Sanusi Lamido is sacrificed but $20bn is still missing

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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.

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!

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