Jonathan’s Minister Approached Me With Offer To Return N50 Billion – El Rufai Tells New York Times

El-Rufai
A former minister under the Goodluck Jonathan administration is
frantically trying to return a stolen sum of N50 billion or $250
million. At least according to Kaduna State Governor Nasir Elrufai.
Speaking to internationally acclaimed publication, The New York
Times, el-Rufai made the claims. His claims and  other revelations about
the effects the anti-corruption body language is
having on the
misguided political elite are contained in today’s edition.
Read the New York Times article here

Private jets that used to crowd the airport here have been grounded,
their wings clipped by the new government’s crackdown on corruption.
Rolls-Royces, Range Rovers and Jaguars are gathering dust in the
showroom of this capital’s top car dealer. Luxury villas are left
unsold, as is the fine Italian marble used to bedeck the homes of
Nigeria’s newly rich.
Since assuming power in May on a pledge to root out the graft that
has long permeated Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has squeezed the
flow of public funds in an effort to clean up Africa’s biggest economy.
He has put many public projects on hold to review the contracts, and
ordered many government ministries, departments and agencies to
consolidate their bank accounts for closer monitoring of financial
transactions. He has overhauled the management of the state oil company,
while also moving to retrieve stolen money.
In recent days, the campaign escalated with the arrest of two
high- figures: Diezani Alison-Madueke, the former oil minister
whose five-year tenure was marred by recurring accusations of widespread
theft; and the chairman of a Nigerian oil company. Both were held as
part of inquiries into corruption and money laundering.
“Those actions will sustain the fear that the culture of impunity is
over and government’s will to prosecute is strong,” said Adams
Oshiomhole, a governor leading a national panel investigating federal
graft. “There’s no more free money flowing because of the attempts by
the president to block it, but also the fear that, ‘If I’m caught now,
I’ll be prosecuted.’”
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is the continent’s top oil
producer and one of the biggest producers in the world. Yet corruption
has undermined the nation, helping to keep 68 percent of its population
living on less than $1.25 a day and perpetuating instability, especially
the long-running conflict with Boko Haram.
Whether Mr. Buhari can maintain the pressure against graft, much less
transform a society where corruption thrives at all levels, is far from
clear. Over the years, previous assaults on the problem have fizzled.
Mr Buhari himself first rose to power in a military coup in the 1980s,
waging a self-described “war against indiscipline” during his short
reign as military ruler.
But this year, with national frustration boiling over corruption and
the rampages of Boko Haram, the extremist group that has terrorized
northern Nigeria, Mr. Buhari won the presidential election in March as
the head of an opposition alliance that is tasting power for the first
time. Now many politicians and businessmen say he is facing growing
pressure to reward the faithful.
The widening anti-corruption drive has chilled the economy elsewhere in
the country, but nowhere has its impact been felt as keenly as here in
the capital.
At Coscharis, the leading dealer of luxury cars here, Happiness Adibe
has been going through her worst year in her nine years as a
saleswoman. Last year was her strongest: a record number of buyers,
mostly businessmen and politicians, spent hundreds of thousands of
dollars buying Range Rovers and Jaguars from her. Seventy percent of her
customers paid cash.
“There’s no money now, no money,” Ms. Adibe said. “Contracts aren’t
going on now, everything is standing still. When contracts are going on,
people are getting contracts and doing their, you know, thing.”
At Royal Choice — a gated community of villas selling for up to $1.8
million each, some furnished according to a London, New York, Dubai or
Shanghai theme — Joshua Bialonwu has not scored a single sale since the
new government took over. Under the previous administration, customers
often bought villas in cash.
On a tour through Royal Choice’s eerily deserted streets and inside
several villas, each empty except for a guard and a cellphone charging
from a wall, Mr. Bialonwu explained why sales had dried up.
“With the uncertainties of the government presently, nobody knows how
much you might be asked to return,” Mr. Bialonwu said. “So you want to
hold on to as much as you can.”
Negotiations over what to do with ill-gotten gains are taking place quietly.
Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state and a member of the
panel investigating graft, said that associates of one former minister
had approached him with an offer to return $250 million.
“When you say you want to refund, it means you are admitting that you
took what was not yours,” Mr. Rufai said. “I said, ‘I am a governor, I
am not involved in this. I will pass on your message.’
[i][/i]
Many officials and businessmen said that graft under former President
Goodluck Jonathan reached levels not seen since military rule ended in
1999. Billions of dollars are believed to have disappeared from
activities related to the oil industry, the source of 80 percent of all
government revenues.
Last year, after the governor of the country’s central bank asserted
that billions of dollars in oil revenue owed to the treasury was missing
from public coffers, he was removed from his post.
The missing funds could amount to “$10.8 billion or $12 billion or
$19 billion or $21 billion — we do not know at this point,” the bank
governor wrote to the Nigerian Senate before his dismissal, adding that
the problem could “bring the entire economy to its knees.”
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the state oil company,
spent half of what it collected on its own operations, Mr. Rufai said.
“The corrupt try to take money under the table,” he said. “Under
Jonathan’s government, it is done so openly, with records. People
actually document the diversion of funds. You just wonder, what is wrong
with them.”
The loss of oil revenues has left many of Nigeria’s 36 states
bankrupt or nearly bankrupt, unable to pay salaries.Private jets that
used to crowd the airport here have been grounded, their wings clipped
by the new government’s crackdown on corruption. Rolls-Royces, Range
Rovers and Jaguars are gathering dust in the showroom of this capital’s
top car dealer. Luxury villas are left unsold, as is the fine Italian
marble used to bedeck the homes of Nigeria’s newly rich.
Since assuming power in May on a pledge to root out the graft that
has long permeated Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has squeezed the
flow of public funds in an effort to clean up Africa’s biggest economy.
He has put many public projects on hold to review the contracts, and
ordered many government ministries, departments and agencies to
consolidate their bank accounts for closer monitoring of financial
transactions. He has overhauled the management of the state oil company,
while also moving to retrieve stolen money.
In recent days, the campaign escalated with the arrest of two
high-profile figures: Diezani Alison-Madueke, the former oil minister
whose five-year tenure was marred by recurring accusations of widespread
theft; and the chairman of a Nigerian oil company. Both were held as
part of inquiries into corruption and money laundering.
“Those actions will sustain the fear that the culture of impunity is
over and government’s will to prosecute is strong,” said Adams
Oshiomhole, a governor leading a national panel investigating federal
graft. “There’s no more free money flowing because of the attempts by
the president to block it, but also the fear that, ‘If I’m caught now,
I’ll be prosecuted.’”
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is the continent’s top oil
producer and one of the biggest producers in the world. Yet corruption
has undermined the nation, helping to keep 68 percent of its population
living on less than $1.25 a day and perpetuating instability, especially
the long-running conflict with Boko Haram.
Whether Mr. Buhari can maintain the pressure against graft, much less
transform a society where corruption thrives at all levels, is far from
clear. Over the years, previous assaults on the problem have fizzled.
Mr Buhari himself first rose to power in a military coup in the 1980s,
waging a self-described “war against indiscipline” during his short
reign as military ruler.
But this year, with national frustration boiling over corruption and
the rampages of Boko Haram, the extremist group that has terrorized
northern Nigeria, Mr. Buhari won the presidential election in March as
the head of an opposition alliance that is tasting power for the first
time. Now many politicians and businessmen say he is facing growing
pressure to reward the faithful.
The widening anti-corruption drive has chilled the economy elsewhere in
the country, but nowhere has its impact been felt as keenly as here in
the capital.
At Coscharis, the leading dealer of luxury cars here, Happiness Adibe
has been going through her worst year in her nine years as a
saleswoman. Last year was her strongest: a record number of buyers,
mostly businessmen and politicians, spent hundreds of thousands of
dollars buying Range Rovers and Jaguars from her. Seventy percent of her
customers paid cash.
“There’s no money now, no money,” Ms. Adibe said. “Contracts aren’t
going on now, everything is standing still. When contracts are going on,
people are getting contracts and doing their, you know, thing.”
At Royal Choice — a gated community of villas selling for up to $1.8
million each, some furnished according to a London, New York, Dubai or
Shanghai theme — Joshua Bialonwu has not scored a single sale since the
new government took over. Under the previous administration, customers
often bought villas in cash.
On a tour through Royal Choice’s eerily deserted streets and inside
several villas, each empty except for a guard and a cellphone charging
from a wall, Mr. Bialonwu explained why sales had dried up.
“With the uncertainties of the government presently, nobody knows how
much you might be asked to return,” Mr. Bialonwu said. “So you want to
hold on to as much as you can.”
Negotiations over what to do with ill-gotten gains are taking place quietly.
Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state and a member of the
panel investigating graft, said that associates of one former minister
had approached him with an offer to return $250 million.
“When you say you want to refund, it means you are admitting that you
took what was not yours,” Mr. Rufai said. “I said, ‘I am a governor, I
am not involved in this. I will pass on your message.’
[i][/i]
Many officials and businessmen said that graft under former President
Goodluck Jonathan reached levels not seen since military rule ended in
1999. Billions of dollars are believed to have disappeared from
activities related to the oil industry, the source of 80 percent of all
government revenues.
Last year, after the governor of the country’s central bank asserted
that billions of dollars in oil revenue owed to the treasury was missing
from public coffers, he was removed from his post.
The missing funds could amount to “$10.8 billion or $12 billion or
$19 billion or $21 billion — we do not know at this point,” the bank
governor wrote to the Nigerian Senate before his dismissal, adding that
the problem could “bring the entire economy to its knees.”
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the state oil company,
spent half of what it collected on its own operations, Mr. Rufai said.
“The corrupt try to take money under the table,” he said. “Under
Jonathan’s government, it is done so openly, with records. People
actually document the diversion of funds. You just wonder, what is wrong
with them.”
The loss of oil revenues has left many of Nigeria’s 36 states bankrupt or nearly bankrupt, unable to pay salaries.
The Herald

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