The Rivers State Government has accused the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, of attacking the office and person of the state Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, over his stand on the management of the Excess Crude Account (ECA).
The state said instead of answering questions raised by the governor or clarifying the issues, the minister had been muddling matters.
In a statement issued by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, Thursday in Port Harcourt, the state said it at no time denied receiving monies accruing to it from the Federation Account.
It however said the impression that funds were shared from the ECA through the federation account was wrong as the procedures set for withdrawals from that account were not met.
Semenitari said, “For the records and for the avoidance of doubt, the Rivers State Government has not at any time contested that it has received funds from the federation account. In its response to the claim by the Honourable Minister that it received N56.2 from the Excess Crude Account, the Rivers State Government simply explained the well-known fact that the monies received were from the federation account and part of its statutory allocation.
“All state governments receive their statutory allocation from the federation account and the Rivers State Government is no different.”
She also said, “It is evident that funds from the Excess Crude Account are not one of the statutory sources of revenue for the federation account, as was also explicitly outlined in the response of the Rivers State Government. That account is not expected to be touched except when the appropriate processes have been followed as was explained in our previous statement. It is therefore misleading and a threat to our practice of fiscal federalism, for the Minister to suggest that the ECA is now one of the means through which the FAAC is funded and to expect the governors to know about this aberration when the Ministry of Finance hasn’t made this information public.”
Seminitari stated that the state government had always published its earnings and had nothing to hide, and challenged the minister to publish her figures on what the state had received from the federation account.
However, the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused Amaechi of diverting funds meant for the federal government’s Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) to fund the membership drive of his new party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The party in a statement signed by media aide to the state party chairman, Mr. Jerry Needam, noted that funds saved from the increase in the pump price of petroleum products since 2012 were meant for the empowerment of youth across the states of the federation irrespective of gender, tribe or political affiliation.
It, however, expressed regret that “Amaechi rather than oblige the Rivers youths this privilege of benefitting from the programme, is using registration into the APC as a condition to benefit.”
Meanwhile, the attempt by Amaechi to stop the re-instated chairman and councilors rom assumption of office failed as state High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, yesterday threw out a motion filed by the governor, and the Attorney General, Worgu Boms, seeking a stay of execution of the judgment of the court which reinstated the elected officials of the council.
The court, presided over by Justice Iyayi Lamikanra, had on Monday, November 25, in its judgment, ordered the immediate reinstatement of the Chairman of Obio/Akpor Coiuncil, Prince Timothy Nsirim; his deputy, Mr. Solomon Eke and 17 councillors who were suspended by the State House of Assembly on allegations of financial impropriety and breach of security.