By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
President Goodluck Jonathan has berated internal and external criticisms of his administration as corrupt asserting that a significant proportion of the allegations has beenpolitically motivated.
In an interview broadcast on Monday on the English language channel of Al Jazeera, President Jonathan cited the claim of missing oil funds raised by the erstwhile governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and now Emir of Kano, Alhaji Lamido Sanusi as one of the politically motivated allegations of corruption directed at his government.
President Jonathan had at the height of the allegations directed a forensic audit of thetransactions by the international accounting firm, Pricewaterhouse Copper.
Few months before he left office Sanusi had alleged that $49 billion was missing from thenation’s oil receipts an amount that he subsequently put down to $20 billion but which finance minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala initially alleged to be between $10 billion and $12 billion.
Speaking on the issue of corruption in the country, President Jonathan told Al Jazeera:
“Yes, people talk about corruption now, because it has become a political issue and whenyou promote something to the level of politics, normally it is blown out of proportion,” President Jonathan said.
“Yes, we have corruption cases, no doubt about that. Yes, we have cases of peoplestealing, no doubt about that. I always said call a thief a thief. I am not saying that in Nigeria we do not have these elements of corruption or stealing.
While giving the example of the issues raised by the former CBN governor, he said:
“If you start from my former CBN governor, who said initially that $49.8billion was missing. $49.8billion is a lot of money. What is the budget of this country for God’s sake? Our federal budget has been three point something trillion, and that’s roughly on the average$18 to $20 billion a year.
“And you are saying we lost $49.8 billion. If we lose $49.8 billion, the federal and stategovernments will not pay salaries. I don’t know how he came by that figure.
“The next moment, he changed from $49.8billion to $12billion. The next day it was $20 billion. Up to this time, I don’t know which is the correct accusation,” President Jonathan said even as he admitted that he was himself yet to get a proper figure of the funds that hesaid were only not properly reconciled.
“There was no evidence to show that it was stolen, but just that it was not properlybalanced.”
The president said similar investigations into the allegedly missing oil money by the Senate ended without an indictment of his government.