By NOEL ONOJA
After several days of inconclusive deliberations, the Federation Accounts and Allocation Committee (FAAC) eventually shared N518.389billion to the three tiers of government for the month of March.
The meeting had been delayed following the absence of the Minister of State for Finance, Mr. Yerima Ngama.
The action of the Minister did not go down well with the Finance Commissioners who had travelled from their states to Abuja for the meeting. They wondered why Ngama failed to delegate responsibility to the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), accusing him of breaching the FAAC Act of 1992.
According to the Chairman of Commissioners Forum, Mr. Timothy Odah, “the consistent absence of the Minister to FAAC meeting is not only a disrespect to the entire state commissioners, he has also not accorded enough respect to their governors who sent them.”
Odah said the Minister was fond of giving excuses for his attitude.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government, states and local governments shared N518.389billion for March.
There was no official response from Ngama. The Minister went straight to inform newsmen about the sharing, stating: “This exceeds the budget for the month of January which was N465.057 by N53.33billion. It also exceeds the amount realised for the month of February by N31.718billion.
The Federal Government gets N273.49billion; the states will take N138.718billion while the local governments will go home with N106.946billion.
“This is in addition to the oil producing states going home with their 13 percent derivation money of N60.457billion. The Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) money of N35.549billion was also shared to the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“The Nigeria National Petroleum Company continued the payment of its indebtedness to the states and local governments even as it paid N7.617billion to the Federation Account”.
Ngama disclosed that the augmentation by FAAC led to the depletion of the country’s Excess Crude Account (ECA) to $7billion.
Early this month, the Federal Government approved for sharing by the three tiers of government $2billion from the ECA.
The Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has consistently warned against the depletion of the ECA.