Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Rivers Defends Amaechi Over Excess Crude Account Controversy

The Rivers State government has denied that the allegation that Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was involved in demanding that funds from the Excess Crude Account be shared to augment the shortfall in the Federation Account.

The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had said that Amaechi was closely involved and actively participated in making requests to the Presidency for the account to be shared among the three tiers of government for the purpose of augmenting the regular allocations from the Federation Account whenever there was a shortfall.

But, the state government, in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, insisted that Amaechi and the other governors had only made one request for the sum of $1 billion to be shared from the Excess Crude Account.

The statement explained that there had been no other request from the governors that funds from the Excess Crude Account be shared among the states.

It described as mischief the suggestion that Amaechi refused to acknowledge that Rivers State had received the sum of N56.2 billion from the Excess Crude Account between January and September 2013.

"Contrary to the coordinating minister's claim that 'Mr. Amaechi was closely involved and actively participated in making requests to the Presidency for the account to be shared for the purpose of augmenting the regular allocations from the Federation Account whenever there was a shortfall, Governor Chibuike Amaechi and his colleague governors have only attended one meeting where one request was made for the sharing of $1billion from the Excess Crude Account.

"Beyond that one meeting, there has been no other meeting where it was decided that money from the ECA be shared among the three tiers of government. There is a position of the National Executive Council's (NEC) on the matter of the Excess Crude Account.

"This position is that the savings in the ECA belonging to all the states is not to be touched. Indeed, this is in tandem with the position of the honourable minister that the ECA is savings for the rainy day and not to be shared in the manner she now seems to suggest.

"The Rivers State government finds it curious and very disturbing that our rainy day savings has been shared in complete breach of the known procedure for doing such and in what might be considered an under-the-table and clandestine manner.

"The Rivers State government is certain that its Chief Executive and Governor did not participate in any such meeting where any such approval was requested or even discussed and given," the statement read.

Explaining that Rivers and other states of the federation do not have any inkling that the money they received was from the Excess Crude Account, it (state government) described the suggestion by the Finance minister that the savings of 2012 had been used to fund the 2013 budget.

"Neither Rivers nor any other state would have any inkling that the money received by Rivers State government and other state governments for that matter were funded from the ECA.

"According to a communiqué issued by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation after the June allocation meeting, the sum of N7.617 billion refunded by NNPC and the N35.547 billion from the Subsidy Re-investment Programme (SURE-P) formed part of the total distributable revenue for the month.

"The communiqué confirmed that the gross revenue for the month was N863.026 billion. This was higher than the N590. 777 billion received in May by N272. 249 billion.

"It (communiqué) said very unambiguously that the higher revenue was as a result of increased crude oil production due to the completion of pipeline repairs in some terminals. There was also a significant increase in non-oil revenue during the period due to the receipt of accumulated arrears on companies.

"The Rivers state government therefore finds puzzling the suggestion by the honour minister that the savings for 2012 has been used to fund the budget for 2013," the statement read in parts.

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