The federal government has denied allegations by Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers state that $5 billion is missing from the Excess Crude Account (ECA), describing the allegation as “absolutely shocking and false”.
The federal government pointed out that the governor could not have denied knowledge of the status of the ECA, when his state benefitted handsomely from the share of the $5 billion, which was severally used to augment revenue shortfalls for sharing to the three tiers of government.
Amaechi had alleged during the retreat of a faction of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), which he chairs, in Sokoto at the weekend, that $5 billion had disappeared from the ECA and demanded explanations from the government agencies responsible.
However, in a press statement yesterday (Monday), the Federal Ministry of Finance said: “Amaechi cannot credibly deny knowledge of the status of the ECA,” insisting that “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 was a shortfall.”
The statement further adds that the $5 billion in the ECA had been shared to the three tiers of government to make up for the revenue shortfalls during the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) process.
“Part of this fund also went for SURE-P payments and the balance for subsidy payments to oil marketers,” it added.
The ministry said Rivers State received N56.2 billion, the second highest share among the states, from January to September 2013 from the ECA, adding that the amount included N43 billion for shortfalls plus N12 billion released for the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).
“In fact, 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.
“It is therefore curious that Governor Amaechi seems not to know the whereabouts of the N56.2 billion which Rivers State has received from the ECA this year,” the statement added
The statement also faulted Amaechi’s allegation that the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, refused to sign the African Development Bank (AfDB) loan for a water project in Port Harcourt.
“The loan in question has been appraised 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 simply does not arise.
“Dr. Okonjo-Iweala handles issues concerning the states on the basis of professionalism and equity,” the statement said.