By Simbo Olorunfemi
How did you know that? If you go by those newspaper headlines, you have been sold. Nothing, I mean absolutely nothing in the reports indicates that Sanusi lied. While ignorance might be the challenge for some, mischief seems to be more like it for those who think the only way to make their man look good is by splashing on others paint sourced from the rock. So what did Sanusi say? What did the Senate committee report say? Did he lie?
But first, it might be necessary to place a few things on record. Contrary to the reportage of the issue, Sanusi never alleged that any money was MISSING. He, speaking on behalf of the CBN, the institution charged with the responsibility of keeping the federation accounts, only conducted a routine check. Its report says “Our analysis of the value of crude oil export proceeds based on the documentation received from pre-shipment inspectors shows that between January 2012 and July 2013, NNPC lifted 594,024,107 barrels of crude valued at $65,332,350,514.57. Out of this amount, NNPC repatriated only $15,528, 410,098.77 representing 24% of the value. This means that the NNPC is yet to account for, and repatriate to the Federation Account an amount in excess of $49.804 billion or 76% of the value of oil lifted in the same period.”
So, what did the Sanusi-led CBN allege? A non-repatriation of some of the proceeds of oil sales into the Federation Accounts. What did he do? He wrote a letter to the President (for those who think he addressed a press conference, those who said he came to the public to embarrass the President) and asked for RECONCILIATION. He specifically asked, among others:
1) That NNPC be required to provide evidence for disposal of all proceeds of crude sales diverted from the CBN and the Federation Account.
2) Investigate crude oil lifting and swap contracts as well as the financial transactions of counter-parties for equity, fairness and transparency.
What did the President do? Initially, nothing. That was until the letter was leaked and the contents became public. Thereafter, reconciliation meetings commenced.
Based on the reconciliation meetings involving CBN, NNPC and others held then, the amount in dispute was scaled down and the final figure which the CBN governor maintained was yet to be accounted for, in his final presentation was $20 billion.
So what did the newspapers report the committee to have said? Vanguard, with the headline “$49.8 billion : Sanusi Lied”, had this to say – “There was nothing like unremitted $49.8 billion. All the agencies – CBN, NNPC, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources had agreed after reconciliation meetings that $47 billion out of the $67 billion had been credited to the Federation Account. The amount to be accounted for, therefore was $20 billion.”
It also confirms the point earlier made that Sanusi did not, at any point allege that money was missing. The report says – “… the CBN Governor orally or in writing never out rightly submitted that monies were missing but that monies were not remitted to the Federation Account by the NNPC.”
The question is – what has the committee said that is different from what Sanusi presented before them, that prompted the headline- Sanusi lied? Nothing. Even the Ministry of Finance has since raised its own red flag. To the best of my knowledge, accounting for the $20 billion is the task for which the forensic audit was supposed to help with. That report has not come out. The committee did not claim to have carried out any audit of its own. The committee did not say anything about money not missing. It simply confirms what Sanusi said – that $20 billion was yet to be accounted for. So, how has Sanusi lied?
Olorunfemi, a brands and political strategist writes from Lagos.