Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has described the widely published comment by Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State alleging that about $30 billion was missing from the Excess Crude Account as shocking and totally untrue.
Oshiomhole had while speaking during the recent visit of the Association of Enigies of Edo South to him, alleged that what Nigeria ought to have in the Excess Crude Account should be over $30 billion “but as we speak, we have barely $3 billon” in the account.
Okonjo-Iweala, in a statement on Friday by her media aide, Paul Nwabuikwu, said Oshiomhole’s comments “reflect, once again, the unfortunate tendency of some political players to politicize the management of the economy on the basis of half-truths and sundry distortions. This is not good for the country. There should be a limit to negative politics even during an election season such as this.”
She said Oshiomhole’s sweeping comments gave the impression that the Federal Government sits alone in secret and doles out whatever it wishes to the states from the Federation Account.
The statement continued: “But anyone who is familiar with the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) process knows that this is simply not true. The meetings are held every month and commissioners of finance and other officials represent their states and agreements are reached on issues including the sharing of proceeds from the Account.
“There is no $30 billion missing from the Excess Crude Account as alleged by Oshiomhole. How can such a huge amount be missing from the ECA and the Edo State governor will be the only one privy to this? It is instructive that the Edo State Government did not table this allegation before FAAC for investigation or clarification before going public with a sweeping, political allegation based on casual, back of the envelope calculations.
“Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State made a similar allegation in November last year when he raised a loud alarm that $5 billion was missing from the same Excess Crude Account. But the Federal Ministry of Finance subsequently showed, with facts, that not only was the money not missing, the Rivers State Government got N257.6 billion from the Account between January and October 2013. Oshiomhole’s allegation seems to be cut from a similar political fabric.
“Oshiomhole correctly observed that the economy would be in better shape today if we had saved more for the rainy day. But he failed to recall that the Federal Government’s strong advocacy for a low budget benchmark and greater savings in the ECA articulated by the Coordinating Minister was repulsed by some governors. There is no doubt that oil theft is a challenge but this too would have helped.
“We do not share Oshiomhole’s overly bleak view of the country’s economic prospects. Yes, the challenges are great and cannot be wished away but as Moody’s, the international ratings agency and the IMF confirmed recently, the economy is resilient despite the oil price crash and we retain some advantages as we confront these challenges.”
During the visit of the Association of Enigies of Edo South to him, Oshiomhole alleged: “Over the past 18 months, we have not shared the excess crude account and yet, the account is empty.
“Sometimes we are told they have taken money from it to fund subsidies including subsidy on kerosene but your royal highnesses, there is nowhere in your various domains where kerosene is sold for N50. So in the name of subsidy, large sums of money are being stolen.
“Things are tough now around the country because the federal government mismanaged our national resources and what is being stolen, nobody agrees it is being stolen. What is arguable is who is responsible for this stealing. When the federal government and the president talk about oil theft and the amount that is allegedly stolen is huge such that whereas we have the capacity to produce about 2.4 million barrels a day, what accrues into the federal government account is less than 1.8 million barrel a day.