Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has explained his involvement in a letter forwarded to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan by a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, challenging the non-remittance of $49.8 billion oil windfall to the federation account.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday, Amaechi strongly condemned reports in the media, which indicated that he “surreptitiously and clandestinely” leaked the letter.
The statement issued by his media aide insisted that the reports were far from the truth.
It said, “A concerned and patriotic Nigerian, who felt sufficiently troubled with what was happening then, gave a copy of the Sanusi’s letter to Amaechi, in Amaechi’s capacity as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF). Like Amaechi, we should appreciate that concerned Nigerian’s patriotism.
“When Amaechi got the letter, he spoke with Sanusi, who was still the CBN Governor, to confirm the authenticity of the letter. 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 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. The CBN Governor did not agree with Amaechi on the way forward.
“Considering that the letter was given to Amaechi as Chairman of the NGF, he shared the letter with his colleague governors first, and with Senator Bukola Saraki (now Senate President), who before and around that period was doing some work or/and investigation around the oil sector in the Senate.
“Around that period, a delegation from the United States government, from the offices of the Secretaries of State and Defence, visited Amaechi in Port Harcourt to discuss the problem 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 brought out the Sanusi 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 problem of oil theft.”