Saraki and the Missing $20Billion NNPC ISSUE

Bamikole Omishore

Before President Muhammadu Buhari travelled to the United States on a
four-day official trip, one of the issues dominating the national
discourse was the missing $20 billion money in the Nigerian National
Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The issue was first raised by former CBN
Governor now Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi.

However, one Senator felt sufficiently peeved that the
nation was losing so much resource, which could have been used for the
benefit of the masses. He then took up the issue of the leakages in the
nation’s oil receipts and moved a powerful motion on the floor of the
Seventh Senate. That Senator is now the head of the upper legislative
chamber, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

At that time, the seventh Senate set up a committee to probe
allegations that the nation lost $20 billion due to sharp practices in
the sector. The report of the committee led by former Kaduna State
Governor, Senator Ahmed Makarfi turned to be as controversial as the
amount of money said to have been lost. While the committee in
anti-climax manner failed to directly identify how much was lost and who
benefitted from the loss, Saraki refused to sign the report of the
investigation into the alleged non-remittance of $20bn by NNPC into the
federation account. In his letter dated 3rd of June 2014 to the
Committee to explain why he withheld his signature, he wrote:
“It is my
opinion that this report as laid has not fully addressed the matter
referred to us adequately and conclusively. The report has not been
definitive on its findings and has failed to address some of the
critical issues I had raised during our meetings. For this reason; I am
withholding my support and signature.”

The records of the committee are still accessible in the National
Assembly and can be verified. The Senator chose to stand by the people,
thereby breaking ranks with his colleagues.

Also, it is still on record that Senator Saraki is the only Senator
in the committee that refused to sign the report even in the face of
severe duress and personal inconvenience. Sen. Saraki during the
investigation was known to have been very probing with his questions,
meticulously reviewing the data offered by NNPC to get to the bottom of
the issue.
 It would be recalled that though he did not make the last
meeting of the committee, when the news broke that the Committee has
cleared the NNPC, he was the first and the only senator to rebut the
report saying “the recent media reports claiming that the Senate
Committee on Finance has cleared NNPC of any unaccounted revenue fund
are not true… I have been very active in the investigation, nothing
significant has changed to suggest clearing of anyone”. See Thisday
Newspapers of May 29, 2014 also online link:

http://leadership.ng/news/380803/unremitted-49-8bn-oil-revenue-saraki-denies-signing-report

The newspapers publications relating to this is all over the print
and electronic media for all who want to find the truth. It is therefore
unlikely that he could have cut a deal with the Jonathan administration
on this matter as some detractors recently wanted us to believe. Only
in the world of fabricators will such a claim be possible.

It is also evident that Senator Saraki’s commitment to see that the
missing funds are found and paid back into the Federation Account was
never in doubt from day one. It would be recalled that during this
investigation, he went out of his way to collaborate with the IHS
Information Analytics Expertise and MJHC Limited London, two renowned
international organisations with specialty on oil financials, to do
further forensic review on this matter. This expensive endeavour
undertaken at his own personal expense also underscores the length at
which he left no stone unturned to help the Makarfi committee unravel
the mystery surrounding the missing funds.

It is therefore laughable for anybody to insinuate that Sen. Saraki
met with former President Goodluck Jonathan to discuss the content of
the committee’s report. Lest we forget, the committee met for the last
time on the February 16, 2014. So, the thought of Senator Saraki working
to bring down the number or amount un-remitted in a deal with Goodluck
Jonathan is completely false. For the avoidance of doubt, there has been
no meeting of any type between Senator Saraki and former President
Jonathan since the former left PDP. So any suggestion that the
Ex-president Jonathan sent Mr. Chagoury, the Lebanese businessman to
Senator Saraki with gifts /money to seek support from him on the report
is totally false. Both the Sarakis and Chagourys have been family
friends for over 26years.

It should also be remembered that it is because of Saraki’s yeoman’s
job on the oil sector fund leakages that he harvested an EFCC case
spawn by the Jonathan administration to teach him a lesson for his
effrontery. That case which had been investigated without any result has
become a blackmail instrument for anybody who hates Saraki’s guts.

In the new politics of the struggle over the Senate leadership, it
is not unexpected that this same EFCC case will be dusted up. It will be
used again as an instrument of blackmail against Saraki. They will want
to pummel him with it. That is the price of leadership. A gallant
effort to save the resources of the nation has landed the enemies of a
man the instrument to castigate him.
Omishore is Special Assistant (New media) to The Senate President

and has been with the Senate President since his time as a first term Senator in the 7th Assembly.

Culled from SayNigeria.com

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