‘Missing’ $20bn oil money: I have nothing to hide, Jonathan tells Buhari

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President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday said his administration had nothing to hide in respect of the claim by a former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Lamido Sanusi, that $20bn oil money was not remitted to the Federation Account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

To prove this, he said he had directed that the full report by PriceWaterHouse which was commissioned to carry out a detailed investigation into the activities of the NNPC be made public immediately.

Jonathan, in a statement in Abuja by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, also described the allegation by the All Progressives Congress that his officials were embarking on last minute illegal actions as “unfortunate and uncharitable.”

Buhari had while receiving an APC delegation from Adamawa State on Sunday, expressed surprise that instead of probing the allegation by Sanusi ,who is now the Emir of Kano, the Jonathan-led Peoples Democratic Party administration chose to fire him.

He stated that since Sanusi’s claim was documented, his administration would take a look at it after the May 29 handover date.

Buhari said, “On the issue of corruption, I heard that some people have started returning money. I will not believe it until I see for myself.

“You all remember what the Emir of Kano talked about when he was the governor of the CBN. He said $20bn, not N20bn, was unaccounted for; they said it was a lie. Instead of investigating it, they sacked him. And God in his infinite mercy made him the Emir of Kano. In any case, that is what he wanted. And since this was documented, our administration will take a look at it.”

Sanusi had written a letter to Jonathan that $49bn was not remitted to the Federation Account by the NNPC.

But following the controversy which the letter generated, a committee was set up to reconcile the account.

Sanusi later recanted and said the unremitted fund was $12bn. He later changed the figure to $20bn.

But Abati, in his statement, said Jonathan was concerned by the continuing suggestions that his administration had anything to hide on the allegation.

The statement read in part, “President Jonathan is also deeply concerned by the continuing suggestions that his administration still has anything to hide about the unproven allegation that about $20bn is unaccounted for by the NNPC during his tenure.

“To lay the matter to rest, President Jonathan in line with Section 7(2) of the NNPC Act, has directed that the full report of the PWC Forensic Audit of the NNPC accounts be released immediately to the public so that all Nigerians will be properly informed on the matter.”

When journalists asked Abati why Jonathan had to wait until Buhari said he would look into Sanusi’s allegation before making the audit report public, he said he did not know the circumstances in which the President gave the directive.

He said all he knew was that the issue had been in the public domain for a long time and that there was the need to lay it to rest.

Abati gave assurance that Jonathan would continue to do his best to ensure a smooth handover to the President-elect but regretted what he called the unfairness and combative frame of mind reflected in a recent statement by the APC’s spokesman, Lai Mohammed.

He said that as the APC’s spokesman threatened in his statement, the incoming administration would be perfectly within its rights to review all actions of the present government as it might deem fit.

Abati added that there was nothing wrong with that because the Jonathan government also reviewed the actions of previous governments on assumption of office with resultant benefits for policy and project implementation.

Abati’s statement explained, “We have noted with concern, the allegation by the spokesman for the APC, Alhaji Mohammed, that officials of the Federal Government are engaged in ‘last-minute looting of the nation’s resources, rushed privatisation of key institutions and hurried recruitment into the public service’.

“We also consider as most unfortunate and uncharitable, the suggestion by Alhaji Mohammed that the Jonathan administration is trying to “tie the hands” of the incoming government merely by continuing to discharge its constitutional responsibilities until the end of its tenure.

“The Jonathan administration which continues to do its best to ensure a smooth and peaceful handover of power to the President-elect deeply regrets the unfairness and combative frame of mind reflected in Alhaji Mohammed’s statement.

“President Jonathan has done his best in the past five years to discharge his constitutional responsibilities for good governance and effective leadership of the nation.

“Without any prejudice whatsoever to the freedom of the incoming administration to do as it pleases, within the confines of extant laws when it assumes office, the Jonathan Administration will continue to discharge its responsibility to govern until May 29, 2015.

“In continuing to fulfil the obligations of his office however, President Jonathan has not, and will never condone any form of unscrupulous conduct on the part of state officials.

“President Jonathan will also never authorise any attempt to create any problems for the incoming administration as the APC spokesperson, who ought to know that the outcome of the March 28 presidential election does not imply a cessation of governance, unjustly alleges.

“As Alhaji Mohammed threatened in his statement, the incoming administration will be perfectly within its rights to review all actions of the present government as it may deem fit.

“We see nothing wrong with that. After all, the present administration reviewed the actions of previous governments on assumption of office with resultant benefits for policy and project implementation.”

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