Nigeria's finance minister puts pressure on Goodluck Jonathan

 
File picture of Nigeria oil terminal 2005

I have just been sent the following statement by the Nigerian finance ministry, which I understand it is putting out later today.

I am going to quote most of it, because it is gripping, in the context of the the decision of the Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan to suspend the central bank governor, Lamido Sanusi.

The gloss from the ministry goes like this:

"The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has asked for urgent action with regard to an independent forensic audit of conflicting claims of unaccounted funds made by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamdio Sanusi".

And here is a direct statement from Dr Okonjo-Iweala, the finance minister:

"My position on this has been clear from the start. The Ministry of Finance's reconciliation showed a shortfall of $10.8bn in NNPC remittances to the Federation account. After this, the conflicting claims continued with new figures such as $20bn being mentioned.

"So since 13th February I have called for an independent forensic audit.

"President Goodluck Jonathan indeed announced last night that there will be an investigation into whether there are any funds missing from NNPC. He also indicated that the correct process needs to be followed in this investigation and I understand that the entity that has the proper authority to initiate such an investigation is the Auditor-General of the federation.

"I therefore want to see the truth from an investigation under the auspices of the Auditor-General, which in my view should be undertaken as a matter of extreme urgency by independent external auditor."

On the face of it, this looks like a declaration of at least semi independence by the finance minister from Nigeria's president, who has been accused of punishing the central bank governor for raising concerns about the allegedly missing oil billions.

The reason I say that is because - I am reliably led to believe - the finance minister is concerned that Goodluck Jonathan, if left to his own devices, would not have initiated an independent probe of the allegedly missing billions.

Goodluck Jonathan suspended Nigeria's central bank governor last week for "various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct". The president has insisted that his decision to suspend the governor was taken "in absolute good faith, in the overall interests of the Nigerian economy and in accordance with our laws and due process".

Governor Sanusi, whose international reputation is strong, had been criticising the government over oil subsidies and apparent shortfalls in oil revenues.

 
Robert Peston, economics editor Article written by Robert Peston Robert Peston Economics editor

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 84.

    Why is the minister calling for independent forensic audit as if she's interested in the progress of the country? I'm sure she knows the truth. Nigerians are tired of your boring and senseless policies which makes the poor to be more poorer.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 83.

    In an earlier post I mentioned a Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone who was murdered, and have found via google that his name was Samuel Lansana Bangura (which of course I remember really). He was commemorated with the unveiling of a bust in 2004 at which the speech referred to 'his mysterious death in December 1979'.

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 81.

    She should resign before it's too late to salvage her career!
    She is responsible for financial oversight, yet the task of exposing large-scale corruption was left to someone else!
    She faces the prospect of heckling at her next TEDx talk!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 80.

    I worked in both North/South of Nigeria during more peaceful times, my experience makes me concur with many of commentators that corruption is rife. Paying "Dash" at airports to pass through the customs at entry/exit, companies operating slush funds to win contracts.
    Corruption at all levels is part of the country's DNA, its destructive effect on the ordinary citizens is all too obvious.

 

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