•My role in your leaked letter to Jonathan
From Chris Anucha
FORMER governor of Rivers State and Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday, gave insight into his role in the controversial leaked letter, written by the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Then CBN governor (now Emir of Kano) had in 2013 written to Jonathan over the non-remittance of $49.8 billion from oil sale to the federation account.
The letter was later referred to by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in one of his many open letters to Jonathan, a development which pitted Jonathan against then CBN governor. Sanusi said Jonathan told him to find who leaked the letter or resign.
Amaechi had been accused of leaking the letter, ostensibly to even political scores with Jonathan.
But a press statement issued by the minister’s media office, Abuja explained Amaechi’s role in the saga: “He was propelled by his patriotic zeal to put Nigeria first, do what is in the best interest of the nation and Nigerians, and stop the bleeding and sucking of our collective resources by a tiny few,” it said.
The Minister claimed that a concerned Nigerian, who was worried about what was happening in the country, gave him a copy of Sanusi’s letter, in his capacity as the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF).
The statement said: “Our attention has been drawn to reports in the media that tends 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 11 to then President Goodluck Jonathan on the non-remittance of $49.8 billion from oil sale to the federation account.
“This is further from the truth and what exactly transpired as regards Amaechi’s involvement in that Sanusi letter. Like Amaechi, we should appreciate that concerned Nigerian’s patriotism.”
The statement said when Amaechi got the letter, he spoke with Sanusi who was still the CBN governor to confirm its authenticity.
“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 remitted, and that he (Amaechi) was going to use the letter to do whatever is 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.”
Though Sanusi did not agree with Amaechi on the way forward, Amaechi explained that he shared the contents of the letter with his colleagues and Senator Bukola Saraki (now Senate President), who he said, was doing some work or investigation about the oil sector.
“Around that period, a delegation from the United States of America 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 of billions of dollars (about $7 billion dollars, 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 was said to have shoned Sanusi’s letter 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.”
The statement noted that to suggest, infer or even extrapolate that Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi surreptitiously, clandestinely or underhandedly ‘leaked’ the CBN governor’s (Sanusi’s) letter was unfair, disrespectful and uncharitable to his person.
“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 is 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,” the statement concluded.
Sanusi had told Forbes Africa the drama that trailed a letter he wrote to Jonathan in 2013 to draw attention to the non-remittance of over billions of dollars from oil revenue to the federation account.
He said he wrote the letter saying: “If this continues, we are going to have a big problem if the price of oil came down. We can’t protect interest rates, we can’t protect exchange rates, we can’t protect reserves. We may have to tighten money to prevent inflation, there will be unemployment, government will suffer – all of the things we are seeing today.”
He recalled that shortly after he wrote the letter, he was surmmoned by Jonathan. “I got to his office at 3pm, it was just me and him. It was as if everybody had been asked to go.
“And so he said to me, he’s calling me because he is surprised that the letter I wrote to him got to Obasanjo, I said I’m surprised too.
“He said he’s convinced that the letter went from the central bank to Obasanjo, and I had 24 hours to find who leaked the letter or sack somebody, the director who prepared the letter or my secretary and if I did not sack them, that was proof that I leaked the letter and therefore, I should resign.
“I said to him that I’m surprised that I’m being asked to resign for raising an alarm over missing funds and the minister in charge of the portfolio is not being asked to resign.
“From then, I knew I had signed my equivalent for death warrant. But I said I was not resigning. He got very angry and said whether you like it or not, you’re going to leave that office, I cannot continue to work with you, either you or I will leave government.”
Sanusi said he was amused that leaking the letter was far more crime than leaking money