You’re The One Persecuting Yourself, Oshiomhole Tells Okonjo-Iweala | Independent Newspapers Limited
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You’re The One Persecuting Yourself, Oshiomhole Tells Okonjo-Iweala

Posted: Jul 17, 2015 at 2:03 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

•   Says Resort To Blackmail Won’t Help Ex-Minister

By Francis Onoiribholo  –  Benin


Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, on Thursday, advised former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala against resorting to blackmail on the issue of the revenue that accrued to the Excess Crude Account under her watch.

In a statement by his spokeman, Prince Kassim Afegbua, the governor told Okonjo-Iweala, former Coordinating Minister of the Economy: “Blackmail won’t  help your case”.

State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole

State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole

The ex-Minister, he insisted, is in fact, the one persecuting herself, recalling that there was no accretion to the ECA even when crude oil prices averaged $100 and $108 per barrel between 2011 and 2014, a time when the nation’s budgets were based on $77 and $79pb benchmark

“That gives an average of $30 per barrel gains. In fact, based on rough estimates, Nigeria should earn not less than $30 billion accretion based on the official oil exports of 2.3 million barrels per day.”

The question Okonjo-Iweala could not answer, he continued, “is how come Nigeria did not make any savings during those three years of unprecedented oil price boom? Simple question that should ordinarily elicit simple response.”

The governor noted that as much as the ex-minister’s spokesman tries to dramatize his response in defense of his boss, he has shown a manifest uninformed disposition to issues of simple economics of Naira and kobo, insisting that there is nothing ‘personal’ in the “request that Okonjo-Iweala should come clean on the issue of revenue that accrued to the Excess Crude Account.

“Here is a former Minister who has changed her position four times in the last 40 days; each position exposing her dubiety of facts and inherent contradictions in the concocted tales she has been weaving on one simple issue: What happened to the $2.1 billion ECA funds?”

He wondered how the accruals into the account got depleted without the knowledge of the National Economic Council and why monies that ought to accrue into the account is missing, going by the balance sheet provided by the former Minister.

He is also at a loss as to how Okonjo-Iweala unilaterally dipped her hand into the ECA to spend money in defiance of the constitution and why she finds it convenient to publish allocations to states and local governments, while refusing “to publish accruals into the same account for us to know the status of the account at any point in time; how much was left from where she was distributing from?”

Continuing, Oshiomhole recalled “that by December 2012, the ECA had a balance of over $10 billion. This had been depleted to $2.07 billion by May 2015, according to the former Finance Minister. Between January 2013 and May 2015, not more than $4 billion was shared among the three tiers of Government. Indeed, the last time any money was shared from the ECA was in May 2013.”

He also recalled that in her response on May 28, she described the allegations as “baseless,” insisting that the 36 State governors who are joint owners of the ECA with the Federal Government were in full picture of how it was managed.

On June 29, 2015 exactly a month after, at the inaugural meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, and with 36 states in attendance, he also noted that “after a critical scrutiny, it was discovered that indeed Dr. Okonjo-Iweala spent $2.1 billion from the ECA without authorisation by the NEC.

“That money was neither distributed to states nor paid to the three tiers of government. This was the rationale for the setting up of the four-man Panel to look at what accrued, what it was  spent for, when and by whom and who authorized the spending, so that Nigerians will have full picture of all the transactions as regards the much talked about Excess Crude Account,” he stressed.

Continuing, he said “the former Minister was quoted as saying; “payments made were used for paying for petroleum subsidies for the Nigerian people and were approved by Mr. President”. She then made a volte face saying she did not claim that FAAC members approved the spending but that they were informed of the decision, “if monies were used to pay for subsidies for the Nigerian people and duly approved, why is Okonjo-Iweala’s name being battered in this way? In fact, she is the one that is persecuting herself.

“Subjecting this position to the crucible, one is prompted to ask Okonjo-Iweala if in all her experiences at the World Bank and elsewhere whether, the President has the right and powers under our laws to give approval for the withdrawal of $2 billion from the ECA? Whether the President has the power to usurp the powers of NEC with respect to withdrawals from the ECA?

“Was payment for subsidy not captured in the Appropriation Law? Why would a Minister that is worth her salt dip her hands into our collective patrimony to take that much, a whopping $2 billion on the directives of one Mr. President? Can any World Bank Chief Executive dip hands into the till to take what belongs to all vide approval against what the laws and rules guiding World Bank specify?

“Was the Federal Government portion of the $2.1billion appropriated by the National Assembly before it was used to pay oil marketers? To the best of our knowledge, there was nothing of the sort. We think very seriously that Okonjo-Iweala has more questions to answer. She has shifted grounds on four different scores. That tells so much on her integrity.

“This was the same attitude she put up when the issue of misappropriated N19.5 billion Aviation Fund was being investigated under former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Till date, she has not been able to clear the air on the N6.5 billion loan she allegedly raised from commercial banks to fix control towers of four airports. That is a story for another day.”

Oshiomhole said the “resort to blackmail using her refusal to grant Edo State Government a loan request as the reason why the Comrade Governor is asking her valid questions that border on fraud and financial recklessness is completely at variance with the real issues at stake.

“What has the request for loans got to do with the claim that someone dips her hand into the public till to spend what was not approved by the collective? How does she expect the states to survive when she refused to make full disclosure on accruals and declined to give them their share on a regular basis as required by law? Because she plundered the resources with reckless abandon, she is now running from pillar to post without addressing the real issues. Please help us ask her; Madam Okonjo; what happened to ECA withdrawals?”