The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Tuesday said she would no longer reply the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Charles Soludo, over claims that that N30 trillion was stolen under her watch.
Okonjo-Iweala said this while responding to questions on a radio programme on Raypower.
She, however, advised Nigerians not to be deceived by the misinformation by some politicians in the country.
When asked to comment on the alleged missing N30 trillion, the finance minister said: “This is part of the packaged lies that Nigerians must avoid. I don’t want to enter into that debate, we have answered him (Soludo) and I don’t want to join issues with him because you don’t join issues when things don’t make any sense.”
She explained that the forensic report on the alleged unremitted oil revenue by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that was submitted to the presidency by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) on Monday was never under her ministry, contrary to the insinuations by some members of the public.
“There is a lot of misinformation that is being put out and it is sad for me. I have not been controlling the audit, it is the Auditor General. Nigerians have been misinformed. They left out the fact that the Auditor-General was in charge of the report.
“I was only interviewed for it and there was no way I could be in charge, but some people decided to paint it as if I was in charge of the report and that is very unfortunate.
“It is part of the packaging and misinformation in this politics, and it has to stop because Nigerians cannot be continuously deceived,” the minister said.
Responding to a question on if the country is broke, Okonjo-Iweala reiterated that 2015 is going to be a “very tough year,” adding that: “This question of the economy is broke has been going on for four years now.
“People in the opposition have tried to package this and they have been saying this because they just wish the economy will be broke because they want to get Nigerians alarmed.
“They want to make them feel hopeless about the economy. But Nigerians cannot be deceived. All these three years that they have been saying that the country is broke, has the economy not been running?
“Now they saw that oil prices are falling and they are holding on to that. I have been very clear in saying that it is going to be a difficult year for the country, but this is something we can manage.”
Continuing, she said: “The other story going around is that we are not able to pay salary. In December, the reason why salary took so long was because the payroll system we are using actually locked out some agencies when they tried to pay more people that are not in the system. The system locked out 14 agencies and we had to restore them for payment manually.
“I want to make one thing clear, because of the fall in oil price and the drop in quantity, less has been coming to the coffers.”