The National Economic Council (NEC), presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday set up a nine-member ad hoc committee to audit the ecological fund.
The Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra, who disclosed at the end of the NEC meeting at the Presidential Villa Abuja, said that this was part of resolutions of the council.
He said that the Accountant General of the Federation had told the council that as at March 31, 2017 the balance of the Natural Resource Fund was N70.9 billion while that of Ecological Fund was N33.6 billion.
“Council decided that an audit of ecological fund be carried out.
“Ad hoc committee comprising of Oyo, Borno, Imo, Kaduna, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Benue and Ministers of Finance and Environment has been set up to do the audit and come up with recommendations on how the fund shall be managed.’’
Obiano said that the essence was to re-establish that the balance in the account was correct since it had stood on same amount for many months.
He said that council also resolved that states and local governments should now keep their shares of the funds for interventions as the needs arose in their various jurisdictions.
Obiano also said that Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun also gave an update on the disbursement of the Paris Club Fund refunds and preparations for the next round of payments to the states after the first disbursements.
He also said that the minister disclosed that the Excess Crude Account had a balance of $2.2 billion as at April 26, 2017.
On the operation of efficiency unit of the ministry, he said Adeosun reported that the unit had saved N17 billion for the Federal Government since it was established.
Obiano said that NEC urged states to also establish efficiency units in order to improve efficiency, reduce costs and block leakages in line with the fiscal sustainability plan.
Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau noted that the Paris refund said that the states were complaining about the delay in the release of the remainder, adding that the fund had helped the states to pay salaries and for the country to come out of recession.
He thanked the president for the timely disbursement and said the fund would be used not only for salaries but for projects completion.
He said there were procedures to deal with states which failed to utilize the Paris Club money judiciously.
Lalong said that the VP updated NEC on the progress in the implementation of the Social Intervention Programmes (SIPs) and on some impediments in the implementation by both the federal and state governments.
He said the council resolved to upgrade the states’ coordination units for the SIPs to the governors’ offices for better collaboration between the Federal and States’ governments.
He further said that the Health minister, Prof Isaac Adewole, updated the Council on the outbreak of meningitis in the country.
He said the minister reported that there were 9,646 suspected cases in six states of Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Niger, Kebbi and Kaduna with about 767 deaths as at April 25.
He said that the minister noted that about N46.7 billion was required for vaccination of the vulnerable population.
He said the council expressed concern over the ravaging effects of the outbreak and directed the Health Ministry to intensify its intervention efforts “to contain the embarrassing epidemic while advocating for increased funding for health’’.
He said that the minister had requested for the establishment of a national health emergency fund to be domiciled in the presidency under the supervision of the NEC Chairman.
The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, said he also briefed NEC on the general security situation in the country.
He said he gave detailed brief on the prevailing situation between cattle rustlers, herdsmen and farmers, particularly in Kaduna, Taraba and Benue States.
The NSA said that security agencies had begun a nationwide crackdown against gunmen, cattle rustlers, armed militants and other militia groups in the country.
He said that NEC resolved to hold extra ordinary session dedicated to security in the country.
He said there was a consensus for security agencies to collaborate with the various states to deal with security issues.