Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the coordinating minister for the economy and minister of finance, has described the alleged missing N30 trillion from the federation account and other allegations raised by Chukwuma Soludo, former central bank governor as “packaged lies”.
But Okonjo-Iweala said she will not join issues with Soludo, because “you don’t join issues when things don’t make any sense.”
Okonjo-Iweala said this while speaking on ‘Political Platform’, a radio programme on Raypower FM on Tuesday.
“That is part of the packaged lies that Nigerians must avoid. I don’t want to enter that debate, we have answered him and I don’t want to join issues with him,” she said.
But in view of the revenue shortfall as a result of drop in crude oil price, the minister advised state governments to prioritise their expenditure. According to her, the federal government is not owing any state.
“What states need to do is to prioritise their expenditure. If you prioritise that paying salary is the first that you want to do, then you pay salary. The money that they (states) get is enough to pay salary.
“But the federal government cannot tell them what to prioritise. We can only encourage them. So, saying that the federal government is withholding their monies is absolutely not true,” she added.
According to her, there is a lot of misinformation that is being put out by politicians.
She said the forensic report on NNPC that was released on Monday was never assigned to her ministry, saying that it was the auditor-general that given the responsibility.
She said: “I have not been controlling the audit, it was the auditor general. Nigerians have been misinformed. They left out the fact that the auditor general was in charge, 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.”
She maintained that the Nigerian economy is not broke.
“This question of the economy is broke has been going on for four years now. You know 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.”