The two major political parties’ caucuses of the House of Representatives, the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress, on Tuesday disagreed over the N30tn alleged to have either been “stolen” or “mismanaged” under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan till date.
A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, made the allegation on Monday in a widely circulated article he wrote on the alleged mismanagement of the Nigerian economy under Jonathan’s watch.
The House caucuses held opposing views on the matter in separate interviews with our correspondent.
While the APC caucus demanded an immediate investigation into the allegation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the PDP caucus simply dismissed it as a “wild, baseless and unsubstantiated allegation.”
Speaking on behalf of the APC, the House Minority Leader and caucus leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, said the magnitude of the amount involved should cause sleepless nights for any government.
He noted that aside being a renowned economist, Soludo served as the governor of the CBN and was in a position to know the financial dealings of the Federal Government.
“It is a common knowledge that our economy has been leaking profusely over the years due to mismanagement and outright theft.
“However, no one could have imagined the magnitude and volume as suggested by Prof. Soludo. Now, because he is a former CBN governor and an internationally-acclaimed economist, he should know and be taken serious,” Gbajabiamila told our correspondent.
He argued that, even if the money involved was N15tn or N20tn, it could still cripple any economy.
The APC lawmaker from Lagos State spoke further, “Now, let us assume for argument sake that he embellished and exaggerated his N30tn figure.
“Let us slash it by a 50 per cent margin of error to say N15tn or even N20tn, it still beats the imagination and shocks the system.”
Calling on the EFCC to investigate the allegation, he added, “This will be the biggest case of economic and financial crime for which the EFCC was established to look into.
“Ignoring this allegation makes everyone or authority in Nigeria that keeps quiet an accessory, after the fact and just as guilty if the crime is established.”
However, Deputy House Majority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, stated that he was surprised to hear an economist of Soludo’s status make such an allegation.
Ogor argued that the former CBN governor’s article appeared more like a product of “guess work and unsubstantiated figures” than anything that should be taken seriously.
The lawmaker from Delta State also claimed that anybody with the intent of “running down a government could easily put figures together and make them appear so convincing.”
He added that when such figures and allegations were subjected to investigation, “you will find out that that the person making all the noise becomes tongue-tied.”
“Our laws stipulate clearly that he who makes allegations must be prepared to show proof.
“Sometimes, some of these our so-called technocrats that have turned politicians overnight, are seeking relevance.
“It is even more embarrassing coming from somebody like Soludo.
“He should go the extra mile to provide all the documents or we should just ignore him and concentrate on good governance as we are already doing,” he stated.
Ogor also dismissed any call to investigate the allegation, saying that Soludo’s article had no “basis at all.”
He claimed that the House in particular would not consider such a move because there was no evidence before it suggesting that N30tn was either stolen or unaccounted for by the Jonathan administration.
“We don’t probe unnecessary allegations. We have been carrying out our budget oversight on all government bodies.
“There is nowhere we have this evidence. This is merely intended to divert attention and it should be quickly ignored,” he added.
He said but for Soludo’s clarification that he was not looking for a job, he (Ogor) would have concluded that the former CBN governor urgently needed to catch the attention of Jonathan for a job.
“If he needs a job, he should say so. There is nothing bad in admitting it.
“But, he says it is not about job,” Ogor told The PUNCH on the telephone.