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Okonjo-Iweala Withdrew $1bn To Fund Jonathan’s Re-election –Oshiomhole

Nigeria's minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has accused the former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of illegally taking $1 billion from the federation account to prosecute the re-election bid of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Speaking at a seminar organized by the Edo State government for Permanent Secretaries, Directors and Deputy Directors, the governor said the former minister also needs to tells Nigerians how the Excess Crude Account was drawn down to $4.1 billion from the peak $10 billion when no approval was given by the National Economic Council for any withdrawal.

The theme of the workshop was: “Enhancing IGR in Edo, Issues, Prospects and Challenges.”

Oshiomhole, who said Okonjo-Iweala would have been declared a pathological liar if she were to be a witness in court due to the inconsistencies in her statements, said a forensic audit would truly determine how much was illegally spent from the federation account under her watch as minister.

He said the state government would now hold Permanent Secretaries, Directors and Deputy Directors responsible for any fraud detected in their departments, saying the government has trimmed down the cost of running government.

“The truth is, many things went wrong even at the federal level. As you might have read in the papers, while the federal government, under Goodluck Jonathan, with the then Coordinating Minister of the Economy liked to blame governors for wasteful spending, for not saving for the rainy day, for not investing properly, the truth is the real weakness in the Nigerian federal chain has been the Federal Government.

“Our hope is that with the new President, given his pedigree we will break from the past.

“As I’m sure you will soon begin to hear when all the numbers are published, last week, I complained aloud that Edo State lost about N10 billion over a four year period from only one source, the NLNG remittance to the federation account.

“How did I arrive at the figure? I used my 4-Figure Table and I asked myself at $2.1 billion remitted by NLNG as taxes and Shell, and by the way, Shell is not the only oil operative, we have Chevron and several others. They shared the $2.1 billion based on the revenue allocation formula, Edo State got about N2.27 billion.

“So I said, thank God this money came after the departure of Okonjo-Iweala and President Jonathan. If the PDP were still in charge in Abuja, this money would have been taken.”

However, the former minister described Oshiomhole’s allegations as the “kind of ludicrously false statement that has unfortunately become a trademark of the Governor in his public campaign of falsehood against Dr Okonjo-Iweala.”

A statement by Okonjo-Iweala’s aide, Paul Nwabuikwu, said that the statement by Oshiomhole “is just another example of the numerical diarrhea that seems to have afflicted His Excellency in recent times in his effort to damage the reputation of the former Minister.

“He has, within the last few months, asked Dr Okonjo-Iweala to explain all kinds of totally wild and unsubstantiated figures, ranging from $30 billion, $20 billion, $2.1 billion, N720 billion and now $1 billion.

“To say the obvious, the accusations are totally lacking in credibility.”

Okonjo-Iweala also said that Governor Oshiomhole’s published comments also contain other falsehoods, such as that the minister and the Finance Commissioners of the 36 states approved the spending of $2.1 billion out of the Excess Crude Account, adding that the Commissioners had disowned the statement.

Nwabuikwu said that Dr Okonjo-Iweala never said the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) approved spending out of the ECA. “Rather as the Commissioners themselves stated, the former Minister of State Finance informed them that former President Jonathan approved the expenditure to end the debilitating fuel queues across the country.

“As Nigerians know, the Finance Ministry under Okonjo-Iweala regularly published details of revenue allocations from the ECA in national media.

“So Oshiomhole’s tortured “calculations” based on his “four figure tables” are mere political numbers conjured to achieve a political purpose. Nigerians can see through the elaborate antics.

Nwabuikwu insisted that Governor Oshiomhole’s latest statement, like earlier ones, labours to give the impression that the entire FAAC process which involves the Federal Government and the 36 states of the Federation is a personal monopoly of Dr Okonjo-Iweala.

“This is, of course not true. FAAC is a long standing national platform for allocating revenues chaired by the Minister of State Finance. The governor’s insistence on pushing this clearly fictional narrative underscores his desperation.

“It is instructive that Governor Oshiomhole is a key member of the committee set up by the National Economic Council to investigate the ECA spending.

“His continuing attacks against Dr Okonjo-Iweala seem to suggest that he has lost confidence in this platform which he deployed to make some of his initial false and baseless allegations.

“The Governor does not seem to appreciate that he is undermining the very credibility of the committee.

“Once again, we ask: why are Oshiomhole and his cohorts so ready to sacrifice truth, precedent and decency in this political witch hunt against Dr Okonjo-Iweala?,” the statement queried.

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