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February 20, 2014

Nigeria President Jonathan Not Condoning Graft, Says Adviser

by Peter Clottey

An adviser to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has rejected opposition criticisms that the government is condoning corruption following the suspension of Lamido Sanusi as governor of the country’s central bank.

Speaking to lawmakers early this month, the former central bank governor alleged that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) has failed to account for $20 billion, after shipping $67 billion worth of crude oil, and accounting for only $47 billion.

But, Alhaji Ahmed Ali Gulak, President Jonathan’s special adviser on political affairs says Sanusi’s reckless pronouncement could undermine the country’s economic performance.

Gulak says Sanusi was dabbling in politics, which he says diminishes the effectiveness of the office he occupied until his suspension.

“The behavior of the central bank governor in respect of what is happening in the economy leaves much to be desired,” said Gulak. “The central bank of Nigeria is an institution [of state] and should not be dragged into the political arena or the governor playing to the gallery. A [central bank] governor should be sure of himself before dishing out information.”

Gulak says the former central bank’s governor made contradictory statements about the alleged missing funds.

“You cannot bring a figure today and tomorrow you change the figure, it leaves much to be desired,” said Gulak. “This is not a political issue now it is about the economy of a nation. It is about the central bank of the nation, which is the hub of economic activities. It stabilizes or destabilizes the economy of every nation, and you need somebody who is sure of himself before dishing out figures.”          

Opposition groups say instead of suspending the central bank governor, Mr. Jonathan should have demanded an immediate investigation into Sanusi’s allegations, and ensured the prosecution officials who might have committed financial malfeasance over the alleged “missing $20 billion.”

He rejected opposition criticism that the government is to blame for the country’s economic performance saying opposition politicians are using Sanusi’s suspension to attack the government. 

“They have failed to differentiate between partisan politics and issues that concerns the unity and cohesion of the country,” said Gulak. “I assure you that there is no government that has in the recent past addressed the issue of corruption like this present administration, because under this government corruption in all sectors of the government has been exposed.”
Clottey interview with Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, Adviser to President Jonathan