Oshiomhole seeks Okonjo-Iweala, ex-officials’ trial over arms deal
• Attempt to link me totally false, says former minister
ONGOING probe into the billions of dollars arms deal may not be meaningful, if search light is not extended to the Finance Ministers, under whose watch the deals were allegedly struck and executed, Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole has said.
Speaking with State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, the governor, noted that restricting the probe to the National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and those facing investigation, without extending the dragnet to the approving authorities would not yield the desired results in the president’s attempt to institutionalize a regime of transparency, integrity and honesty in governance.
Oshiomhole, who spoke on a wide range of issues pertaining to the economy, lauded the government’s current moves to regenerate decaying infrastructure through increased budgetary spending.
Oshiomhole said he was not surprised about the revelations coming out of the probe exercise.
His words: “I’m not shocked but I have been saying it and I have told a couple of persons that the government has to go the whole hog because I know as a governor that no money gets out of the treasury even after I have approved as the governor without the Commissioner of Finance endorsing it.
Those are the procedures. So the probe should go into whether or not these monies were properly appropriated.
“Through who did the money go out of the treasury? The Minister of Finance under the rules must endorse before money gets out of the treasury before the Central Bank of Nigeria will release the money.
“So all those Ministers of Finance, include Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, irrespective of what people say, must give account of what they did. You cannot be coordinating a corruption-ridden economy and you pretend to be an angel.”
However, Dr. Okonjo Iweala has condemned the attempt to link her to any misuse of those funds for any purpose other than security.
The rebuttal signed by Paul C Nwabuikwu, Media Adviser to the former Finance Minister said linking her as far as she understood it is totally false and cannot stand.
Okonjo-Iweala said “she insisted on three conditions: (a.) Only a part, not the entire Abacha funds would be spent on the arms; the rest would be invested in developmental projects as originally conceived (b.) The money was to be treated as borrowed funds, which would be paid back as soon as possible (c.) The NSA’s office was to account for the spending to the President who was the Commander in Chief, given the fact that the Minister of Finance is not part of the security architecture and does not participate in the Security Council.”
Speaking on other issues, Oshiomhole believes the 30 percent allocation to capital projects in the 2016 budget proposal by the government is a step in the right direction to begin the process of bringing back to life the almost comatose infrastructure by the government.
If you look at the amount allocated for capital projects for 2015 by the previous government, you didn’t have more that 10 percent for capital projects and this simply means that you are going to watch your infrastructure decaying by the day and plenty crisis in infrastructure across the country.
“But if you are going to reverse that trend and put more money on capital projects, then you need to increase the size of the budget.
“Now the option open to government is if you want to cut personnel costs in order to reduce recurrent expenditure then two things will happen; you either reduce wages or you reduce the number of workers, but because this government is committed to job creation, that option is clearly not on the card.”
According to him, “With all due respect to my brother governors, they missed the point.”
First it is offensive to talk minimum. How can the food of the steward be the reason why the elders have nothing to eat? In a conventional wisdom about tradition, if there are crises in the system, it is those who have excess fat that will shed weight, not the skeleton.
That is why the idea of using the term ‘minimum’ is very offensive to my own sense of morality.”