OUR OIL.. we can do anything we want with it including STEALING …” So na Oyibo man cause dat kind ting? I beg LET US LOOK OURSELVES IN THE FACE AND TELL OURSELVES THE UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH. LEAVE the fable “other” out of our problem and let us be frank with ourselves FOR ONCE. This interview is AN EYE OPENENER! Last word-so na Oyibo man make Ayo Oritsejafor wan launder $9.3million with the connivance of President Jonathan’s govt? THINK MAN! Let us face our problems and take a decision where we are headed-FULL STOP!

    • Rufus

      if stolen wealth was brought into Nigeria, the thief won’t find it after 24 hours….but in Switzerland, its still there after 200 years….see the difference you thief?

  • Okikiola Beckley

    I think it’s humanly impossible to operate in the kind of set up we have here are not be corrupt. The prevailing circumstances are too overwhelming. When people from saner societies come here they quickly join us in our corrupt ways once they realise that impunity is a culture and you will get away with practically any crime if you know your way. They do things they dare not think of in their countries and likewise most Nigerians too are well behaved when they visit civilized countries. It’s the environment that’s toxic and only a good leadership that is ready for a lot of sacrifice and also full of vision that can save us. All our present leaders,opposition inclusive are nation destroyers and not builders,they only think of themselves and their cronies and in my opinion the earlier we start on a clean slate the better. My only fear is that the rot is so entrenched that for us to have a significant change there must be some violence.

  • By popular demand

    Thieves and victims can’t live together in the same house. For Nigerians to live together in peace and happiness,
    two things must happen. First of all, the entire stolen wealth in Nigeria must be seized from these official thieves –
    by force – and if the stolen property has been passed to children under a will the stolen property so inherited
    must be seized in the hands of the children in their own criminal status as ‘receivers of stolen property.’

    Secondly, all official thieves in Nigeria so dis-possessed of stolen property; including their children;
    who might have received some of the stolen property, must be given severe punishment –
    including hanging or public execution – as happened in Ghana. In all of history afterall the tree of
    justice is watered by the blood of rogues and by thieves put to the sword. Nigeria shall not be an exception.

    • No Comment

      “Several Nigerian journalists who call black white; and, whitewash criminals for brown envelopes,
      will not escape the imminent revolutionary cleansing of Nigeria, because with their pens they wrote
      to defend official theft of their country’s cash assets, by laundering the official thieves as ‘great men’
      and describing brazen thieves as ‘Man of the Year’. There is no immunity for journalism in a revolution.
      These insane writers will be subjected to the same pain and penalty as the official thieves they covered up”.

      …………..The Revolutionary
      [June 11th, 2013]

      • Figaro

        Ah, ah, ah, Nigerians are waking up at long last. It took a Swiss Ambassador to rouse them!
        Now they want to kill their journalists, ah, ah, but how about the bankers who wire-transfrered?
        How about the criminal accountants littering the country who cooked the books to rob Nigeria?
        And also the Civil Servants who stole the most by counterfeiting official invoices and receipts?
        Ah, the graves will shortly be filled with plentiful big men and women when this deed is done!
        Official thieves are now smelling so badly and choking the rest of the Nigerian populace…ah, ah!

        • Tunsj

          Spot on!

      • Raymond (Journalist)

        “Journalists shouldn’t be seen or heard telling the prime suspect they would write
        “just like you said” after he offered to buy their consciences with N50,000.
        Some of the reporters who collected the N50,000 have called me after
        the audio (i secretly shot of them) went viral to complain.”

        “They told me they have been getting calls from colleagues and family members
        who recognised their voices in the recording.”

        “One even accused me of a breach of trust. I told him I didn’t sign a pact of silence with anybody.

        For me, the decision was between covering the ethical shortcomings of my colleagues or doing that
        which is right to make sure those who died and their families get justice. The decision was easy. ”

        ………………..Nicolas Ibekwe
        (September 23, 2014)

    • Pastor Jones

      EVEN GOD AGREES ON REVOLUTIONARY CLEANSING OF NIGERIA……..

      “As for the thief; the male and the female, amputate their hands in recompense for
      what they committed as punishment from Allah, and Allah shall be exalted in
      might and wise”.

      ……..The Holy Koran 5:38

      “For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own
      soul? The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro
      of those that seek death. There are thorns and snares on the path of the
      crooked. Anyone who guards himself prudently will stay far from them. Brethren,
      you shall not steal. Theft entails deceit; and in a heart where the spirit of
      deceit is, there, the spirit of God cannot be.”

      ………………Counterpart injunction of God in The Holy Bible

      • Child of God

        “Those involved in corrupt practices are like whitewashed tombs which appear beautiful from the outside,

        but inside, are full of dead bones and putrefaction. It would be better if a millstone were put around their
        necks and they be thrown into the sea, because where there is deceit the Spirit of God cannot be.”

        …….…..Pope Francis at the Vatican
        (November 12, 2013)

        • Seemeseetrouble@yahoo.com

          @ Child of God:

          You can’t stop thieves by words of abuse – you can only stop thieves by organizing,
          arming, and, killing thieves. Nigeria falls apart because official thieves are inured to shame;
          and, perhaps now they need slaughtering. For so long as people sit and do nothing to force
          a change, each honest person’s future in Nigeria is in jeopardy.

  • Ol’Boy

    THE WORST FRAUD EVER IN YORUBALAND

    Governor Raji Fashola of Lagos state floated an official bond of about 80billion Naira last year,
    and got investors to subscribe for repayment with interest but once the bond was fully subscribed,
    Raji Fashola took 40% of that money – about 35 billion Naira or so – and handed it over in cash to Bola Tinubu
    via a bogus corporate front.

    This patently corrupt deal was to buy back Lagos state ‘concession rights’ on the Lekki tolled Expressway,
    according to Raji Fashola. But what the decidedly corrupt and clever by half Raji Fashola did not say is that
    the land at issue belongs to Lagos state and was never sold to Bola Tinubu’s company in the first place.
    Or did Bola Tinubu’s company invest 35 billion Naira developing the road. In other words, by sheer fraud,
    Raji Fashola paid Bola Tinubu 25 years profit upfront without further work.

    A lien was then imposed on Lagos state allocation of federal revenue for the next three [3] years to pay for this 80 billion Naira debt by all Lagos residents. This transaction must count as the worst fraud ever in Yoruba history since
    Nigeria became independent on October 1, 1960. All Lagosians shall now be taxed to pay back the bond investors.

    • Rogbodiyan

      “Nigeria is no longer a country. It is not a country where people can live
      to survive. Nigeria is a place ruled by criminals and thieves,
      as well as by those who believe in plundering and looting.”

      …….. Mbazulike Amaechi
      (Nigeria’s first Minister of Aviation)
      [September 14th, 2014]

      • Public Tribune

        “Although the total cost of the completed section of the Lekki-Epe express road concession remain shrouded in secrecy, information from various media sources suggest that about N35 billion in total may have been expended to construct the completed 15km of it, which represents N2.3 billion per km in construction costs.”

        “In other words, about 70% of the estimated total costs of the project, five years ago, have been expended to construct only 30% of the project. If the project continues in this manner, with the new demand from LCC, it would not be long before it becomes clear that the project has become a fraud and negates the interests of Lagos tax payers.”

        ………………….Vanguard newspaper
        [November 26, 2013]

        • Dere Macaulay

          Yepa! Oh, my God. Do you know what ₦2.3 billion means? That is the total allocation
          of federal revenue to Adamawa state for a whole month to provide water,
          security, roads, hospitals, run schools, pay teachers’ salary, pay all civil
          servants and do all other constitutional duties of a state government for a month.

          That is the amount [₦2.3 billion] this RajiFashola of a person said he used at a-go
          to build just one (1) kilometre of road on the Lekki-Ajah Expressway in Lagos. What!
          Now i am convinced that Raji Fashola is the worst governor Nigeria has ever had.

          Raji Fashola is far worse than James Ibori and should get double the term of imprisonment of Ibori.
          What happened here is not just a case of stealing but a gross crime against humanity.
          I now believe what people have been saying everywhere. All over the place, people are saying
          that a bloody revolution is the only option if Nigeria is to ever become free from these official thieves.

      • Mrs. Nwanze

        Dear Premium Times Editor:

        The discussion here has very much helped to remove the wool pulled over my eyes.
        I was not aware of all these bad things before i read all the enlightened comments here.
        In fact i was one of those who had naively thought Raji Fashola was actually performing.
        I did not know he was just scamming the people of Lagos state and mounting up debts.

        But to be honest i knew something was wrong when all Lagos state schools failed school cert.
        A performing government should not record 75% FAILURE in its schools every year since 2007.
        Or should a performing government record 90% FAILURE at all levels in its state-owned
        Lagos State university – LASU. That is why i write here to purposely thank Premium Times
        for helping me into enlightenment with the actual facts of the bad effects of thefts in Lagos.

        The effects of thefts in Lagos state government are devastating besides ruining the future of youths.
        Now i can fully understand why bloody violence has taken over Lagos state in the last couple of years.
        In Shomolu, Apapa Road, Akoka, Alaka, Bariga, Idumota, Onipanu and Yaba, corpses litter the streets..
        Many youths in those areas have bought guns and have formed gangs to kill and maim anyone at will.
        They are obviously influenced by the knowledge that their state government officials are stealing at will.
        Lagosians must quickly come together to bring Raji Fashola and his rogue cabinet to justice, please!
        We are sick and tired of being governed by thieves. Our lives are not safe. Our children have no future.

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  • A.K.SAMSON

    Mr. Ambassador, thank you for espousing the virtues of your Country’s management of public fund so eloquently. However can you tell us who invented the scheme in your country to pass the law which legitimises the banking system which guarantees the secrecy of stolen public funds from other countries(now being redressed after the closure of the oldest bank in the world).
    The Irony is this: The famous Swiss secret bank Accounts is the first port of call of would be crooks the world over. It is the third world countries that suffers the most. Incidentally, all the first class relief organizations are also headquartered in your country; i.e. CARITAS INTERNATIONAL, THE RED CROSS, ROTARY FOUNDATION etc.etc. How do you manage the positives and the negatives of human existence?

  • redeem

    Tinubu among other oil rogues in Nigeria–all have more than 2 private jets to themselves–Ask tinubu where he got the money to purchase them–as ex governor of lagos state–?—Or why the oil blocks in the SS—are under the control of the Fulani North–if u do not get blown into oblivion -by d tripod——then i am not Deri d Redeemer—-While the people from the SS are politically psyched into believing that they are better off among 170m thieving almajiris——–d bigger the merrier—no longer the smaller the merrier–our governors–from the SS–are tagged oil bunkerers———I have lived in Switzerland for over 4 yrs- so I know how the system operates– Rather than have the states work to create wealth by allowing the owners of the crude oil———- to control their God given resource—the oi-less zones -gang up to -insult and enslave those whose wealth are being used to erect almajiri schools for economic migrants from chad–Niger republic and Senegal———————-Not a single oil producing zone has been favored in the erection of special schools for the needy among the Riverine communities–or fishing ports–in d entire SS————-since 1957–roads are just being dualized along the east west road—since oil was found in 1957—————————-

    • Ladan Haruna

      Once again ur region is needed so that I’ll no how to answer you

      • Captain Mark [rtd]

        At this rate of banditry it is a matter of time before the full horrors of official thefts
        manifest in Nigeria. The affairs of 165 million people can’t be run like this.
        Already budgets fail and staff salaries are epileptic in the 36 states where
        staff utility loans have been cancelled for the same reasons.

        Poverty deepens as stolen money crowds out legitimate income by creating artificial
        demand at higher prices. As treasury looting progresses the few utilities left
        in the country fall into dis-repair.

        No pool of funds is safe or set aside in any of the 36 states for maintenance of hurriedly built
        sub-standard infrastructure. All public funds are prone to thefts. There’s no governance going on

        in Nigeria since no state Governor ever produced an annual statement of account.

        Election is not the solution to this type of organized crime in the name of government.
        “Only a bloody revolution can save Nigeria,” according to Professor Ben Nwabueze

  • redeem

    Rather than have fulani the north among others from the South- create farm settlements–for their people–they will rather import almajiris from Chad–and have them tell us after graduating from the schools we built with our oil money–that its their turn to rule Nigeria–that Jonathan stole their mandate—fine let them atikus buhari kwankaso and tambuwal-also tell us who killed abiola ati kudirat over his own mandate——– which we Nigerians freely handed over to him——until we learn to practice true federalism or we separate–9ja will never get it right————————–because of the control of the oil resources in the SS———-that is what Nigeria is about————-oil deals————period———–then use jihadist to scare people once in whikle–at least to show the fulanis own Nigeria more than those whose wealth is being used to keep the country going———-So–the ruler-ship of Nigeria must be turn by turn———-zoned between the Fulni North ati the almajiri south——its no longer about the interest of the nation–but the ethnic group that carries their abstract majority——votes– let my people go—–anim

    • Ladan Haruna

      Where do you come from? Which part of the country. Pls

  • Akhabue

    But Swiss (bank) officials have helped to stash away looted funds from other countries.

  • socialist

    Hmmmm, I believe you guys have a point as you might be talking from well informed sources, but the most fundamental issue here to me is the type of government we have here, the type of government we tolerated since independence, we the people of nigeria tolerated corruption on baseless grounds simply because we don’t have the country at heart, but sentiments, regionalism, tribalism, religious bigotry, and such similar ills.If we are to move forward an inch then we most agree to be together by dropping all negative ills and face our country squarely with a view to making it a place worth loving where peace and justice reigns not merely in the anthem which 90%of Nigerians recites with no pledge to abide by it but just to kick starts an occasion.
    may God help us.

    • Vandu

      APC LEADERSHIP MANIFESTO……

      “The only way to stop us from stealing is to stone us. The Nigerian followers are
      as guilty as the Nigerian leaders. The Nigerian institutions are all compromised;
      and there is no alternative to them as it is. Nigerians appear not to be against stealing
      and corruption but only against how long you stay stealing and being corrupt.
      Don’t ever expect those in public office to fight corruption on these facts.”

      ….…..Governor Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers state)

      (June 30th, 2014)