This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Subsidy Fraud - Group Absolves Finance Minister of Complicity

The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations for Transparency in Governance has absolved the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, of any complicity in the N2.3 trillion fuel subsidy fraud which has been the subject of national concern since the beginning of the year.

The national president of the group, Ibrahim Alih, who spoke with THIDAY Tuesday lamented that it was unfortunate that Okonjo-Iweala had become a subject of ridicule in the hands of desperate oil barons. He said the oil barons were bent on tarnishing her international reputation for the singular reason that she had helped to expose their illicit act.

Alih questioned the rationale behind the National Anti-Corruption Network sudden call for Okonjo-Iweala's resignation at this critical point in time when reports are being considered to fish out the real thieves in the oil sector, insisting that the group must be acting the script of some selfish persons behind the scene who are interested in taking over from Okonjo-Iweala as Finance Minister.

He reiterated the coalition's commitment to fighting corruption within the ambit of the law but maintained that it would be unfortunate for the civil society to degenerate so low to a political mouth-piece of some self-serving members of the public who usually masquerade themselves as nationalists during the day but only turn out at night to become elements of national disintegration.

Alih speaking further, affirmed that the minister has brought her professional experience and expertise to bear in managing the treasury because since her assumption of duties has witnessed drastic reduction in stealing from the treasury which is a welcome development that should be applauded by the taxpayers and not the unnecessary bashing of her international reputation.

"The coalition wishes to use this opportunity to express its concern over the recent attack on the character and reputation of the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy over her role in the missing N2.3trillion subsidy fund that has become a subject of national discussion since the beginning of this year.

"In as much as we are in solidarity with our compatriots in the struggle to ensure that this monumental fraud is thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators properly dealt with, it would not be in the spirit of fairness, justice and transparency for the civil society to resort to self help by engaging uncivilised tactics to assassinate the character and international reputation of true nationalists like Okonjo-Iweala whom have given so much to our dear nation in terms of financial management and war against corruption.

"We believe some emergency comrades have allowed themselves to be hijacked by those who masquerade themselves as patriots during the day but turned out to be economic saboteurs at night to demand for Okonjo-Iweala's resignation at this point that investigations into the matter has not been concluded, it amounts to double standard and deliberate attempt to crucify the innocent just to satisfy some blood thirsty gods in the oil industry that are yet to come to realities in the sector that the days of monumental corruption is over."

"The coalition is convinced that it is not the responsibility of the Finance Minister to inspect shipment of refined crude oil at the borders and the attempt to drag her name into the mud for carrying her professional duties at the finance headquarters smacks of opportunism by those after her office and they should come out if they are bold because Nigerians are satisfied with the numerous bottlenecks she has put in place to make stealing very difficult for this characters, he also added.

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