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NEC Accuses Former Minister Okonjo-Iweala Of Spending Unapproved $2.1Billion

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The National Economic Council which President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated on Monday, June 29, 2015 in Abuja, has alleged the immediate past Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of spending $2.1bn from the Excess Crude Account without due authorisation.

After the NEC’s 58th meeting in Abuja, Governor Adams Oshiomole of Edo State, while granting interview with newsmen disclosed that, “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 $4.1 bn.

Today, the Accountant-General Office reported 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.”

According to the NEC, the “unauthorised” spending is one of the several anomalies pin-pointed in the management of the nation’s economy between 2012 and May 2015.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, within the period, was reported to have earned the total sum of N8.1tn but only remitted N4.3tn.

tate, The Federal Governement, consequently, has commissioned, Governor Oshiomole of Edo state, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State and Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State, into a panel that will probe the NNPC and the Export Credit Agency between 2012 and May 2015.

The press was jointly briefed by Governors Oshiomole, El-Rufai, Udom and Abdulazeez Yari of Zamfara State.

Governor Yari mentioned to journalists through the Director of Funds, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. M.K. Dikwa, that members of the council got the report of the ECA and unremitted funds by the NNPC.

“On that line, a four-man committee consisting of the governors of Edo, Gombe, Kaduna and Akwa Ibom states was constituted to go through the books of the NNPC and Excess Crude as well as the Federation Account.

”The four-man committee will check the books of the NNPC, most especially the issue of excess crude and what is not remitted into the Federation Account.

“The Federal Government, in conjunction with the Central Bank of Nigeria, will look inwards to see how to support and how much they will give to states, especially on the issue of outstanding salaries owed by the states and even the Federal Government,” he said.

Governor Oshiomole while throwing more light on what transpired at the NEC meeting, he stated that the NNPC and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation were compelled for the first time to provide information on the total sales of Nigeria’s crude from 2012 to May 2015.

“We are talking about transparency; we are talking about change.

“And what we saw from those numbers, which I believe that Nigerians are entitled to know, is that whereas the NNPC claimed to have earned N8.1tn, what NNPC paid into the Federation Account from 2012 to May 2015 was N4.3tn.

“What it means is that the NNPC withheld and spent N3.8 trillion.

“The major revelation here is that the entire federation, that is the Federal Government, the states and all the 774 local governments, the amount the NNPC paid into the Federation Account for distribution to these three tiers of government came to N4.3 trillion and the NNPC alone took and spent N3.8 trillion.

“This means that the cost of running the NNPC is much more than the cost of running the Federal Government.

“That tells you how much is missing, what is mismanaged and what is stolen.

“There are huge figures,” Governor Oshiomole said.

He went further to reveal that the only lawful way decreed by the Constitution of Nigeria was that if the NNPC needed to spend money, it must prepare its budget like every other business enterprise, get it scrutinised by the executive and then forward it to the National Assembly for appropriation.

“If the Federal Government cannot spend without appropriation, why should any agency spend without appropriation.

“This is what the Constitution provided for and this is what President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to do; henceforth all money must go to the Federation Account“If you were doing that, you would not have a situation where the NNPC alone will spend N3.8trn and remit to the federal, states and local governments N4.3trn, which means NNPC is taking about 47 per cent and that explains all the leakages you are talking about,” said Governor Oshiomole.

Finally, the Edo State Governor said,

“The Excess Crude Account is 52 per cent owned by the Federal Government and 48 per cent owned by the states and the local governments.

“So the decision of the NEC is to set up this committee of four to look at the operations of the Excess Crude Account and make recommendations to council on its future.

“The other thing the committee will do is to look at the operations of the Federation Account, particularly the shortfall and again come back to council with very clear recommendations as to what to do.

“We have not been given a time frame but as you can imagine state governments are under pressure, many of our state governments are unable to pay salaries on time without recourse to borrowing, so this is very important to us.

“This is an all-governors’ committee; we wear the shoes and we know where they pinch.

“So we are going to do this as quickly as possible.

“The next meeting of the council is on July 23; we hope to complete our work and be in a position to report to council on that day.

“So within the next one month, we will be done by God’s grace.”

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