Why Buhari should engage services of certified auctioneers
As President Buhari is dealing decisively with the ills of corruption, and the beneficiaries thereof, the Nigerian populace is waiting with their breath held, to see what will come out of all the probes being conducted .
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to most people. Over the years, series of probes similar to these have been conducted, and after all the hue and cry, all the discoveries are swept under the rug. No villains paraded, no properties seized, no monies recovered .
At the end of the day, this further disillusions the citizens of the country, and further strengthens the general assumption, that crime indeed pays. In cases whereby properties are actually seized, what becomes of them is always a mystery. It is believed that these properties are shared amongst the “high and mighty,” and this is clearly seen as a way of recycling the spoils of war. For a president like President Buhari, this will not augur well for his highly revered reputation.
To avoid this malady, the solution is quite simple; engage the services of proper auctioneers to dispose of these confiscated items in a public, and transparent way. This transparent process will not only make the disposal of these properties and chattel open for everyone to see, but will make it open for all interested members of the public to bid for these items as well.
In the times past, auctioneering was left to the barely literate men whose only requirement was to pay a token fee at the local Government offices, and obtain a receipt which qualifies them as “Auctioneers.” This still obtains to this very day.
Enter the Certified Institute of Auctioneers
The Certified Institute of Auctioneers was initiated about 3 years ago, with the intention of professionalising the practice of auctioneering in Nigeria. In the 3 years of its existence, it has grown in leaps and bounds. It has its presence in about five states, with its major chapters being the Lagos and the Abuja chapters. Members cut across diverse professions, but the bulk of the members come from the field of Estate Management, Engineering, and the Legal professions. Members of the institute have undergone several training programmes , both locally , and internationally . Master class training seminars have been undertaken in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Canada. Erstwhile crude, and outdated methods of auctioneering have been discarded , and our members have been brought up to date on the modern methods of auctioneering.
We already have secured alliances with NAVA (National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers) of the United Kingdom , and also have an MOU with the NAA (National Auctioneers Association) of the United States of America , which promises educational programming, and resources for our members . Real time bidding on the Internet has been mastered , and companies in the specialised field of hosting these biddings have been met with , and are on the standby waiting for high profile auctions which will require international coverage.
In spite of all the giant steps the institute and its members have taken, most government MDA’s still do not give them the requisite acknowledgement. There might be a litany of reasons which might range from, the CIAN (Certified Institute of Auctioneers) being relatively unknown, to the possibility of the MDA’s being used to “business as usual.” It would amaze any rational thinking person, why a government establishment , or even a corporate outfit would shun the use of properly trained, highly educated individuals, and opt for the barely literate , totally unorganised , and unregulated option . Even banks in Nigeria that are supposed to sell off some properties by auction , call in lay men from the streets to go to the local government offices to pay the necessary dues, obtain the receipt, and sign the portions in the paper work meant for the auctioneers, while they carry out the sale In- house . The auctioneering process in the country is tainted with fraud, and this has to be reviewed as a part of the ‘change’ process going on in the country.
The auctioneering industry is a billion dollar industry in the advanced world. In both the UK and the USA, auctions account for several billions of dollars in revenue. We see no reason why this should be any different here in Nigeria. The three tiers of government spend billions of Naira every year to acquire assets, and these assets are depreciated to a book value of zero after a number of years . Yet these items actually still have value. In some cases , some of the equipment might malfunction , or get damaged and vehicles might be involved in traffic accidents, and they are then left to rot away , while the government agency goes ahead to acquire a new one.
Auctioning off these items will enable them get to the hands of people who could repair them to use for their own purposes, or use them as they are . In both cases, a price will still be paid for them, which is revenue to the government.
Cases to mention are those of government departments like the NDLEA, Nigeria Customs Service, EFCC and ICPC, which seize and confiscate vehicles and property from drug dealers, smugglers, and people indicted for fraud, and graft. On a yearly basis, they confiscate items worth several billions of Naira. These seizures are always announced, and broadcasted in the media, but what happens to the seized items are never disclosed. It always remains a mystery. The public deserves to know.
These items should be handed over to auctioneers for a public auction, for the benefit of all Nigerians. It would also prevent avoidable scandals for the agencies in question. A recent example is the summoning of the Chairman of EFCC by the Senate, on the issue of misappropriation of seized property. A public auction of the items would have avoided this.
In Abuja, there is a large plot of land opposite the Central Mosque, where there are several luxury automobiles which have been parked there for years. It is speculated that they were confiscated from people who were beneficiaries of certain crimes, by a certain government agencies. The market value of these vehicles should be in the range of several hundreds of millions, to over a billion naira. The billion Naira question is, Why the waste? The vehicles are desired by people, and the revenue is needed by the government. There is no rationale for such colossal waste. The Certified Institute of Auctioneers could have bridged this gap.
In these turbulent times of low oil prices in the international market , and severe competition by rival oil producing nations , Nigeria can not afford to overlook any revenue source that will add to the GDP of the country . President BUHARI has promised to block all leakages in the system, and this happens to be one of them. Every single extra kobo earned by Nigerians , either individually , or collectively, counts. Change has to be holistic, and all encompassing. We await the intervention of President Buhari in this regard.
Olumilua is the president/chairman, Certified Institute of Auctioneers FCAI (Abuja Chapter)