…only forensic auditing’ll show how much was taken from Federation Account
Governor Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole of Edo State has accused immediate past Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala of illegally taking $1bn from the Federation Account to prosecute the reelection bid of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking at a seminar organised by the Edo State Government for Permanent Secretaries, Directors and Deputy Directors entitled: “Enhancing IGR in Edo: issues, prospects and challenges,” the governor asked 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, NEC, for any withdrawals.
Oshiomhole, who said Okonjo-Iweala would have been declared a pathological liar if she was a witness in court due to the inconsistencies in her statements said only a forensic auditing, will truly determine how much was illegally spent from the Federation Account under the ex-Minister’s watch.
He 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’m 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 4-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 and 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 installment of $4.1bn that was in the Excess Crude Account, ECA, 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.
Yet, it has been drawn down to about $2 billion. Which means: $2.1bn disappeared. “If you listened and followed the conversation, when I made this allegation after the National Economic Council, NEC, meeting that the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala took $2.1bn without approval and spent it in a manner that was never accounted for, she replied that I lied and said that it was the commissioners and herself who agreed to distribute that money to the three tiers of government and that FAAC is the most visible expression of our true federalism. And that we shouldn’t claim that FAAC is unknown to us.
That FAAC is a creation of law and so on and so forth… “I’m going into this, because, as public servants, you need to understand not just the finances of Edo State but also the finances of Nigeria, particularly as they affect our state.
“Now the Commissioners of Finance met and they looked at themselves and they looked at Okonjo- Iweala and they submitted to Okonjo-Iweala that: ‘Madam, you lied, not Oshiomhole; because in truth, we have no powers to decide withdrawals from the ECA and that power is vested in the governors at the level of the National Economic Council.’ But whether it is vested or not, we never, ever resolved to share money from that account.
“Now the former Minister, confronted with these hard facts, now shifted the argument that ‘oh no, it is not FAAC that approved it.
It was the former President Goodluck Jonathan that approved it.’ “President Jonathan as far as the law of Nigeria is concerned, or any President, his approval is limited to funds of the Federal Government, not funds of the federation.
“Funds of the federation can only be approved by governors and representative of the President as reflected in the composition of the National Economic Council that is made up of governors and chaired by the Vice President with the CBN Governor and Minister of Finance and others as members.
“But there’s so much confusion now that Okonjo- Iweala can say one thing in the morning and tomorrow she will say I never said so. If she were a witness in a court of law, she would be declared a pathological liar whose evidence is of no value.
“So governments have lost a lot of money and the $2.1bn, 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.
“But if you talk to those oil marketers, they will tell you that within that period, they were paid $1bn not $2.1bn. 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, illegally took from Excess Crude account.
“For clarity, that is not the only money they have so illegally taken. “If you look at the total number at a point, the excess crude account peaked at $10bn and we now heard it dropped to $4.1bn.”