by Ayobami Olopade
The Federal Ministry of Finance has rubbished the allegation by Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi and the new PDP that $5 billion is missing from the Excess Crude Account (ECA). The ministry says that the money was judiciously utilised.
The ministry announced in a statement that “Governor Amaechi cannot credibly deny knowledge of the status of the ECA. He has been closely involved and actively participated in making requests to the presidency for the ECA to be shared for the purpose of augmenting the regular allocations from the Federation Account whenever there is a shortfall.”
It clarified further, that the $5bn “has been shared to the three tiers of government to make up for the revenue shortfalls during the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee process.” The money, the statement said, “also went for SURE-P payments and the balance for subsidy payments to oil marketers.”
The statement also revealed that the states got a fair share of the money with Rivers state receiving the second highest share of N56.2bn for January to September 2013 from the Excess Crude Account. In fact, the statement said “Earlier this month (November 2013), Rivers state along with other states, benefitted from the sharing of $1 billion from the ECA to augment the allocations.”
The ministry also reacted to claims that the Finance Minister, Okonjo Iweala, refused to sign off on a deal to provide water for Rivers people saying that for the loan in question the ministry “has appraised it but it is yet to be negotiated. Before the Minister can sign it, it has to go through the negotiation process and be considered and cleared by both the Board of the African Development Bank and the Federal Executive Council. So the issue of the minister refusing to sign it does not arise.”