Former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has responded to allegations by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) demanding her probe over the management of the Abacha N65billion loot. This was contained in a statement signed by Paul C Nwabuikwu, Media Adviser to Dr Okonjo-Iweala. Below is the full statement:
The statement by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) demanding the probe of former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala over the management of the Abacha loot is a politically sponsored action by a compromised civil society organization. It is curious that SERAP, ignoring more worthy issues, decided to embark on this fishing expedition of a 10 year old process that was handled in an exemplary and transparent fashion. This shows that neither the organization nor its charges should be taken seriously.The Okonjo-Iweala name is impregnable because it is built on impeccable personal and professional integrity. The facts show that as Finance Minister under the Obasanjo and Jonathan administrations, she was was a force for good who managed the country’s finances transparently and with great competence.
Even though SERAP says its allegations were based on a World Bank statement, it neglected to tell the world that the same World Bank actively collaborated with the Federal Ministry of Finance on a 2006 field report which analyzed how the repatriated funds were used. It will be recalled that, as part of the repatriation process, the Swiss government requested and the Nigerian government under President Obasanjo agreed that the World Bank should monitor the use of the repatriated Abacha funds. The field survey, released in 2006, is titled “Utilization of Repatriated Abacha loot: Results of the Field Monitoring Exercise”. It shows that specific funds were indeed transparently programmed and used to boost the budgets of specific target ministries in 2004 and 2005.
The document also confirms that these funds were properly appropriated and channeled into roads, electricity, education, water and health across all six geo-political zones of Nigeria. The survey shows that as at 2006 when the report was issued, these projects were in place. The report also shows that credible civil society groups were part of the survey and that “all sampled projects exist and can be located on the ground”. These facts put paid to the lies of SERAP and its political sponsors.
Against this background, the call by SERAP that Okonjo-Iweala be personally probed for a transparently conducted and publicly implemented decision of the Obasanjo government that she served under underscores the very political agenda of SERAP. To say the obvious, civil society groups play a very important role in putting positive pressure on government to remain focused on good governance in order to ensure that clear and measurable results are achieved. No country can manage governance to global standards without civil society groups. And Nigeria is no exception. Nigeria has many credible advocacy groups doing important work in many areas.
It is therefore sad that SERAP which has made other false allegations against Okonjo-Iweala is hiding under the hallowed umbrella of civil society while acting as a tool for reprehensible, corrupt vested interests. No amount of sponsored propaganda can conceal the fact that the implementation of the agreement with the Swiss government was done transparently and the report was publicly issued. The entire process was properly managed and reviewed with the help of reputable international organizations. We advise SERAP to change its ways and stop wasting the time of Nigerians with fruitless and sponsored campaigns against innocent individuals.