By Anthony Ogbonna
Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has said that Nigeria has a balance of $2.32b in the Excess Crude Account, ECA, as at January.
Mrs. Adeosun also disclosed that 11 states had received the N700 million disbursed for budget support from the Federal Government.
The Finance Minister was quoted by the Kano state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje as telling the National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday, also said that while the stabilization fund account had a balance of N9.73 billion, the National Resource Development Fund had N115.01 billion as balance.
Recall that the Federal government had said it got the approval of the 36 state Governors to withdraw a whopping sum of $1Billion from the Excess Crude to fund an anti terror war against Boko Haram and other insecurity challenges.
That decision had sparked outrage across the country, with many wondering how the federal government intended to withdraw such huge amount of money to fight the same terrorist group, Boko Haram, it had earlier told Nigerians it had ‘technically defeated.’
Other critics, especially from the camp of the immediate past administration led by President Goodluck Jonathan, lashed on the FG, accusing it of earlier denying the existence of an ECA account in the first place.
Also, the Ekiti state governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, had also accused the current government of planning to withdraw the money and use it for political purposes in the coming 2019 election.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s aide and Number one bestselling author, Pastor Reno Omokri, had particularly, lashed on the Buhari-led government, saying the decision to withdraw the said fund had “exposed El-Rufai, Oshiomhole, Amaechi and the APC as liars.”
He had said that, “In an attempt to justify the dubious process by which $1 Billion was taken from the Excess Crude Account by the Federal Government ostensibly to fund an anti terror war with the same Boko Haram that the Buhari administration said was ‘finished’ and ‘technically defeated,’ the Zamfara state Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, who is also the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, made some startling revelations which has exposed him to ridicule and further shown that his party, the All Progressive Congress, and its members, are a patently dishonest bunch with no credibility whatsoever.”
Pastor Omokri had gone further to say that, “However, Nigerians may recall that at the material time when this incident occurred, both the All Progressive Congress and its prominent members like the then Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, the then Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, and their National Leader, Bola Tinubu, denied that there was ever any agreement with the Jonathan administration over the withdrawals and publicly attacked the then President and accused him of looting and other forms of corruption.
“In fact, in 2015, when the former Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala said exactly what Governor Yari has been forced to admit to, Governor Nasir El-Rufai (who was not even a governor in 2014 and was not present at the meeting Governor Yari has described) called Dr. Mrs. Iweala a liar and described her as ‘morally flexible’.
“Then on the 1st of July, 2015, then Governor Adams Oshiomhole was interviewed on Channels television and described as untrue the statement by Dr. Mrs. Iweala that the governors under the aegis of the National Economic Council agreed to the withdrawal of $2 billion from the Excess Crude Account and called the process by which the money was withdrawn by the Jonathan administration as an “administrative arrangement not known to the constitution”.
“Only as recently as last week, the fallacious Rotimi Amaechi repeated the falsehood that neither he nor his colleagues were ever consulted or gave their acquiescence before the Jonathan administration withdrew funds from the Excess Crude Account.
“Again, at the material time in 2014, when the Jonathan administration tried to explain why it needed the funds to fight the same Boko Haram insurgents that the Buhari government claimed has been technically defeated, the APC released a statement and ‘described as disingenuous and sheer blackmail the argument that the money is for national security or that it would facilitate the release of the over 200 school girls who were abducted about 100 days ago.’
“The APC spokesman, Lai Mohammed, who is now the minister of information further said “putting more money in the hands of an incompetent and massively corrupt administration can only encourage more incompetence and corruption.”
However, defending the federal government, President Muhammadu Buhari’s
Special Assistant on National Assembly matters, Ita Enang argued that the president won’t spend the $1 billion from the nation’s Excess Crude Oil Account, ECA, to fund the fight against insecurity unless he receives approval from the National Assembly.
According to him, ““I want to clarify that none of these monies will be used by Mr. President, by the military or released for any purpose unless and until the money is appropriated by the National Assembly.”