The immediate past Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has reacted to the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee’s statement distancing its members from the controversial withdrawal of $2 billion from the excess crude revenue account last December 2014.
In her reaction to allegation by the Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, that she unilaterally approved the withdrawal of about $2 billion from the $4.1 billion left in the Excess Crude Account “without authorization”, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala had explained that the withdrawal was discussed at the meeting of the FAAC attended by state finance commissioners.
But, members of the FAAC, under the aegis of the Forum of Commissioners of Finance, on Tuesday denied the claim, describing it as “misleading and far from the fact”.
The law setting up FAAC, which pre-dates the ECA, the Commissioners said, did not empower them to approve such withdrawals, adding that there were records of the Committee’s meetings to show that they had always queried the activities on the ECA, particularly on withdrawals.
“FAAC did not and could not have approved, nor took the decision to withdraw the sum of Two Billion U.S. Dollar ($2,000,000,000.00) from the Excess Crude Account,” the Commissioners said.
But, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, in a statement by her Media Adviser, Paul Nwabuikwu, on Tuesday, said there was no question of mismanaging any resources in the controversy.
“Payments made were used for paying for petroleum subsidies for the Nigerian people and were approved by Mr. President,” the statement said.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said she did not claim that FAAC members approved the spending, but that they were informed of the decision.
She said the issue was discussed at FAAC meetings attended by Finance Commissioners from the 36 states.
The Minister, who thanked the Finance Commissioners for their clarification on the issue, said it was clear that there was no misrepresentation by her.
“The question before us is: why is there such an excessive attempt to batter her name in an attempt to damage her reputation? It is clear the motive is malicious and very political and therefore will not succeed,” Mr. Nwabuikwu said.
“If monies were used to pay for subsidies for the Nigerian people and duly approved, why is Okonjo-Iweala’s name being battered in this way?” he asked, adding: “This persecution should stop.”
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