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Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
By Idris Akinbajo

The Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, failed to answer many of the questions sent to her by members of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance on the ‘true state’ of Nigeria’s economy, the lawmakers have said. In a review of Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala’s response to the 50 questions issued to her by the committee, the lawmakers said some of the questions were “either not answered, partially answered, outrightly ignored or completely misunderstood.”
The lawmakers’ response is contained in a letter addressed to the minister, dated January 31, and signed by the Chairman of the Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

The committee also said it observed several lacuna in the minister’s response.

“The Committee further noted glaring missing gaps in the responses, absence of supporting proofs to assertions and lack of relevant documents to back up the presentation as is the practice in any legislative oversight or investigation.

“Many data and statistics provided were inconsistent with subsequent information provided while answering other questions,” the committee said.
The 50 questions
The 50 questions were issued to the finance minister on December 19, 2013 by the committee. The questions bordered on the state of Nigeria’s economy.
Though the committee gave her two weeks to respond, the minister sent her response and made it public on January 16. The presentation of the questions to the minister had sparked controversy between her and the House committee on December 19, 2013, when she appeared before the lawmakers.

A disagreement occurred during the minister’s appearance as a video sourced by PREMIUM TIMES showed the minister initially making jest of the lawmakers after they informed her of their decision to hand her the 50-question homework.

The video indicates that the controversial meeting started on a warm note with exchanges of pleasantries between the executive team, led by Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala (and including the Director General of the Budget Office, Bright Okogwu) and the lawmakers led by the committee chairman, Mr. Jibrin.

Despite starting on a good note, the meeting degenerated when the lawmakers told the finance minister not to respond to their questions on that day after she said she was ‘feeling ill’.

Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said she came to the meeting ‘out of respect’ to the lawmakers as she was not healthy enough to attend.

After the presentation of the questions, however, the minister insisted she would answer the questions on that day, a request refused by the lawmakers who said they wanted her to come back when she was ‘strong and energetic.’ After studying the minister’s response for two weeks, the lawmakers have now said the response falls short of their expectations.

Committee expresses dissatisfaction
The House committee stated its disapproval at the minister referring it to other government agencies for details of the responses to some of its questions.
“…if all the questions raised are beyond the competence of the Minister of Finance, it is certainly not beyond the competence of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy to the extent of information you must have in your possession unless you say otherwise,” the lawmakers said.

The committee, not satisfied with her responses, then resent what it described as “additional observations and requests” on about 40 of the 50 questions it earlier sent the minister. It said those should be provided on or before February 20.

“The observations and requests are made on questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32, 33, , 35, 36, 37, 39, 41, , 43, 44, 45, 47, and 48 while further details on the following questions will be taken at the hearing: Questions 7, 18, 19, 21, 2, 8, 29, 34, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 49 and 50.

“Your responses this time and submission of the supporting document are expected to put issues in clearer perspective to enable the Committee conclude preparation for the hearing.

“The Committee has scheduled an investigative hearing to give you the opportunity to explain and defend your submission before the Committee and enable Nigerians to participate and make their contributions to this issue,” it said.

See text of house committee response below: 
31st January, 2014
The Hon Minister of Finance &
Coordinating Minister for the Economy
Ministry of Finance

Re: State Of The Economy: Observations, Request For Additional Information And Invitation To Investigative Hearing

Your response to the 50 questions we raised to ascertain the true state of our economy dated January 15th, 2014 was received and carefully analyzed by the Committee.

Having gone through your responses, the Committee noted that some questions were either not answered, partially answered, outrightly ignored or completely misunderstood. The Committee further noted glaring missing gaps in the responses, absence of supporting proofs to assertions and lack of relevant documents to back up the presentation as is the practice in any legislative oversight or investigation.

Many data and statistics provided were inconsistent with subsequent information provided while answering other questions. Also noted were the wide ranging comparison you made with other advanced and developing countries while responding to some questions but failed to apply the same in some cases that obviously require such approach. In some instances, you abruptly referred the Committee to relevant agencies for clarification. The Committee is surprised at that because of its conviction that if all the questions raised are beyond the competence of the Minister of Finance, it is certainly not beyond the competence of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy to the extent of information you must have in your possession unless you say otherwise.

In view of the above and ahead of the investigative hearing on the State of the economy, the Committee is obliged to forward to you additional observations and requests to be submitted to the Committee not later than 20th February, 2014.
The observations and requests are made on questions
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13,  14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27,  30, 31, 32, 33, , 35, 36, 37,  39, 41, , 43, 44, 45, 47, and 48 while further details on the following questions will be taken at the hearing: Questions 7, 18, 19, 21, 2, 8, 29, 34, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 49 and 50.
Your responses this time and submission of the supporting document are expected to put issues in clearer perspective to enable the Committee conclude preparation for the hearing.

The Committee has scheduled an investigative hearing to give you the opportunity to explain and defend your submission before the Committee and enable Nigerians to participate and make their contributions to this issue.

This is therefore inviting you to the hearing scheduled as follows:
Date: Monday 3rd – 6th March, 2014
Time: 10:00am daily
Venue: 028 Conference Hall, New building

The Hon Minister may wish to recall that recently, we went the extra length to defend you in public where we believed you were of no direct fault. Now that we have turned to places where you have questions to answer, the least we expect from you is maximum cooperation as we enter the critical legislative process of asking questions to know the true state of our economy.

The Committee will not be frustrated or distracted from doing its work. We shall remain focused on the issues. It is a sacred service to our father land.


While looking forward to meeting you at the hearing, please accept the assurances of the Committee’s highest regard.


Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin PhD
Chairman House Committee on Finance



Sequel to the House Committee of Finance’ receipt and preliminary consideration of the Honorable Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy’s responses to the 50 questions posed to her Office on the State of the Nigerian Economy, the following observations, additional information and demands on each of the questions are deemed necessary at this time:

What should you consider as the major economic achievements of this government in the 2013 fiscal year and why? In your explanation, we will need facts and figures in demonstrating such achievements.

The Honorable Minister’s response in support of government’s celebrated achievements and growth of the Nigerian economy did not include supporting documentary evidence of requisite facts and figures of government’s claims as expected. This will be required of the Minister, along with other additional information thus:

•    Regarding the job creation data of 1.6 million jobs in 2013 the Honorable Minister is asked to kindly provide and submit the following documentary evidences to the Committee:

–    A comprehensive list of the recipients of the inputs, nature of inputs and the quantity, disaggregated by State, LGA and gender, provided to the “over 250,000 farmers and youths” across the 10 Northern States said to be profitably engaged  during the dry season in 2013.

–    Documentary evidence of the categories of  30,000 jobs and the employing firms in the Manufacturing sector where the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone was mentioned and as well as the 120,000 job opportunities in SURE-P Community Services Scheme said to be created across the country, in 2013.

–    Additionally, under the Capital Supplementation of the Appropriation Amendment Act 2013, there was a provision of N15 billion for job creation. The Minister should similarly submit documentary evidence of how this money was utilized and how many jobs and where these were created, specifically from the application of this fund.

–    Concerning government’s achievements in the area of water resources, the Minister’s response was too generalized. She is to provide the number of Nigerians, having access to potable water before 2013 and the number provided with access to potable water in 2013, (by State and LGA) as is the norm in other countries.

–    In the Oil and Gas sector transparency in governance was not seen in the Minister’s response as is the case in several other oil producing nations. So the Committee would appreciate the Minister submitting the details of Crude Oil Lifting in 2013, indicating dates of lifting, Volume of lifting, Selling Price and Marketing Cost, and the monetary value in US$ as well as Naira value.

–    In the Health sector, the Minister should submit documentary evidences to support the recruitment of “11,300 frontline health workers” and the communities to which they were deployed. The Honorable Minister is also to provide evidence supporting the 10,000 women and children beneficiaries of the conditional transfer programmes across the 8 states listed in her response, indicating how much each woman/child received.
–    Concerning the Project Advancing Creativity and Technology (PACT) in Nollywood referred to in the Minister’s response, with a grant of N3billion from the

FGN in 2013, the Minister is requested to submit documentary evidence of the disbursement of these funds with details of recipient actors/acting firms.

You have been credited with many announcements regarding Nigeria’s economy as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. If the economy is one of the fast growing economies, what is exactly growing the economy? What role does government play in the said economic growth, especially given that as high as 80 percent of the country’s total annual budget

•    With reference to the sources of Nigeria’s economic growth and the growth drivers mentioned, the Honorable Minister should provide documentary evidence to support claims on the role of the Manufacturing, and the Real Estate and Housing. For example, the Minister is to submit a list of new or resuscitated Manufacturing companies in 2013, including the number of employments in each of these companies and the quantity of goods produced etc. The specific activities in the real estate and housing sectors driving the economies should also be submitted as documentary evidence.

Since your arrival as minister of finance in 2011, you have publicly announced the need to reduce the recurrent expenditure so that more money would be made available to capital spending which is critical to growing and diversifying the country’s economy. How far has government succeeded in making these necessary cuts; and where exactly have these cuts been made in this effort to reduce recurrent expenditure? In other words, based on real amount spent on capital expenditure, how much reduction was made in 2011 against 2010, in 2012 against 2011 and in 2013 against 2012?

•    The Minister did not answer the question on where exactly expenditure cuts were made in order to reduce recurrent expenditure for the years in question. This should be provided with supporting documents, not merely stated.

•    On the Orosanye Report, can the Honorable Minister confirm if the Executive has sent in any bill to the legislature on the streamlining and merging of agencies with duplicative functions, or any other activity in respect of implementing the Report?

You are known to be celebrating a single-digit GDP growth. But speaking recently at a breakfast dialogue with some members of the organized private sector in Lagos, organized by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), you were quoted as saying: “We are growing, but not creating enough jobs. That is a very big challenge…We need to grow faster.  I think it needs to grow at least 9 to 10 percent to drive job growth the way we want.” Don’t you agree that a good finance minister managing an economy like ours should be celebrating a GDP growth as high as 20 percent   annually? Why is it that our economy cannot grow beyond a single digit? How many jobs are being created as a result of these said growths? In which sectors of the economy are these jobs created? If in private sector, what contributions is government making to further assist these private sector firms?


•    The Honorable Minister apparently misunderstood the intent of this question based on her response. What in specific terms the Committee desires to know among others, is for the Minister to inform Nigeria why the economy is growing but not creating enough jobs as she was rightly quoted. She would be expected to provide documentary evidence of the growth of the economy on a sector-by-sector basis and the corresponding inhibiting factors of job creation in each of these sectors.

•    Also based on her robust reference to global economic history and the GDP in her response, the Minister should provide evidential scenarios from other countries of economic growth that did not result into reasonable job creation, especially in the 13 countries pointed out by the Growth Commission she referred to. Which of these 13 countries with a similar growth rate as Nigeria has the kind of persistently low human development indices as Nigeria, with specific reference to life expectancy rate, maternal and child mortality rates etc?

In the presence of Nigeria’s huge infrastructure deficit, why is it that the country’s debt-to-GDP at about 19 percent in 2012 remains one of the lowest in the world when compared to nations already with world-class infrastructure and industrial economies such as America’s 105 percent, Brazil’s 65.49 percent, India’s 67.60 percent and South Africa’s 40.9 percent?


•    The Minister need not be surprised at this question has she stated. What the Committee wanted presented was a comparative and alternate scenario of what the possible outcomes for the country might be of a higher debt-GDP ratio assuming a diligent focus on infrastructural development financing, using the borrowed funds. The Minister is requested to oblige Nigerians this alternate scenario.

•    Also, the Honorable Minister  is to submit a comprehensive list of on-going  infrastructural projects under the Private –Public Partnership (PPPs) indicating the partnering firm(s), the year of contract, the duration, the location  and the FGN share in dollars or Naira of each contract.

•    The Honorable Minister is requested to furnish the Committee with the detailed disbursements of the N20billion appropriated for refund to State governments for Federal road projects, embarked upon by the States in the 2013 appropriation Amendment Act.

Since facts don’t lie, have you any disagreements with the September 4, 2013 Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum for 2013-2014, which ranked Nigeria 120th out of 148 countries ranked in the Global Competitiveness Index, including being ranked far behind some African countries such as Mauritius 45th, South Africa 53rd, and Kenya 96th?


•    On the issue of the Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum for 2013-2014, which ranked Nigeria 120th out of 148 countries, for which the Minister agreed, the Committee would appreciate that the Honorable Minister, provides the probable consequences of this ranking for the country’s economy, especially as she states that “the Doing Business rankings look at speed of getting licenses, port infrastructure, investor protection and contract enforceability among other criteria”.

•    The Minister also needs to provide supporting evidence for how the e-wallet system mentioned in her response to this question “reduced leakages and created savings of up to $175m in subsidy to farmers.”

•    The Minister should submit detailed documentary evidence supporting the 11% to about 94% increase in the proportion of farmers she stated received subsidized input.

”For the first time in Nigeria’s 53rd year history, we have successfully privatized the electric power industry,’’ so said the President at a recent meeting in London with some foreign investors. As minister of finance should you agree that the recent privatization of the country’s power infrastructure is worth celebrating as a major economic achievement in 2013, when in reality there is little or nothing to show as an improvement in the country power supply? Also why our rush to wholesale privatization of the power sector when countries like South Africa, generating as high as 42,000MW still have their power sector mostly in public hands?

•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

What was your reaction to the November 12, 2013 statement credited to the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, who said that over 100 million Nigerians are today living in absolute destitution, representing an unheard-of 8.33 percent of the world’s total number of people living in destitution?

•    In addition to this question, assuming you disagree with the figure given on the number of Nigerians in abject poverty as credited to the World Bank Country Director, as the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the economy, what is the official figure of Nigerians in abject poverty (Living below $1.25 per day)?

Nigerians are increasingly perplexed that these days nothing happens without government borrowing. And for most Nigerians, it     is frightening how those managing the economy are just dragging us into excessively unproductive debts. More worrisome is the fact that every effort is being made to hide the details of the country’s debt stock from Nigerians. Where are the facts that the country’s current high rate of borrowing is productive, let alone have the ability to be repaid without having to resort to more borrowings?

•    In addition to the answers provided by the Honorable Minister, the Committee would appreciate the provision of the repayment dates of each of the loans, the dates of completion or duration of the projects, and their locations. Also to be provided are supporting documents for the disbursement schedule for these funds and implementation levels of these projects. The private companies in the Public Private Partnership Program- First Phase for which 73,700,000 (XDR) was borrowed in 2011, should also be listed. What is the total value of external borrowings in 2013 in Naira? How can the productivity of each of these loans be measured?

For domestic borrowings, why are they not tied to any project?

Is prudence in our borrowing simply reduction in borrowing or simply constructive borrowing with government putting necessary measures in place to ensure that domestic debt profile is properly supervised and utilized by curbing corruption?

•    The Honorable Mister should kindly submit the borrowing guidelines that the borrowed funds were based upon. Also does borrowing to pay public sector salaries amount to using borrowed funds productively and what is the repayment schedule for domestic debts? What is the percentage of the 2013 appropriation that went into “Administrative Capital” projects i.e purchase of Photocopiers, Computer/ Laptops and their accessories, Non tangible Assets as purchase of security equipment etc across the MDAs?

Question 11
From Debt Management Office (DMO) 2012 Annual Report, the total public debt outstanding between 2008 and 2012 for external stock rose from $3.72bn to $6.53bn, while domestic stock rose from $17.68bn to $41.97bn. The total debt service the same period saw the percentage of external debt service drastically reduced from 11.46 per cent to 5.96 per cent while the percentage of domestic debt servicing grew from 88.54 per cent in 2008 to 94.04 per cent in 2012, drastically increasing the cost of the total debt service since the cost of domestic borrowing is atrociously higher than the cost of external borrowing. How could your debt sustainability analysis rationalize this without seeing some narrow interests being the overriding reason? Could this be the explanation why commercial banks in the country are declaring unheard-of three digit profits and the high Foreign Portfolio Investment and low Foreign Direct Investment?


•    As follow up to the question above, assuming the Honorable Minister was to be the CEO of a Commercial bank in Nigeria, which will she prefer:  patronizing the Bond Market or providing facilities to SMEs and farmers? Why?

•    In the last two years what percentage of loanable fund went to the Agricultural sector, the Manufacturing sector and the Capital Market?

•    Kindly provide the profile of both external and domestic debt as well as the volume of Foreign Portfolio Investment and Foreign Direct Investments in Nigeria, as at 2013.

•    The Honorable Minister is to kindly provide all the responses to the questions above with relevant supporting documents.

It is an established fact that the willingness and ability to borrow do not automatically translate into economic growth. If you agree with this fact, how productive are the country’s recent borrowings?


•    The Honorable Minister is required to submit the detailed performance report, including disbursement schedule and levels of implementation, for each of the projects for which external borrowings were made, since 2011.

•    In addition, what are the specific components of the capital and recurrent expenditure that have been funded with borrowed funds in 2013 and that will be funded similarly in 2014, as contained in the budgets for these years?


Question 13
Why should our internal debts continue to represent more than two-thirds of Nigeria’s external debt profile, when the cost of servicing domestic debts is ridiculously far more expensive than servicing external debts? Why should government continue to borrow internally when in so doing results in insufficient funds, skyrockets the cost of borrowing and above all, crowds out the real sector from the money market? Shouldn’t the high cost of domestic borrowing override whatever are the assumed benefits? Since both London Interbank Offer Rates (LIBOR) and the US Treasury Bonds rates offer far better interest rates for sovereign borrowings, why have we continued not to take advantage of cheaper interest rates?

•    One expectation of the Committee, among others from the Honorable Minister on this question, is for Nigerians to know what the specific economic disadvantages of a much higher external debt vis-à-vis a much lower domestic debt that discourages the government from taking this option now.

•    The Minister is requested therefore to present a scenario of the likely disadvantages to the economy to inform why such an option is not advisable now.

Your references to the country’s economic growth profile have always been based on Fitch, Standard and Poor’s, and Moody’s ratings. Are you aware that these same rating agencies are being sued in New York (with case # 652410/2013) by two Bear Stearns hedge funds for fraudulently assigning inflated ratings to securities in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis? If you do, why do you insist on accepting the rating as reliable.


•    The Coordinating Minister is requested to provide corresponding human development indices (such the UNDP’s HDIs) for Nigeria and compare same with these economic growth ratings, as those of Fitch, Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s and inform the committee of her conclusions based on these comparisons.

•    The Minister is requested to kindly provide the exact information given to the rating agencies upon which Nigeria was assessed and rated.

How much exactly has been the amount of money lost in government revenue as a result of import duty waivers in 2011, 2012 and 2013? Provide the names and beneficiaries and justification for same. In your opinion as the minister of finance who oversees the economy, what are the implications to the country’s economy? What efforts have you have made to stop this waiver policy, which is distorting the economy? Our non-oil income has dropped in 2013. A case where increased tariffs on various items effectively reduced importation to zero in some sectors. However, those items now find their way into Nigeria through our borders. Does it make any sense to increase these tariffs when we have such porous borders? As an example, officially, Togo imported more rice this year than Nigeria.


•    The Honorable Minister only partially answered this question as asked. The committee required the names of persons/companies who benefited from these exemptions and waivers, within each of the sectors. The information is to include the specific goods imported, the amount or value of waivers /exemption granted each recipient on each round of import and the benefit(s) to the Nigerian Economy in each case. All corroborative supporting documents are to be submitted as well.

•    What is the existing arrangement or schedule for monitoring the compliance and non-abuse of waivers/exemptions granted by government?

It was reported that the FIRS is to engage foreign consultants for tax collection in 2014. Could the Minister clarify this position and what Nigeria stands to gain? Have the FIRS not been working effectively?

•    In responding to Question 16, the Honorable Minister is in practical terms being asked to specifically provide answers to the following: Does Nigeria needs the services of a foreign company to analyze and improve its Tax System? Are there no competent Nigerian firms of accountants and tax experts that could carry out this exercise? Does this recruitment of a foreign company to conduct a tax diagnostic analysis of Nigeria not have any security implication? What is the financial implication of this to the country?

Do you really believe that Nigeria needs a ‘Sovereign Wealth Fund’ at this critical juncture of budgetary deficits, and having to be borrowing extensively in an effort to address government revenue gaps? Shouldn’t the presence of Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) simply mean spreading government’s scarce resources thinly? Why will you insist that no matter what we still need to operate a sovereign wealth fund? Sincerely speaking, how sustainable are the objectives of Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, particularly in the long-term?

•    What is the present cumulative value of Nigeria’s Pension Fund, which is similar to Norway’s Government Pension Fund, their equivalent of our own SWF as indicated in the Minister’s response? The Honorable Minister is to provide with supporting documents the performance Reports of the SWF and the Pension Fund, since inception.

You should agree that a lot of Nigerians are interested in the link between NSIA and the government. Since there is no doubt that Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority is an agent of government — or is it not? The question is: How should we think about the management structure in so far as major decisions are concerned? Where is the line between NSIA, as a commercially minded entity, and the government, especially given government’s policy of having no business doing business? If, for example, government does not get involved in specific investments, then, who appoints the external managers involved in managing some parts of the NSIA funds?

•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

Who determines the investment objective and who establishes the risk parameter for the NSIA’s portfolio? In providing answer to this question, it is also important to understand and explain why NSIA recently hired a Swiss national as its chief portfolio investor? Answering this question is important since it should help us to know who determines the maximum draw- down that the government would be comfortable with in extremely negative market environments.

•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

What should be your explanations for awarding MasterCard a multimillion dollar National Identity Smart Cards, when there are indigenous ICT companies that not only have what it takes but would have done it cheaper and create local jobs at the same time?


•    The Honorable Minister’s response as related to MasterCard’s involvement in the Identity Card project as seen in bullet (i) and (iii) of her appearance, appears contradictory and therefore requires clarification.

•    In your opinion do you consider appropriate, the multiplicity of public funds being sunk into the establishment of different Identification Systems by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), the National Population Commission (NPC), the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigerian Police Force, the Nigerian Road Safety Corps, etc. ?

Have you taken into considerations how foreign company could use such information available to it to invade the privacy of Nigerians?

•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

What are reasons for SURE-P to give preference to Chevrolet cars for SURE-P taxis, when it is known that not only are such cars very expensive to maintain compared with Asian and European cars, but also are also not fuel efficient and not durable on our roads?

•    In addition, please state what is the Honorable Minister’s assessment of the conditions of Mass Transit Buses/ taxi cabs provided since 2012, as Subsidy removal palliatives as at today? How many of these Buses/taxi cabs were purchased through the Infrastructure Bank (TIB) intervention loans to transport operators in each state and the FCT? How many of these are functional today in each of these states and FCT?

Honorable Minister of Finance, you will agree that SURE-P is very important to the people of this country, taking into cognizance that it is the only thing they stand to gain from the increase on petroleum product pump prices almost 2 years ago. Who is in charge of the management of SURE-P and who takes responsibility for its successes and failures?

•    According to the SURE-P website, in 2012 the first year of the SURE-P, only N62.75 billion of the approved budget of N180 billion was spent, with the balance of N117.25 billion expectedly rolled over to 2013. The sum of N273 billion was provided for the Subsidy Reinvestment (SURE-P) in the 2013 Appropriation, of which about N83 billion was unspent, going by the N268.3 billion proposed in 2014. This persistent reduction in the funding of the SURE-P is thought by some Nigerians to be deliberate on the part of government. What is the government’s reason for this persistent poor implementation of the SURE-P and what is the implication on the masses of Nigerians?

•    The Minister is requested to submit detailed Performance Report of the SURE-P since 2012 with accompanying supporting documents.

You will agree that inasmuch as the interest rate regime is critical to the real sector borrowing decisions, most principal factor in making borrowing decisions is the business’s expected rate of return on investing borrowed money? The question, without efforts to protect local businesses from their foreign counterparts, the high cost of doing business in Nigeria, puts them at such a disadvantaged position that it makes no economic sense borrowing to invest in their local businesses, why should we expect private sector firms to be investing in the economy?


•    The Honorable Minister made generalized statements on the government working to protect local industries/SMEs from their foreign counterparts and domestic operational hazards. The Committee requires specific efforts supported by documentary evidence of what the government is doing or has done in this regard.

•    The Honorable Minister should provide documentary evidence of the disbursements of the FGN’s N200 billion intervention fund to the SMEs she referred to, with the Central Bank.

You are quoted as saying, ” Very soon, the US would become a net exporter of oil…So, it would be disingenuous for anyone to say that just because the price of oil has hovered at around $100 per barrel, it cannot crash…Lest we forget, as recently as 2008, oil prices crashed from a peak of $147 per barrel to $35 per barrel in a space of months triggered by the global financial crisis. Is the minority leader saying he has forgotten that?” This forces one to wonder from which source should the US become that net exporter of oil, given that the US daily oil consumption was 18.7 million barrels with (10.6 million of which was imported daily) in 2012? Or, should it be from the shale oil which the International Energy Agency (IEA) demonstrates to be at two million barrels daily? In other words, given the IEA global oil price trajectory, can’t we agree that “There are many constraints on supply keeping pace with demand’’ which means that within this decade, oil prices should always hover around $125 per barrel? Answering this question will help us understand why you insist on benchmarking the oil price for the 2014 appropriation at below $79 per barrel? In answering this question, would you also agree that as the global economy shifts from   West   to   Asia,   so   will   the   appetite   for   global   oil consumption shift from the West to Asia? As crude oil continues to sell at $100-$110, how low will production have to fall for us to record a net loss or at what production level can we break even at a 2013 benchmark of $79.

•    The Honorable Minister only answered this question by half. She did not at all describe the scenario (in figures) as expected in the concluding part of the question: “As crude oil continues to sell at $100-$110, how low will production have to fall for us to record a net loss or at what production level can we break even at a 2013 benchmark of $79”. The Honorable Minister is requested to respond to this question.

•    Given the average price of crude oil at over $100 in the last three years, how much has Nigeria made in excess of the average Benchmark price for these years (2011-2013)?

Question 26
Do you agree that the Excess Crude Account as being operated by government is illegal and unconstitutional, especially given how it has been managed?

•    The Honorable Minister again only partially answered this question as she was not specific on the management issues surrounding the ECA, but rather quoting from the FRA 2007, described how the FGN is empowered to prudently manage the nation’s resources and ensure long-term macro-economic stability.  The Minister is requested to provide specific information regarding the management of this Account, with supporting documents.

Can you explain with clarity how the ECA is being operated? Also provide a statement of account of the ECA from 2011 to 2013? Also how much have we made in excess of the benchmark price from January 2013 till date.


•    The clarity of how the ECA is being operated and the provision of  a statement of account of the ECA from 2011 to 2013 and  how much Nigeria made in excess of the benchmark price from January 2013 till date,  was absent in the Honorable Minister of Finance’s response, as requested.

•    The Honorable Minister is to provide a statement of account, from January 2011 – 2013, indicating monthly inflows and draw downs and the end year balance for each of the three years. She is also to provide documentary evidence of the actual sharing of each draw-down among the three-tiers of government with dates.

•    As addendum to this question, the Minister is to inform the Committee how a loss to crude oil theft/vandalism of about 100,000-400,000 barrels per day (less than 20 percent of the total crude production of 2.53 million barrel per day) in 2013 and an approved benchmark oil price of $79 per barrel, while the actual oil price hovered between $100 and $110 dollars per barrel (about 30 percent difference) lead to so much deficit that requires financing from borrowing.

•    So, if Nigeria lost about 20% in volume but gained about 30% in price, how does the country record the kind of huge deficit being reported? Also why does the country in the last few years specifically, borrow to finance deficit in budget estimates arising from a deliberate undercutting of the actual oil price and yet deplete rather quickly, the accruable excess over the fixed lower benchmark price?

•     How does surplus in the trade of a single commodity in the same year also result in deficit on an account of the same commodity trading in the same period?

•    The Apex bank the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) is known to have about $43 billion as special reserve as at December 2013 ending. What does the CBN normally do with this fund? As the Minister of Finance, how best should this reserve be applied? What are the specific sources of these fund accumulated by the CBN?

If there is nothing like Excess Crude Account, would you have been demanding lower oil price benchmark for the budget, especially when the executive arm of government around world is known  for  demanding more money from lawmakers in order to be able to meet government spending obligations, particularly capital spending. Why is the reverse the case in Nigeria only, notably since 2011?

•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

With respect to the Excess crude account and our Sovereign wealth fund again, there have been allegations and counter allegations on its legality. Assuming, for the sake of the committee’s enlightenment, the FGN alone saved its own excess in its ECA/SWF (which is about 52% of the Federation account) and the states and LGs get their funds in full compliance with the constitution, what would be the effect on the economy?

•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

Do you believe in the fight against corruption? If you do why has EFCC not been properly funded? Without properly funding the commission, how should it be expected to carry out its duties effectively?

•    The Committee, in addition to the few general statements made in response to this question, by the Minister, requires her to justify government’s seriousness to fighting corruption by the allocation of N10.22 billion to the EFCC in 2013 and N10.24 billion proposed in 2014 for the same agency, while it proposes in the 2014 budget the sum of N4billion (40 percent of EFCC’s annual budget) for a 3-day meeting of the World Economic Forum on Africa in Nigeria.

•    What is expected to be the share of the contribution of the other two stakeholders (the Nigerian Private Sector and the World Economic Forum) of the total budget for this proposed 3-day WEF meeting in Abuja as explained in page 82 of her response?

Can you confirm with figures if we have met our cumulative revenue projections for 2011, 2012, 2013, and if we have, how and if we have not, why? Also provide backup performance information under the various revenue generating agencies—NNPC (Oil and Gas), DPR, FIRS, Customs, Independent Revenue and other anticipated and unanticipated revenues e.g. privatization and sales of government properties etc.

•    The Minister is requested to answer this question in explicit details.

•    Also, the table provided in the Honorable Minister’s response, does not include the revenue figures from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR),

Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from all the relevant agencies, and the proceeds from the privatization and sales of government properties, as required. The Honorable Minister is requested to provide same, with supporting documents.

•    Again reference is made here on increased crude oil theft, and pipeline vandalism has been a key factor responsible for government’s shortfall in revenue.

As the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, what do you think is behind the Federal Government’s failure to drastically reduce, if not out rightly put an end to these crude oil losses through theft and vandalism, such that the country is unable to stop providing, volume of stolen/lost crude oil in its budget process every year?

•    The Honorable Minister is requested to justify with documents the expenditure of the sum of N66.78 billion Under the Service –Wide Votes, in the 2013 Appropriation Act (Amended), allocated to the Presidential Amnesty Programme and the continued loss of hundreds of millions of barrels of crude oil to theft, militancy and vandalism in the Oil producing areas.

As Minister of Finance, are you familiar and comfortable with all the present business arrangements of the NNPC? Why were these business arrangements excluded from the MTEF which used    to be the practice? Provide all the present business arrangements, the parties involved, the share of each party, and justifications for such.

•    The Honorable Minister merely discussed briefly, only four out of the existing business arrangements within the NNPC. Yet, she did not inform the Committee of the parties/companies in these arrangements neither did she mention the share of each party/company and justifications for such, as requested.

The Minister is kindly requested to provide this information supported with documentary evidences.

•    The Committee wishes to draw the attention of the Honorable Minister to the most recent financial audit report of the Oil and Gas Industry (2009-2011) by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) on sundry findings and recommendations on the NNPC, NNLG and the Oil and Gas Industry as a whole. The Minister is to respond to these issues with supporting documents:

⎫    On page 93 of the NEITI Report, it has this to say on the domestic crude oil utilization by the NNPC, we quote:
–    “Domestic Crude Oil Utilization by NNPC

♣    About twenty percent (20%) of the domestic crude oil allocation was delivered to local refineries; the balance was either exported for NNPC accounts or utilized for offshore processing, crude oil exchange and product exchange. This shows that the Federation depends mainly on exported refined products for local consumption resulting in avoidable high payment of fuel subsidies. This also reduces the revenue accruable to the Federation from crude oil sales on pricing, volume utilization and exchange rate differentials.

–    The Federal Government should consider a review of the daily allocation of 445,000bpd to the level of available local refining capacity to obviate the gaps in the process.

♣    The derived average conversion rate by NNPC differs from the annual average CBN rate and therefore results to apparent losses of N98.3 billion during the years under review.

–    Domestic crude oil sales proceeds should be paid into CBN in the currency of sales, where it should be converted at the appropriate rate by CBN and swept to the Federation Account. This will forestall the exchange rate shortfalls.

–    Analysis of NNPC Debt to the Federation

♣    The analysis shows that NNPC owes N1.305 trillion to the Federation as at 31st December, 2011. The receivables account of NNPC purchases from the Federation was analyzed and validated.

–    NNPC should promptly pay its debt to the Federation.
–    Subsidy Claims

♣    A total sum of N1.40 trillion was deducted directly from domestic crude oil proceeds as subsidy claims by NNPC before remitting the balance to the Federation account.

–    The Federal Government should review the deduction of subsidy claims from the proceeds of domestic crude by NNPC to align them with due process like other marketers who draw their subsidy claims from the Petroleum Support Fund”.

Provide details of government stake in NLNG. All categories of revenue under the NLNG and total amount generated so far and evidence of remittances.


•    Does the Minister’s response mean that her Ministry does not have the records of the revenue accruable from the 49% stake of the FGN held by NNPC on its behalf?

•    Notwithstanding the tax holiday enjoyed by the NNLG, what is the value of the tax exemption till date expected to have been ploughed back into the company to increase its capital base and profitability and hence increased share of profit for government on its 49% stake?

•    No evidence of remittance was provided as requested. The Honorable Minister is requested to submit this.

•    The Committee wishes to refer the Honorable Minister to the following excerpts from the 2009-2011 audit of the Oil and Gas Industry by NEITTI  on page the same 93 of the Report, earlier referenced:

–    “Dividends and Loan Payments made by NLNG

♣    Financial flows from NLNG include dividends and repayment of loans of which an amount of $4.84 billion was received by NNPC. This is in addition to the $3.996 billion reported to be received in the previous audit reports. We have confirmed that these amounts have not been remitted to the Federation Account.

♣    The dividends and loan repayments made by NLNG and confirmed to be in receipt by NNPC could not be confirmed to the CBN JP Morgan/Federation account. We observed that this has been a recurring issue.

♣    There is a need to confirm the ownership of the 49% investments in NLNG – Is it for the benefit of the Federation, or the Federal Government, or NNPC itself? This is an area for further enquiry”.

•    The Honorable Minister is to kindly submit a fitting response with supporting documents of governments position on these NEITI findings.

Why do you always prefer a lower benchmark which leaves government with wider deficits and your attitude of no qualms with domestic borrowings at excessively high interest rates to balance deficit as against our position of increasing benchmark to reduce deficit which consequently reduces domestic borrowing, that frees up funds for the real sector of the economy, thereby bringing down the interest rate, increased private sector investments and creating jobs.

•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

What is the total amount expended by certain statutory agencies of government without appropriation for 2011, 2012, and 2013? Also provide aggregate appropriated expenditure for the same period. As the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, do you feel comfortable with allegations that almost equal amount of our yearly aggregate expenditure is being spent without appropriation, yet we are crying that the country is running short of revenue?

•    The Honorable Minister is required to substantiate with supporting documents the fact, as shown in her response that about N4.9 billion and N5.2 billion was spent by just 24 agencies in 2011 and 2012 respectively, as these is almost the entire budget of the FGN for each of these years.
•    Why does the data provided include just those of 24 revenue generating agencies?
•    Why has the actual expenditure made since 2011 and 2012 remained unaudited as indicated in the table provided by the Minister on these 24 generating agencies?
•    The Agencies are:

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigeria Deposit insurance Corporation, Bureau of Public Enterprise, National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund, Corporate Affairs Commission, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Nigerian Shippers Council, National Maritime Authority, Raw Material Research and Development Council, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, National Sugar Development Council, Nigerian Postal Service, Nigerian Ports Authority, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigerian Telecommunication, National Automotive Council, Nigerian Tourism Development, National Communication Commission, National Agency for Food & Drug Administration & Control, Nigerian Customs Service, Federal Inland Revenue Service & Central Bank of Nigeria.

Between May 7 and 9, 2014, it is expected that Nigeria will be hosting World Economic Forum on Africa. Who will finance this event and why? In concrete terms, what are the expected tangible benefits to the country in return to justify hosting such expensive event that will require lots of money for logistics, accommodations, security, especially given that South Africa that recently hosted the event has nothing to show for it.

•    As earlier stated, what justifies the budget allocation of N4billion to a 3-day meeting when the EFCC’s total budgetary allocation, (including personnel costs, overheads and Capital expenditure) moved from a paltry N3.71 billion in 2008 to N10.22 billion in 2013?

•    Since the Minister stated that the conference will be financed from three sources – the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Nigerian private sector and the World Economic Forum, why do we still require that staggering sum? What will then be the contributions from the other two stakeholders mentioned by the Minister?

If you should for any reason say it will attract foreign investors, the question, then becomes, what kind of foreign investors are we talking about here because as we all know, no serious foreign investor needs to attend such a forum in Nigeria in order to recognize that our country should have been one of the world’s favored investment destinations had our perennial infrastructure deficit been addressed head-on?


•    It is surprising that a major way Nigeria’s Minister of Finance suggests that the country compete for the limited available global investment funds is through road shows and investor conferences and so warrants the spending of N4billon for a 3-day meeting.

–    Can a country said to have as much as 10.5million out-of -school children truly afford to spend N4billion on a meeting of three days and believe it is in position to compete in a technological-driven world with other nations with high literacy levels?

•    Also, if in spite of its low Global Business Competitiveness ranking, Nigeria still “attracted the largest FDI on the African continent in the last three years, over 20 US billion dollars, 10 percent of the volume”, there appears to be no need for this aggressive search for more investors, as they are already trooping in without this expenditure of N4billion on this meeting.

Most of the developing economies like China, India, and Brazil that the world is today celebrating as economic success wouldn’t have become this successful without adopting multi-year development plans. Why after knowing that their successes are as a result of carefully designed multi-year economic planning, we are yet to adopt such a multi-year development model? In other words, why wouldn’t you agree that Nigeria too needs that in order to move faster and more sustainably in its quest for industrialization and economic diversification and job creation for millions of the country’s unemployed young men and women?

As the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, can you precisely clarify how much is AMCON’s Debt exposure and what will its defaulting mean to the country’s economy?

•    The Minister did not provide the details of the N4.67 trillion of AMCON’s total debt exposure. She is required to do so with all requisite supporting documents.

•    The Minister is required to also submit a Performance Report for AMCON from January 2011 to December 2013.

•    Just in case, things do not go as planned, on whose balance sheet will AMCON’s toxic liabilities be reflected?

Why are we using the 10 to 15 years moving average to arrive at your 2014 proposed benchmark as against the traditional 5 to 10 years moving average we have always used? Is it because using the 5 -10 year average will not give you the benchmark price you desire?

•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

This time last year you informed this committee that our external reserve position was about $48 billion and the balance on our excess crude account was about $9 billion. You also said that the plan was to grow these balances to about $50 billion and$10 billion respectively. However we are hearing that the balances have dropped to $43 billion and $3 billion respectively. And you are saying all is well?

•    On the issue of oil theft and pipelines vandalism, resulting in the loss of about 300,000-400,000 barrels per day, in 2013 alone, we have noticed how the figures keep changing and moving higher by the day in spite of ex-militants being paid by government to secure these Oil installations and Amnesty Programme for ex-militants. With the above in mind can you justify the huge investment and appropriate use of these funds for the intended objective?

•    By stating in her response, in explaining the reasons for the ECA and external reserve depletion, that “some funds were also used to augment FAAC allocations in 2013 while the CBN sold more foreign exchange in order to defend the Naira. Specifically, the total amount of foreign exchange that the CBN sold increased from $4.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012 to $10.80 billion in the third quarter of 2013”, the Committee requests to know from which of the specific reserves does the CBN draws from, to strengthen the Naira. Why does the ECA keep dwindling month after month while the CBN reserve remained relatively stable at about an average of $35 billion in 2013?

Question 42
Crude oil projections for 2013 were 2.53 million barrels per day while actual figures as supplied by the NNPC/DPR/MTEF have averaged about 2.3 million barrels per day giving a shortfall of about 9%. Could this alone have caused such a drastic reduction in our reserves and savings positions?

•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

Question 43
Is any money missing from our anticipated revenue from the NNPC in particular and oil industry in general. If there is, how much? If not, how come such issues emanate from high offices in the executive arm of Government?


•    The Question was answered only partially. The Honorable Minister appeared to tie her answer to the question of money missing in the NNPC and oil industry in general, to just the one in the leaked letter from the Central Bank’s Governor. That however was not the tone of the question. The use of the word any refers to all funds unaccounted for before and after the one in the CBN Governor’s leaked letter. The Minister is requested to respond accordingly, with supporting documents, and to cover other agencies in the oil industry.

•    The NEITI Audit report concerning the NNPC and the NNLG earlier referred to may be instructive in this regard. See Committee’s observation of the Minister’s response to Question 32 and 33.

•    As the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, with long-standing experience in the topmost global financial institutions, are you concerned about the well-acknowledged lack of transparency in corporate governance in the foremost revenue earning agency of the economy which you coordinate? Why is transparent corporate governance difficult to achieve in the NNPC?

Question 44
Referring to the pre-shipment inspection of exports act of 1996 and the Federal Ministry of Finance export guidelines. If any good (oil, gas or non-oil) is exported from Nigeria the exporter is compelled to repatriate these proceeds through the domiciliary account of a Nigerian bank. What has been the effectiveness of these laws? Is there full compliance?

Question 45
If there has not been compliance, would it not make it difficult for us to build up our foreign reserves? Could we not say that the main thrust of the CBN letter was that our foreign reserves are not growing even though there has been a consistent high selling price of crude due to the fact that huge funds are not being repatriated at all or are repatriated through the black market?

•    As reiterated earlier, the Honorable Minister is requested to provide details of the in-flows and draw-downs of the three components of our foreign reserves, namely: CBN’s Reserve, FGN’s Reserve and the ECA.

Could we say that the issue is not so much that money is missing (which is yet to be determined) but that proceeds that should have found their way back to the Nigerian economy have grown wings or they fly in through the black market, allowing oil industry players have a field day making spreads of up to N7 per dollar in some cases.

•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

What is the Minister’s take on the apparent stagnation of the economy as there seems to be very little job creation and growth in small businesses. Even though the Minister has read out growth figures before it is not telling on the average man on the street.

•    The Minister is requested to clarify with supporting documents the composition of the figures of over “8 million metric tons of additional food” said to be produced in the past year.  What types of food was produced and where?

Would the Minister say that the various Government initiatives at job creation have not lived up to expectation as they affect only a very small part of the population?

•    Committee’s Observations/ Requests on question 1 also refer.
•    Going by the data below from the respective budgets of the years in question for a few of the government agencies saddled with the responsibility for labour/job creating initiatives in Nigeria, is the sum appropriated and expended as depicted below justified?

Wouldn’t the Minister think that the private sector should be the main driver of job and wealth creation through natural growth of business and startups being financed by the banking industry?


•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

If so, what does the Minister think it would do for the local banking industry if this same pre-shipment inspection law and your own export guidelines are enforced to the letter. The oil industry in Nigeria is worth about $50 billion per annum. If even $10 billion of this passes through our local banks wouldn’t that give the economy a boost with banks now able to fund longer term and bigger projects?

•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.


Comments on: "House Committee Rejects Okonjo-Iweala’s Answers To 50 Questions, Asks Her To Reanswer-PREMIUM TIMES." (1)

  1. Lai Abode said:

    Nigerians, when should we start asking these lawmakers the hard questions? How much are they really collecting as salaries and allowances? What about their constituency projects?

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