Vanguard (Lagos)

19 January 2014

Nigeria: We'll Make NNPC Account for Missing U.S.$10.8 Billion Oil Revenue - Okonjo-Iweala

Minister for Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said that the ministry will make sure that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, accounts for the missing $10.8 billion oil revenue.

She spoke, Sunday, in Lagos at a session with the South South Professionals, adding that it was her job to ensure that every money belonging to the Federal Government goes into the Federation Account.

The Minister said that the ministry played the right role in the case of the missing oil money raised by the Central Bank Governor, Mallam Lamido Sanusi, by helping to reconcile the revenue shortfall, to the outstanding balance of $10.8 billion.

Okonjo-Iweala, however, said that although she was not the supervising minister for petroleum, "as Coordinating Minister, I am to bring the other ministers together to resolve issues.

"It is not my duty to do the job of other ministers, but to bring them together to resolve issues.

"We have the Federation Allocation Accounts Committee, FAAC, which is chaired by the Minister of State for Finance, with state commissioners for finance, NNPC, and FIRS as members.

"Whenever there is a case of revenue questions we turn to the FIRS and NNPC for explanations, and we don't need to make noise about it on the pages of newspapers.

"And that is what we did in in the case of the missing oil revenue. We have reconciled the accounts and we are still reconciling, and the outstanding is $10.8 billion. The NNPC said that the money was used for operational expenses, but we have asked them to account for how the money was spent and what it was spent for, so as to ascertain that there is no case of unauthorised spendings.

"So we played our role, and the ministry should be credited. We are for professionalism and transparency.

Our job is to ensure every money belonging to the federation comes in, so we will ask NNPC to account for the $10.8 billion.

"On budget implementation, the Minister noted that there were challenges in the nation's budgeting process, which must be resolved.

"Sometimes you get budget that is not easy to implement because of the way things have been solved around."

She further stressed that the budget also needed to be submitted on time and approved on time, so that implementation would commence at the beginning of the year.

Responding to the issue of state of infrastructure, especially the East-West Road, Okonjo-Iweala said that the present administration had come under serious attacks, but noted that efforts were being made to complete the road before the end of the current administration.

She said: "The President has always insisted that the ministry incharge works very hard to complete the East-West road.

"We agree that more work needs be done, and I think the Minister of Works is taking the issue of the road construction seriously. This is the most difficult road network, but also the most strategic.

"We have been able to get about N50 billion from African Development Bank to ensure this project is completed before the end of this administration.

"Even with all the efforts put in place so far by this administration towards a better Nigeria, it has come under serious attacks. These attacks especially from the opposition make us stronger. This administration is on the right path towards transforming this nation, therefore we need not be distracted.

"We have always appealed to Nigerians that, 'let us leave our parochial interests but let us come together to make this country a better place for all.'"

At the event were President of the SESSPN, Mr. Emeka Ugwu-Oju, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd), Professor Green Nwankwo, Governor Peter Obi, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, Dr. Goddy Uwazurike, Chief Fred Agbeyegbe, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Gari Igariwey, Dr. Oba Otudeko, Professor Anya O. Anya, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Professor George Obiozor, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa and traditional rulers from the South-East and South-South."

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