By Henry Umoru & Inalegwu Shaibu
ABUJA — THE Federal Government disclosed, yesterday, that it has resolved to stop ecological grants to state governments, giving lack of proper accountability and mismanagement as reason for the action.
Speaking in Abuja when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Special Duties, Permanent Secretary in charge of Ecological Fund Office, Mr. Mac John Nwaobiala, who also accused state governments of abusing the grants, told the committee that of the three per cent statutory allocation from the Federation Accounts, 1.46 per cent, representing about N3.4 billion monthly, goes to the Federal Government, while the other 1.54 per cent is to be shared among the 36 states and 774 local government areas of the federation.
Speaking further, Nwaobiala told the committee, which is led by Senator Clever Ikisikpo, PDP, Bayelsa, that the ecological fund boss stressed that his office had been flooded with requests for assistance from state governments, local governments, Non-Governmental Organisations and traditional rulers.
He urged the committee to design ways of streamlining areas of assistants by the Federal Government, adding that the states and local governments should be made to utilise their own shares of the funds for relevant interventions.
Adding that the Fund has executed about 199 projects ranging from soil erosion control, oil spill and remediation, solid waste management, water hyacinth control, and other ecological problems in the country from 2002 to date.
Meanwhile, the Director General, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Mr. Mohammed Sani Sidi, who was also at the meeting disclosed that the Agency had intervened in the 36 states of the federation with an expenditure of N3.9 billion out of N4.6 billion received so far from the Ecological Funds and National Budget.
The Permanent Secretary, Ecological Fund who said he caught in between two masters, the Senate Committees on Environment and Special Duties, explained that although the chairman of the Ecological Fund was the minister of environment, the Fund was domiciled in the Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (OSGF).
Also at the meeting yesterday to brief the Committee, the Director-General, National Lottery Commission, Mr. Peter Igho explained that by dint of laws establishing the Commission, they could not access N1.8 billion currently with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for necessary expansion.
According to him, while 50% of monies realised from lottery was given to players, 25% each goes to the government and the operators, and that the government share is transferred to a Trust Fund which can only be expended, subject to express approval of Mr. President, Goodluck Jonathan.