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Thursday , 18 October 2018

Buhari withdraws $1bn Reserve to fight B/Haram, Nigerians kick

The National Economic Council has asked the Federal Government to withdraw $1bn from the $2.3bn currently in the Excess Crude Account and use it to fight insurgency in the North-East.

Some civil society groups and analysts, however, faulted the move by the Federal Government on the basis that past allocations to defence and the anti-terrorism operations had yet to be judiciously accounted for.

Towards the end of the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, the Federal Government requested and got approval from the National Assembly for a loan of $1bn to fight the Boko Haram menace.

No explanation has been given on how the money was expended to date.

Between 2011 and 2014, N6.21tn was shared from the Excess Crude Account by the three tiers of government.

A former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had while releasing the figure said the Federal Government received N3.29tn, while the 36 states got a total of N2.92tn from the ECA within the four year period.

The opening balance was $4.56bn in 2011 and reached a peak the following year at $8.7bn before declining to $2.3bn in 2013.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the council presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

 The council chaired by the Vice-President has all state governors as members.

The governor stated, “The NEC also resolved through the Chairman of the NGF to support the effort of the Federal Government in the area of security.

“Pleased with the achievements that have been made till date in the fight against insurgency, particularly in the North-East, the governors of Nigeria, through their chairman, announced at the NEC meeting that the governors have given permission to the Federal Government to spend the sum of $1bn on the fight against insurgency.

“This money is supposed to be taken from the Excess Crude Account.

 “As you know, the issue of security, particularly as regards the North-East, is a very comprehensive response by federal forces. So, we expect that the contribution of the states to these efforts will cover the whole array of activities required to secure the country and counter-insurgency.

“We expect that the amount will include but not limited to the purchase of equipment, procuring intelligence and logistics and all things required to ensure that we finally put an end to the scourge of insurgence.”



Don’t touch account, SERAP, other CSOs warn NEC 

But civil societies have lambasted NEC for planning to take $1bn from the ECA to fight terrorism, noting that earlier funds expended to fight Boko Haram had yet to be accounted for.

The President, Campaign for Democracy, Usman Abdul, said, “This is what happens when you have leaders who are not thinkers. They cannot think outside the box. We are bound to be faced with such challenges.

“The military have come out to say that Boko Haram was technically defeated and Camp Zero was captured. I don’t see then any rationale behind dipping our hands into our excess crude account.

“These are the proceeds of our generality and we have other presidential sources of revenue going into the North-East. What is the Presidential Committee on the North-East Initiative doing? The political leaders are rather looking for ways to steal money for the 2019 campaigns.”

Also, the Executive Director, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran, believed the past allocations to defence and the military should be accounted for before voting another huge amount for military operations.

Adeniran added, “Let us first know how the budgetary allocations for defence and the military have been expended. We all recall the $2.1bn Dasuki loot. The governors should not put their eyes on the excess crude oil account.

“The Ministry of Defence and the services should first give account of how the monies on fighting the Boko Haram insurgency were spent before we can start talking about dipping hands into our excess crude account.”

On its part, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project said the decision to take $1bn from the excess crude account was not rational, adding that anything outside the budgetary allocations must be tabled before the National Assembly for consideration and approval.

SERAP Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, stated, “Whatever is not properly appropriated for should not be considered. That is the only way we can maintain sanity in our public expenditure.

“The Presidency may want to say that security matters are fundamental. But we cannot continue to have all manner of expenditures on Boko Haram. That will be reckless to me.”



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