Buhari and the US$billion numbers game
I AM not going to give Professor Attahiru Jega a pass mark; he has fallen for the trick. Most Nigerians now employ lets actually count you, your eyes, fingerprints, etc.
Do not worry about people who have studied facial recognition techniques; your PVC will prove once and for all that you cannot cheat a scientifically based system. It is like accountancy. All of a sudden, the vogue is now forensic accounting if what Price Waterhouse did with regard to the account of NNPC is forensic accounting then I will rather have the non-forensic one. The non-forensic accounting shook Mr. President, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, the governor of CBN. If I understood what the matter then was, Mr. Sanusi told the person he advises and who has a right to ask him what has happened to our money, Mr. President.
Mr. Sanusi said X barrels of oil were sold and the money with him for such sale was short by US$49 billion. As at that time, no one knew about this except the principals. A minute to the Accountant General, the Minister of Petroleum, Finance, Crude Oil Sales Executive Director for an explanation within 48 hours should have been the president’s reaction. He should warn them that he does not want to see more than two pages in their reply. Still at this point, the public would have remained ignorant. If the matters were too technical (I do not see it), he should call on two officials to give a pre-meeting briefing with their agreed figures; all this agreement should have been settled out at this point.
What eventually happened was the bonafide of the CBN Governor was called into question. Maybe rightly so, because his subsequent announcement does not sit well with his original bombast. By then the truth had disappeared into the realms of fantasy. No one knows whether it was US Dollar 49 billion, 29 billion or 10 billion. These figures were being bandied about as if there was little differences between 49, 29, and 10US$ billion.
It was at this point that the forensic audit came into existence. I always assume that when words are added to a perfectly sensible word in finance it means more money. We have not been able to see the forensic report of Price Waterhouse. But that company owes us an explanation of what a forensic audit is as opposed to a non-forensic one. In normal parlance when police start taking about forensic, then someone is about to go to jail. People do not do forensic audit for the fun of it. All we are told by Price Waterhouse is that NNPC owes 1.46 million US dollars to the Government of Nigeria. Which raises a number of other issues? Who is NNPC and who is the Government of Nigeria. Is there not one Federation of Nigeria Account, as stated in the Constitution? Why these duplications of accounts? Can the Accountant General and the Auditor General be seized of these Accounts? It would seem that the Minister of Finance does not know the existence of some of these accounts.
Buhari is angry about the US Dollar 2.8 billion that Coopers and Lybrant, another high class accountant, raised in an audit in query while he was Minister of Petroleum. Many still believe that episode has not been fully explained even if Buhari swears he knew nothing about it. But that should encourage him to inquire into the US 12 billion, US 49 billion or indeed any large sums of money that is missing.
He should instruct the panelist to write the report in plain English and not the kind of English Mr. Justice Irikefe wrote about the 2.8 billion USD. The language is worse than obtuse. I did not understand it.
What will he do with these reports will depend on the answers he gets. If is to move to clean up the country, then it is a good place to start. It will not cost much. The reports are already in existence; they only need to be translated to normal English for the ordinary Nigerian to understand.
Customs to the rescue of Nigeria.
Wonders will never cease to happen. In Nigeria we have oil. We are broke because those who run the oil have taken so much bribe that the industry cannot now support itself. We need money.
Up jumps the Customs Services of Nigeria. The Customs will now be a major source of income for the Federal Government. When I first saw the large phalanx of Custom Officials and the Ministers standby around the Comptroller of Customs, that was when I knew it was not a joke: but is was a bad joke!!!
• Ambassador (Dr) Cole (OFR) is a Consultant to The Guardian Editorial Board.