01 July 2015, Abuja – The immediate past Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Tuesday described as “false, malicious and without foundation” the allegation by some governors that she spent the sum of $2.1bn from the Excess Crude Account without authorisation.
The National Economic Council, chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, had on Monday accused Okonjo-Iweala of spending the amount from the ECA without authorisation.
Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, had told State House correspondents after the NEC’s 58th meeting in Abuja, “We looked at the numbers for the Excess Crude Account. The last time the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, reported to the council, and it is in the minutes, she reported by November 2014 that we had $4.1bn.
“Today, the Accountant-General’s office reported that we have $2.0bn. Which means the honourable minister spent $2.1bn without authority of the NEC and that money was not distributed to states; it was not paid to the three tiers of government.”
But the minister said in a statement issued by her Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, that no unauthorised expenditure from the ECA was made under her watch in the finance ministry.
She said decisions on such expenditure were discussed at meetings of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee attended by finance commissioners from the 36 states.
The statement read in part, “The allegation by some governors that the former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, spent $2.1bn out of the Excess Crude Account ‘without authorisation’ is false, malicious and totally without foundation.
“It is curious that in their desperation to use the esteemed National Economic Council for political and personal vendetta, the persons behind these allegations acted as if the constitutionally recognised FAAC, a potent expression of Nigeria’s fiscal federalism, does not exist.
“But Nigerians know that collective revenues, allocations and expenditures of the three tiers of government are the concern of the monthly FAAC meetings.
“It is important to acknowledge the efforts of governors who are working hard to overcome the current revenue challenges facing their states without resorting to character assassination and blame games.
“But it is clear that this is the latest chapter of a political witch-hunt by elements who are attempting to use the respected National Economic Council for ignoble purposes, having failed abysmally in their previous attempts to tar the Okonjo-Iweala name.”