Tony Anenih vs Sam Nda-Isaiah - Rumble in the Jungle
Since it is letter writing season, see here the recent bust-up between the PDP's Chief Tony Anenih and Leadership Newspaper's Sam Nda-Isaiah. Chief Tony Anenih had, apparently, taken exception to Mr. Isaiah's reporting on certain issues concerning this administration's management of the economy and their politics...not least of which is the recent nationwide alarm at the missing $49B and then $10B (?). So he wrote the newspaper columnist expressing his disappointment with his criticism of the government and his lack of support for President Jonathan. If you think Chief Anenih's letter was a tad scathing, the response from Mr. Isaiah was a TKO...a professional sucker punch!
See below the transcripts from both gladiators and make your own judgement.
Is The President Aware That $10.8b Is Still Missing?
It has been alleged that President Jonathan was so angry with
the CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, about the leakage of his letter that he
(the president) asked the governor to resign. The president apparently did not
even crosscheck to see whether he had the powers to sack a CBN governor
whimsically. In any case, the president would still have been able to sack the
governor if he had the support of the majority of the senators or he is
perceived by the senators to be working in the best interests of the nation.
But this president is certainly not working in the best interests of the nation
and has lost both the house of Senate and the House of Representatives.
And, by the way, the president has also lost the majority of his
governors, and, here, I am not just talking about the G5 governors. There are
several PDP governors today that are not with the president, and those are the
governors that I think the president should be worried about. At the rate the
president is going, he would become a lame-duck president by the middle of this
year without even knowing it. Or, worse still, he could become a sitting-duck
president, sitting at the mercy of the National Assembly.
But why was the president so livid with the CBN governor that he
wanted him to resign? More decent people thought such anger should have been
directed at people like Diezani Allison-Madueke, the petroleum minister, and
Stella Oduah, the aviation minister. This president has not developed the
capacity to ask Stella Oduah to resign in spite of her several scandals and he
has not asked Diezani to resign for all the mess we all know the petroleum
ministry under her has become. He is not even angry enough that his own finance
minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said that $10.8 billion is still unaccounted
for by the NNPC. This amount is roughly N1.7 trillion. Does the president know
what this amount could have done for Nigeria? And nobody should ever tell me
that the whopping amount has been spent on fuel subsidy again, as some people
are now trying to do, because, before Jonathan happened on us, the average
annual amount that used to be expended on fuel subsidy was N250 billion.
So when Speaker Aminu Tambuwal said the president’s body
language encourages corruption, he was only being polite. The situation is much
worse. The president’s whole being and soul encourage corruption, and not just
his body language. The president was only upset because the apparent theft of
public funds that Sanusi’s letter to him suggested was leaked. President
Jonathan actually gets angry when thieves are caught. I have never seen a thing
like that. He was not angry that public funds could have been stolen. He was
never at any time livid with his minister of petroleum who could have presided
over such huge theft. This is precisely the same way that the president was
upset with those who led the media to discover the corruption at the Police
College, Ikeja, Lagos, that ensured that police cadets were living under
conditions that would have been unfit for the president’s dogs.
The president was not angry enough to ask where the money voted
for the police had gone or whether the appropriated police budgets got to them
at all. He did not even have compassion for the suffering cadets and showed no
empathy whatsoever towards them. He was only upset that some thieves had been
exposed for stealing government money. And, since then, nothing has happened to
those thieves. Nobody expects anything to happen to them as long as it is
Jonathan that is president.
It still beats me that, in spite of all the allegations of theft
and diversion of public funds being leveled against the NNPC daily, the person
who should be doing all the talking and explanation, the petroleum minister,
has not said anything. That is very annoying, to say the least. That is what
should be annoying and ruffling the president. But why is Diezani not saying
anything? Every Nigerian wants her to defend herself but she feels too big to
do so; she has not been fired, as would have happened anywhere else in the
world. A friend of mine recently reminded me that she would be committing
perjury if she ever opened her mouth to say anything, so we should understand
why she is not speaking. We are tired of listening to Okonjo-Iweala defending
the petroleum ministry. She should be defending the finance ministry, not
another ministry. Why does she want to take Panadol for another person’s
headache? I am not even sure that the management of the NNPC are in a position
to address the very weighty questions that have been coming up, because everyone
knows that they only receive orders from the queen of the cabinet.
Another puzzle is Okonjo-Iweala herself who has cried out
several times against the ongoing corruption in Jonathan’s government. And she
once also added that “we are not helpless”, meaning that something can be done
about it by their government presided over by Jonathan. My puzzle is that she
remains tight-seated in such a government. Well, she can’t have her cake and
eat it. She will need to know that whatever international credentials she
thinks she has built for herself over the years are being eroded. And she
should not hope to go unscathed when the shit finally hits the fan.
Well, maybe the president needs to be reminded that the CBN
governor insists $12 billion (N1.9 trillion) is still missing and the finance
minister in disagreeing said the figure is “only” $10.8 billion (N1.7
trillion). I am not in an argument mode at the moment, as I will prefer to wait
for Sanusi’s memoirs; so I am going to stick with the finance minister’s figures
for now. So, Mr President, where is the nation’s $10.8 billion (N1.7 trillion)
that is still missing? Last week, someone in the NNPC who wanted to play on the
nation’s intelligence said that was the money that was used for the fuel
subsidy payments. The natural question to follow is this: when did the NNPC
start using proceeds from the sale of crude oil directly to run the government?
Do we now operate a jungle government that the NNPC would directly use the
proceeds from the sale of crude oil instead of remitting every kobo into the
CBN? Is that how they have been running the country all along? If it is true
that the petroleum ministry had not been remitting every kobo to the
government’s banker, then, the minister may be guilty of a felony of a treasonable
nature. And if the president knew this all along and has done nothing about it,
then, this is clearly another impeachable offence. The money doesn’t belong to
With all these happening, it is quite befuddling how anyone will
want Jonathan to continue as president beyond 2015, as a few jesters are
currently doing. Anyone, no matter who that person is, who wants President
Jonathan to govern Nigeria beyond 2015 is an enemy of the Nigerian state.
Is The President Aware That $10.8b Is Still Missing?
- Chief (Dr) Tony Anenih
— January 24, 2014
I am concerned enough to draw your attention to the several
instances of uncomplimentary self-revelations exhibited in your most recent
column. The article, which bore the above title and was published on the back
page of the Leadership newspaper of Monday, January 13, 2014, spoke more about
your uncharitable attitude towards President Goodluck Jonathan than the
purported missing $10.8b. In the said column you said “It is quite befuddling
how anyone will want Jonathan to continue as president beyond 2015, as a few
jesters are currently doing. Anyone, no matter who that person is, who wants
President Jonathan to govern Nigeria beyond 2015, is an enemy of the Nigerian
In the first instance, it was most revealing that you, as the
Chairman of the Leadership Group, chose to ignore the fact that the Nigerian
National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had given a satisfactory account of the
supposedly missing $10.8b only a few days before your article was published.
This unwillingness to acknowledge the existence of an official explanation from
a statutory body on a matter of public interest is very disturbing as it sheds
a most unflattering light on you, more so as you are a person who also aspires
to high public office, in the near future.
This is because your newspaper, Leadership, published a story
titled “How We Spent Unremitted $10.8bn – NNPC.” An online version of the
story, dated January 11, 2014, is still viewable at your newspaper’s website.
Part of the report reads: “the NNPC group executive director, Finance and
Accounts Directorate, Bernard Otti, said the $10.8b reflected expenditures
incurred by the corporation during the period under review and are really made
up of the following: subsidy claims, $8.49b, pipeline management and repair
costs, $1.22b, products/crude oil losses $0.72b, and cost of holding the
strategic reserve, Following this explanation, as reported in your own
newspaper, you deliberately chose to ignore the facts and play to the gallery
by repeating the unfortunate smear campaign started by the mistake-prone
Central Bank of Nigeria governor. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. As you know, the CBN
governor, who began this misleading campaign against the government of
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan-a government which he is a part of has since recanted
his claim that the outlandish sum of $49.8b from the sale of the nation’s crude
oil was unaccounted for.
You will recall that when the CBN governor was confronted with
evidence of his error, he owned up to his mistake, sought to revise the number down
to $12b, but was again called out for this new error by the Minister of
Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Despite these facts now being public knowledge, you went ahead
to posit that some imaginary 10.8b is still missing somewhere. Beside the sheer
deceit in this uncritical furtherance of errors started by a central banker who
ordinarily should have been more circumspect, it appears that you have chosen
to remain in the ranks of those that the THISDAY columnist, Simon Kolawole, has
described as people who see only problems in Nigeria.
In a Sunday, January 12. 2014 article titled “Minting our Way to
the Top”, Kolawole wrote:
“I keep asking myself: why does the world tend to believe in us
but we seem not to believe in ourselves? A typical Nigerian sees only problems.
A typical outsider sees opportunities.” I mention Kolawole’s column here
because his article focused on the recent news that Jim O’Neill, a British
economist, best known for coining the economic acronym “BRIC” (Brazil, Russia,
India, and China), has coined a new economic acronym “MINT”, meaning Mexico,
Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey; countries he describes as “emerging economic
giants.” You, in your “Earshot” panel, also wrote about the “MINT” countries
but still managed to find a way to denigrate the office and person of the
President despite this cheery economic news.
While there is some debate as to who should be given credit for
“MINT” (some sources claim the acronym was actually coined by Fidelity
International, an asset management firm, based in Boston and not Jim O’Neil),
what is important is that the world is keenly aware of the economic
achievements of the President Jonathan-Ied administration. If not for anything
else, it is a fact, as was shown in a presentation by the Minister of Finance,
Dr Okonjo-Iweala, at a recent interactive session with the private sector, that
the Federal Government created 1.6 million jobs in the year 2013.
Moreover, it is also a fact that late last year, the
well-regarded international magazine, Forbes, named Minister of Agriculture, Or
Akinwumi Adesina, Africa Person of the Year 2013 for empowering more than six
million farmers across the country to practise agriculture as a business, and
not as a development initiative without any incentive for growth.
Furthermore, today in Nigeria, the President Jonathan-Ied
government has ensured that fertilisers are sold straight to the farmers-not to
any government ministry and not to middlemen-thereby reversing the sad and
unfortunate practice where real farmers were deprived of essential needs such
as seeds and fertilisers for over 40 years.
These are just a few instances to show that the picture of doom
and gloom that you have chosen to constantly paint of present-day Nigeria in
your Monday column is a creation of your imagination and not the reality. I
understand that for you to acknowledge that progress is being made in the
affairs of Nigeria would be asking too much of you because clearly you are one
of those who, as Simon Kolawole says, see only problems in Nigeria.
And yet I must let you know that it is the height of
brinkmanship to seek to inflame passions over a “missing” amount of money,
which has been proven by the relevant agency not to be missing at all, and
recently enumerated the purposes for which the money was spent. Your Leadership
newspaper proclaims it exists: “For God and Country.” If this is truly the
case, you and your newspaper owe God and Nigerians a patriotic sense of balance
in presenting facts and, even, opinions on national issues.
Though politics has eaten deep into, and ruined the
socio-cultural fabric of Nigeria, I urge you and other influential Nigerians in
the media to put the interest of the nation first in your publications over and
above personal interest and selfish political and sectional agenda which are
capable of heating up the polity and leading to pernicious division in our
nation. Please, accept assurances of my highest consideration.
The world is expecting me to respond today to
the letter you wrote me, so I will go straight to the point. Your letter to me,
sir, was a little strange because I can’t see what you intend to achieve. But,
as my Esan friend recently told me, there is a saying in your place that “when
a bird suddenly begins dancing on top of the tree, then there is music under
the ground”. As the Iyasele of Esanland, you must be well
familiar with that adage. But even with the music playing from Aso Rock, you
should not have allowed yourself to write that kind of letter. The letter
greatly diminished you, sir, and you must have already realised that from the
kind of comments about you all over the social media since your letter was
released. If the responses in the social media do not mean anything to you,
surely, they will to your children and grandchildren.
That is the stuff Nigerians have come to
expect from Ahmed Gulak, Doyin Okupe and Reuben Abati, and, honestly, I would
not have responded if any of these three had appended his signature to that
letter. But since it is you that wrote it, I will reply you, and that is why I
am doing this today.
I also want you to know that, in writing this
today, I am doing it on behalf of millions of Nigerians who have no voice. I
have taken it as a responsibility because, in so doing, I would be serving the
larger interests of the Nigerian state. And that’s all that matters to me.
For starters, this type of letter is not
within the remit of your job as chairman of the PDP board of trustees. You are
neither Jonathan’s spokesperson nor, technically speaking, a member of his
government. You are not the spokesman of the NNPC; you are not the spokesman of
the Ministry of Petroleum; you are not the spokesman of the ministry of
finance. At best you are just an onlooker like any of us. Besides, the chairman
of the board of trustees should be calm and measured but, in that letter, you
are anything but calm and measured. Several times in the past, you had invited
me to your home to discuss national issues. Even though I have never agreed
with your views and even a few of the positions you wanted me to take, I have
always respected you nonetheless. You have always addressed me as “my son”. And
the joke in LEADERSHIP among the directors when discussing any story affecting
you is that “nobody should upset the chairman’s father please”. Just before you
were crowned the chairman of the PDP board of trustees, you invited me to your
home. We discussed Nigeria intensively and extensively. Even though we didn’t
agree on any issue at all, I cherished the fact that you invited me to your
home for discussion.
In your letter, you said NNPC had satisfactorily
explained how the said $10.8 billion (N1.7 trillion) was expended.
Satisfactorily to whom? Satisfactorily to you and your other “son”, President
Jonathan? Sir, do you and President Jonathan think Nigerians are fools? I
respect you a lot sir – both for your age and our relationship – but I love
Nigeria more than I respect you. Sir, to say that the NNPC officials have
satisfactorily explained how they expended a whopping N1.7 trillion on behalf
of Nigerians is the greatest insult to Nigerians. By the way, is the NNPC
supposed to spend money that has not been appropriated for it? Is it their
father’s money (pardon my French)? Does the NNPC have a first charge over the
disbursement of government funds? You have been around government for too long
to know this, but probably because you have been too used to the wrong way of
running government, the wrong things have become normal to you. Sir, NNPC
spending directly from the revenue it earns for the country without
appropriation is theft, pure and simple, and should be punished if the Jonathan
government had been a serious one. And if the president is aware of it and does
nothing, then, he should be impeached at once to save the country from economic
ruination. All monies made by the NNPC via the sales of the nation’s resources
must be remitted to the nation’s coffers. And, sir, we are talking about N1.7
trillion here, which if well deployed into any sector could change that sector
Again, sir, why, at over 80 years, do you want
to endorse a lie? You are the one that should be teaching us not to lie. I feel
sad that someone who addresses me as “my son” would want me to lie. No, sir, I
won’t. I was not brought up that way. NNPC has not satisfactorily explained
anything as you want people to believe. And it is not NNPC that Nigerians are
waiting to hear from. They want to hear from the minister of petroleum or,
better still, the president himself, since, as we all know, an expenditure of
N1.7 trillion is absolutely beyond the authority of all NNPC staffers put
But, sir, why do you want to lie to yourself
about the Jonathan government? This is a government that “expended” N2.6
trillion on fuel subsidy in a year that only N245 billion was appropriated for
same. Has that one also been satisfactorily explained? What about the N32
billion police pension fund scam that Jonathan is pretending about? The N5
billion Teidi pension scam? The industrial-scale theft of crude oil worth about
$2 billion monthly? What about the N53 billion NCC spectrum sale racket or the
24 million barrels of oil worth $1.6 billion stolen through signature forgery,
according to Minister Aganga? Nobody even talks about bullet-proof Stella Oduah
anymore. Sir, you seriously want us to keep quiet in the face of all these? Is
this the type of country you want to leave behind for your grandchildren? As
chairman, PDP board of trustees, you have a disproportionate responsibility
among others to call President Jonathan to order and not to endorse thefts at
the level we see today. But, like most people are now saying in the social
media in response to your letter to me, if you too have not “satisfactorily”
explained how you expended N300 billion on roads when you were minister of
works with nothing commensurate to show for it, it will be asking too much to
expect you to assess the situation rationally. Even if we agree with you that
only N175 billion was released to you as minister, was there anything on ground
to show that you received that kind of money?
But let’s go back to the N1.7 trillion heist,
sir. Should we accept the NNPC’s lame explanation as “fact” when the so-called
statement did not mention the name of a single company that benefited from the
so-called “subsidy” on which it claimed to have squandered $8.49 billion? Or,
why should anyone take NNPC seriously over the alleged expenses of $1.2 billion
on pipeline management when the whole job has been outsourced to Global West
Vessel Services Ltd, Tompolo’s company, for N15 billion? What’s the job of the
PPMC anyway? How can you, sir, as BOT chairman and my adopted father, receive
as gospel the writing off of $750 million as acceptable explanation for
“products/crude losses”? Is that what your party has turned Nigeria to? The
problem with you and President Jonathan, sir, is that either you do not
understand the rules of good governance or you think Nigerians are
unintelligent fools. No, you are wrong, sir! You would be surprised at the
details the average Nigerian in the street now knows.
As chairman of the PDP board of trustees, sir,
why don’t you spend your time constructively, asking President Jonathan, for
instance, why he had to spend a whopping N400 billion on the amnesty programme,
sending Nigerians abroad to learn crafts and other skills without establishing
one single school or vocational centre in the Niger Delta? Sir, we are talking
about the whole of N400 billion here. Do you know how many vocational centres
and schools that would have established, that would have continued to train and
re-train people from the Niger Delta? That is what you want Nigerians to keep
quiet about? No, sir, I do not respect you to that extent. Or, let’s even go
further: what has happened to the N300 billion that President Umaru Yar’Adua
kept for the Niger Delta before he went into a coma from which he never came
around? Only Jonathan can answer that.
You also veered off the point on a few
occasions. You said, “it is also a fact that, last year, the well-regarded
international magazine, Forbes, named minister of agriculture, Dr
Akinwunmi Adesina, African person of the year…”. What has that got to do with
stealing N1.7 trillion belonging to the people? You might also need to know,
sir, that LEADERSHIP doesn’t need Forbes to recognise talents
in public service. The Board of Editors of the newspaper (of which I am not a
member) had selected Adesina as the LEADERSHIP Public Officer of the Year 2013
in November, before Forbes’ announcement in December. But that’s
clearly beside the point.
You obliquely insinuated that I serve
sectional interests. Sir, if you who recently said anyone from the south-south
that is against Jonathan should have his head examined would call me sectional,
then, that should count as the greatest insult anyone has ever hauled on me.
But I forgive you, sir. You call me sectional? Where were you and most of the
people claiming to be close to Jonathan today when a few of us stood up against
the Yar’Adua cabal that did not want then vice president Jonathan to become
president according to the dictates of the constitution? Sir, I cannot remember
you saying anything in those uncertain times, as you were clearly with the
Yar’Adua group. Yes, sir, you could always be counted upon to support any
government in power; if armed robbers took over Aso Rock tomorrow, they would
count on your support. And you would not disappoint them.
President Jonathan himself knows that I was
one of the very few who stood by the constitution. In fact, I was against the
so-called doctrine of necessity that made Jonathan acting president because it
was unconstitutional. I insisted that Jonathan at that time should be declared
president straightaway because that is what the constitution provides when a
president becomes incapacitated. You were clearly missing at that time. So,
sir, you are not allowed to call me, or anyone else for that matter, sectional.
You cannot call me sectional. I was against President Obasanjo’s misrule as
much as I was against Umaru Yar’Adua’s misrule, even though one was a
southerner and the other a northerner. If today I am against Jonathan, whose
misrule is worse than Obasanjo’s and Yar’Adua’s put together (unfortunately),
nobody should call me sectional. No, sir, I am a proud Nigerian who would never
say the kind of sectional things you often say.
In another paragraph, you said, “And yet I must
let you know that it is the height of brinkmanship to seek to inflame passions
over a ‘missing’ amount of money, which has been proven by the relevant agency
not to be missing at all.” Who decides whether money is missing at the NNPC?
The NNPC? The minister of finance? The minister of petroleum? The PDP BOT
chairman? Or an independent audit? There is no greater act of brinkmanship than
dabbling into a matter clearly outside your brief. I admit that the current
state of your party, the PDP, could leave traumatic side-effects on its
stalwarts, especially on the office of the BOT. But I frankly don’t understand
how I should become the target of your misfortune because I expressed an
opinion on a matter of very serious public interest.
You also went berserk on the CBN governor,
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. That is very unbecoming of the office of the PDP BOT
chairman. By the way, the $10.8 billion I spoke about was not Sanusi’s figure.
It is Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s figure; she has consistently said that corruption
is killing the country and “we are not helpless about it”. The same
Okonjo-Iweala raised the alarm less than a week ago in Davos, Switzerland, that
the Nigerian economy was under threat because, on Jonathan’s watch, the excess
crude account had been depleted from $8.65 billion to $2.5 billion within a
year. Our foreign reserves have also been depleted.
You described the CBN governor as
mistake-prone. But he still insists that $12 billion is missing. It was
Okonjo-Iweala’s figure that was $10.8 billion. But we may just have to be
patient for a few more months before we hear the real story of the stolen $49.8
billion. Sanusi will complete his term in June and would be free to tell the
real story of the $49.8 billion. For now, I will counsel theIyasele to
stop gloating and explain in whose hands the $10.8 billion is, since he has now
turned himself into Jonathan’s spokesperson.
Sir, as the BOT chairman, you are not allowed
to be an attack dog. You are not allowed to go berserk as you did on Sanusi. It
reduced your stature. You are not even allowed to write that kind of letter to
me as Chief Tony Anenih, the Iyasele of Esanland, and a father
figure to many of us. You call me your son, and, for that reason, we will not
allow you to dance naked in the market square. We will insist we tie you with a
wrapper to hide your nakedness. Sir, don’t write that kind of letter again!