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ANALYSIS: Desperate Moves By ‘Cabal’ To Cover Up Missing NNPC $20 Billion Oil Revenue

Nigeria's Minister of Petroleum Diezani Allison-Madueke

By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau

If I was initially puzzled by the very offensive and shocking so called correspondence by the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to the country’s (Nigerian Auditor General) rejecting the forensic audit report on the missing $20 billion oil revenue which took it – PWC, so long a time to prepare and eventually presented to the government late last year; now, I am not bothered after all, having got to know about the latest, but yet another dramatic dimension to the saga, which is about the Minister of Finance, Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s denial of being involved in contracting the multinational accounting empire, to carry out the audit.

Let me quickly recall here that few weeks after declaration of the last Presidential result and despite the ‘prompted’ concession of defeat, by President Goodluck Jonathan, the outgoing administration has since been linked with one controversy, accusation, contradiction or the other. Recall, the strange redeployment of senior Police officers in certain parts of the country, in particular, (Rivers and Lagos States) shortly before the conduct of April 11, 2015 Governorship and State House of Assemblies Elections; the sack of the immediate past Inspector General of Police (IGP), Suleimon Abba; the reservation expressed and warning to the APC against running a parallel government over the contents – terms of reference of its Transition Committee; the MDAs head sack and sanctions gale and the latest desperate moves by those at the corridor of power and their associates, to shield and divert the public attention from their past dirty deals.

Interestingly, the fresh drama was triggered by the President-Elect, General Muhammadu Buhari (rted) last weekend, who despite earlier impression given to the public, that he would let go, the gross misconducts of the current administration, “unexpectedly” declared that the controversial missing oil money, made opened to the public by the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Emir Lamido Sanusi Lamido would be investigated when he assumed power.

What followed after, especially within the government circle to me, after the Sunday’s declaration, have been so odd and outrageous, which is the reason why I wish to go over them again.

First, it was appalling hearing President Jonathan directing the immediate release of an audited report which has been ‘exclusively’ kept by his government, since it was released September last year (after being delayed twice) despite the lawmakers, the mass media and the public demand, but was totally rebuffed.

You might have to hold the questions you may intend to ask about the sudden Presidential order. Still, the following day (Tuesday this week) the entire country was miffed by the reports, about (letter) written by the PWC to the Auditor General, that its 199-page forensic audit report, was not complaint to the generally acclaimed audit standard, therefore did not provide “attestation or other form of assurance” with regards to its findings “or the information upon which” its exercise was carried out!

Apparently, the multinational was saying the report it earlier presented with pomp and accepted by the Federal Government as well as acceptance by the same government to remit in line with the report’s recommendation, the sum of $1.48 billion to the nation’s oil giant, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), was faulty – unreliable and lacked integrity! In fact, the sum recommended has been reportedly remitted by government accordingly.

Still, hold many of your posers, in case you have any, on the unfolding drama. In case you were not informed yet, the Coordinating Minister of Economy, Dr. Okonjo – Iweala told a Lagos High Court yesterday (Thursday), that she had no hand in engaging the PWC on behalf of the Federal Government to carry out the forensic audit!

Even those who do not reside in Nigeria, except the blind and deaf, heard, read and watched the frontline roles the Minister played in the audit report saga. She was clearly heard, watched and widely reported, speaking about how the company was contracted, the time it would turn in the report, as well as kept holding brief for both the Federal Government and the organization, with respect to the reasons for delay. Now, the questions.

If truly, there is nothing shrouded about the forensic report, why Mr. President’s directive now, to make it public after eight months in government’s custody and despite outcry by all stakeholders to release it earlier? And now that the ‘author’ of the report has distanced itself from the work that took which took it months to accomplish and which it presented with pride; can Nigerians hold in confidence the rather belated report just being made available by the government?

Conspiracy? Could it be that the audit report has indeed been doctored or the PWC could not really vouch for the ‘version’ of the report just relaesed by the government? Was that the reason for its shocking and very embarrassing reversal? A very exciting but shameful scenario indeed. Will it not be correct to suspect that there are two versions of the report now, with the understanding between the PWC and Federal Government? Can we suspect that the PWC itself lacks confidence in this government? Or more possibly, is it that the very reputable accounting multinational was deliberate, but stupidly risked conspiring with the Federal Government to reverse and rubbish its own job as well as drag itself in the mud? And if we may ask again, whose interest would that have been served?

For sure, if an organization like PWC went to this disgraceful extent, its management should be so ashamed of being compromised at the expense of its professional ethical standard and disappointing not a few across the globe. Then, it must be ready to live by the damning consequences of its action now or later. The reason for this, is that given the unfolding contradictions on this critical issue, the incoming administration would as vowed and expectedly get down on the matter and reveal the whole and true pictures! Then, the audit firm’s extent of suspected compromise will be determined and this will negatively impact on its long reputation and credibility.

As for me and so many other discerning minds, I will not in any way be surprised if in the end, conspiracy is confirmed. After all, there were so many false mantras peddled and passed around, during the last general polls’ electioneering campaigns, by so many, amongst whom were the service chiefs, the Nigerian military, the PDP members, the party’s Presidential organization Spokesperson as well as President Jonathan’s supporters, but after the result was declared, have been one time or the other retracted.

Recall the Nigerian Military’s secretariat which claimed it was not in possession of Gen. Buhari’s credentials but which at last, went back to its archive and surprisingly found the documents it had previously played dirty politics with. That singular act was a dent on the image of the Nigerian Military institution, which unknowingly to those who were being used by the overall ‘master’, casts a big question mark on the serving officers’ competence and qualification, if for instance, the thrash they attempted were to be true in the first instance. No wonder, two out of the three suits challenging the Buhari’s eligibility to contest the March 28 Presidential poll, were last week simultaneously withdrawn from an Abuja High Court on the order of the plaintiffs.

What about the general elections shift and the excuses proffered by the service chiefs and the PDP members as well as Mr. President’s supporters? Again, you would recall, leader of the pan Yoruba socio – cultural group, Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) Mr. Fredrick Fasheun, later confessed that he postponement was actually prompted to safe Mr. President from a very disgraceful defeat; that the security angle and other factors articulated, were mere ruse – were ultimately meant to buy time. Unfortunately, the six weeks shift, despite the dollars being shared across the country, especially within the South West, could only achieve the statutory 25 per cent votes but not targeted outright winning in the region for President Jonathan.

Even before his (Mr. President) outburst yesterday on the ‘little’ marging (according to him) between the figure he polled and the winner’s as well as sudden realization that the votes he scored in certain states were miserable, some of the overzealous PDP members have either interestingly kept quiet or dumped the PDP and crossed to the APC. Even the body languages of so many of them, recently indicate they have commenced a subtle realignment, significantly, to be in good reckoning of the incoming President, not really caring whether he (Jonathan) approves of their moves or not. Well, the President challenged the defected members that they would return with “empty stomach”. I give that to President Jonathan as the opposition itself, had announced embargo on further defection and bluntly announced the PDP members and leaders should stay back.

Yet, I won’t be surprised if the vociferous Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, in the face of war he presently faces with the 19 opposition lawmakers of his State, which the final outcome remains uncertain, comes out to deny the death advert he sponsored on Buhari, during the electioneering campaigns. And some pundits have even projected, he might go ahead to dump his party (PDP) and opted for the incoming ruling ‘house’. After all, it is about politics – no permanent friend and foe, but interest. Already, the same allegation has been made against Wike, the PDP candidate INEC declared as the winner of the Rivers State Governorship poll.

Well, a quick response to Mr. President’s reservation on his counterpart’s victory (despite initially conceding defeat) in the last poll. I assume this is one of the ways the outgoing President is fighting back, especially with respect to Buhari’s readiness to question the missing oil money. First, let President Jonathan be told that election is all about number. That, if a winner emerges with just one single vote, he remains the victor of that exercise, therefore, the mandate people give to him must be honoured and respected by all, including his co-competitors.

With respect to the States and votes generated, Mr. President should please avoid this aspect, for there are so many points against him if it is brought up for debate. If the President is complaining about poor figures he polled in some States, can he confidently and honestly vouch for authenticity of the figures recorded for his party and the main opposition in States like: Akwa Ibom, Edo, Rivers, Delta and Imo? These are five out of the 15 States including Abuja, he and his party won during the Presidential poll. Mr. President, the truth of the matter is that if the Election were to be free and credible in the above mentioned States, you might have probably lost more States or polled less than the final figure accrued to you. As for the States you referred and which you did not mention, my position is that if you were truly rigged out, as you attempted to infer, the difference would still fail to achieve for you, the desirable and ultimate victory!

Finally, as the nauseating drama over the controversial stolen money rages and as many Nigerians have lost confidence in the present administration in being fair and doing justice to it, hope is now on the incoming government to go deep down and unravel the shady deals; identify the ‘cabal’ – the suspects and their partners and let the justice be done – allow the full wrath of the law to be visited on the convicted without hesitation. This is parts of the CHANGE Nigerians craved and voted for!

2015 Workers’ Day Anniversary And Divided Labour House

Since March 14, 2015 when Comrade Ayuba Wabba was declared the new Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) National President, the one-time united labour union has not known peace. This is on account of a fellow Comrade and contestant, Joe Ajaero who has also been laying claims to be the winner of the rescheduled election in FCT Abuja. Ajaero’s claim is that he was robbed as the poll officers were compromised.

Take his argument or leave it, the unionist has been moving around the country with his faction, replicating the events organized by the Wabba – led faction. For instance, parallel State congresses have been held in some States of the Federation, such as Benin, Kwara, Osun and others.

The question now is which of the version the incumbent governments at all levels will give the recognition as the factional Workers’ day assemblage held across the country today? However, if this is not a burden, we must ask ultimately, in the interest of the Nigerian workers, that should this crack and division in the labour house linger?

For now and to a large extent, there is no confirmed external influence in the ensuing crisis, except the recent accusation of bias, by the Ajaero – led faction against the body’s former National leader and incumbent Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

Ultimately, the likes of Oshimhole, who led a robust and vibrant labour union movement in Nigeria, during his reign, his successor and relevant stakeholders should come together and wade into the ongoing wrangling, addressed the knotty issues involved and finally and amicably reach a consensus. I believe with Oshiomhole playing a key role, certainly, the interest of the incoming government, which he is part of, is expected to be genuinely and objectively taken care of. If this herculean task is achieved by him and other relevant and resenting interest, the outcome will in the long run, pay off for the workers, the incoming government and the country in general.

E–Mail: tjaysuccess10@gmail.com; Facebook: Tajudeen Balogun; Twitter: @tajudeen balogun          


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