The Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, has accused the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, of tampering with $1bn from the Federation Account, which he claimed was used “for election purposes.”
Oshiomhole, who disclosed this on Monday at a seminar organised by the state government for permanent secretaries, directors and deputy directors on enhancing internally generated revenue in the state, challenged the former minister to tell Nigerians how the Excess Crude Account was drawn down to $4.1bn from the peak of $10bn, when no approval was given by the National Economic Council for any withdrawals.
The governor said, “The truth is, many things went wrong even at the federal level. As you might have read in the papers while the Federal Government, under Goodluck Jonathan, with the then Coordinating Minister of the Economy liked to blame ‘governors’ for wasteful spending; for not saving for the rainy day; for not investing properly, the truth is the real weakness in the Nigerian federal chain has been the Federal Government.
“Our hope is that with the new President, given his pedigree, we will break from the past. As I am sure you will soon begin to hear when all the numbers are published. Last week, I complained aloud that Edo State lost about N10bn over a four-year period from only one source – the NLNG remittance to the Federation Account.
“How did I arrive at the figure? I used my Four-Figure Table and I asked myself at $2.1bn remitted by NLNG, as taxes, and Shell. And by the way, Shell is not the only oil operative; we have Chevron and several others. They shared the $2.1bn based on the revenue allocation formula, Edo State got about N2.27bn. So I said, thank God this money came after the departure of Okonjo-Iweala and President Jonathan. If the PDP were still in charge in Abuja, this money would have been taken.
“That is not the only money Edo State Government has lost. You have heard of the last instalment of $4.1bn that was in the Excess Crude Account as of November, 2014, and from that time till today, we have not, when I say we– federal, states and local governments have not touched that money. We have not agreed to take anything out of it, and yet it has been drawn down to about $2bn, which means $2.1bn disappeared.
“But if you talk to those oil marketers, they will tell you that within that period, they were paid $1bn, not $2.1b. So in truth, about $1bn was taken for election purposes and Edo State’s share of that should have been about N4.6bn from that $2.1bn that Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former Minister of Finance illegally took from Excess Crude account.
Oshiomhole added, “Governments have lost a lot of money and the $2.1bn, that is Edo State’s share of that, because that would have included derivation, we would have made about N2.6bn. That, we have lost now to Okonjo-Iweala. Now that she claimed she used it, between herself and the last President, they agreed to take the money to pay oil marketers.”
Meanwhile, Okonjo-Iweala on Monday night denied withdrawing the sum of $1bn from the Excess Crude Account to finance the campaign of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
In a statement issued by her Media Adviser, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, the former finance minister described the allegation by Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State that she spent $1bn out of the ECA to fund the re-election bid of former President Jonathan as a “ludicrously false statement that has unfortunately become a trademark of the Governor in his public campaign of falsehood.”
The statement said the comment by the governor was “just another example of the numerical diarrhea that seems to have afflicted His Excellency in recent times in his effort to damage the reputation of the former Minister.”
It read in part, “He has, within the last few months, asked Okonjo-Iweala to explain all kinds of totally wild and unsubstantiated figures, ranging from $30bn, $20bn, $2.1bn, N720bn and now $1bn.
“To say the obvious, the accusations are totally lacking in credibility. Governor Oshiomhole’s published comments also contain other falsehoods.”
“Dr Okonjo-Iweala never said the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee approved spending out of the ECA. Rather as the commissioners themselves stated, the former Minister of State Finance informed them that former President Jonathan approved the expenditure to end the debilitating fuel queues across the country.”