The Minister of Finance and the coordinating minister of the economy, Dr.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has branded the claim of Edo State governor, Comrade Adam Oshiomhole that $30 Million is missing from the Excess Crude Account as false. She warned ‘political players’ to be wary of their utterances.
The Minister said this in a statement released on Saturday.The statement reads:
The widely published comment by Governor Adams Oshiomhole alleging that $30 billion is missing from the Excess Crude Account is shocking and totally untrue. The 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.
Governor Oshiomhole’s sweeping comments give the impression that the Federal Government sits alone in secret and doles out whatever it wishes to the states from the Federation Account. 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 Governor 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.
It will be recalled that Governor 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. Governor Oshiomhole’s allegation seems to be cut from a similar political fabric.
Governor 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 Governor 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.
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