This Day (Lagos)

22 March 2014

Nigeria: Sanusi, APC and the PDP Allegations

The allegations by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) that the suspended CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi gave opposition APC N1billion to open offices across the country, came as a surprise, but it has now put things in proper perspective.

What has however, come as a bigger surprise is that the usually vociferous party has kept a deafening silence on the grave allegation leveled against it, pretending not to have seen or read about it in the papers. Its usually active and outspoken spokesman has not deemed it necessary to oblige Nigerians a reaction from his party to such a grave allegation. It brings to good reasoning then that the allegation may have some truth to it. Otherwise, how can the opposition, usually quick to issue press statements on any issue, not react to such a grave accusation that damages its reputation and exposes it to ridicule and public odium?

Going by PDP's allegations, APC is a principal beneficiary of a reckless public official who turned public funds in its custody, to his personal property to be used as he pleases without being accountable to anyone because CBN Act gave him autonomy or better still a 'sovereignty' to operate in any island and therefore to do as he wishes.

Instructively, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi the banker turned "activist" and "crusader" for remittances of oil revenue has not deemed it fit to respond to the damaging allegations against him by the PDP.

The spirited defence the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), gave the now suspended governor of the Central Bank, CBN, left many people wondering if the beleaguered CBN governor's office had not become an extension of the APC party secretariat. The party had accused the President of witch-hunting the holy Mallam who is openly eyeing the Emirship seat. APC had claimed that Sanusi was being punished because of his allegations that $20billion was not remitted to the Federation Account. Yet Sanusi himself had flipped-flopped over the actual amount that was missing. He had earlier claimed $49.8billion and then reverted to $12billon, settled for $10.8billion before arriving at the 'final' $20billion.

The APC did not mind those inconsistencies. All that mattered was seeing Sanusi's claim as its fight to rescue Nigeria. However, latest developments have shown that perhaps APC's concern was less altruistic after all. It was a position taken by a party on the brink of losing a trusted friend and a source of free funds they have possibly been using to mobilise their "phantom 28 million members."

For those who don't know, the ruling Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP), had alleged that from the N680billion allegedly frittered away by Sanusi when he was in charge at the CBN, the opposition party benefitted not less than N53billion. The PDP said that notable stalwarts of the party got contracts from Sanusi when he was in the CBN.

Olisa Metuh, the spokesman of the PDP, had said that investigations revealed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its stalwarts were beneficiaries of siphoned CBN money through surreptitious diversion by the suspended CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

Metuh asserted that a questionable N48 billion contract was awarded to one of the leaders of the APC just as another N5 billion was equally paid to another stalwart of the opposition party as consultancy fee.

If one may ask; Where in the world is N5 billion paid for such nebulous service as consultancy fee to an individual? Where is that done except in Nigeria? And the beneficiary is one of those pretenders strutting around on a mission to rescue Nigeria. How tragic for Nigeria that those who milk the country to its bones are the ones parading themselves as people on a rescue mission to save the country.

Metuh further alleged that: "in addition to the N1 billion diverted by the bank to the party, the bank donated N100 million each to some chieftains of APC to fund their activities last year. The bank also diverted over N1billion to the APC to open offices across the nation."

In total, these come to N53billion. And then suddenly, the CBN governor became an "activist" and a "politician" probably fighting and funding the APC battle from within. And the party too cheered on like a pampered baby being cuddled by a doting mother. APC was on a roll and it was enjoying the darts and insults being dished out by Sanusi. Perhaps, who knows, the party may have goaded Sanusi on to become confrontational in the belief that the President can only sack him with two third of senate members. And audaciously he dared the President to go to the Senate, knowing full well that APC senators will block any such move.

Until the cookies came tumbling down, many thought that all the energy and vigour behind the party's frequent statements were borne out of genuine desire to protect our national institutions.

Alas, it has come to light that the Party was one of the big beneficiaries of fraudulent diversion of taxpayers money to fund its activities. It has come to light that the same party that prides itself as progressive also benefitted from the looting of Nigeria by the holy Mallam who carried on as if he was clean. It has now come to light that all those strong-worded press releases by APC in defence of Sansui were based on the pecuniary gains it got from the holy Mallam. Indeed, it has come to light that the abuses and recklessness of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as Governor of the CBN can only be rivaled by the direct looting of the bank by Abacha. If one may ask; since when has it become the brief of the CBN to fund political parties? Is this what the cry for autonomy means? And why was it APC that Sanusi chose to give money and not any of the other political parties in the country? If Sanusi and APC can't explain this, perhaps, their defenders will oblige Nigerian some reactions.

In saner climes, the outrage this kind of revelation would have generated would have ended the careers of so many people. But this is Nigeria where if you catch a thief, he ask you, "Am I the only one"? or he will ask, "what about you"? The next thing, he will run to court to get ex parte restraining security agencies from arrest him or better still order of perpetual injunction from arresting. And there are ever so willing judges who despite knowing how illegal such orders are, grant them without hesitation. Pronto! The thief is free to wreak more havoc on the system.

However, how one may choose to look at it, Metuh's allegations have raised new questions. But the greater question is why APC, characteristic of its style, has not deemed it fit to respond to the allegations made by the ruling party which the Party has always vilified as corruption personified. APC as a party has always carried on with an air of puritanism. The party and its leaders have always given the impression that they don't dip their hands into the public till. In other words, corruption is an anathema to the party. But in stark contradiction, the lifestyles of the party's leaders do not give any credence to this pretentious Spartan disposition of the party.

In pursuance of its duty of keeping the ruling party on its toes, APC has always taken the PDP to the cleaners in the way it has been handling the affairs of the country. But the allegations that APC and some of its leading figures were beneficiaries of the Father Christmas disposition of holy Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has put a blight on the change campaign the opposition party launched as its battle cry to wrestle power from the ruling party.

What is strange to many political watchers is that APC has not officially responded to the allegations of Metuh. This is unlike APC. Its spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has suddenly been silent. Yet this is a man who is always unsparing when attacking the ruling party or when responding to any issue.

A newspaper (not THISDAY) which claimed to have spoken with Mohammed on the telephone reported that the APC chief did not seem to deny that its top members had 'worked' for the CBN. He said the issue was whether the said job was done or not.

"The question to ask is whether whoever got the job did it. If he did not, then the EFCC and the Police should go after such a person." On whether the party collected money from the suspended CBN governor to open offices, Mohammed said this was untrue.

"It is absolutely untrue. If Sanusi has given APC money, what are they waiting for? Why can't they go to court or complain to EFCC and come and arrest us. What the PDP is doing is to divert attention from the $20 billion missing money that Nigerians are asking for explanation. $20 billion is enough to give 20,000 mega watts of electricity and tar 20,000 kilometres of road."

Mohammed's response (if this can be called one) does not seem to hold water. Reading between the lines, it is obvious that he did not deny the fact that APC leaders worked for the CBN as a 'consultants.' It was more of a question of whether those who got those 'consultancy' jobs executed the briefs they were given. Secondly, it is debatable if APC would not have gone to the streets crying blue murder if it was a PDP stalwart that was paid N5billion for 'consultancy' job.

Not surprisingly too, APC has been shouting that the CBN is autonomous. Good argument. Only that the party has not deemed it fit to ask what kind of autonomy would make a CBN Governor pay N20billion in one year as consultancy fee to lawyers; spend about N4billion on newspapers and periodicals, spend another N1.4billion for lunch on policemen and other security guards? And of course, the autonomy that made a CBN governor to donate N1billion to the opposition party to open party offices across the country. These are pertinent questions, which border on strict patriotism, that an opposition party should have asked and perhaps forced the hand of the ruling party to take a second look at the Act establishing the CBN in the first place.

However, the APC does not even have to do that again. It is even debatable if it could do that as the party has become an interested party in the whole saga. But the saga could only have worked against the said autonomy of the CBN. Now the Senate is poised to amend the Act of the CBN as questions are still being asked why an autonomy would make a CBN governor spend hundreds of billions of tax payers' money, on any cause that catches his fancy, including funding a particular political party with taxpayers money.

While the nation is still awaiting an official response from APC, over the allegations made by the PDP, it has shown that to the party (APC) corruption seems to have different colours. When it is committed by an opposition figure, it is pardonable but when it involves the PDP or any of its members, it is corruption in its strict terms. And that is why many political watchers have been asking where the APC would get campaign funds from since the party does not 'touch' public funds. Perhaps, another donation from Sanusi would help out.

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