STAR NEWS: The Okigbo Panel Report Revealed !

Monday, May 16, 2005

Dear Compatriots:
On January 15, 1994, as part of his early moves to convince thenation of a new broom of probity and accountability, General SaniAbacha (who had become military head of state November 17, 2003)
empanelled a group of eminent Nigerians chaired by the late economistDr. Pius Nwabufo Charles Okigbo to probe the Gulf War period receipts.
The full report, submitted 27th September, 1994, has NEVER seen thelight of day, and was declared mysteriously "missing" from governmentrecords soon thereafter.
Until now....
The full Okigbo Report - all 365 pages of it, with much arcane stuff- is now in the public domain, and has begun to be serialized by theever-enterprising TheNews Magazine in Nigeria ! It's actual title
The report's contents are divided up as follows:
Executive Summary of the Main Report: Pages 1 -13
Chapter 1: Introduction - Pages 1-30
Chapter 2: The Evolution of the Central Bank of Nigeria - Pages 31-44
Chapter 3: The Regulatory Framework - Pages 45 - 66
Chapter 4: Legal Framework - Pages 67 - 88
Chapter 5: Domestic Operations - Pages 89 - 126
Chapter 6: The Growth and Management of Domestic Debt - Pages 127 -150
Chapter 7: External Sector Policies - Pages 151 - 224
Chapter 8: Fiscal and Monetary Policies - Pages 225 - 256
Chapter 9: Administrative and Managerial Structure of the Bank Pages 257 - 291
Chapter 10: Information Management - Pages 292 - 311
Catalogue of Recommendations: Pages 312 - 351
Members of the Panel Secretariat - Page 352

For significant excerpts of it (Executive Summary, several pages ofChapters 1 and 7 for now), please see pdf files in:

Nigerian Muse
"That the World May Know"

The Punch, Monday, May 16, 2005
Okigbo report indicts IBB, two others
Yusuf Alli
A window may have been opened on a dark era in the country's past asthe long-sought-for report of the Pius Okigbo panel entered thepublic domain on Sunday.

In spite of desperate official efforts to keep the report away fromthe public in the last 11 years, there are indications that thereport indicted the former military President, Gen.

IbrahimBabangida, and two others for mismanaging about $12.4billion oilrevenue in six years.
The others are the late Gen. Sani Abacha, and a former Governor ofthe Central Bank of Nigeria, the late Alhaji Abdulkadir Ahmed.

Okigbo's panel was set up by Abacha in January 1994, as part ofefforts at the time, to re-organise the CBN.

The panel was also mandated to examine the use of dedicated accountsand other special accounts for oil receipts. The panel submitted itsreport in September 1994.

As part of its duties to the public, PUNCH had written severalletters to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, ChiefUfot Ekaette, for a copy of the report.

In a letter on October 27, 2004, PUNCH informed the government thatits investigations had traced a copy of the report to a formerPermanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Alhaji Ibrahim Idah.

In his last letter to PUNCH on the report, Ekaette said, "We havesince written to Idah to send us a copy of the report. We are stillawaiting his response."

Also, in one of his public outings, President Olusegun Obasanjo said,"I don't have the report. In fact, I don't know if any such reportexisted. I will be happy if anyone can give me the report."
But The News magazine, in its current edition, circulated on Sunday,published the Executive Summary of the 335-page report of the OkigboPanel.

In the summary, the three former public officers were accused ofwasting the oil revenue from September 1988 to June 1994.

The report claimed that the $12.4billion was secretly sourced andspent from six extra-budgetary accounts, which were only known to thetwo former heads of state and the former CBN Governor.
The report further identified the sources of the $12.4billion fund asCentral Bank Dedication Account, NNPC sales of Mining Rights Account,Stabilisation Account, the Signature Bonus Account and GHQ SpecialFund Account.

The report said, "In 1988, the President authorised the dedication ofcrude oil of 65,000 barrels per day for the finance of specialpriority projects including Ajaokuta Iron and Steel, Itakpe Iron
Mining, and Shiroro Hydro electric projects. The account was also tobe used for external debt buy-back and the build-up of reserves. Thequantity was subsequently increased to 105,000 barrels per day and inearly 1994 to 150,000 barrels per day.

"In addition, a stabilisation account to receive the windfall of oilproceeds from the Gulf War and a special account for Mining Rightsand Signature Bonus were opened. Altogether, $12.4billion was
received into these accounts from 1998 to June 1994, all of whichhave been spent leaving a balance of $206million as at the 30th ofJune, 1994."

It said, "The problem with these accounts is that even when revenueswere shown globally, as in the case of dedication account, theexpenditures were not included in the Federal Budget.
"Apart from the projects which the accounts were established, theiruse was extended to a wide variety of projects, many of which couldnot be classified as priority. The details of receipts anddisbursements on these accounts were, however, carefully maintainedand all payments were duly authorised by the President."

The panel said if the two former Heads of State prudently managed thefunds, the exchange rate of the Naira would have been stronger to thedollar in 1994.

It said, "If only the funds had been regarded as part of the externalreserves and had been counted as such, the impact on the exchangerate in the year under review would have been so significant that the Naira would have been stronger in 1994, in relation to the dollar,than it was in 1985."

On the operation of the accounts, the Okigbo Panel said it was notsubjected to budgetary processes and lacked transparency. "By limiting the authorisation process for its operation to theapproval of the President or Head of State, which was communicateddirectly only to the CBN Governor, it created considerable room for abuse of procedures, abuse of application and reduced accountability. "From the foregoing, it is clear that the instructions relating tothe operation of these accounts ran between the President and theGovernor and between the Governor and the Director, Foreign Operations.
"The Panel was informed that each time the Governor received anauthority from the President to effect a payment, a Minute was sentto the Director, Foreign Operation, through the Deputy Governor, International Operations. The dedicated accounts were not operatedwhenever the Governor happened to be away. The Deputy Governor,International Operations and the Director, Foreign Operations, had nodiscretion with regard to the operation of the dedication accounts.They acted only on the authority of the Governor."

On the disbursement of the accounts, the panel traced it to threecategories, including security and defence expenditures, contractorsand presidential fleet and other payments.

Although the details of the expenditure of the $12.4billion were notprovided, the Okigbo Panel identified some projects of importance butit added that there were many large projects of doubtful viabilityand many more of clearly misplaced priority.

Some of the curious sub-heads included a documentary film on Nigeria,$2.92million; purchase of TV/Video for The Presidency, $18.30million;ceremonial uniform for the Army, $3.85million; staff welfare at DodanBarracks/Aso Rock, $23.98million; travels of the First Lady abroad,$.99million and the President's travels abroad, $8.95million.

Other expenses were medical (Clinic at Aso Rock), $27.25million;Gifts (Liberia), $1million; Gifts (Ghana) $.50million; Embassies-London, $18.12million; Riyadh, $14.99million; Teheran, $2.76million;
Niamey, $3.80million; Pakistan, $3.80million; Israel, $13.07million;TV equipment for ABU, $17.90million; Ministry of Defence,$323million; Security, $59.72million; Defence Attaches, $25.49millionand General Headquarters, $1.04million.

The panel said, "In addition to these, the Dedication and SpecialAccounts had become a parallel budget for The Presidency. ThePresident alone made the decision as to what expenditure items to be financed out of these dedicated accounts, depending on the pressuresbrought to bear on him by the sponsors of the items. "For example, the accounts had been utilised to defray assortment ofexpenses that could not in any way be described as priority."

The panel did not recommend any sanction for Babangida, Abacha andthose involved in the illegal operation of the six accounts.

It, however, urged the Federal Government to discontinue theDedication Account and other Special Accounts.

It said, "The balance in the existing Dedication and other SpecialAccounts should immediately be taken into the external reserves ofthe Central Bank.

"Receipts from sales of dedicated crude oil should be paid into thataccount up to the end of the 1994 fiscal year. Thereafter, witheffect from January 1995, there should be no further dedication of
crude oil.

"But if for any reason, there is to be a dedication account, thereshould be a total and full disclosure of both the expected revenueand the item(s) of expenditure in the budget and the GHQ SpecialAccount should be transferred to the normal budget of the government."