Okonjo-Iweala Replies Oshiomhole On Allegations Of $1bn Misappropriation

Okonjo-IwealaThe former Minister of Finance has again faulted claims by the Edo State Governor that she spent billions from the Excess Crude Account as lacking credibility.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in a statement on Tuesday accused Governor Adams Oshiomhole of repeatedly trying to damage her reputation within the last few months by seeking explanations to how monies related to the Excess Crude Account were spent.

According to the former minister, Governor Oshiomhole’s publications contain falsehoods which include statements that the she and state finance commissioners approved the spending of 2.1 billion dollars out of the excess crude account , adding that the commissioners had disowned the statement.

She said that her ministry regularly published details of revenue allocations from the ECA in national media, so Governor Oshiomhole’s calculations are mere political numbers conjured to achieve a political purpose

Commenting on Oshiomhole’s latest statement, Dr. Okonjo Iweala said that an impression is being created that the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), which involves the federal government and the 36 states is a personal monopoly of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala.

She says, “FAAC is a long standing national platform for allocating revenues chaired by the Minister of State for Finance and the governors insistence on pushing this fictional narrative underscores his desperation.”

The Edo State Governor accused the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, of misappropriating a sum of $1 billion from Nigeria’s Federation Account.

Governor Adams Oshiomhole alleged that the money was illegally taken to fund the March 28 re-election bid of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

He made the allegation at a seminar held in Benin City, the capital of Edo State and organised by the Edo State government for Permanent Secretaries, Directors and Deputy Directors, with the theme “Enhancing IGR In Edo, Issues, Prospects And Challenges”.

 

Oshiomhole Accuses Okonjo-Iweala Of $1bn Misappropriation

Oshiomhole Accuses Okonjo-Iweala Of $1bn MisappropriationThe Edo State Governor has accused the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, of misappropriating a sum of $1 billion from Nigeria’s Federation Account.

Governor Adams Oshiomhole alleged that the money was illegally taken to fund the March 28 re-election bid of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

He made the allegation at a seminar held in Benin City, the capital of Edo State and organised by the Edo State government for Permanent Secretaries, Directors and Deputy Directors, with the theme “Enhancing IGR In Edo, Issues, Prospects And Challenges”.

Oshiomhole asked the former Minister to publicly explain how the Excess Crude Account was drawn down to $4.1 billion from the peak of $10 billion, when no approval was given by the National Economic Council for any withdrawals.

He said that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala would have been declared a pathological liar if she were a witness in court due to the inconsistencies in her statements.

The Governor opined that a forensic audit would truly determine how much was illegally spent from the Federation Account under her watch as minister.

He warned that the Edo State government would now hold Permanent Secretaries, Directors and Deputy Directors responsible for any fraud detected in their departments.

Oshiomhole also revealed that his administration had trimmed down the cost of running government.

Senate Hearing: Okonjo-Iweala Recommends Independent Audit On NNPC Missing Funds

The Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala has told members of the Senate Committee on Finance to go a step further by inviting independent auditors to look at the books of the Ministry of Finance as regards remittances made by the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission, NNPC.

This is in view of the lingering controversies surrounding the alleged 10.8 billion dollars missing NNPC funds.

The Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was speaking at the investigative hearing by the Senate Committee on Finance, into the alleged missing $20 billion oil money.

In her testimony, she said, “The budget under the control of the Ministry of Finance is laid out transparently online and has been accessible to all Nigerians and they have been criticizing it. Even though it’s difficult for us, we are proud of it because it means they have information to criticize us with.

“Under those circumstances people say the finances of the country are in a mess, we do not think that is the case on that particular point.

“What is being said here is being made to look like in this country, there has been no accountability, and that is not the case. For two steady years, Federal Allocation after Federal Allocation Committee meeting, the Ministry of Finance chairs a process that reconciles these accounts, and every single Commissioner of Finance in this country has a folder that shows exactly what we’ve done. So the Ministry of Finance is doing its job.

“It is because of that reconciliation that we came to the amount of 10.8billion that everybody is now talking about. When the Central Bank mentioned 49.8billion, we were the first to say we did not think this amount is correct and you can ask the CBN Governor, he is right here.

“After we had done that work, it was proven that 49.8billion is not the right amount and he had the courage to accept that. Without the steady work we have done to account for the resources of this country, we will not be talking about 10.8billion.”

Referring to an earlier comment by a member of the committee, she said, “We have said we want an independent audit in addition; it is precisely because of what the distinguished Senator is saying that we want this independent audit these extraordinary times. A lot of accusations are being made in this country and the only way Nigerians are going to be satisfied is to have an independent opinion on these amounts.”

Senate Hearing: No 10.87billion Dollars Is Seated In NNPC – Group GMD

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu

The Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and the Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala have been giving testimonies at the investigative hearing by the Senate Committee on Finance, into the alleged missing $20 billion oil money.

Mr Sanusi told the hearing that regardless of the explanations from the Finance Minister, as far as the CBN was concerned, there is an outstanding $20 billion between what NNPC shipped and what it paid to Government.

Mr Sanusi insisted that the outstanding 6 billion Dollars given to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) should have gone to the Federal Government and that the CBN received 3 legal opinions on that matter while offering to bring lawyers to defend that claim.

The Finance Minister, Okonjo Iweala, however said that the NNPC supplied documents from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulation Agency, PPPRA, showing how the initial outstanding 10.8 billion dollars was spent.

The Group GMD of the NNPC, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, who was also at the hearing, however, stuck to his gun, insisting that the state oil company was not in custody of the amount as claimed by the CBN Governor.

“You will recall that we started from 49.8 billion dollars, and after the interagency reconciliation in December, we came down to 10.87, and this was classified as non-remitted funds. The impression all over the place is that 10.87billion dollars is seated in the four towers of NNPC and my staff and myself have been portrayed in very bad light.

“For emphasis I want to tell all Nigerians, that no 10.87billion dollars is seated in NNPC or anywhere within our control.

“The 10.87billion dollars after a series of discussions and presentation of documents and reconciliation meetings was traced to the four major items today. Those items are the subsidy that we have discussed extensively, and that is the reality.”

Having itemized other issues like legalities, budgetary provisions, as among issues realized during reconciliation, he further spoke about the kerosine subsidy.

“The reality today, that I found when I stepped in on the 26th of June 2012, is that subsidy of kerosine was still there and it is still there as we speak. So, the total amount based on our reconciled figure is 8.76billion dollars.

“We also did a detailed material balance of crude oil and product inventories and arrived at 0.76billion for the losses we encountered as a result of the harsh business environment.”

 

NNPC Reacts To Sanusi On $20billion

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has dismissed the $20 billion dollar allegation made by the CBN Governor, calling it baseless.

The Acting Group General Manager Public Affairs, Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim said that Nigerians should not take the CBN Governor seriously since this is not the first time he would be making what he calls a wild allegation.

Sanusi had told the Ahmed Markafi Senate Committee probing the allegation of unremitted funds, that the NNPC shipped 67billion dollars in crude and only 47 billion dollars had come back to the Federation. Therefore the NNPC has to proof where the 20billion dollars is.

The NNPC boss expressed surprise that in spite of extensive clarification on the matter, Mallam Sanusi was still confusing the role of NPDC as part of NNPC’s.

According to him, ‘‘Let me make this point clear that CBN is a banking outfit, not a petroleum outfit.

“It is therefore understandable why they keep making unsubstantiated claims, which a little understanding of the technicalities of the oil industry would have saved them from making.

“The CBN is not an auditing outfit but what it is doing now is auditing.”

The Senate committee expects the NNPC to make their own presentation before it, and the meeting has been adjourned till 10am on Thursday, February 13, 2014.

Sanusi Insists NNPC Has 20 Billion Dollars Unaccounted For

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance to discuss the crude oil monies allegedly unaccounted for by the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission, NNPC.

At the meeting, Mr Sanusi provided a summary of funds that have been received by the Central Bank and the irregularities they have identified.

He highlighted that the records from the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, showed that the 16 billion dollars paid into the FIRS account was by International Oil Companies, IOCs and not by the NNPC and were proceeds from crude lifted in the name of the NNPC, but sold on behalf of the FIRS.

He also said that the Directorate of Petroleum Resources, DPR, received 1.6 billion dollars from the IOCs, while the NNPC has also repratriated 16 billion dollars out of the 28 billion dollars domestic crude it shipped.

He reminded the committee that the CBN has accounted for all the monies that it has received, which is 47 billion dollars, out of the 67 billion dollars that the NNPC shipped.

He disagreed with the NNPC’s explanation that some of the remaining 20 billion Dollars does not belong to the Federation. He argued that some of the 6 billion dollars crude said to belong to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited (NPDC) is shipped from oil wells that belong to the Federation.

He also stated that the Central Bank is asking NNPC to provide their authority for buying Kerosine at 150 Naira  from the Federation account and selling at 40 Naira, thereby inflicting a loss on Nigeria, when there had been a presidential directive eliminating subsidy since 2009.

He revealed that the NNPC had always submitted its monthly reports which has consistently shown that it had deducted nothing for PMS subsidy since April 2012. He then wondered how the NNPC came about telling the CBN that deductions were being made.

He maintained that NNPC shipped 67billion dollars in crude and only 47 billion dollars has come back to the Federation. Therefore, the NNPC has to prove where the 20billion dollars is.

The Chairman of the Committee however noted that there was nothing new about the content of the presentation by the CBN Governor, as those details and the stance of the Central Bank were already known.

He however said that every year in the revenue framework, the National Assembly appropriates money for oil subsidy. Therefore, the question of whether the NNPC deducted it or that they did so late is not an indication that there was no money appropriated for subsidy on PMS.

He expected the NNPC to make their own presentation and noted that “the bottomline is that the Federation should not lose one cent.”

The meeting was adjourned till 10am on Thursday February 13, 2014.

50 Questions: House Committee To Commence Public Hearing On Economy

The House of Representatives Committee on Finance is to begin a public hearing to dissect the response of the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to its 50 questions.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala had sent a reply to 50 questions posed to her in an earlier meeting with the committee, but the House members did not seem satisfied with her answers.

To this end, the Clerk of the Committee on Finance, Farouk Mustapha, said that the members are in receipt of the 102-page response, but a public hearing would commence where all concerned Nigerians would get information on the NNPC missing funds and other lapses found in the economy.

The Minister had been scheduled to meet with the committee in December 2013, but the proposed meeting degenerated into a disagreement between her and the Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Abdul-Mumini Jibrin.

The Chairman had ruled that the Minister, who had said that she was feeling a bit sick, would be excused and should return at another date to meet with the committee.

The confrontation, however, ensued when the Minister insisted that she was ready to speak to the committee and the committee insisted that they stand by their ruling that the Minister should return on another date, presenting her with the said document containing the 50 questions.

The newly announced public hearing is expected to bring out the needed information to finally clear the air on the state of the nation’s economy.

No date has been announced for the hearing.

NUPENG, PENGASSAN Reverse Strike Decision

The Trade Unions in the oil and gas sector would not be embarking on the industrial action, in protest of the Federal Government’s plan to sell the country’s refineries.

The leadership of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association PENGASSAN and NUPENG reached this decision after a 5-hour close door meeting with the Ministers of Petroleum and Labour.

Reading the communiques after the meeting, the Minister of Labour, Mister Emeka Wogu, said that Government would not sell the nation’s refineries.

In his reaction, the President of PENGASSAN, Babatunde Ogun told Channels Television that the agreement would serve as evidence to Nigerians that they (unions) are not trouble makers if the government decides to go back on its promise. He expressed confidence that the Federal Government can effectively manage the refineries if it makes the required investments and decisions.

“If government cannot keep to agreement, it means that government is not really serious…. If you are supposed to do something and you don’t do it for almost 10 to 14 years, then you cannot say government cannot run it (refineries),” he said, adding that “if they have challenges about funds, we can always look for funds.

Also, President of NUPENG, Igwe Achese said the “materials for the turn-around maintenance of the Port Harcourt refineries are on ground already and that’s why we are confident that in this first quarter, the Port Harcourt refinery turn-around maintenance will be concluded and then we can be thinking of the next one.”

NNPC Insists No Funds Missing

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, is insisting that there are no funds missing from the un-remitted $49.8bn oil revenue.

The corporation said that despite its efforts at clarifying the issues on the funds based on the allegations, there is still misinformation.

The agency insists 30 billion dollars of the alleged un-remitted oil revenue had been reconciled by all the parties involved and that the Coordinating Minister of The Economy, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, explained last year that the reconciliation was an ongoing process and the balance of $10.8bn is still being reconciled.

The NNPC however stated that the yet to be reconciled $10.8bn can be located in the expenses on some of the responsibilities which the corporation carries out on behalf of the Federal Government with respect to the domestic crude oil utilization.

These include, fixing and management of vandalised pipelines and facilities, also is the unpaid subsidies on kerosine and Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), which for kerosine the NNPC said has been paid since 2007.

The NNPC said that it has about 32 days’ sufficiency of petrol at the rate of 40 million litres of PMS national consumption per day. It says the cost incurred in this mandate is also part of the $10.8bn yet-to-be-reconciled outstanding figure.

FG Denies Plan To Sell Refineries

The reported approval by Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, for the sale of the nation’s four refineries has been denied by the Presidency.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, told journalists at the Presidential Villa that President Goodluck Jonathan has not given and does not plan to give approval to that effect.

The oil and gas workers unions had threatened to embark on a nationwide industrial action following the announcement that the four refineries had been slated for privatisation in 2014 by the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE.

Mr. Abati, however, dismissed the threat by the oil and gas workers, insisting that if the reason for the proposed strike is the issue of the refineries, then the action would not take place.

An attempt to sell the refineries was first made during the administration of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, but the decision was reversed by his successor, the late President Umaru Yar’adua.

Also, a presidential committee set up by President Goodluck Jonathan in the wake of the corruption scandal in the oil and gas industry had recommended the sale of the refineries as a way to avoid the wastage of government funds.

There had been news that the President has approved the constitution of a steering committee chaired by the Minister of Petroleum Resources with 13 members including the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Minister of Power, Minister of Labour and Minister of National Planning, to oversee the privatisation process.

The national bodies of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers, (NUPENG) had announced plans by their associations to commence an industrial action in the first week of January 2014, if the Federal Government failed to rescind its alleged decision to privatise the refineries.

They claimed that the planned privatisation was an attempt to hand over the nation’s refineries to cronies of the Federal Government.

Okonjo-Iweala not interested in World Trade Organisation job

The Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Thursday said she is not interested in replacing Pascal Lamy as head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) when the Frenchman steps down in a year’s time.

Nigeria's Finance Minister Okonjo-Iweala speaks during an interview in Abuja

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala left her role as managing director of the World Bank last year to become the most high-profile member of President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet in an expanded version of a role she held between 2003-2006.

Less than a year into her post she ran to be president of the World Bank in April, losing out to Korean-born American health expert Jim Yong Kim. It was the first time in the Bank’s history that the United States’ hold on the job was challenged.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Dr Okonjo-Iweala is not a candidate for the leadership of the WTO. She has also not expressed any interest whatsoever in the position,” an emailed statement from the finance ministry said.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s opponents questioned her commitment to Nigeria after her unsuccessful World Bank bid, so showing interest in this post could have been politically damaging.

Emerging market countries will want to see one of their own in charge of the Geneva-based trading club, after the top jobs at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank went to a European and an American.

But there are already signs that developing nations will squabble over the identity of their candidate, meaning the race for the job overseeing negotiations to reform global farm subsidies, customs and trading rules is wide open.

Mr Lamy’s tenure at the WTO has been marked by Russia’s accession last month, and by disputes, such as a trans-Atlantic row over aircraft subsidies between Boeing and Airbus. Most of all, it has been overshadowed by the failure to agree on any reform of the world trade rules.

Formal nominations are not due until December, but trade diplomats are already assessing chances and gathering names.
So far, only two have said they want the job.

One is New Zealand’s Trade Minister Tim Groser and the other is Ghana’s former trade minister Alan Kyerematen, whose candidacy has been approved by the African Union (AU).