Late former military dictator, Sani Abacha, is responsible for the woes that have plagued the petroleum sector, Shamsudeen Usman, Nigeria’s former finance minister, has alleged.
Usman accused Abacha of halting the privatisation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) after taking over power in 1993. He refused to privatise the government parastatal as long as he remained in office.
Abacha accused of looting Nigeria’s funds while alive
Vanguard reports that Usman said this in Abuja at the inauguration of a study group on giving voice and voting power to retail shareholders in the country.
Abacha died in office in June 1998. He is since then accused of looting the country’s treasury while alive.
Various sums, in hard currencies have been repatriated to Nigeria from where the looted funds are allegedly hidden.
The former minister said: “The biggest problem of this country is lack of continuity.
“What happened was that Abacha came and put a cutlass and just cut it off. The reforms of NEPA, the reforms of NNPC all these NITEL, Nigeria Airways, SwissAir had actually paid for it.
“By today, we would have had a national carrier. All these reforms that you are seeing would have been concluded long ago.
“For NNPC, if you see the fight that we fought even with the minister of petroleum who was one of the most powerful ministers that were closest to Babangida. We insisted that the minister of petroleum should not be the chairman of NNPC and that was approved by the National Executive Council.
“So we removed him as the chairman of the NNPC because NNPC was to be restructured as a full commercial entity. But I was surprised that when I came back to government, the minister of petroleum had gone back to become the chairman of NNPC.”
Concerning shareholders and the challenges faced by some of them, he said: “Following the privatisation of some of the public companies, we went to a number of annual general meetings and saw how they were being conducted and we told ourselves that we had to do something to protect the small shareholders from the sharks – because there was one key group of shareholders at a time.
“It was hotly debated at the …consequently, we went to the zones across the country for awareness creation. We even facilitated the establishment of the zonal shareholders associations across the country.
“That was how shareholders associations were established in Port-Harcourt, Lagos, Ibadan, Kano Onitsha, Kaduna and Jos.
“So the retail shareholders should have voice and votes and their votes should count in the corporate democratic process. That was the idea.
“We had code of conduct which we expected all the leaders to be subject. The question is, are the representatives of the shareholders associations observing that code of conducts?
“Yes, the retail shareholders have a voice but the voice is not being used for the purpose for which we designed it. One of the key provisions of the code of conducts was for democratic elections into the executive positions.
“I was amazed to come back, after about 18 years, to find that some of those people that we had when we established the zonal associations are still the leaders of the same associations. So clearly, there was no democracy at all.
“There is supposed to be elections every two years and you can serve only two terms of two years. Yet when I look at the leaders of the associations, they are still the same people.”
An earlier report this year had said the US Congress could vote on a bill to allow President Barack Obama to set aside all or part of the Abacha loot recovered in the US for the victims of Boko Haram. The report was carried by Premium Times.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents the 18th District of Texas, is sponsoring a bill which would allow the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to use money from the recovered Abacha loot to provide relief for families of the abducted Chibok girls.
Speaking on Wednesday (May 11) at a Congressional subcommittee hearing on America’s role in helping Nigeria confront Boko Haram, Jackson Lee sought the Committee’s support for H.R. 528.
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