BENIN—GOVERNOR Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has accused the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of illegally taking $1 billion from the Federation Account to prosecute the re-election bid of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Similarly, the member representing Ikpoba-Okha/Egor federal constituency in the National Assembly, Mr. Ehiozuwa Agbonnayima, has insisted that Okonjo-Iweala must explain to Nigerians what happened to the country’s finances, saying that Nigerians deserve to know what happened to the nation’s economy under her management.
Meanwhile, Okonjo-Iweala, has described as baseless and false, the allegation that she withdrew $ 1 billion to fund former President Jonathan’s re-election campaign.
Okonjo-Iweala, through her Special Assistant, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, said that Oshiomhole had taken it upon himself to consistently make wild allegations against her which she described as a public campaign of falsehood.
She added that “The statement is 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.
“He has, within the last few months, asked Dr Okonjo-Iweala to explain all kinds of totally wild and unsubstantiated figures, ranging from $30 billion, $20 billion, $2.1 billion, N720 billion and now $1 billion.
“To say the obvious, the accusations are totally lacking in credibility. Governor Oshiomhole’s published comments also contain other falsehoods. For instance, he quoted Dr Okonjo-Iweala as saying that she and the Finance Commissioners of the 36 states approved the spending of $2.1 billion out of the Excess Crude Account, adding that the Commissioners had disowned the statement. This is also a complete distortion.”
Oshiomhole, who spoke at seminar organised by the Edo State Government for Permanent Secretaries, Directors and Deputy Directors, said that the former Finance Minister also needs to tell Nigerians how the Excess Crude Account was drawn down to $4.1 billion from the peak of $10 billion when no approval was given by the National Economic Council for any withdrawals.
He said the state government will now hold Permanent Secretaries, Directors and Deputy Directors responsible for any fraud detected in their departments, adding that the government had trimmed down the cost of running government.
He said: “The truth is that 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 had been the Federal Government.
“Our hope is that with the new President, given his pedigree, we will break from the past. 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 N10 billion 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 $2.1 billion 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 $2.1 billion based on the revenue allocation formula, Edo State got about N2.27 billion. 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.”