Former governor of Rivers state now Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has explained that governors demanded the sharing of funds from the Excess Crude Account, ECA, during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan because the money was not properly managed.
Former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had maintained that governors lacked the political will to save during the Jonathan administration.
But speaking on Wednesday when he featured on an interview programme on NTA – One on One, the former chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, asserted that Okonjo-Iweala was only “partially correct”.
The Minister continued, “I heard Mrs Okonjo-Iweala say that in the past administration, governors were unwilling to save; she is 30 percent correct and 70 percent incorrect.
“In 2009, we had an economic crisis so President Yar’adua put $1billion in the economy so no one felt the crisis. I can’t remember what was left in that account, the excess crude account.
“During Goodluck Jonathan, every month when the governors went for the economic council meeting, the amount in the account kept dropping. If we asked about what happened to the money, the response we got was that the president approved for it to be spent.
“So we said can we please share this money because the rate at which it was going, the president would have continually approved $1billion to spend and we won’t know what we are spending for and they won’t give us an account.
“So we told the vice president and the minister for finance that there was a need for us to share part of this money and we began to agitate. They now agreed to share part of the money and they did. In the first six months of Goodluck Jonathan, oil subsidy increased. Governors started complaining and then we had a meeting in the office of the president’s wife.
“At the meeting, we asked for assurance that the presidency would no longer collect for oil subsidy and he promised. It is not right for Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to say governors were not willing to save; governors were willing to save but we insisted on sharing the money when we saw that the money was not properly managed.”
Amaechi, who also spoke on why he agreed to serve as a minister under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, stated that it was because he believes in the administration’s capacity to serve, stressing that “refusing to serve when the president invited me to serve would mean that I did not have confidence in him.
“I am serving under the president because I believe that he is the man to help us at this particular time,” he added.