Courtesy of the usually garrulous Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Nigerians now know that nearly one trillion of the country’s hard earned cash is either missing or somewhere in the accounts of the 36 state governments; or, simply just mismanaged by States and Local Government councils who allegedly got the money.
Amaechi, believed by the Presidency to be the self-styled Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, said there was $9b in the excess crude account in January, this year, but the account had mysteriously diminished to $4 billion by November. So, if this huge amount was missing for 10 months, why did it take the activist governor so long to speak up? Was he investigating all this while or he knew where the money was going and maintained a mischievous silence before dropping his annoying bombshell?
The country was flummoxed by the revelation, but some discerning persons chose to ignore the comment because it came from Amaechi, known these days to make a mountain out of every mole hill. His loquacious tendencies over the past few months have put a question mark on his credibility, and many were not willing to fall for his game this time.
But when the relevant agencies were not willing to take him on for over 24 hours, even those who disdain Amaechi began to wonder if he was not right after all. As if Amaechi’s onslaught was not enough, his political cohorts in the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), who have all massed into their cousin, All Progressives Congress (APC), parroted and exaggerated his views.
Read them: “We consider this development too weighty to be swept under the carpet in view of the stature of the person making the allegation and the realities on ground. For all intents and purposes, Governor Amaechi is not a frivolous person and is not known for making frivolous claims. We told Nigerians about the poor handling of our common patrimony by this administration and sadly, nobody took us seriously. As at today, the unmistakable evidence is that Nigeria is broke as the Federal Government now finds it difficult to meet its obligations to states, local governments and contractors.
“We wish to commend the NGF Chairman for bringing this matter to the open and hereby challenge the Federal Government to come to tell Nigerians what it did with the money. We also hereby challenge the anti-graft agencies to prove their relevance by unearthing the whereabouts of this huge sum of money.
“…. That this administration is running for a price award as the most corrupt administration in the annals of governance in Nigeria is not in doubt but we urge Nigerians to heed the advice of the NGF and stop being docile in the face of monumental impunity in the country. This, in reality, is the only way to rescue Nigeria from the path of doom.”
When the Ministry of Finance responded to Amaechi, the muddled water of misinformation became clearer. The Ministry stopped short of accusing the Governor of suffering from selective amnesia. Reeling out figures, the Ministry relentlessly pounded the governor, accusing him in a statement of spreading falsehood.
According to the Ministry: “Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State cannot deny knowledge of the status of the Excess Crude Account (ECA); Rivers State has received N56.2 billion from the Excess Crude Account between January and September 2013.
“Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State has been quoted in recent media reports as saying that $5 billion is missing from the Excess Crude Account (ECA). This statement is absolutely shocking and false. Governor Amaechi cannot credibly deny knowledge of the status of the ECA. He has been closely involved and actively participated in making requests to the Presidency for the ECA to be shared for the purpose of augmenting the regular allocations from the Federation Account whenever there is a shortfall.
“The $5 billion in the ECA which Governor Amaechi referred to in his statement has been shared to the three tiers of government to make up for the revenue shortfalls during the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee process. Part of this fund also went for SURE-P payments and the balance for subsidy payments to oil marketers.
“Rivers State received N56.2 billion, the second highest share among the states, for January to September 2013 from the Excess Crude Account. This amount includes N43 billion for shortfalls plus N12 billion released for SURE-P. In fact, earlier this month (November 2013) Rivers State along with other states, benefitted from the sharing of $1 billion from the ECA to augment the allocations. It is therefore curious that Governor Amaechi seems not to know the whereabouts of the N56.2 billion which Rivers State has received from the ECA this year.”