A Nigerian state governor called on a federal ex-minister Monday to explain the whereabouts of $700 million that was meant for a bridge megaproject, with little to show for it. Edo state Gov. Adams Oshiomhole accused former Minister of Works Mike Onolememen of mishandling the money after it was allegedly withdrawn from a state-owned fund for the unfinished Second Niger Bridge, newspapers in the country reported.
“Former minister of works should direct his energy and explanation to the managers of the sovereign wealth fund who have depleted the savings on the explanation that it was meant for the Second Niger Bridge,” Oshiomhole’s representative, Peter Okhiria, said in a statement obtained by the Premium Times in Abuja.
Preliminary construction on the bridge began in May during Onolememen’s tenure as Nigeria’s minister of works while former President Goodluck Jonathan was in office, according to the Guardian newspaper in Lagos. The Edo state governor accused the ex-minister of works and Jonathan’s administration of destroying existing roads rather than refurbishing them in the western reaches of his state.
“The real people who should apologize to Nigerians for their many sins against the country are those who expended so much of our resources without any corresponding achievements to show for it,” the Premium Times quoted Oshiomhole as saying. “In Edo state, the Aduwawa end of the Benin-Auchi road is almost impassable, especially during this rainy season. As we speak, erosion has cut off the Benin-Auchi road into two, and motorists are going through hell passing through that road. What about Benin-Abraka road: one hell of a road completely abandoned and vandalized. In the name of politics, they came trying to impress Edo people, but ended up depressing all of us.”
The ex-minister, Onolememen, denied the accusations made against him, saying the Edo state governor was misleading Nigerians with “wild and spurious” allegations.
$700m second Niger Bridge money missing, Oshiomhole insists: http://t.co/ZdNpDQlHYl
— Premium Times (@PremiumTimesng) September 2, 2015
This incident does not represent the first time officials of the previous federal administration have been accused of corruption and mismanaging state funds. A report published in August by an international-governance watchdog in New York contended Nigeria’s state-run oil company has increasingly stolen large sums of money from the government’s coffers. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. apparently withheld about $12.3 billion from the sale of 110 million barrels of oil over 10 years, the report indicated.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in late May, has vowed to trace and return missing state revenue. Buhari asked U.S. President Barack Obama and the international community to help identify which banks and countries were housing allegedly looted oil money so his administration could recover the “mind-boggling” sum.