Senate Accuses Okonjo Iweala Of Destroying Nigeria’s Economy
The lawmakers accused the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, of perpetrating wickedness by refusing to release funds meant for capital projects in the country.
According to The Nation, the senators who met at various committees with ministers, heads of Federal Government departments and agencies in Abuja on February 24, were unhappy that last year’s budget was poorly implemented.
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The lawmakers expressed shock when ministers and some heads of agencies told them that they got between 40 to 45 % of their capital votes last year.
The minister came under attack of the Senators at various committee levels during the 2015 budget Defence of Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) based on submissions made by them that their capital budgets for 2014 were poorly funded by the Ministry of Finance
The Senators also accused the Minister of Finance of destroying the economy through yearly poor funding of Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
The first swipe according to Newswatch Times, came from Senator Victor Lar who said it was very frustrating and wicked for the Minister of Finance, to be rendering capital budget proposals of the various MDAs useless on yearly basis through poor funding.
He said: “A situation where we considered a budget, have it approved, then somebody sits in an office and refuses to make releases is too bad.
“Ministers and heads of various agencies who had awarded contracts could not pay but somebody would sit in the comfort of her office and declare a surplus. Is that an economy that is growing?
"This is simple planlessness, this is frustrating and it cannot go on like this. The presentation by the Minister of Steel for instance was an opportunity to raise the revenue profile of the ministry from a non oil sector which would have enhanced economic growth, was frustrated.
"A serious nation would have encouraged this ministry to ensure that everything required was provided but this is the same ministry that had been subjected to the same envelope system, to the same non-releases, among others.
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"We need to change the way we do things because if we have a problem and you keep on using an approach that has not yielded the desired results, common sense demands that you change the approach.
“We keep doing the same thing wrongly and we expect to get the desired results. It will not work. It is now becoming part of our tradition to get budgets approved as a parliament and someone refuses to provide funds for its implementation.”
Senator Chris Ngige also warnrd that the economy would collapse completely if the trend of non-release of funds for projects continues unchallenged.
Ngige advised legislators to be interested in putting in place structures that will enable the country to realise additional sources of revenue apart from the oil sector.
It would be recalled that former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Charles Soludo, had in an article alleged that “over N30 trillion was missing, stolen or unaccounted for, or simply mismanaged” under the watch of the coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Dr Iweala has however refuted Soludo's claims as untrue.