President Goodluck Jonathan, on Sunday shed more light on the “missing” $ 20 billion. In the course of the Presidential Media Chat, the President was asked about the forensic audit promised on the allegedly missing oil revenue. The President debunked insinuations that the money might have found its way into private accounts. “$ 50 billion is a lot of money. That is more than the amount that comes to Africa as aid. So if you steal that type of money, America will know. Even if the country is made up of thieves, where will you hide $ 20 billion?”, the President asked.
Speaking further, he said “People mention figures that are quite frightening. The CBN Governor is not an ordinary Nigerian, first, it was $50 billion, then it became $ 12 billion and again it was $ 20 billion. I am telling you that if anybody steals $ 20 billion the country will know. But to answer your question directly, the audit is going on.”
The President also spoke on the Federal Government’s directive that government offices and schools should remain closed during the duration of the World Economic Forum on Africa which holds from Wednesday to Friday.
“Abuja has not been locked down, but we know that with the number of heads of governments that have indicated interest to attend, we know that there are privileges involved in the movement of presidents. There will be stoppages here and there and you know there is a lot of construction going on in Abuja”, the President said.
He also said “we plead with Nigerians living in Abuja to bear with the government. These 3 days will not kill us. We feel instead of being on the road for 5 hours and not getting to your destination, it is better to stay back at home. We are not saying private offices should shut down, but we are advising.”
When the President was asked why Nigerians have not felt the effects of the rebasing of the economy, the President responded that “when they say the economy has been rebased, some Nigerians think overnight, you have moved from two tons to ten tons but there were some sectors that were not properly captured before the rebasing.
One of such is the popular Nollywood. And when we say we have improved employment, it is not that government has employed everybody. It is not possible for government to employ everybody. Let me give you the example of the YOUWIN programme, you can employ people through that because we give grants and such companies can grow from two people to three and four or more. Government has created conducive environment. We are not just saying this, we have the facts and figures. I will ask the office of the Statistician General to publish the figures.”The President also stated that the private sector has to be encouraged in order to sole the problem of unemployment in the country.
On the power situation, the President reiterated his commitment to making the power situation better. He said “we may not be moving as fast as we should but one thing I have promised Nigerians is that we will never go back to those days when we were generating 2, 000 MW.”
Before the end of the chat, it was brought to the President’s notice that petrol was being sold higher than the official pump price by lots of marketers. Exhibiting surprise, the President said those selling above the pump price are criminals and would be treated as criminals. He promised that the Directorate of Petroleum Resources would go out to verify on Monday. He also stated the government has no intention of increasing the pump price of petrol.
“I will not change pump price through the back door. If I think it has to be done, I will do it, even if costs me my job. But right now, I have no intention of changing the the pump price,” he assured.
On the infiltration of Boko Haram into the cabinet, the President stated that he never said there were Boko Haram members in his cabinet. Offering an explanation, the President said “I never said Boko Haram infiltrated the cabinet. The cabinet is cabinet is made up of the President, the Vice President, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and ministers. I said the government was infiltrated and you know government is wide. Remember a senator was being prosecuted around that time.”
For striking Polytechnic lecturers, the President had a reminder, “it is only in this country that you go on strike for 6 months and still collect 6 months salary. There is an existing law that if you go on strike for one day, you should forfeit your salary for that day. “