The Senate will today take a stand for or against the approval given to the federal government by governors of the 36 states of the federation to withdraw $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account for the ongoing fight against Boko Haram insurgents in the North East.
The resolve by the upper chamber to wade into matter was informed by the controversy generated by the approval to withdraw the funds.
This followed a motion on Order 42 of the Senate standing rules moved by Senator Samuel Anyanwu (Imo East) who sought the leave to present the matter in plenary.
Anyanwu stated that the matter is generating crisis and there is urgent need for Senate to look into it with a view to taking a strong legislative action on the matter.
Raising a point of order at the plenary on Wednesday, Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo-East), sought the permission of the chamber to present a motion on the controversial withdrawal from the ECA.
“It is very clear in our constitution. Section 80(1)(2)(3) states that any withdrawal from the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federation or any other account must have the approval of the National Assembly.”
The lawmakers unanimously granted Anyanwu’s request, while the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, asked the senator to bring the motion on the next legislative day, which is Thursday.
Consequently, Senate President Bukola Saraki granted the lawmaker the leave to move a proper motion on another legislative day, just as he announced that deliberations on the $1bn fund will hold today.
Already, Senators are divided over the approval to withdraw the $1 billion.
According to sources at the National Assembly, while some lawmakers are strongly behind federal government’s decision to take the money, others especially members of the opposition are vehemently opposed to it, saying it is a ploy to enhance the political campaign of APC in 2019.
The governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, had disclosed the approval, while briefing State House correspondents after a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) at the council chamber of the Presidential Villa Abuja.
News of the approval to take $ 1 billion from the ECA to fight terrorism generated thick dust, with some governors, lawmakers and civil society oraganisations lambasting NEC for endorsing the action, noting that earlier funds expended to fight Boko Haram are yet to be accounted for.
Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State and chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum, Ayodele Fayose, on Tuesday openly disagreed over the approval of $1 billion by NEC.
Yari insisted that 32 of the 36 governors were in attendance when the decision was taken, while Fayose maintained that he was not part of the decision and that his state had gone to court to challenge the decision.
This is even as PDP faulted the decision to withdraw the fund, alleging that the ruling APC was planning to fund the 2019 election with the money.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had also come to explain that the proposed $1 billion was not meant to fight only Boko Haram alone, but to also tackle other security challenges.