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Buhari, two Sarakis and the missing 2.8bn naira

2.8bn naira went missing from the Midland Bank, London account of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) in 1977.

The minister for petroleum then under the military dictatorship of Olusegun Obasanjo was one Muhammadu Buhari. The value of 2.8bn naira then was more than its equivalent in dollars.

When civilian rule returned to Nigeria in 1979, the Senate set up a committee to investigate the missing amount. The committee was due to report towards the end of 1983. The majority leader of the Senate at the time was one Olusola Saraki – the father of the current Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Like father like son: the late Olusola Saraki
Like father like son: the late Olusola Saraki

Before the committee’s report was made public, the military struck on 31 December 1983 and a new junta came into power with its head a certain Muhammadu Buhari.

A Nigerian Television Authority reporter Vera Ifudu reported that the majority leader Saraki had told her in an interview that the committee’s findings showed that the missing money was traced to an account belonging to Buhari. One rumour that circulated at the time was that the money was transferred into a private account to accumulate interest and was returned when the theft was discovered.

Among the first things Buhari did as head of the junta were lock up Saraki, sack Vera Ifudu, and allegedly destroyed the incriminating files of the Senate Committee and at the NNPC.

Buhari also banged up Fela Kuti, who sang about the missing 2.8bn in “Army Arrangement”.

Today, Buhari is involved in a right royal rumble with Saraki Junior over corruption, who also occupies a high position in the Senate. Buhari promised “change” when he ran for president. It appears the more things change, the more they remain the same.

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