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Okonjo-Iweala Tackles Oshiomhole, Says His Attack Baseless

former Nigeria’s Minister of Finance Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

By Ayo Balogun – The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of Economy, Dr. Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has launched a counter attack against the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, on his allegation that the Minister ruined the country’s economy, hitting that the indicting article attributed to the Governor was ridiculous, lacked in merit, “full of gaping both in facts and logic”.

Dr. Iweala in a press statement Thursday by her Special Adviser, Paul C Nwabuikwu, challenged that for daring to publish how the Excess Crude Account (ECA) was shared and showing that governors who could not pay salaries have no excuses, yet alleged the Minister was the target in the write-up.

While noting that it was noteworthy that several of Oshiomhole’s colleagues have been able to manage their finances reasonably “well under these same difficult circumstances”, Dr. Iweala argued that the release of the ECA details has also demonstrated very clearly that there was no substance in the wild allegations that any money was missing from the account or that finances of the country under her watch have not been well managed.

“Like previous baseless allegations by some Governors, the motive behind Oshiomhole’s attack is clear: to deflect public attention away from the manner in which they have run the finances of their states and make Okonjo-Iweala the scapegoat. If it was meant to intimidate the Minister, it has failed abysmally.

“How can Governor Oshiomhole claim that state governors were not properly briefed on the status of the ECA when his Commissioner of Finance attends all the FAAC meetings where decisions are taken and communicated to the nation?” queried the outgoing Minister.

She contended that the alleged diversionary tactic would not succeed, because Nigerians were too smart to buy into this fiction, adding that the Finance Ministry under her, which started the practice of publishing details of allocations from the Federation Account to all the three tiers of government, has regularly furnished Nigerians with information on the country’s finances.

The Minister’s statement indicated that Oshiomhole’s piece which demanded “the full details of subsidy payments made to oil marketers in the last four years” was amazing, given the fact that every payment made to the marketers has been published in the media and widely disseminated through all news channels.

Dr Iweala reiterated “Oshiomhole’s allegation that Okonjo-Iweala has not been transparent is ridiculous and totally lacking in merit. Apart from the monthly publication of allocations to the Federal, State and Local governments, the Federal Ministry of Finance under Okonjo-Iweala also publishes SURE-P receipts and distribution to different tiers, details of payments to oil marketers and other information”.

She asked: “Has Governor Oshiomhole demonstrated the same level of openness in his management of the affairs of Edo State? Can Oshiomhole also go public with all the information showing what he has received from various sources and the uses to which he has deployed them?”

Equally annoying in Oshimhole’s accusation, the former Foreign Affairs Minister pointed out was his attack that she has “just woken up from her slumber to realize that oil marketers have been all along falsifying subsidy claims and defrauding the nation of billions of Naira”.

“This statement underscores the extent to which he is willing to go in his desperation

to tar Okonjo-Iweala. When she returned as Finance Minister in 2011, the outstanding fuel subsidy bill was about N1.3 trillion. It was the work done on subsidy fraud by the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee which the Minister set up, later elevated into a Presidential panel that determined that over N300 billion of the amount was fraudulent.

“This eventually led to the prosecution of some persons for subsidy fraud and reduction of the annual subsidy budget to N791 billion, saving the country over a trillion naira in the process”, Iweala recalled.

The Minister countered that perhaps Governor Oshiomhole was snoring while writing the article, as she claimed such baseless posturing only served to “diminish the credibility of Oshiomhole in the minds of objective Nigerians”.

“For the record, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has no apologies for insisting that a claim of N159 billion for forex differentials by the marketers out of a total bill of N200 billion should go through an additional verification process. When 80% of a subsidy claim is made up of forex differentials and not the value of the amount of fuel supplied, the right and proper

thing to do is to take extra steps to ensure that the country is not being cheated. That is what Okonjo-Iweala did.

“Oshiomhole’s allegation that the Minister is involved in “an unholy alliance” with government agencies and the marketers is therefore manifestly untrue and totally irresponsible. How can a Minister against whom the oil marketers have conducted a very public campaign of calumny be in league with them? A decent public official should not make such scurrilous and unsubstantiated statements” the outgoing Minister challenged.

She added that the most laughable aspect of Oshiomhole’s article was his claim that “Okonjo-Iweala has been speaking out lately because of the “fear of Buhari”, insisting Nigerians knew this was ridiculous.

Iweala said If there was any Minister whose voice has been strong on the right issues over the past four years, it was none but her, as she claimed she combined a “stalwart integrity, a mastery of her mandate and the courage of her convictions”, saying she had no reason to nurse any fear of after leaving office or beg for a bailout.

It would be recalled Governor Oshiomhole recently accused the Minister in an article titled: “Economy: Okonjo-Iweala’s hidden figures” which was widely published in the news media, of being the brain behind the country’s economic many misfortunes, including many alleged huge scandals in the oil and gas industry.


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