• Admits he discussed contents of letter with US govt officials, governors, Saraki
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, has clarified his involvement in the leaked letter written by the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II, to former President Goodluck Jonathan on the non-remittance of $49.8 billion by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the Federation Account.
In a statement by his media office yesterday, Amaechi said it was unfair, disrespectful and uncharitable to his person for anyone to suggest, infer or even extrapolate that he surreptitiously, clandestinely or underhandedly “leaked” Sanusi’s letter.
Sanusi, who was the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the time he wrote the letter, in a recent interview with Forbes Africa magazine said Amaechi, who was at the time the Rivers State governor, was responsible for leaking former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter to Jonathan, which referenced Sanusi’s letter on the missing billions. Amaechi has also long been suspected of equally leaking Sanusi’s letter to Jonathan on the same issue to other politicians.
Sanusi, as the CBN governor, had written to Jonathan to raise the alarm over the disappearance of billions of dollars from oil sales between January 2013 and July 2013 that had not been remitted to the Federation Account by NNPC.
In the said letter, he alleged that an estimated $49.8 billion had not been remitted to the treasury, an allegation that was strenuously denied by NNPC and the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, when it became public.
Obasanjo then followed up with his own letter titled “Before It is Too Late”, which was published in full by online newspaper, Premium Times, before it was republished by other outlets.
As the outrage over Sanusi’s revelation grew, he was later to revise the figure to $12 billion and $10 billion, before settling for $20 billion at a public hearing held by the Senate to investigate his allegation.
Sanusi was later suspended as the CBN governor, but a few months later was enthroned as the Emir of Kano while he was in court seeking that his suspension be declared illegal.
However, reacting to Sanusi’s allegation in the Forbes interview, Amaechi, through the statement released by his media office, provided more clarity on how Sanusi’s letter was leaked.
The statement said: “Our attention has been drawn to reports in the media that tend to infer and/or suggest that immediate past governor of Rivers State and now Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi surreptitiously and clandestinely ‘leaked’ a letter written by former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor and now Emir of Kano, Sanusi Muhammad II to then President Goodluck Jonathan on the non-remittance of $49.8 billion from oil sales to the Federation Account.
“This is further from the truth and what exactly transpired as regards Amaechi’s involvement in that Sanusi letter.”
In order to set the records straight, the statement revealed a “concerned and patriotic Nigerian who felt sufficiently troubled by what was happening then, gave a copy of the Sanusi letter to Amaechi in his capacity as the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF)”.
It added that when Amaechi got the letter, he spoke with Sanusi who was still the CBN governor to confirm the authenticity of the letter.
“Sanusi confirmed to Amaechi that he wrote the letter. During their conversation, Amaechi made it abundantly clear to the then CBN governor that the bleeding of the nation had to be stopped, all non-remitted funds must be remitted and that he (Amaechi) was going to use the letter to do whatever was in the best interest of the nation and Nigerians, which was the stoppage of the non-remittance and the recovery of all the non-remitted funds from oil sale. The CBN Governor didn’t agree with Amaechi on the way forward.
“Considering that the letter was given to Amaechi as Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, he shared the letter with his colleague governors first, and later with Senator Bukola Saraki (now Senate President), who before and around that period was carrying out some work or/and investigation around the oil sector in the Senate,” the statement said.
It further revealed that around that period, a delegation from the United States government, from the offices of the Secretaries of State and Defence visited Amaechi in Port Harcourt to discuss the issue of oil theft in Nigeria.
“From their records, they gave Amaechi figures amounting to billions of dollars (about $7 billion annually) that was being lost to oil theft in Nigeria.
“They were discussing the issue and figures of oil theft, and that was how the CBN governor’s letter to President Jonathan came up.
“In the presence of journalists covering the visit, Amaechi brought out the Sanusi letter and showed it to the visiting American delegation to buttress the point that Nigeria was losing far more money to non-remittance of proceeds from oil sale into the Federation Account, which everyone seemed to concur, was in itself, another form and another dimension to the issue of oil theft.”
Amaechi’s media office described as unfair, disrespectful and uncharitable to his person for anyone to suggest, infer or even extrapolate that the former Rivers governor surreptitiously, clandestinely or underhandedly ‘leaked’ the CBN governor’s (Sanusi’s) letter.
It said: “Amaechi did what he did because he believed that the theft and corruption was just too much. He was propelled by his patriotic zeal to put Nigeria first, do what was in the best interest of the nation and Nigerians, and stop the bleeding and sucking of our collective resources by a tiny few.
“The mind boggling corruption revelations in the recent past, that is still ongoing clearly justifies and vindicates Amaechi’s stance on the issue and the actions he took.
“Faced with the same situation, under similar circumstances, Amaechi will not act differently. The good of Nigeria, putting the nation and Nigerians first, will always be his guiding principle.”