The President’s Media Chat and the stolen fund at NNPC: Let the truth be told

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PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan obliged Nigerians with another media chat on Monday, February 23, 2014, to talk more specifically about the Centenary celebration.

Few other topical issues crept into the chat. One of such issues that challenged this writer’s curiosity is the alleged missing funds at the NNPC. The NNPC missing fund is of great importance to Nigerians, ditto the civilised world, for many reasons.

One, the man, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who told the whole world that money is fraudulently stolen at the NNPC is on his way to jail, having been placed on “permanent” suspension; the same route Justice Ayo Salami [the former President of Court of Appeal] followed into oblivion of retirement, courtesy of Goodluck Jonathan’s Presidential Powers.

Two, there are witnesses from governmental quarters who bore witness before Nigerians, through their representative in the Nigerian National Assembly, that money was actually missing [stolen -  either they want to call spade by its name of spade or not]. The only point of discrepancy is the amount stolen. Major amongst these witnesses are the Coordinating Minister of the Nigerian Economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; the Group Managing Director of the NNPC and the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who told the National Assembly loud and clear that she spent N3.5 billion as kerosene subsidy without budget appropriation.

Three, there is a colossal sum of US$734.4 trillion, by NNPC admission of importing 9.6 trillion metric tonne of DPK in four years [this looks like over-exaggerated figure as fact of the Nigerian Ports Authority berthing facilities may not support this quantity of import], looted from the Nigerian treasury by a few people somewhere “up there”.

In view of these salient points and many more, the President’s response to questions posted “half-heartedly” by the panellist of those journalists, during the media chat, fell far short of logical presentation. Let us deal with just only two of those responses.

The reason for suspending Sanusi at the time he was suspended, according to the President, was to enable the Board of CBN scrutinise the report of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria [FRCN] that allegedly indicted Sanusi, without him [as the Chairman of the Board of the CBN] interfering with investigation. The second reason is the urgency of Mr. President to approve the audited financial report of the CBN “which was overdue as it [same audited financial report of 2013] must be approved before the end of the first quarter of 2014 as stipulated by law”.

I submit that it is in-between these two “justifiable reasons” for suspending Sanusi, at the time the President did, lies his unsuccessful attempt in distancing himself  from promotion of corruption. Let us look at both reasons critically.

If the urgency of approving the audited financial report of the CBN for the years 2012 and 2013, Which Are Ready, could force hastening Sanusi’s suspension, what happens to the NNPC that has not audited its financial report [or at least not presented same] for eight years? The minister who supervises the NNPC is an appointee of Mr. President. Ipso facto, Nigerians, ditto the whole world, want to know how many queries he [Mr. President] has given to the Minister or how many suspension order has been placed either at the ministry or at NNPC.

While on this, why did the President
fail [or continuously failing] to query his appointed minister who admitted spending un-budgeted and un-appropriated N3.5 billion for kerosene subsidy. Nigerians want to know Mr. President, and they have the absolute legal right to know, where she pulled the money from. Please tell us the details if you gave her such colossal sum from your security vote.

What the President may want to know on this matter is that Nigerians are aware of one fact – to wit: the rottenness at the NNPC is a direct indictment of two Ministers than others. These are that of Finance [minor] and Petroleum Resources [major] and these two are closest to Jonathan, acting more as his back bones. They, for now, would remain untouchable and whoever goes near them must be consumed with “Presidential fury”. This is the truth.

Yes, we concede that the President can deal with any of his employee, Sanusi inclusive, as he likes within the supremacy of his wisdom in the conferment of legality. My advice to the President is to sack him if he must, jail him if he must or even to kill him if he must – but all within the orbit of the laws of the land.

At the same time, Mr. President, you are facing severe moral crises and the onus of clearing your name that you are not a promoter of corruption lies on you exclusively. Sack and jail all of them [the culprits] at both the NNPC and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources at once as the first step. Then follow this up with bringing all our money back to the Federated Account through a transparent route. We are waiting for you to do this. Anything short of this shall throw all your endeavours of this battle into the field of exercise in futility.


Mr. GODWIN ETAKIBUEBU, a public affairs analyst,  wrote from Lagos.

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