Is The President Aware That $10.8b Is Still Missing? By Sam Nda-Isaiah

Nigerians Saving Nigerians:






Sam Nda-Isaiah

It has been alleged that President Jonathan was so angry with the CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, about the leakage of his letter that he (the president) asked the governor to resign. The president apparently did not even crosscheck to see whether he had the powers to sack a CBN governor whimsically. In any case, the president would still have been able to sack the governor if he had the support of the majority of the senators or he is perceived by the senators to be working in the best interests of the nation. But this president is certainly not working in the best interests of the nation and has lost both the house of Senate and the House of Representatives.

And, by the way, the president has also lost the majority of his governors, and, here, I am not just talking about the G5 governors. There are several PDP governors today that are not with the president, and those are the governors that I think the president should be worried about. At the rate the president is going, he would become a lame-duck president by the middle of this year without even knowing it. Or, worse still, he could become a sitting-duck president, sitting at the mercy of the National Assembly.

But why was the president so livid with the CBN governor that he wanted him to resign? More decent people thought such anger should have been directed at people like Diezani Allison-Madueke, the petroleum minister, and Stella Oduah, the aviation minister. This president has not developed the capacity to ask Stella Oduah to resign in spite of her several scandals and he has not asked Diezani to resign for all the mess we all know the petroleum ministry under her has become. He is not even angry enough that his own finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said that $10.8 billion is still unaccounted for by the NNPC. This amount is roughly N1.7 trillion. Does the president know what this amount could have done for Nigeria? And nobody should ever tell me that the whopping amount has been spent on fuel subsidy again, as some people are now trying to do, because, before Jonathan happened on us, the average annual amount that used to be expended on fuel subsidy was 250 billion Naira.

So when Speaker Aminu Tambuwal said the president’s body language encourages corruption, he was only being polite. The situation is much worse. The president’s whole being and soul encourage corruption, and not just his body language. The president was only upset because the apparent theft of public funds that Sanusi’s letter to him suggested was leaked. President Jonathan actually gets angry when thieves are caught. I have never seen a thing like that. He was not angry that public funds could have been stolen. He was never at any time livid with his minister of petroleum who could have presided over such huge theft. This is precisely the same way that the president was upset with those who led the media to discover the corruption at the Police College, Ikeja, Lagos, that ensured that police cadets were living under conditions that would have been unfit for the president’s dogs.

The president was not angry enough to ask where the money voted for the police had gone or whether the appropriated police budgets got to them at all. He did not even have compassion for the suffering cadets and showed no empathy whatsoever towards them. He was only upset that some thieves had been exposed for stealing government money. And, since then, nothing has happened to those thieves. Nobody expects anything to happen to them as long as it is Jonathan that is president.

It still beats me that, in spite of all the allegations of theft and diversion of public funds being levelled against the NNPC daily, the person who should be doing all the talking and explanation, the petroleum minister, has not said anything. That is very annoying, to say the least. That is what should be annoying and ruffling the president. But why is Diezani not saying anything? Every Nigerian wants her to defend herself but she feels too big to do so; she has not been fired, as would have happened anywhere else in the world. A friend of mine recently reminded me that she would be committing perjury if she ever opened her mouth to say anything, so we should understand why she is not speaking. We are tired of listening to Okonjo-Iweala defending the petroleum ministry. She should be defending the finance ministry, not another ministry. Why does she want to take Panadol for another person’s headache? I am not even sure that the management of the NNPC are in a position to address the very weighty questions that have been coming up, because everyone knows that they only receive orders from the queen of the cabinet.

Another puzzle is Okonjo-Iweala herself who has cried out several times against the ongoing corruption in Jonathan’s government. And she once also added that “we are not helpless”, meaning that something can be done about it by their government presided over by Jonathan. My puzzle is that she remains tight-seated in such a government. Well, she can’t have her cake and eat it. She will need to know that whatever international credentials she thinks she has built for herself over the years are being eroded. And she should not hope to go unscathed when the shit finally hits the fan.

Well, maybe the president needs to be reminded that the CBN governor insists $12 billion (N1.9 trillion) is still missing and the finance minister in disagreeing said the figure is “only” $10.8 billion (N1.7 trillion). I am not in an argument mode at the moment, as I will prefer to wait for Sanusi’s memoirs; so I am going to stick with the finance minister’s figures for now. So, Mr President, where is the nation’s $10.8 billion (N1.7 trillion) that is still missing? Last week, someone in the NNPC who wanted to play on the nation’s intelligence said that was the money that was used for the fuel subsidy payments. The natural question to follow is this: when did the NNPC start using proceeds from the sale of crude oil directly to run the government? Do we now operate a jungle government that the NNPC would directly use the proceeds from the sale of crude oil instead of remitting every kobo into the CBN? Is that how they have been running the country all along? If it is true that the petroleum ministry had not been remitting every kobo to the government’s banker, then, the minister may be guilty of a felony of a treasonable nature. And if the president knew this all along and has done nothing about it, then, this is clearly another impeachable offence. The money doesn’t belong to them.

With all these happening, it is quite befuddling how anyone will want Jonathan to continue as president beyond 2015, as a few jesters are currently doing. Anyone, no matter who that person is, who wants President Jonathan to govern Nigeria beyond 2015 is an enemy of the Nigerian state.

Sam Nda-Isaiah is the chairman of Leadership Newspapers.

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