In a move that may be bad for the image of a leader that has been criticised for his lackadaisical stance on corruption, President Goodluck Jonathan has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, to resign immediately.
The Tide gathered that the president allegedly took the decision on the grounds that the letter Sanusi wrote to him on the unremitted $49.8 billion oil revenue to the Federation Account was leaked to former President Olusegun Obasanjo by the CBN governor.
Just months to the end of his tenure as governor, Sanusi has, however, refused to resign, even as he denied leaking the letter to anyone.
He was said to have informed the president during the heated telephone exchange that he could only be removed by two-thirds of the Senate as required by law.
The president was reported to have called Sanusi and accused him of leaking the letter to Obasanjo, which enabled the latter to use it as one of many allegations he levelled against him in his letter titled: “Before It is Too Late”.
According to a Presidency source, the president was very angry and was not prepared to allow Sanusi proceed on his terminal leave in March, and therefore, asked him to tender his resignation before the close of business last Tuesday.
Angered by the president’s position, Sanusi, who denied that he had leaked his letter to Obasanjo, made it clear he would not be forced out, except he is removed by two-thirds of the Senate.
Faced with that difficult choice since majority of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members have decamped to the All Progressives Party (APC), the President and his aides have allegedly decided to suspend the CBN governor, and use security operatives to prevent him from entering the premises of the bank until the end of his tenure in June, 2014.
The meeting yesterday, sources said had perfected strategy to allow Sanusi go to court to seek redress while the President appoints current Deputy Governor, Financial Systems Stability, Kingsley Moghalu as interim CBN governor to oversee the affairs of the bank until a substantive governor is appointed in June.
But Sanusi had told the president that the letter was available in the Presidential Villa, Finance Ministry and the Central Bank of Nigeria, and wondered how he (Sanusi) could have leaked the letter, which was so widely circulated, to a former two-term president of Nigeria who has his people all over the place.
Sanusi also expressed surprise that the president could ask him to resign instead of the president looking for those responsible for the non-remittance of the funds.
Sources say his response threw the president aback, degenerating into a heated exchange during which Sanusi told the president that as the Federal Government’s Chief Economic Adviser, mandatorily required to bring issues of critical economic importance to the attention of the president, he had done a patriotic duty to his country.
“He informed the president that it is necessary to deal with the issues and not the letter that had been leaked since it has been established that it was not $49.8 billion that had not been remitted to the Federation Account, but $10.8 billion, which was still in dispute.
“Sanusi felt he was being forced out for doing his patriotic duty to his country by drawing attention to the unaccounted funds. He only has two months to go, so this was a ploy to force him out and destroy his career and reputation.
“He knew this and for this reason, refused to throw in the towel as requested by the president,” a source told newsmen.
The president was said to have however remained adamant and insisted on the CBN governor’s resignation.
The Presidency is reported to be worried that Sanusi has remained adamant in exposing the corruption in NNPC by insisting that a proper audit of the account of the corporation be carried out by an external auditor, especially after the NNPC could not still account for $18 billion in crude oil sale between January 2012 and December 2013 in recent accounts reconciliation meetings between the CBN and NNPC.
It would be recalled that Sanusi had written to the president in September informing him that, among other issues, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had not remitted $49.8 billion of oil revenue to the Federation Account over a 19-month period.
Although the letter was not made public until December 4, 2013 when it was leaked, Obasanjo referred to it in his letter dated December 2, 2013, to the president.
Source: The Tide