By George Agba
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday in faraway Amsterdam, the Netherlands, admitted he was aware of some financial impropriety in the accounting system of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). He assured, however, that the federal government was doing its best to address the situation.
The Leadership Newspaper reported that the president confirmed that $10bn was yet to be remitted by the nation’s oil corporation as claimed by the Ministry of Finance against the $20 billion suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi alleged was missing.
Speaking during an interactive session between him and the Nigerian community in Amsterdam, Jonathan said it was for this reason that he ordered a forensic audit of the corporation.
According to him, there was no way $49.8bn as alleged by Sanusi would have just missed from the country’s financial system within the period the embattled CBN governor was alleging.
To buttress his point, Jonathan observed that the same Sanusi later stood his own claim on the head when he claimed the amount was no longer $49.8bn but $12 billion before alleging that it was $20bn, adding that this amount went viral in the internet.
President Jonathan who further admitted that Nigeria as a country lacked the security architectures to contain the dreaded Boko Haram sect assured, however, that terrorist activities in the country would be dealt with effectively.
While insurgency is a latter-day development that is alien to Nigeria as a nation, he said, it requires understanding to tackle the global problem.
Jonathan also raised hope on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) when he hinted the Nigerian community of the National Assembly’s assurance to him that the seventh National Assembly was ready to take it successfully through the legislative process, adding that the federal lawmakers were poised to proceed with debate on the PIB as soon as they were through with legislation on the 2014 budget.
On the National Conference, he said his decision to convene the national dialogue hinged on various issues, even as he said that, for the first time, a large representative of youths numbering up to 18 were conscripted to take part in a conference of such nature.
The president said while issues like marginalisation requires frantic discussions, there was no doubt that there was great hope for a better Nigeria, despite challenges.
The Nigerian community had earlier expressed support for President Jonathan on Sanusi’s suspension, just as they urged him to sack the suspended CBN governor.
Jonathan further dismissed the criticism of former political officeholders , saying if such persons had done their duties well while in office the people would not be yearning for what they had already put in place.
He noted that it was unfortunate for persons who have served for eights years or more and also held different positions without achieving anything to come to the public to assume public recognition by joining in criticism.
He noted that, for him, the hope was for a better Nigeria, a bright future that keeps him going despite the crises and concocted speculations that rob the country of its normalcy at certain times.