Ex-Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Questioned Over Missing Fund

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At the Governors’ Forum in Nigeria this week, leaders of the country’s 36 states formally asked Ex-Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to account for the $20 billion reported earned from sale of the country’s crude oil but missing from its national treasury. This request of the finance minister comes just days after former Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi rebutted claims that the controversial Price water house coopers audit report of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had vindicated the government of rent-seeking. Last year, Sanusi publicly questioned discrepancies in government accounts, a move that led to his subsequent suspension.

Last year, Okonjo-Iweala, however, dismissed any demand for explanations “totally strange” due to the fact that the accounts are discussed regularly with the state commissioners of finance. The ministry also assured that it would publish details of the accounts to ensure further transparency. Embezzlement allegations are only one of the concerns that Africa’s biggest oil-producing nation is facing at the moment. Earlier this month, Nigeria had to further borrow to stave off dramatic budget shortfalls. In addition, the National Bureau of Statistics realized a report this week indicating that Nigeria has experienced a plunge in foreign investment over the last quarter-a drop of $1.23 billion (nearly a one-third decline in inflows). Depressed oil prices and uncertainties around recent national elections are possible explanations for the dampened investment sentiment.

 

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