Sanusi and his twisted ‘missing $20b’ tale
ADOLF Hitler’s propaganda minister in Nazi Germany, Paul Joseph Goebbels stated in one of his popular submissions: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” The foregoing is the situation Nigeria finds itself with the twisted, yet, celebrated tale of the “missing $20 billion” crude oil earnings.
When the royal court of Kano is in session, part of the Emir’s elaborate turban covers his mouth so that courtiers speak on his behalf. On the few occasions an Emir speaks, it is expected to be in measured tones and bereft of controversy – two qualities the former Central Bank Governor and Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido clearly lacks.
The role of the Emir is that of peacemaker. Politics and an apparent scripted smear campaign he is presently headlining against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are things that he should traditionally stay clear of. Speaking recently with Christiane Amanpour of the Cable News Network (CNN), Sanusi, against the findings of the Senate Committee on Finance and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), has continued his unabated false allegation of unremitted $20billion oil revenue against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Before his ouster, Sanusi, in his self-appointed role of whistle blowing, alleged that the NNPC had not remitted $49.8 billion into the Federation Account. Shortly, he claimed that the unremitted funds, which had stood at $10.8 billion after reconciliation, are now $20 billion, a claim which the NNPC has since disputed with documentary evidence. Again, the allegation has also been proved to be false even by his (Sanusi) own account.
Indeed, part of the Nigerian tragedy is that someone like Sanusi, with a record of financial improprieties, became the helmsman in the CBN in the first place. It is a sad commentary that someone who couldn’t push a simple matter as a new denomination of the national currency by following simple statutory processes, became a pontiff for transparency and accountability. Nigerians must ask Sanusi what he stands to gain in his spirited effort to hang a tag of corruption on the NNPC (by implication the country’s petroleum ministry).
Giving the NNPC a bad name for obvious political gains may seem an act of local misdemeanour on Sanusi’s part, but the ripple effects are not limited to the national stage. Indeed, Nigerians are the ones made to suffer in this discrediting plot.
The confidence of foreign investors is bound to be shaken, with the country’s position on the perception of corruption index unflattering. Yet, for all the stridency with which these attacks on the leadership of the Nigerian oil authorities is conducted and the multiplicity of fronts from which the missiles are launched, none of the wicked – even if always salacious – allegations have been conclusively proven.
Even more tragically, the opposition has blindly taken side with the agents of malicious campaign against the country’s mainstay, crude oil.
While the sabotaging smear campaign against the Ministry for Petroleum Resources, NNPC and its subsidiaries persists, Nigeria’s petroleum minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and her policies are being celebrated in the real world. Alison-Madueke, a strong-willed woman with her hard-earned credentials, should be encouraged and celebrated. In other climes, as with the examples of the U.S. and the Rices (Condoleezza and Susan) or Christine Lagarde (France), to give just two instances, Diezani would be a revered personage.
The woman has many firsts. Alison-Madueke is the first woman to hold the position of Minister of Petroleum Resources in Nigeria. In October 2010 she became the first woman to head a country delegation at the annual Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) conference. She was also the first female Minister of Transportation, and the first woman to be appointed to the board of Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria.
Last November, Alison-Madueke was elected as the first female President of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at the 166th meeting of the OPEC Conference in Vienna, Austria.
The House of Representatives is on the verge of passing the important Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), a revolutionary legislation championed by the country’s petroleum ministry.
Madueke has stated that Nigeria will end gas flaring by 2017.
These are the true situation of things. Sanusi must be called to order in Nigeria’s interest.
• Dr. Yahaya Bello is Executive Director of Transparency Network, an Abuja-based anti-corruption advocacy group.