Gist and Gossip

The Rise and Fall of Ani

~The Rise and Fall of Ani: A Retrospective by Reuben Abati

Author: Reuben Abati Date:November 5, 1998~

In this article, I discuss the political journey of Chief Anthony Asuquo Okon Nsa Ani Eniang Offiong, the former Minister of Finance under General Sani Abacha’s regime. As a journalist, I hold contrasting views on Chief Ani’s politics and his recent attempts to disown his association with General Abacha. This piece delves into Chief Ani’s rise to power and sheds light on his role in Nigeria’s regression during that era.

An Influential Minister: Chief Ani, a traditional Chief, and a chartered accountant, enjoyed a privileged position as General Abacha’s Minister of Finance. He had direct access to the Head of State and wielded considerable influence within the government. He confidently attributed the success of his ministry’s reforms to General Abacha’s leadership, often using powerful rhetoric to emphasize the government’s authority.

A Change of Tune: However, Chief Ani’s tune has changed drastically in recent times. He now seeks to distance himself from General Abacha’s regime, blaming the former dictator and others for the failures of that era. He conveniently neglects to mention his involvement in the decision-making process. Chief Ani’s attempt to portray himself as a victim and a patriot is questionable, considering his previous praises for General Abacha.

Revelations and Late Confessions:
Chief Ani has revealed details of how General Abacha and Ismaila Gwarzo siphoned approximately $1.1 billion from Nigeria’s external reserves under the guise of “security.” Although Chief Ani claims to have known about these illicit activities, he states that he only recently aided the recovery of $750 million of the stolen funds. His motives for coming forward at this moment are unclear, and his delayed actions raise questions about his integrity and principles.

Selective Disclosure:
Chief Ani is not disclosing everything he knows. His statements appear tailored to manipulate public opinion and serve his interests. The need to hold Abacha’s associates accountable, including Chief Ani and Gwarzo, becomes even more apparent. A judicial commission should investigate their actions and determine their guilt or innocence. If found guilty, appropriate penalties should be imposed to deter such corruption in the future.
Reshaping the Central Bank: Chief Ani proposes restructuring the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to strengthen the Ministry of Finance’s control over it. However, this recommendation would perpetuate political manipulation. To safeguard the CBN from undue influence, it should be made fully independent, with stringent internal controls. Those in power need to recognize that the CBN is a public institution, not a personal bank.

Chief Ani’s political journey from being a favored minister to attempting to disown his association with General Abacha raises concerns about his motives and integrity. The revelations of financial improprieties demand a thorough investigation and accountability. Nigeria must establish a precedent by holding corrupt individuals responsible, regardless of their positions of power. Only then can the nation move towards progress and transparency in governance.

In addition to the revelations made by Rebuen Abati in his article about Chief Anthony Ani, further evidence of corruption and embezzlement comes from an investigative report by Sahara Reporters. Published on March 6, 2014, the report exposes the scale of embezzlement during the military presidency of late General Sani Abacha. It implicates Chief Anthony Ani, along with other individuals, in the use of phony offshore companies to divert billions of dollars from Nigeria into their private accounts. The report highlights how funds were embezzled from the Central Bank of Nigeria under the pretense of national security and then transferred overseas. These revelations underscore the extent of corruption and financial misconduct that plagued Abacha’s regime and provide further context to the allegations made against Chief Anthony Ani.”


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