Friday, 24 November 2017
Items filtered by date: January 2017

Rather than exerting energy on what brought about the parlous state of the Nigerian economy and how the country fell into recession, the Federal Government should initiate reforms to revamp the economy. Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc Chairman ATEDO PETERSIDE, in this article entitled: “Eleven actions required for speedy economic turnaround”, gives 11 nuggets that can lift the economy. 

The Federal Government is doing some things right, such as the effort to curb overhead expenditures and to be more frugal than past administrations, but then, they are also doing many things wrong. There is a reluctance to completely break from the past and embrace significant economic reforms, even when our present predicament clearly warrants same.

We are now facing an economic crisis. A crisis is an inflection point. It is that point when multiple outcomes become possible. 2017 represents the last full calendar year that this administration has within which it must embrace major economic reforms, if it expects to still attain many of the more palatable economic outcomes. It is no use arguing over who, or what caused the economic recession (-2 per cent growth) and high inflation rate (over 18.5 per cent p.a.) that we are currently facing; far better to focus on what we need to do to get us out of this sorry state.

There are several units within the Federal Government that appear to be working hard. Sadly, most of them are working in “silos” and solving fringe problems. What appears to be still missing is a bold, holistic and audacious effort to harmonize fiscal, monetary, exchange rate, trade and macro-prudential policies in a concerted manner. Very few people want to take on the “big gorilla” in the room. That is why the impact of the Federal Government’s Economic Management Team (EMT) is not being felt.

Because many fear for their jobs, they are not interested in tackling their colleagues whose actions are negating and/or eliminating the most positive outcomes that the government owes the electorate.

I know that there are those who will criticize me for saying that the Federal Government’s economic policy direction remains unclear. My response to them is that the most significant economic reforms embraced so far by Federal Government came about rather reluctantly, for instance by Federal Government hanging on to an untenable position until it eventually disentangled itself or got overpowered by its own internal contradictions.

We saw this with petrol prices and also the devaluation of the naira. When these “reforms” came, they arrived in the form of half-measures. Thus, we stopped short of full petrol price deregulation and introduced an unsustainable price fix instead. We equally stopped short of adopting truly market-determined exchange rates and instead embraced a “fudge” that spewed widely divergent multiple exchange rates. Half measures typically bring some pain, but often fail (as in this case) to yield any lasting gain.

The rest of this article will discuss 11 major policy actions which the Federal Government should consider. We must shake off the indolent mindset that leads us to believe that all constitutional changes are taboo. Accordingly, I seek to draw attention to the following 11 important items on which major action is still required.

• The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should accept that its foreign exchange and demand management policies have failed. The more restrictions they have placed on forex repatriation, the less likely it has become that badly needed forex inflows from portfolio investors, foreign direct investors and Nigerians will pick up. Privileged access to CBN’s forex allocations has become the best investment game in town for the politically well-connected. Furthermore, the directive to banks to allocate 60 per cent of forex to manufacturers, who account for only 10 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (including owners of zombie industries which are horribly import-dependent), has exacerbated an already bad supply situation. Forty per cent is much too small to accommodate the rest of the economy and so all other sectors (90 per cent of GDP) have been crippled.

This has unleashed panic, thereby sending the parallel market to the high heavens. Forex inflows disappeared partly because of the uncertainty surrounding the ability to repatriate interest/dividends through an overly restrictive 40 per cent window. There is no scientific basis for this 60 per cent /40 per cent rule. Meanwhile it has huge adverse distortionary implications on the supply side. The end-result has been our mind-boggling and widely divergent multiple exchange rates which have spooked investors who have taken fright and also taken flight. Sadly, we have effectively “shot ourselves in the foot” by taking ill-advised actions that crippled both forex inflows and the Service sector in particular (over 50 per cent of GDP).

· Three preceding administrations ended up brokering peace deals with Niger Delta militants. The Federal Government should urgently pursue high-powered negotiations which should be brokered by persons with a healthy track record in this activity and the ancillary pipeline protection business – it can net Federal Government $6 billion a year. In the longer term, I favour a constitutional amendment that reserves a one per cent royalty payment to immediate host communities on all mining and mineral producing activity (including limestone, oil and precious stones among others).

Communities will then be well-incentivised to keep production activity going. This is preferable to a long-term reliance on amnesty payments which constitute a moral hazard. A 13 per cent derivation payment to a possibly “unaccountable and distant” state governor does not filter down to host communities.

• We should simultaneously embark upon some asset sales which improve long-term efficiency and will yield foreign currency. I argued in my ‘LETTER TO MY COUNTRYMEN’ published on October 1, 2016, that the Federal Government share of the major Oil Joint Ventures of International Oil Companies (IOCs) should be sold down to 40 per cent or no more than 49 per cent. This would represent a replica of the highly successful Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) model that provides a healthy dividend stream for the government. If it is good for NLNG, then it should be good for the IOCs too. Asset sales can yield $15-$20 billion over the course of the next two years if planned carefully.

•We urgently need to deregulate the entire downstream petroleum sector and also privatise Nigerian National Petroleum Company’s (NNPC’s) three refineries, depots and pipelines and domestic gas.

• Our civil/public service is still bloated, corrupt and inefficient and has become the excuse for a privileged two per cent of the population to consume close to 60-70 per cent of the annual budget via the recurrent expenditure vote. Methinks mass redundancies are now inevitable because the nation is stuck with a public service and legislators that we could only afford at $100 per barrel oil prices.

• Less than 25 per cent of our 36 states are economically viable. The obvious answer is political restructuring, as unpalatable as it may sound to some. In terms of overhead spending, we have to rejig our political structure so that significant overheads are transferred from 36 states to 6 zonal centres. We should keep an open mind towards this political restructuring argument because it is not even true that homogeneity within a state or zone necessarily guarantees peace. Somalia is homogenous and yet, it is probably the closest thing there is today globally to a failed state. Conversely, there are communities, states and nations around the world which are heterogeneous, but which are living peacefully together.

• To help overcome, the social and physical infrastructure deficit, we must embrace the private sector as the engine of growth and a capable partner/financier of infrastructural development. The power and transportation sectors are crying for more and not less privatisation. The logic of the power sector reforms was built around the adoption of cost-reflective tariffs, which we have since thrown out of the window. The transmission sector and gas supply difficulties are some of the other weak links in the power value chain.

• A dysfunctional legal system is an impediment to the rapid growth of a modern economy. The Chief Justice of the Federation must “buy into” and spearhead radical reform of our legal system.

· The anti-corruption crusade will only complement the positive changes envisaged above if the government itself respects the rule of law and obeys the courts. We should err on the side of extending the “benefit of the doubt” to accused persons whenever allegations cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt. It is better to let four people who might be guilty go free than to convict one innocent man. The latter drains all the energy out of the anticorruption crusade and also destroys business confidence.

· Restoring business confidence should be the primary preoccupation guiding virtually every statement by public officers. This calls for a paradigm shift because the current preoccupation is for every Minister, Governor, Regulator or overzealous official to threaten investors with closure, bankruptcy, fines or seizure of their goods. Frightened businessmen (local or foreign) will not invest. We should be wooing investors instead of threatening them.

· The Federal Government should immediately appoint directors to the boards of every regulatory agency. The important lesson from the recent Financial Reporting Council (FRC) of Nigeria imbroglio is that a single rogue regulator can hold the entire system to ransom, help destroy business confidence and hamper economic growth. This only becomes possible when the checks and balances which our laws envisaged, through the appointment of boards, council members or commissioners, are not in place.

CONCLUSION

Our economy is underperforming because, amongst other things, it is caught up in a low foreign exchange trap. Borrowing forex without instituting necessary and badly-needed economic and structural reforms is akin to suicide. Those who are canvassing for more foreign debt simply because our debt/GDP ratio is low are overlooking the fact that our debt service ratios are already high. Our debt service ratios are high because our Tax/GDP ratio at six per cent is exceedingly poor and so, it will require a few years of concerted action to raise it significantly. Relying on debt alone to ease the forex trap is therefore a high risk strategy. That is why I also emphasise two) and three) above.

Nigerians take pride in arguing that the Lord loves us and so, he always intervenes by bringing us back from the precipice in the nick of time. I do not doubt that. What I truly believe is that the Lord intervenes through people. After the unbridled insults that were heaped on the Emir of Kano (Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II) and a few others who dared to tell the government the truth about the parlous state of our economy, the easiest path for me would have been to keep quiet or to simply blame speculators, detractors or past regimes. If I did that then the attack dogs would have won. No, I am not about to abandon my right to free speech on account of some insincere sycophants.
I speak because I want my country to improve.

Published in Parliament

SPONSORED BY X365RADIO.COM: More than $11m (£8.8m) is missing from The Gambia’s state coffers following the departure of long-time leader Yahya Jammeh, an adviser to President Adama Barrow has said.

Mai Ahmad Fatty said financial experts were trying to evaluate the exact loss.

BBC reports that luxury cars and other items were reportedly loaded on to a Chadian cargo plane as Mr Jammeh left the country.

Mr Jammeh has not commented and the BBC has not independently verified the claims.

After 22 years in power, Mr Jammeh flew into exile on Saturday.

He had refused to accept election results but finally left after mediation by regional leaders and the threat of military intervention.

President Barrow remains in neighbouring Senegal and it is not clear when he will return.

However, West African troops entered the Gambian capital, Banjul, on Sunday to prepare for his arrival.

Cheering crowds gathered outside the State House to watch soldiers secure the building.

Published in Headliners

SPONSORED BY CHIQUEMAGAZINE.COM: 

Troops secure Banjul for Barrow’s return

More details of the peaceful battle to restore democracy in The Gambia became known yesterday.

After days of stand-off, former President Yahya Jammeh suddenly agreed to quit office, yielding to last-minute pressure from Guinean President Alpha Conde and his Mauritanian counterpart Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz, who were with him between Friday and Saturday.

After agreeing to leave and save The Gambia from a major crisis, Jammeh was confronted by big challenge –  how to fly out.

The leaders, The Nation learnt, reached out to All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who authorised his private aircraft to be used to fly Jammeh out of Banjul, sources said. 

Jammeh’s exit paved the way for the return of President Adama Barrow to take office after he was sworn in on Thursday in Dakar, Senegal.

Tinubu’s VP-CBT Falcon Jet had been with President Conde, who is a close friend of the leading politician.

It was not until late on Saturday night that Jammeh agreed to go. Sources said Tinubu was contacted to allow the use of his jet to fly Jammeh out of Banjul.

He reportedly gave a condition: it should only be used “if it will facilitate the quick exit of Jammeh and lead to the restoration of peace and democracy in The Gambia”.

The plane eventually flew out with Jammeh, his wife, mother and President Conde on board.

Senegal, it was learnt, insisted on knowing those on board before allowing it to overfly its airspace.  This wish was granted.  Jammeh was flown to Equitorial Guinea where he will be on exile

Jammeh arrived at the airport amid a large convoy of vehicles and throngs of cheering supporters.

He stood on a small platform to hear ceremonial music performed by a military band and then walked down a long red carpet, surrounded by dignitaries.

He climbed the steps to the plane, turned and kissed and waved a Qur’an at those assembled.

It was an emotional farewell. Many soldiers, supporters and dignitaries were crying. Others in The Gambia were glad to see the end of a 22-year dictatorship which had little respect for human rights and freedom of speech.

Published in News & Stories

SPONSORED BY X365RADIO.COM: New York – The U.S. has commended Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for its show of leadership in peacefully ousting former President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, after weeks of political stalemate.

The U.S. Department of State, in a statement by its spokesperson, Mr Mark Toner, also welcomed the ongoing peaceful transition in the country and the commitment to democracy by the people. “The United States welcomes the ongoing peaceful transition of power in The Gambia and congratulates President Adama Barrow on his inauguration. “We applaud the commitment to democracy and the restraint shown by the Gambian people over the past weeks. “We commend the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other regional partners for their leadership in addressing the situation,” the statement said.

The U.S. also commended Jammeh for departing The Gambia peacefully and avoiding the use of violence. “We appreciate the decision by Yahya Jammeh to depart The Gambia peacefully. “We also echo President Barrow’s call for Gambians to unite and work together as brothers and sisters for the future of The Gambia. “The United States is proud of our close ties to the people of The Gambia and looks forward to working closely with President Barrow and his team to achieve the aspirations of all Gambians.”


Published in News & Stories

SPONSORED BY HIRING234.COM: A Senior Special Assistant to the President, Bashir Ahmaad has posted a photograph of President Muhammadu Buhari watching Channels Television in his suite in the United Kingdom where he went on a 10-day vacation.

Ahmad tweeted: ”MBuhari on a phone call with @ProfOsinbajo while watching Sunday Politics on Channels TV this evening”

The picture serves to dispel evil rumours by some Nigerians on the social media that the president was dead.

Published in News & Stories

SPONSORED BY X365RADIO.COM: President Adama Barrow has said he would return to The Gambia on Monday.

Barrow confirmed this on his twitter handle, @adama_barrow, on Sunday.

He said: “I will be returning to my homeland, the Republic of The Gambia tomorrow. #Gambia.”

Barrow, who took the oath of office in the Gambian Embassy in Senegal on Thursday, has assured citizens who fled that “they now have the liberty to return home”.

He succeeded Yahya Jammeh, who lost in the Dec. 1 presidential election and refused to vacate office when his 22-year rule expired midnight on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the ECOWAS, African Union and UN have said they would work with the new Gambian government to ensure that former President Jammeh was at liberty to return to the country when he wanted.

The former president left Banjul on Saturday to go into exile after he was pressurised by the ECOWAS to rescind his earlier decision not to accept the outcome of Dec. 1 presidential election, which saw him losing to the opposition candidate, Adama Barrow.

Jammeh’s return would be in accordance with international human rights law and his rights as a citizen and a former head of state, they stated in a joint declaration in Banjul.

They commended the “goodwill and statesmanship” of the former president for facilitating “an immediate peaceful and orderly transition process and transfer of power to President Adama Barrow in accordance with the Gambian constitution”.

They also commended him for his interest in the Gambian people and preserving the peace, stability and security in the country.

The declaration stated that Jammeh’s departure from The Gambia on Saturday was temporary adding that it was in order to assist a peaceful and orderly transition and transfer of power and the establishment of a new government.

The blocs noted that his leaving was without any prejudice to his rights as a citizen, a former president and a political party leader.

They further assured that host countries that would offer “African hospitality” to the former president and his family do not become undue targets of harassment, intimidation and all other pressures and sanctions.

They also committed to work with the current government to prevent the seizure of assets and property lawfully belonging to Jammeh or his family and those of his cabinet members, government officials and party supporters.

“Further, ECOWAS, the AU and the UN commit to work with the Government of The Gambia to ensure that it fully guarantees, assures and ensures the dignity, security, safety and rights of former President Jammeh’s immediate family, cabinet members, government officials, Security Officials and party supporters and loyalists.

“ECOWAS, the AU and the UN urge the Government of The Gambia to take all necessary measures to assure and ensure that there is no intimidation, harassment and/or witch-hunting of former regime members and supporters, in conformity with the Constitution and other laws of The Gambia,” they stated.

The regional organisations said they would work with the government on national reconciliation to “avoid any recriminations”.

They also assured that they would take all measures to support the maintenance of the integrity of the security forces and guard against all measures that would create division and a breakdown of order.

“Pursuant to this declaration, ECOWAS will halt any military operations in The Gambia and will continue to pursue peaceful and political resolution of the crisis.”

Published in Headliners

SPONSORED BY X365TV.COM: The United Kingdom (UK) is now in possession of a pile of evidence against former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke,courtesy of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Mrs. Alison-Madueke is earmarked for trial for corruption.

The inventory,The Nation gathered authoritatively yesterday, contains at least 15 choice assets in Nigeria and abroad. These include a block of 6 unit service apartments on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi,Lagos;six units of terrace flats in Yaba, Lagos;twin four-bedroom duplexes in Lekki Phase I ,Lagos;two duplexes in Banana Island,Lagos;a duplex in Asokoro District, Abuja;a mini-estate in Mabushi, Abuja;a set of 12 terrace duplexes at Omaremi Street, Port Harcourt;a large expanse of land at Oniru, Victoria Island in Lagos;a multi-billion Naira estate in Yenagoa,Lagos;two apartments in Dubai marked as J5 Emirates Hills (30million Dirham); E146 Emirates Hills valued at 44million Dirham;a hotel in Port Harcourt under investigation. Attached to the inventory were video clips of the properties,sources said.

A team of EFCC detectives was on standby yesterday to proceed to London to interrogate the ex-minister. Sources familiar with her investigation by the EFCC told The Nation that all the evidence gathered by the anti-graft agency on Diezani had been handed over to UK investigators.

The Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu accompanied by some detectives took the evidence to the National Crime Agency in the UK.
“The evidence includes an inventory of more than 15 choice properties at home and abroad, her account status, documents and vital video clips,” the source said.
“The evidence was taken to London in preparation for her trial. In fact,
one or two persons indicted in the fuel subsidy scandal are already in detention in the UK ahead of her trial.

Responding to a question, the source added: “We are also sending some EFCC detectives to the UK to interrogate Diezani on some issues. We need to obtain her statement too on certain allegations against her in Nigeria.
“We learnt that she has substantially ‘recovered’ and we want our team to interview her in London.
“When the trial begins, Nigerians will have a full insight into our findings against the ex-minister.”

Continuing,the EFCC source said: “We have placed some of these properties under temporary asset forfeiture. We are still investigating some properties allegedly bought by the ex-minister through some proxies.
“But we have submitted a documentary on all these assets to investigators in the UK. We also discovered a box which was full of jewellery and expensive wrist watches in one of the properties with price tags.
“Some detectives who visited Nigeria from the UK inspected this box which we may transfer to the UK.

“On the $115million poll bribery scandal, we have video clips of how electoral officials and politicians were hauling cash from banking halls.
EFCC does not engage in personal vendetta. Nigerians will know the truth at the end of the trial either in Nigeria or in the UK.”

Published in Business and Economy

SPONSORED BY 234NAIRA.COM: Burkina Faso and Cameroon on Sunday qualified for the quarter-finals of the ongoing 2017 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Gabon after the final group A matches.

Burkina Faso beat Guinea Bissau 2-0 in their match at the Stade de l’Amitié in Libreville, while a 0-0 draw between Cameroon and Gabon at Stade de Franceville in Franceville was enough to give Cameroon the quarter-finals ticket at the expense of hosts.

The results meant Burkina Faso topped Group A with 5 points, the same as Cameroon but with a better goal aggregate.

Gabon came third with 3 points, while Guinea Bissau ended their debut tournament with 1 point.

In the match between Burkina Faso and Guinea Bissau, an own goal by Guinea Bissau defender Rudinilson Silva in the 11th minute gave Burkina Faso the lead, while Bertrand Traore scored the second in the 57th minutes.

Published in Sports

SPONSORED BY HIRING234.COM: President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow on Saturday said he was returning to his country following Yahya Jammeh’s announcement to step down as president.

Barrow on his twitter handle, @adama_barrow, said “As Yahya Jammeh officially stepped down from office — I will be returning to my homeland, the Republic of The Gambia. #NewGambia.”

Barrow also told the Associated Press in an interview on Saturday that he would enter Gambia once a security sweep had been completed.

The new president also said that Jammeh would be leaving within hours on Saturday and told Gambians who had fled the country that they now had “the liberty to return home”. 

Barrow on Thursday took the oath of office as Gambia’s new president.

He was sworn-in about 5p.m. Senegalese time at the Gambian High Commission in Dakar, Senegal.

Barrow succeeded Yahya Jammeh, who lost in the Dec. 1 presidential election and refused to vacate office when his 22-year rule expired midnight on Thursday.

West African mediators spent several hours in talks with him on Friday after military forces of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) stopped actions to remove Jammeh by force to allow last-minute negotiations.

Jammeh, however, on state TV on Saturday, announced that he would step down in the interest of the Gambian people adding that it was his duty to “preserve at every instant” their lives.

He was also reported to have left the State House to join President Alpha Conda of Guinea to the airport, to begin a new life in exile.

 

Published in News & Stories

•Anti graft agency ‘taking advantage of my silence to try me by media’
•Denies withdrawal of $153m from NNPC accounts
•Yenagoa estate is family compound built in 2011

diezani

Embattled former Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, is not taking allegations of massive corruption leveled against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) lightly.
She rose in her own stout defence yesterday, denying the allegations.
She accused the EFCC of taking advantage of her silence all this while to put her on media trial and declared in a lengthy statement from her London home.
She said given the “level of deliberate inaccuracies”, she had now been forced to break her silence and respond to some issues.
She specifically denied ever withdrawing $153million from the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) while in office and said the Yenagoa estate, which the EFCC ascribed to her is her family’s compound built in 2011.
The EFCC, according to her, is only out to convict her in the court if public opinion based on “false reports.”
She said: “I have up till now chosen to maintain my silence and not to respond to inaccurate press reporting.
“However, given the level of deliberate inaccuracies, I am now forced to respond because it is clear that the EFCC is taking advantage of my silence to try me by media and to convict me in the eyes of the public on false reports.
“I am deeply disturbed and bewildered by recent media reports (Premium Times Thursday 12 January, 2017 and other dailies about the same time) claiming that by virtue of an order of the Federal High Court, I have forfeited to the Federal Government, the sum of $153.3m which I purportedly stole from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
“First and foremost, whilst the reasons for my being out of the country are public knowledge, the principle of fair hearing demands that I should have been notified of formal charges if truly there was a prima facie evidence or indictment against my person linking me with the said issue, so as to ensure that I had adequate legal representation. This was never done.
“I wish to state that I cannot forfeit what was never mine. I do not know the basis on which the EFCC have chosen to say that I am the owner of these funds as no evidence was provided to me before the order was obtained and they have not in fact served me with the order or, any evidence since they obtained it.”
She went on: “As at the time of my writing this rebuttal (Thursday 19th January, 2017) the EFCC have still not furnished me or my Lawyers, with a copy of the order.
“I am also informed by my lawyers that the legislation under which the EFCC obtained this order is for situations where the funds are believed to be the proceeds of crime and the owner is not known.
“I do not therefore understand how the EFCC can in the same breath say that the monies in question are mine.
“If they had evidence that the monies were mine then they would not /should not have used the procedure which applies only to funds of unknown ownership.
“If indeed they used this particular legal procedure because they did not know who owned the monies, then how can they now be falsely attributing the ownership to me.
“Let me re-state categorically as I have always maintained for the record, I have not and will never steal money from or defraud the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“I am willing to respond to any charges brought against me that follow duly laid down procedures.
“However, in their typical manner and style, the EFCC have gone to the media to attempt to prosecute their case as trial by TV and other media, rather than go through the onerous but tried and tested means of the Judicial Court process.
“In the face of the obvious falsification of facts and misinformation, it is only right and proper that the EFCC should publish the details of the $153.3M lodgements, the bank account numbers and the account beneficiaries, showing proof of my link to them.
“Having also alleged that the said $153.3M was ‘wired’ from NNPC, the EFCC should also publish details of the NNPC accounts from where the said $153.3 million was taken from with proof that I authorized such a transaction/transactions acting either in my private capacity or, as The Honourable Minister of Petroleum.
“Let me state for the record that as Minister of Petroleum, the operation and management of NNPC finances were outside my purview as outlined in both the Petroleum Act and the NNPC Act.
“The only involvement I had in NNPC Finances was in terms of statutory matters where the Petroleum Act prescribed that as Minister, there were certain duties or actions which I had to perform or take in relation to NNPC.
On alleged $700million found in her house and some mansions traced to her, Diezani accused EFCC of witch-hunt.
She added: “On the 13th of June 2016, the EFCC once again took their well-trodden path to the media. This time claiming that they had ‘discovered’ a mansion in Asokoro, Abuja, worth $18million (approx. N9billion) which they purported to belong to me.
“The EFCC went to the extent of bringing in Aljazeera, an International TV Station, to air a damaging documentary against me in this regard, showing a particular residential building in Asokoro, Abuja, which they told Aljazeera belonged to me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIQdZfz_JdA.
“The EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu, personally took the Aljazeera reporter to the building, alleging that it belonged to me.
“It has since become apparent that the house belongs to a company owned by Mr Kola Aluko.
“If this is not a witch-hunt or a personal vendetta against me, how is it that one of our Country’s premier investigative agencies were unable to avail themselves of facts that are freely available in the public domain?
“Since the EFCC claims that the alleged $18million Asokoro property belongs to me, then they should kindly produce the ‘Authentic’ Certificate of Occupancy and Land Registry information and any other relevant information, as proof of my ownership of the property.
“On the 9th November 2016, the EFCC visited our family home in Yenagoa (Bayelsa State) as pre-agreed and they were escorted around the premises.
“I was therefore completely shocked to once again see my name sensationally splashed across the Front Pages of Newspapers and widely circulated on the internet, with blaring Headlines such as “EFCC UNCOVERS DIEZANI’S MULTI-BILLION NAIRA ESTATE” – Nation Newspaper, January 8, 2017 (Annex- 4A). There was absolutely nothing ‘Hidden’ or ‘Concealed’ about the home.
“I had declared it openly as required by Law, in my Asset declaration forms (Annex-4B). Yet the EFCC have announced that they ‘Just Discovered’ my ‘Hidden Estate’! And labelled it a ‘Multi-Billion Naira Estate’! Even though they had been given the Bill of Quantities, showing actual amount spent.
“It is accepted tradition across the length and breadth of Nigeria, for people to own Country/Village homes. Given the size of the land and the location of the compound, the buildings thereon cannot by any stretch of the imagination be a “Multi-Billion Naira” palatial estate, as the news mongers would want to portray.
“The EFCC were taken on a tour of the compound which consisted of a Main house, and two outhouses – An Obi (meeting bungalow) and a staff quarters(BQ) building – above which we built 3 guest rooms and a parlour.
“The only other two structures are the gate and generator houses. Construction began in late 2011 and was handled in phases.
“During the visit the EFCC was given the bill of quantities, which up until the time construction stopped in early 2015, due to my illness, was at approximately N394million which was declared in the code of conduct documentation, attached (the costs were partially funded by a loan – see code of conduct – Annex4B, the work is still uncompleted and the contractor is still being owed).
“Building costs escalated as a result of delays in construction and external factors such as the extreme flooding of late 2012 that covered most of our areas in the Niger Delta.
“It is the accepted norm when building in the Niger Delta, that due to the topography of the land and the heavily waterlogged and marshy terrain, construction is infinitely more expensive than in other parts of the country, as by its nature it requires the building of extensive piling/raft foundations before any structural work can commence.
“The flooding of 2012 compounded the problem and further increased the cost of construction.
“Stories were circulated by unscrupulous agents of calumny that the EFCC found a mind boggling $700million in cash in my home in Abuja.
“Would the videos of this $700 million cash discovery not have made good viewing? Or should those who recovered this money not tell the public where exactly the money has been kept?
“Perhaps the Central Bank should corroborate that it is in custody of these monies allegedly found in my house
“But then, it is now patently apparent that Nigerians are no longer easily led to believe fables and sensational untruths.”
The ex-Minister said despite the criticism of her tenure, she left $5.6billion LNG dividends for the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
She said: “I would like to state for the record that I performed my duty as Minister of Petroleum Resources with the utmost sincerity and sense of responsibility, ensuring that all Nigerians irrespective of creed, gender or tribe enjoyed their rightful benefits from the Oil and Gas Sector.
“It is pertinent to note that at the end of my tenure, I left behind in the LNG dividend fund, for the incoming Administration, the sum of $5.6billion (five billion six hundred million US Dollars)(Annex-6A).
“I did this to ensure continuity in the crucial gas sector development which underpins the entire Power and Energy Sector and which was and still is, absolutely imperative for the Country’s current and future economic development.”
Regarding Malabu oil block (OPL 245) , the ex-Minister said her was a “purely statutory one as required by Law in the Petroleum Act.”
She said she did not benefit in any way from the transactions or negotiations on the oil block.
She said: “With regards to the various news reports published in both the online and print media, insidiously inferring that I was indicted by Italian prosecutors for, as they put it, ‘ sharing in the Loot’ of the $1.3bn OPL 245 oil block deal that involved Malabu and the Joint Venture Multinational partners, ENI(AGIP) and Royal Dutch Shell.
“Let me once again state for the record that this is another figment of the author’s imagination, which given the persistent bid to ensure my destruction and stick all of the sins of the Corruption plagued Oil and Gas Sector of over the last 30years upon my head, probably emanated from the EFCC itself!
“Let me clarify the position are the history of OPL 245, otherwise known as Malabu. You will find a full chronology in the attached report that I made to the House of Representatives in late 2011 (Annex 2A/Annex-2B).
“In 2010, shortly after I was appointed as Minister of Petroleum Resources, the issue of OPL 245 was brought to my attention.
“I looked into the case and immediately became aware of the inherent and long standing sensitivities around this issue.
“It became clear from the onset that this case was not within the direct purview of the Minister of Petroleum Resources but in the main was centered around issues of Law.
“By this time there was already an ICSID (International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes) investigation and claims against the FGN running into billions of dollars.
“Therefore, we took directives from the Chief Legal Officer of the nation; the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. In all of these matters due process was followed to the letter at all times.
“I wish to categorically state that I have never held any discussions on this matter with any individuals or entities outside of official channels.
“As Minister of Petroleum Resources, I did not participate in any activity relating to financial payments on the Malabu matter, other than those statutorily mandated to the Minister of Petroleum Resources by the Petroleum Act.
“My role in this matter was a purely statutory one as required by Law in the Petroleum Act.”
In an emotional tone, Diezani expressed confidence that she will be vindicated at the end of the ongoing investigations at home and in the UK.
She added: “It is saddening that after eight years of serving my country, my experience as a public servant has been fraught with continuous malicious castigation and character assassination, all in the name of ‘personal vendettas’ or political horse trading.
“It has become apparent to many that these untruths told were at best well-crafted fables.
“The most dramatic and damning accusation was the infamous missing $49.8 Billion Dollars, that went from to $12billion and then up to $20 billion and which was alleged missing from NNPC.
“Today, we all know that the PWC report that was published cleared me of any wrong doing and no one up till now has been able to controvert the PWC report nor has anyone found the “missing” 20 billion, or who took it.
“In addition, the Makarfi-led committee in the Senate of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, in a series of publicly-held hearings, also vindicated me on the matter of the purportedly missing funds.

She said: “I would like to state for the record that I performed my duty as Minister of Petroleum Resources with the utmost sincerity and sense of responsibility, ensuring that all Nigerians irrespective of creed, gender or tribe enjoyed their rightful benefits from the Oil and Gas Sector.
“It is pertinent to note that at the end of my tenure, I left behind in the LNG dividend fund, for the incoming Administration, the sum of $5.6billion (five billion six hundred million US Dollars)(Annex-6A).
“I did this to ensure continuity in the crucial gas sector development which underpins the entire Power and Energy Sector and which was and still is, absolutely imperative for the Country’s current and future economic development.”
Regarding Malabu oil block (OPL 245) , the ex-Minister said her was a “purely statutory one as required by Law in the Petroleum Act.”
She said she did not benefit in any way from the transactions or negotiations on the oil block.
She said: “With regards to the various news reports published in both the online and print media, insidiously inferring that I was indicted by Italian prosecutors for, as they put it, ‘ sharing in the Loot’ of the $1.3bn OPL 245 oil block deal that involved Malabu and the Joint Venture Multinational partners, ENI(AGIP) and Royal Dutch Shell.
“Let me once again state for the record that this is another figment of the author’s imagination, which given the persistent bid to ensure my destruction and stick all of the sins of the Corruption plagued Oil and Gas Sector of over the last 30years upon my head, probably emanated from the EFCC itself!
“Let me clarify the position are the history of OPL 245, otherwise known as Malabu. You will find a full chronology in the attached report that I made to the House of Representatives in late 2011 (Annex 2A/Annex-2B).
“In 2010, shortly after I was appointed as Minister of Petroleum Resources, the issue of OPL 245 was brought to my attention.
“I looked into the case and immediately became aware of the inherent and long standing sensitivities around this issue.
“It became clear from the onset that this case was not within the direct purview of the Minister of Petroleum Resources but in the main was centered around issues of Law.
“By this time there was already an ICSID (International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes) investigation and claims against the FGN running into billions of dollars.
“Therefore, we took directives from the Chief Legal Officer of the nation; the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. In all of these matters due process was followed to the letter at all times.
“I wish to categorically state that I have never held any discussions on this matter with any individuals or entities outside of official channels.
“As Minister of Petroleum Resources, I did not participate in any activity relating to financial payments on the Malabu matter, other than those statutorily mandated to the Minister of Petroleum Resources by the Petroleum Act.
“My role in this matter was a purely statutory one as required by Law in the Petroleum Act.”
In an emotional tone, Diezani expressed confidence that she will be vindicated at the end of the ongoing investigations at home and in the UK.
She added: “It is saddening that after eight years of serving my country, my experience as a public servant has been fraught with continuous malicious castigation and character assassination, all in the name of ‘personal vendettas’ or political horse trading.
“It has become apparent to many that these untruths told were at best well-crafted fables.
“The most dramatic and damning accusation was the infamous missing $49.8 Billion Dollars, that went from to $12billion and then up to $20 billion and which was alleged missing from NNPC.
“Today, we all know that the PWC report that was published cleared me of any wrong doing and no one up till now has been able to controvert the PWC report nor has anyone found the “missing” 20 billion, or who took it.
“In addition, the Makarfi-led committee in the Senate of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, in a series of publicly-held hearings, also vindicated me on the matter of the purportedly missing funds.
“Yet, we are all silent as if these events never occurred! The allegations that I have addressed above are no different, the character assassination continues, this time with a new set of hirelings.
“One of the basic tenets of the human trait is that we all have shortcomings and we all make our fair share of mistakes, whether we are in positions of leadership, or not.
“However, one error that cannot be ascribed to me is stealing from Nigeria and defrauding my country!
“It is therefore sad and distressing that in spite of all that I tried to do in the best interest of our nation, I continue to be faced with constant demonisation, unproven accusations and deeply personal insults.
“In response I have chosen not to insult, accuse or demonise anyone, any person or persons. In spite of all the allegations that have been made against me, not one has been factually proven.
“I remain very proud of the fact that all the policies, tenets and plans that I initiated in the Oil & Gas sector are still underpinning the entire structure.
“This is because they were put in place with the good of the entire nation and its people in mind. They were not factional, or tribal, neither were they based on religious bias.
“I can therefore, no longer sit back and allow the fabricated accusations against my person designed by unscrupulous persons with a vengeful agenda go unchallenged.
“As a Christian, it is my sincerely held belief that in the coming months, history will be the judge of exactly who lied and who told the truth. By the Grace of God, I shall be here to see the day when truth prevails.
“The fight against corruption in Nigeria will be far better served if the EFCC focuses on incontrovertible facts, as opposed to media sensationalism and completely distorted stories, in their bid to demonize and destroy a few specially chosen Nigerians.”

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