Okonjo-Iweala Denies Unauthorised Spending From ECA | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Okonjo-Iweala Denies Unauthorised Spending From ECA

Posted: Jul 1, 2015 at 12:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Emmanuel Udom  –  Lagos


The controversy generated by the allegation made by some governors in the country that the former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and her ministry spent $2.1 billion out of the Excess Crude Account “without authorisation” has continued to fester.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

The former minister on Tuesday in Abuja denied the allegation that her ministry spent $2.1 billion out of the Excess Crude Account, describing the information as false, malicious and without foundation.

Okonjo-Iweala, in a statement issued by Paul Nwabuikwu, her media adviser, said that “we want to state categorically that no unauthorised expenditure from the ECA was made under Okonjo-Iweala’s watch in the Finance Ministry”.

According to the statement, the decisions on such expenditures were discussed at meetings of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) attended by Finance Commissioners from the 36 states.

According the statement: “It is curious that in their desperation to use the esteemed National Economic Council for political and personal vendetta, the persons behind these allegations acted as if the constitutionally recognised FAAC, a potent expression of Nigeria’s fiscal federalism, does not exist.

“But Nigerians know that collective revenues, allocations and expenditures of the three tiers of government are the concern of the monthly FAAC meetings.

“It is important to acknowledge the efforts of governors who are working hard to overcome the current revenue challenges facing their states without resorting to character assassination and blame games.”

The statement added that: “The former Minister is ready and willing to respond to legitimate enquiries about issues under her purview as Finance Minister.

“But it is clear that this is the latest chapter of a political witch-hunt by elements who are attempting to use the respected National Economic Council for ignoble purposes, having failed abysmally in their previous attempts to tar the Okonjo-Iweala name.”

The statement said an attempt to tar the name the former took place in May when some of the governors under the auspices of the Nigerian Governors Forum asked Okonjo-Iweala to explain $20 billion alleged to be missing from the same ECA.

It said the Finance Ministry subsequently issued a news release and published an advertorial in national newspapers on May 25, 2015 giving details of what the Federal Government and states received from the ECA in the last four years, adding that it also provided details of the use of the funds for payment of petrol subsidies for the Nigerian public and SURE-P allocations to the three tiers for development purposes.

It said that after the publication, the accusers lost their voice, saying that the latest allegations showed that the persons were still in the business of “throwing up wild, unsubstantiated figures to damage Okonjo-Iweala’s name.”