25 February 2014, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria minister of finance and coordinating minister for the economy has urged president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to make good on his promise to carry out a forensic audit to determine the actual amount of unaccounted funds from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
“The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has asked for urgent action with regard to an independent forensic audit of conflicting claims of unaccounted funds made by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamdio Sanusi”.
“My position on this has been clear from the start. The Ministry of Finance’s reconciliation showed a shortfall of $10.8bn in NNPC remittances to the Federation account. After this, the conflicting claims continued with new figures such as $20bn being mentioned.
“So since 13th February I have called for an independent forensic audit.
“President Goodluck Jonathan indeed announced last night that there will be an investigation into whether there are any funds missing from NNPC. He also indicated that the correct process needs to be followed in this investigation and I understand that the entity that has the proper authority to initiate such an investigation is the Auditor-General of the federation.
“I therefore want to see the truth from an investigation under the auspices of the Auditor-General, which in my view should be undertaken as a matter of extreme urgency by independent external auditor.”
The submission by the finance minister appears like a declaration of semi independence from Nigeria’s president, who has been accused of punishing the central bank governor for raising concerns about the allegedly missing oil billions.
Indications are that the finance minister may be concerned that Goodluck Jonathan, if left to his own devices, would not have initiated an independent probe of the allegedly missing billions.
Goodluck Jonathan suspended the governor of the central bank last week for alleged “various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct”.
The president insists that his decision to suspend the governor was taken “in absolute good faith, in the overall interests of the Nigerian economy and in accordance with our laws and due process”.
Governor Sanusi, whose international reputation is strong, had been criticising the government over oil subsidies and apparent shortfalls in oil revenues.