The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, Tuesday dismissed insinuations making the rounds that the suspended Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, is a whistle blower.
According to the federal governmentâ€™s spokesman, Sanusi is more or less a voodoo statistician than a whistle blower.
Maku made the allegation Tuesday
while fielding questions from journalists after defending his ministryâ€™s budget for 2014 before the Senate Committee on Information.
He insisted that Sanusi couldnâ€™t have been a whistle blower because there was nowhere in the world where a central bank governor also doubles as whistle blower, adding that bearing the nick name of a whistle blower alone had already shown that something was wrong.
Maku then proceeded to restate that Sanusi was suspended because of problems emanating from the account of CBN, which he said was being investigated, explaining that such investigation necessitated his stepping aside until the investigation is concluded.
He argued that inconsistencies on the part of the CBN governor was unfortunate as he argued that it was incredible that somebody of Sanusiâ€™s status could reel out figures without verification.
The information minister also denied notions that Sanusi was suspended because of the allegation of unremitted funds, saying both issues were not related.
â€œSanusi is not a whistle blower as governor of central bank. That perception is fed by negative reports from the media. I have not heard of any nation where the central bank governor is a whistle blower. He is the manager of the nationâ€™s monetary policies as an adviser to the president of Nigeria on those issues.
â€œSo, the fact that he has moved from being the CBN governor to whistle blowing is a problem in itself.
But the reality of what has happened is that there are issues with the account of CBN of 2012 as the president explained. The financial reporting council has said that there are issues that should be addressed, so the president returned it back to the council and the council again returned it with some of the items with questions.
â€œCBN is the nerve centre of the nationâ€™s financial system. If there are problems with it, it means that it can generate a lot of problems in the banking system and the economy and so the president has been trying to sort this out between him and the CBN governor. There have been communications on it since April 2013. So, it has nothing to do with what my brother Sanusi has said relating to the NNPC.
â€œThis has been an ongoing conversation between them.
Unfortunately, the CBN governor is also the chairman of the board and he canâ€™t sit in a matter he is being investigated. So, what the president has done as the appointing officer of the CBN is to ask the governor to step aside pending the outcome of the investigation.
â€œHe has not been removed and we donâ€™t know why the hoopla. Are we saying that the queries that were raised relating to the CBN account were false? In the end, if he is found not guilty, he still has his tenure to run. As for the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), donâ€™t forget that a forensic audit of the NNPC has been ordered.
â€œRemember Sanusi said $49.8 billion was missing; how much do we earn? That means there was a free fall. But the story changed to $20 billion and $10.8 billion. So, nobody knows…. It is voodoo statistics that are coming from the CBN governor because if you want to say something relating to the economy as CBN governor, his opinions are seen to be sacrosanct in any country.
â€œYou donâ€™t say something without verifying it. No CBN governor makes statement on his nationâ€™s economy without verifying it. Things were done and the president didnâ€™t worry about it and his suspension had nothing to do with that. These days, we see a lot of outlandish allegations.
â€œPeople just make allegations and turn the country into one huge investigation panel; everyday, the National Assembly is investigating. The role of the CBN governor is quite clear. You donâ€™t even hear him talk and if he makes any statement, it affects the capital market and the entire economy,â€ Maku submitted.
During budget defence, Maku told the committee that the total budget proposal for Ministry of Information and its parastatals in 2014 was N26.57 billion.
According to him, the amount proposed for recurrent expenditure in 2014 was N22.43 billion while the estimates for capital expenditure was N3.62 billion.
He recalled that in 2013, the ministry got a total budget of N5.2 billion out of which N2.9 billion was actually released for expenditure.
He also told the committee that the Government Printing Press was yet to be functional due to what he described as non-availability of funds to revive the project.
He criticised state governments for denying members of the opposition access to state media, saying such attitude obstructs democratic growth.