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Mr Sam Nda-Isaiah
Dear Mr Nda-Isaiah,
RE: Is The President Aware That $10.8b Is Still Missing?
I am concerned enough to draw your attention to the several instances of uncomplimentary self-revelations exhibited in your most recent column. The article, which bore the above title and was published on the back page of the Leadership newspaper of Monday, January 13, 2014, spoke more about your uncharitable attitude towards President Goodluck Jonathan than the purported missing $10.8b. In the said column you said “It is quite befuddling how anyone will want Jonathan to continue as president beyond 2015, as a few jesters are currently doing. Anyone, no matter who that person is, who wants President Jonathan to govern Nigeria beyond 2015, is an enemy of the Nigerian State”.
In the first instance, it was most revealing that you, as the Chairman of the Leadership Group, chose to ignore the fact that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had given a satisfactory account of the supposedly missing $10.8b only a few days before your article was published. This unwillingness to acknowledge the existence of an official explanation from a statutory body on a matter of public interest is very disturbing as it sheds a most unflattering light on you, more so as you are a person who also aspires to high public office, in the near future.
This is because your newspaper, Leadership, published a story titled “How We Spent Unremitted $10.8bn – NNPC.” An online version of the story, dated January 11, 2014, is still viewable at your newspaper’s website. Part of the report reads: “the NNPC group executive director, Finance and Accounts Directorate, Bernard Otti, said the $10.8b reflected expenditures incurred by the corporation during the period under review and are really made up of the following: subsidy claims, $8.49b, pipeline management and repair costs, $1.22b, products/crude oil losses $0.72b, and cost of holding the strategic reserve, Following this explanation, as reported in your own newspaper, you deliberately chose to ignore the facts and play to the gallery by repeating the unfortunate smear campaign started by the mistake-prone Central Bank of Nigeria governor. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. As you know, the CBN governor, who began this misleading campaign against the government of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan-a government which he is a part of has since recanted his claim that the outlandish sum of $49.8b from the sale of the nation’s crude oil was unaccounted for.
You will recall that when the CBN governor was confronted with evidence of his error, he owned up to his mistake, sought to revise the number down to $12b, but was again called out for this new error by the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Despite these facts now being public knowledge, you went ahead to posit that some imaginary 10.8b is still missing somewhere. Beside the sheer deceit in this uncritical furtherance of errors started by a central banker who ordinarily should have been more circumspect, it appears that you have chosen to remain in the ranks of those that the THISDAY columnist, Simon Kolawole, has described as people who see only problems in Nigeria.
In a Sunday, January 12. 2014 article titled “Minting our Way to the Top”, Kolawole wrote:
“I keep asking myself: why does the world tend to believe in us but we seem not to believe in ourselves? A typical Nigerian sees only problems. A typical outsider sees opportunities.” I mention Kolawole’s column here because his article focused on the recent news that Jim O’Neill, a British economist, best known for coining the economic acronym “BRIC” (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), has coined a new economic acronym “MINT”, meaning Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey; countries he describes as “emerging economic giants.” You, in your “Earshot” panel, also wrote about the “MINT” countries but still managed to find a way to denigrate the office and person of the President despite this cheery economic news.
While there is some debate as to who should be given credit for “MINT” (some sources claim the acronym was actually coined by Fidelity International, an asset management firm, based in Boston and not Jim O’Neil), what is important is that the world is keenly aware of the economic achievements of the President Jonathan-Ied administration. If not for anything else, it is a fact, as was shown in a presentation by the Minister of Finance, Dr Okonjo-Iweala, at a recent interactive session with the private sector, that the Federal Government created 1.6 million jobs in the year 2013.
Moreover, it is also a fact that late last year, the well-regarded international magazine, Forbes, named Minister of Agriculture, Or Akinwumi Adesina, Africa Person of the Year 2013 for empowering more than six million farmers across the country to practise agriculture as a business, and not as a development initiative without any incentive for growth.
Furthermore, today in Nigeria, the President Jonathan-Ied government has ensured that fertilisers are sold straight to the farmers-not to any government ministry and not to middlemen-thereby reversing the sad and unfortunate practice where real farmers were deprived of essential needs such as seeds and fertilisers for over 40 years.
These are just a few instances to show that the picture of doom and gloom that you have chosen to constantly paint of present-day Nigeria in your Monday column is a creation of your imagination and not the reality. I understand that for you to acknowledge that progress is being made in the affairs of Nigeria would be asking too much of you because clearly you are one of those who, as Simon Kolawole says, see only problems in Nigeria.
And yet I must let you know that it is the height of brinkmanship to seek to inflame passions over a “missing” amount of money, which has been proven by the relevant agency not to be missing at all, and recently enumerated the purposes for which the money was spent. Your Leadership newspaper proclaims it exists: “For God and Country.” If this is truly the case, you and your newspaper owe God and Nigerians a patriotic sense of balance in presenting facts and, even, opinions on national issues.
Though politics has eaten deep into, and ruined the socio-cultural fabric of Nigeria, I urge you and other influential Nigerians in the media to put the interest of the nation first in your publications over and above personal interest and selfish political and sectional agenda which are capable of heating up the polity and leading to pernicious division in our nation. Please, accept assurances of my highest consideration.
Chief (Dr) Tony Anenih, CFR
(Iyasele of Esanland)
Chairman, PDP Board of Trustees
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