Federal Government yesterday urged governors to revert to their Finance Commissioners in finding out how the excess crude account had been shared since 2013. Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who said this in Abuja yesterday, also promised to publish full details of the excess crude account “in the interest accountability and transparency”.
Governor Rotimi Amaechi, speaking on behalf of the Nigeria Governors Forum late Monday, had alleged that funds from the account had not been shared since June 2013 while asking the finance minister to give account of money accruing to the account which he put at $20 billion. But in a statement signed on her behalf by Paul Nwabuikwu, who is Special Adviser to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, the minister said there was no basis for the demand. The ststement reads: “It has come to our attention that governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors Forum have requested that the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance should 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 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 Honourable Minister of State who is the Chair 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.