by Kolapo Olapoju
Erstwhile governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Chukwuma Soludo, has restated his claim that not less than N30trillion of public fuunds have gone missing under Finace Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s watch.
Soludo released a rejoinder saying he stands by his statements and also added that he did not include the N8.6 trillion the African Union recently said is stolen from Nigeria annually.
The statement released on Wednesday, February 4, Soludo said he would no longer release the second and third parts of his three-part response to the minister because she reportedly no longer intends to join issues with him.
Below is the statement released by Charles Soludo:
1. My attention has been drawn to statements credited to the Hon. Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in response to my latest article and call for a structured debate on the issues. According to the report, she no longer wants to join issues with me. In the circumstance of the moment, I therefore withhold parts two and three of my promised three-part response.
2. Let me also state for the avoidance of doubt that I stand by every statement I made in the two articles viz: (1) “Buhari Vs Jonathan: Beyond the Elections”; and (2) “Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Missing Trillions”. In particular, I insist that over N30 trillion has either been stolen or unaccounted for, or grossly mismanaged over the last few years. This figure does not include the estimated $40.9 billion (N8.6 trillion at parallel market exchange rate or nearly two years’ Federal Government budget) which the African Union’s (AU) recent report claims to be “stolen” from Nigeria each year.
3. I wish to thank Nigerians all over the world who have been contributing to this timely debate. This is election time and it is expected that some vested interests will either choose to live in denial or attempt to politicise the issues. But from the debate so far, I am convinced that our economic management won’t be the same again. Once our managers know that the citizens will rigorously and vigorously challenge them to account, the welfare of the citizens will be better for it. Whoever wins has his job cut out for him, and to the extent that this debate has challenged the respective teams to seriously re-examine their blueprints to guarantee the security and prosperity of every Nigerian, my objective is accomplished. I love my country Nigeria, and as I said before, I won’t keep quiet again.
“Once more, Nigeria must survive and prosper beyond Buhari or Jonathan.”
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has denied all allegations of missing money under her watch and her claims have been supported by individuals who have served with her in government including the former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.
Ribadu vouched for Okonjo-Iwela’s integrity and pooh-poohed Soludo’s “delusional” claims.