Premium Times (Abuja)

22 February 2014

Nigeria Governors Call Emergency Meeting Over Sanusi

Photo: THIS DAY
Reserve Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi.

The Nigeria Governors' Forum, NGF, has summoned an emergency meeting of its members for Monday to discuss the implications of the suspension of the Governor of Central Bank, CBN, Lamido Sanusi, and react appropriately to the development.

According to a notice of meeting signed by the Director General of the NGF, Asishana Okauru, on Friday in Abuja, the meeting was at the instance of its Chairman and Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi.

The notice, obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, also listed for discussion the dwindling revenues to the 36 states.

It said, "The Chairman of the NGF, Rt. Hon. Rotimi C Amaechi, has requested for an emergency meeting of all members scheduled as follows: Monday 24th February, 2014. Time 8pm prompt. Venue: Rivers State Governor's Lodge, Abuja.

"Agenda: 1. Removal of the CBN Governor. 2. Dwindling Revenue to States. 3. AOB."

The 16 governors belonging to a purported faction of the NGF led by the Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, were invited to the meeting, though it is not clear if they will attend.

The NGF had repeatedly raised the alarm over the poor state of the economy, a claim the federal government has always debunked.

Mr. Sanusi was on Thursday suspended from office by President Goodluck Jonathan for alleged financial recklessness and official misconduct. However, many Nigerians believe he was axed for exposing state oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, as diverting $20 billion oil revenue.

The CBN Governor, who was attending an official assignment in Niamey, Niger Republic, when he was suspended, has vowed to challenge it in court.

At its last meeting, the forum had resolved to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan to discuss the issues Mr. Sanusi raised in his letter to Mr. Jonathan.

The suspended CBN Governor alleged in the letter that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, failed to remit $49.8 billion realized from crude oil sales between January 2012 and July 2013, to the Federation Account. He requested the president to investigate the matter. After the figures were reconciled with the NNPC and the financial ministry, Mr. Sanusi insisted that at least $20billion is still missing.

According to the communiqué read by Mr. Amaechi after the meeting, the Forum said the parley with Mr. Jonathan became necessary because the Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC, meeting planned for December 9 and 10, was shelved for undisclosed reasons.

It also noted that the National Economic Council, NEC, meeting, scheduled for December 12, where such issues could have been deliberated upon, was postponed indefinitely.

The Forum, which plans a retreat in March, lamented that the postponements of the NEC meetings were usually conveyed to the governors after they had arrived Abuja.

"As co-managers of the Nigerian economy, the Forum expresses deep disappointment at yet another postponement of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting," it said.

"The Forum is concerned that a pattern is emerging where the NEC meeting has been postponed for five consecutive months.

"It has become disturbing that governors are invited to Abuja for NEC meeting only to be told of its cancellation usually on the eve of the meeting after the arrival of the governors and without any reason."

The Forum chairman also noted that the 2014 Budget was done without input from states, which, according to him, resulted to a lack of sense of ownership of the budget process.

The meeting with Mr. Jonathan was not held before Mr. Sanusi's suspension on Thursday.

Earlier at the retreat of the NGF in Sokoto last November, Mr. Amaechi had alleged that about $5 billion was missing from the Excess Crude Account, ECA, which jointly belongs to the state governments and the Federal Government.

He asked the Federal Ministry of Finance to explain the whereabouts of the money.

The NGF chairman had in September asked the Finance Minister, who doubles as the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, to resign her position if she could not improve on her management of the nation's economy in accordance with the provisions of the Appropriation Act, 2013.

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