Sanusi Lamido is sacrificed but $20bn is still missing

When Goodluck Jonathan announced Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s suspension as CBN Governor last Thursday, it was hinged upon sundry allegations prepared by an obscure Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria.

Presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, who announced the suspension, mentioned deep concern “about far-reaching irregularities under Malam Sanusi’s watch”, which allegedly “distracted the Central Bank away from the pursuit and achievement of its statutory mandate”. The unprecedented action triggered farther-reaching consequences.

Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

The naira dipped at an all time low for 15 years while the Nigerian Stock Exchange, in the period after the suspension lost over N130 billion. For an administration that is totally and slavishly committed to foreign investment, foreign investors confidence was given a rude shock, by the act of suspending the CBN Governor!

One of the panic responses was the hurriedly arranged PRESIDENTIAL MEDIA CHAT on Monday, during which Goodluck Jonathan laboured to explain his right to effect the suspension, despite the CBN Act.

Unfortunately for President Jonathan, he laboured in vain, because in politics, perception is everything. And the dominant perception in the public space, is that Sanusi Lamido had to be sacrificed, even if Nigeria hurts badly, for daring to cross Diezani Alison-Madueke! Diezani is Jonathan’s super minister and nothing or nobody crosses her and will not suffer! This is an article of faith under this administration. Under this super minister, billions disappeared in the subsidy regime.

When the House of Representatives launched a probe, a bribery scandal was orchestrated which took a life of its own and in the end, nothing came of the probe and the “sacred cows” who took trillions as subsidies are enjoying the loot today; many had generously contributed funding  to the 2011 electoral expenses of the ruling party and administration. But above all else, Diezani is sitting pretty.

It took Sanusi Lamido to open the Pandora’s box. Nigerians became aware of an extant Presidential Order stopping kerosene subsidies. Diezani, Jonathan’s super minister, ignored the order and in the process, frittered away billions of dollars of Nigeria’s money.

Diezani would later say she ignored the presidential directive because it had not been gazetted. It was under the same super minister’s watch that a sum of $6 billion was handed over to Atlantic Energy and Seggy Energy through a joint venture with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC). Part of the fund belonged to the Federation Account.

In the final analysis, Sanusi Lamido stood by his claim that $20 billion in oil sales was not accounted for by the NNPC, under Diezani’s watch. Those who readily jump to the Jonathan administration’s defense, as well as Diezani’s spin doctors, often pointed out that Lamido’s figures fluctuated from over $40billion to $20billion, but they have been unable to muster the indignation to condemn the fact that these huge sums of money disappeared at all!

We are going through some of the most incredible periods in our nation’s history. This is because we have arrived, under the Jonathan administration, to a sorry pass, where brazen theft of billions of dollars, seemed to have become the directive principle of state policy!

And the underlining danger we face is the total enthronement of impunity as the central ethos to facilitate and cover up the brazen theft that is so central to state policy. It is this backdrop which explains why they would go after the whistle blower; and the same impunity has been responsible for the indulgence allowed Diezani in the political system but especially in the strategic petrol sector.

For Goodluck Jonathan, Diezani’s continued hegemonic control of the oil sector, despite the frightening levels of impropriety, corruption and scandals, is the constant that he will not allow to be disrupted. The fact that the CBN Governor can be sacrificed, merely underscores the distance the president is willing to cover to protect this very ‘lucky’ lady! Those who don’t know should now “Shine” their eyes. Nobody must cross Diezani or that individual will be in soup!

Just in case we haven’t given a thought to it, early this week, Aisha Oyebode, CEO, Murtala Muhammed Foundation, did the mathematics of what the missing $20billion could buy. We can buy one Heathrow Terminal Five, commissioned in 2008 and costing 4.3billion Pounds ($7.5billion); 10 Boeing 787-10 aircraft at 43billion; 37 state of the art Tertiary Care Hospitals, one in each state and Abuja (the Apollo Branwell Hospital Mauritius cost $70million); 10 5-Star Hotels at $2.350billion, two in each Geo-political zone and two in the FCT; 20 State of the Art Malls at $1billion, five in each geo.

political zone; four GSM Licenses at $1billion; one cement plant at $1billion; 76 State of the Art Secondary schools at $1.3billion, two in each state plus two in the FCT; and a couple of state of the art universities, medical schools or nursing schools at $110 million.

This takes the total to the $20billion that Sanusi Lamido argued the NNPC under Diezani Allison-Madueke has not remitted to the Federation Account. This is the REAL reason that he had to be kicked off his perch as Governor of the CBN. The good thing is that Sanusi Lamido has fulfilled his mission at the CBN; it is Nigerians that must muster the anger to end the regime of impunity and mind blowing theft!

Jonathan’s Bornu faux pas  

DURING last Monday’s  PRESIDENTIAL MEDIA CHAT, Goodluck Jonathan was asked to respond to a statement made by Borno Governor, Kashim Shettima, in respect of the arming and motivation of the Boko Haram insurgents vis-à-vis the Nigerian Army, in the counter-insurgency operations in the state.

The governor who had praised the commitment to duty of Nigerian forces, nevertheless pointed to a failure of leadership as affecting military personnel’s morale. An incensed presidency had replied through the Aso villa Man Friday, the “Comical Ali” of Nigerian politics, Doyin Okupe, that the Borno governor was a civilian who could not assess different types of weapons of war. It was obvious that President Jonathan shared Doyin’s simplistic play at politics.

On Monday night, Jonathan condemned Shettima’s statement and in a peculiarly absurd retort, added that he could withdraw the troops from Borno for just a month, and the governor would not be able to stay in Maiduguri’s Government House! Jonathan was obviously playing a political card against a governor who belongs to a different political party and he obviously was not talking as Nigeria’s president.

Otherwise, he would have remembered that he had sworn to an oath to protect the lives and properties of all Nigerians, irrespective of whether they are in the creeks of the Niger Delta, where ex-militants are assured of over N50billion from the 2014 budget of the administration or are the poor and hapless of Borno and Northern Nigeria, who are daily being killed in a horrendous manner by the Boko Haram insurgents.

A president is not afforded the luxury of being partisan with such an instance of security, as he did on Monday night. It should be clear to Goodluck Jonathan and his “Comical Ali”, Doyin Okupe, that the insurgency is not about Kashim Shettima, the Borno governor, but the people of a huge swathe of Nigeria.

An angry president

It looks clear the president was angry that what is unfolding on ground had been presented so brutally frankly by the governor. Our national defense budget has hit about a trillion naira, but reports from the theatres of operation point to the dearth of basic equipment for the troops such as body armour and night vision equipment. Those who know say that troops killed in the barracks in Bama had been attacked by insurgents who had those equipment.

The issues we face in Borno, Yobe and the entire region are not those we can posture about in order to score cheap political points. Jonathan must work very closely with the political authorities in Borno, especially to coordinate all actions to bring an end to the insurgency. While the federal deployment of troops has been a notable development in the struggle against the insurgency, Borno continues to deploy millions of naira to assist these troops, even if the killings have continued and have heightened to the most tragically incredible proportions.

As I write these lines on Tuesday night, the most recent atrocity was the burning of 29 children at the Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, in the Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe state. By late evening on Tuesday, the death toll had risen to 43.

These tragic killings only underscore the need to work together by the political leaders at national and state levels, to find more surefooted ways to assist the dangerous job being done by the security forces on ground in Borno and the entire region. Goodluck Jonathan’s faux pas last Monday night should not be repeated, in the interest of the Nigerian people he swore to protect as the president of our country.

Nigeria’s unemployment dilemma

LEADERS of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), met at a forum in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital this week. At the forum, they denounced the unemployment situation in the country. Oyo state governor, Abiola Ajimobi, said the APC’s decision to brainstorm on unemployment underscored their “belief that a mental and intellectual approach to the problem would dissolve the challenge in no long a time”.

Ajimobi added that unemployment was a global problem and in Nigeria, “unemployment rate is spiraling upwards, growing at 16 percent per year”.

Serious issue indeed! But if the so-called “progressives” meeting in Ibadan had used their “mental and intellectual approach” carefully, they would probably have seen that it is the monster of contemporary, neoliberal capitalism that is responsible for this worldwide phenomenon. It is a system that is not creating jobs to meet the needs of a huge army of young, job-seeking people around the world. Nigeria’s ruling class has become totally wedded to the reigning orthodoxy.

The state has been gradually withdrawn from creating jobs for people; the ruling mantra is that everything economic should be farmed out to private capitalist oligarchies who would, according to this quasi-religious doctrine, then create jobs in an efficient manner.

The truth is that it is not happening in the advanced capitalist countries, but they at least still have welfare programmes, even when they are under severe attacks. In Nigeria, the ruling class is stubbornly pursuing the same reforms, in a brazenly fraudulent transfer of public pursuit into private hands.

There is no social security for the people, especially the young, while the different groups of the ruling class are enriching themselves. These are issues that they will need “mental and intellectual approach” to seriously deconstruct, otherwise the time bomb they are sitting on will explode and take the entire edifice down. A regime of jobs creation can only come about when the state philosophically dedicates to it.

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