Mr. Jonathan also defended the suspension of the CBN governor.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday in Netherlands told Nigerians resident in the country that Nigeria does not have the security wherewithal to deal with the increasing security challenges in the county including, piracy, kidnapping and Boko Haram insurgency.
He, however, promised that his administration would deal with the security challenges.
The Nigerians, at an interactive session with the President, sought for an explanation for the suspension of the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Sanusi Lamido, and the alleged missing $20 billion from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation account.
Mr. Jonathan asked what they would have done if their subordinate, the CBN governor, is flippant and highly inconsistent.
He said Mr. Sanusi woke up on a particular day and alleged that N49.8 billion, the equivalent to the nation’s budgets for 2011 and 2012, was missing.
He said Mr. Sanusi dilly-dallied with figures until he came up with the $20 billion that went viral on the internet.
The President admitted that there were irregularities in the accounting system of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, but put up a defence as regards the missing money, saying there was no way $49.8 billion could have gotten missing at the time Mr. Sanusi alleged, even if all the leaders were corrupt.
“You have the governor of the Central Bank, it is a serious position. In America it is called the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank. I don’t know what they call it in the Netherlands. It is one of the most serious positions in the country. It is an office that you cannot talk carelessly. It is an office that if you say something it will affect the economy of the country.
“It is a highly respected office, not for Tom Dick and Harry. It is not the question of getting ten PHDs in economics. But your character, anything you say, the world takes it as the gospel truth.
“CBN governor woke up one day and said that the country lost $49.8billion. And as at that time the annual budget of 2011, 2012 put together is just about that. So that somebody stole money equivalent to your annual budget for two years even if the whole country is made up of thieves. I remember the immediate past CBN governor, Prof Soludo had a conversation with somebody and said that is not possible, that our country did not need to look at any book, that it was not possible. $49.8 billion that is almost $50 billion. It was not enough he went and slept.
“Few days later he said it was $12billion. Not $49.8billion but $12billion. After sometime he said no it was $20billion.
“If you were me, the head of your reserve bank give you three conflicting figures about this, what would you do?”
To the president’s explanation, the audience chorused ‘sack him’.
Mr. Jonathan admitted that there is a $10 billion fund that has not been reconciled by the NNPC and the Ministry of Finance; which led to his ordering of a forensic audit of the corporation.
On the Petroleum Industry Bill, Mr. Jonathan said he has been assured by members of the National Assembly that the bill will be passed.
He said the National Assembly leaders told him that as soon as work is completed on the 2014 budget, they would continue with the PIB. He said various issues led to the establishment of the National Conference which, for the first time, has a significant youth representation.
Listen to President Jonanthan:
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