by Deji Abiodun
The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, last night swiftly dismissed the request by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to account for an estimated $20 billion oil revenue from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) from June 2013 to April 2015.
“There is no basis for the demand and the stated amount,” the minister’s Special Adviser, Paul C Nwabuikwu, said in a statement e-mailed to newsmen.
According to him, “The statement by the governors is totally strange because FAAC meets every month and the ECA is discussed at every session with all the state Commissioners of Finance present. Nothing is hidden. At these meetings the Honorable Minister of State who is the Chairman of FAAC announces the balance in the ECA which is then discussed.
So governors who want any information about the ECA should ask for details from their commissioners who should have the records of what was discussed and agreed upon. Details of the ECA are also published every month along with the allocations to the three tiers of government.
“The reference to June 2013 in the statement is probably because the National Economic Council last met in May 2013. But this is immaterial because the FAAC meetings during which the ECA and similar issues are discussed have generally held regularly every month.
“It is interesting that Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State who was reported to have read the communique on behalf of the governors made a similar unsubstantiated allegation in November 2013 that $5 billion was missing from the ECA. We subsequently showed with facts that not only was the amount not missing, Rivers State received N257.6 billion from the Federation Account between January and October 2013, the second highest among the states, of which N56.2 billion from the Excess Crude Account was a part.
“In the interest of transparency and accountability, and to throw more light on this issue, the Federal Ministry of Finance will publish details of the ECA for the last four years within the next few days.