The former minister of finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, has described allegations that she spent $2.1 billion out of the Excess Crude Account (ECA) “without authorisation” as “false, malicious and totally without foundation.”
State governors had on Monday alleged that the former finance minister spent $2.1 billion from the ECA without authorisation based on the balance of $2 billion now in the 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, in November 2014, that we had $4.1 billion.
“Today, the Accountant General’s office reported that we have $2 billion which means that the honourable minister spent $2.1 billion without the authority of the National Economic Council (NEC) and that money was neither paid to states nor the three-tiers of government,” Governor Adams Oshiomole told journalists after the NEC meeting.
But Okonjo-Iweala denied the allegation in a statement signed by her media adviser, Paul Nwabuikwu, yesterday. She added that the decision to withdraw funds from the account is always made in conjunction with the states. The former minister also said that the allegation presupposes the non-existence of the Federal Account Allocation Committee which ensures that states and the federal government usually agree on revenue sharing.
“We want to state categorically that no unauthorised expenditure from the ECA was made under Okonjo-Iweala’s watch in the Ministry of Finance. Decisions on such expenditure were discussed at the meetings of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) attended by the finance commissioners of the 36 states.
It is curious that in their desperation to use the NEC for political and personal vendetta, the persons behind these allegations acted as if the constitutionally recognised FAAC, a potent expression of Nigeria’s fiscal federalism, does not exist.
But Nigerians know that collective revenues, allocations and expenditures of the three-tiers of government are the concern of the monthly FAAC meetings,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
She further noted that the allegation was intended to smear her reputation as has been attempted in the past and stated resolutely that she is ready to defend her service to the country as the minister of finance.