Reports reaching 247ureports.com indicates that the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is putting pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently audit the accounts of the Nigeria oil industry.
In a statement the Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala “asked for urgent action with regard to an independent forensic audit of conflicting claims of unaccounted funds made by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamdio Sanusi”.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala, the finance minister also said: “My position on this has been clear from the start. The Ministry of Finance’s reconciliation showed a shortfall of $10.8bn in NNPC remittances to the Federation account. After this, the conflicting claims continued with new figures such as $20bn being mentioned.
“So since 13th February I have called for an independent forensic audit.
“President Goodluck Jonathan indeed announced last night that there will be an investigation into whether there are any funds missing from NNPC. He also indicated that the correct process needs to be followed in this investigation and I understand that the entity that has the proper authority to initiate such an investigation is the Auditor-General of the federation.
“I therefore want to see the truth from an investigation under the auspices of the Auditor-General, which in my view should be undertaken as a matter of extreme urgency by independent external auditor.”
On the face of it, this looks like a declaration of at least semi independence by the finance minister from Nigeria’s president, who has been accused of punishing the central bank governor for raising concerns about the allegedly missing oil billions.
247ureports.com learnt that the finance minister is concerned that Goodluck Jonathan, if left to his own devices, would not have initiated an independent probe of the allegedly missing billions.
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who doubles as the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, over the weekend denied a report that she had tendered a letter of resignation to the president.
In a statement signed by Mr Paul Nwabuikwu, Special Adviser on Media to the Minister, on Friday in Abuja, Okonjo-Iweala said “It has come to our attention that a story is circulating online about the purported resignation of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
“For the avoidance of doubt, this story is not true. The Coordinating Minister is still in her position,” it said.
According to the statement, the minister has assured Nigerians that the Jonathan administration is committed to the continuation of the current economic policies and the maintenance of macroeconomic stability through tight fiscal and monetary policies.
Goodluck Jonathan suspended Nigeria’s central bank governor last week for “various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct”. The president has insisted that his decision to suspend the governor was taken “in absolute good faith, in the overall interests of the Nigerian economy and in accordance with our laws and due process”.
Governor Sanusi, whose international reputation is strong, had been criticising the government over oil subsidies and apparent shortfalls in oil revenues.