—As Umahi justifies depletion of Excess Crude Account
–Says there ‘ll be nothing like regional security in South East
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA–THE National Economic Council, NEC, on Thursday hinted that it will carry out forensic audit of all bank accounts belonging to the Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs.
This was disclosed by the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Comrade Philip Shuaibu while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the NEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa Abuja.
He said that the report of the Governor Nasir el-Rufai committee set up by the NEC to ascertain the ownership structure of the electricity power distribution companies would be submitting its report in two months time, adding that the committee had sought approval of the NEC for the time extension which was granted.
According to him, “NEC received an update on the review of the status of ownership structure of the electricity power distribution companies. The Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai briefed NEC on the progress so far made and the responses so far received from general public.
“He also told NEC that they will be carrying out forensic audit of all bank accounts of all discos and state governments to provide all details of their investments in the electricity distribution companies.
” The committee also seeks approval from NEC for additional time to complete the report in two months and also the state governments to file reports of their investments in DISCOs”
Asked whether the governors were in support of the reversal on PPP electricity investment over poor performance of the DISCOs, he said nobody was happy with the performance of distribution companies.
He said, “Of course, nobody is happy with the DISCOs performance and we have a committee chaired by the governor of Kaduna state and they have done very beautiful job.
” They have placed advertisements in about five newspapers and have asked the general public to give them information on performance of these DisCos and also investments made by private individuals and private sectors.
“And also the governors are requested before the end of March to also submit all their investments from 2013 to date so that we will get it all together and were directed by the electricity authority to stamp our claims.
” I think the federal government is trying to take the bull by the horn by trying to find out what investments these DisCos made towards this privatization. The first suspicion is that they have made no substantial investment and we will take it when we get all the solutions.
“On the DisCos, one of the reasons why the committee asked for additional two months was to deal with two other issues that arose during NEC.
“And one of those issues was the issue of forensic and to ascertain the level of investment by DisCos. You all know that the issue of privatization is still questionable but nonetheless, the federal government and governors feel we should not lament, what we should do is look for solution.
“Because if government laments, the populace will definitely lose hope. So they need the additional two months so that when they are reporting to council it will be wholistic so that when council decision will be made that will deal with the issue of the DISCOs.”
The Edo State Deputy Governor who is also Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee of the 2020 National Sports Festival to be hosted by the state from March said that he briefed the council on the preparation for the festival and said that every necessary arrangement had been put in place.
He said, “NEC also received LOC of Edo 2020 preparation for National Sports Festival. The deputy governor of Edo presented a document to the level of preparedness by Edo government.
NEC also received the new governor of Bayelsa.”
On his part, the Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Dave Umahi said there was no cause for alarm on the depletion of the Excess Crude Account from $325 million to about $71 million as he explained that every investment made by the Federal Government with the money had the consent and approval of the governors.
Umahi said, “Today (yesterday) is second NEC meeting in 2020 and 102 in the series of NEC meetings. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed presented to Council current balances on the special accounts maintained by the federation.
“On Excess Crude Account, as at February 24, 2020, the balance is $71, 813941.84. On Stabilisation Account, as at February 24, the balance is N34,186,655,761.82. Development of Natural Resource Account, as at the same date, stands at N101,889,686,452.53.
“Update on Budget Loan Facility, the Minister informed NEC that during the months of January and February, 2020, deductions had been made from statutory allocations of the affected states.
” Next discussed at NEC was the issue of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) and the following were discussed: the NLTP emerged from an extensive process involving engagements with stakeholders and detailed analysis of opinions.
“After the initial decisions were made by the state governors, the focus of the initiative shifted to the implementation. Outline of the established engagements process include:
” Letter of intent and counterpart funding, state livestock transformation office and community engagements.
“Preliminary analysis of survey results, which includes data capturing analysis, such as analysis of enumerated data of five gazetted grazing reserves now in Adamawa state.
“We also have two gazetted reserves data obtained in Plateau and in Nasarawa we have four gazetted reserves so data is being collected and analysed.
“We had prayers to Council, one of which was that Council should consider and approve that the three states should submit their detailed plans for the 80 percent funding of the total cost by the federal government, as stipulated in the National Livestock Transformation Plan and of course the states that are participating will have to pay 20% counterpart funding.
“The second prayer was that these states should commit five percent of funding to support the work of the secretariat, in line with the National Livestock Transformation Plan’s policy. Council approved the two prayers.”
Asked whether the Minister gave a break down of how the account was depleted and why some governors were protesting that the ECA had been depleted, he said that the governors were consulted before the account was depleted.
He said, ” On the question of ECA $325 million depleted to $71 million and what happens to the $254 million, I will combine with the question that governors were protesting the depletion and that they were not consulted.
“First, it is not true. $250 million was an agreed investment by governors and federal government on NSIA – National Sovereign Investment Authority and they are doing very well.
” They are handling our infrastructure so nicely that it was further agreed that we should reinvest into it. When these investments are made the federal, state and local governments all get their investment certificate. So we are together in this.
“You also asked where is the other $4 million, it was used in paying consultancy and services that would have caused the fund about $500 million, it was renegotiated to $4 million because, some people went to court over certain transactions in NNPC and so federal government had to engage consultant to handle that.
“We would have paid the consultant five percent of the cost that they were seeking and it would have translated into $500 million. So if you add $250 million plus $4 million you will get $254 million and if you add $71 million you get $325 million, we are back to where we were. So no money is missing.
Governor Umahi restated his disapproval of regional security outfit, adding that he swore to uphold the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Governor stated that when he was asked whether the worsening security situation was discussed at NEC and how insecurity could be tackled at sub-national level.
He said, “Well, security is not discussed on the pages of newspapers and if there is anything the governors have done, it is to brainstorm with the security agencies among themselves and the federal government on this issue of security in various places in the country.
“When people continue to mention regional security, as chairman south east governors forum, I said there will be nothing like regional security but there can be something like regional cooperation, state cooperation.
“Because security is state based. I watched the Lagos state governor said Amotekun law is state based, because when you take of regional security you are talking of something higher than state police.
” You are looking at one central command, one law, one office and one command and there can’t be anything like that with the present constitution and every governor swore to uphold the tenets of the constitution.
” I think the governors are doing quite a lot, we have in our various states private security outfit be it in herdsmen, kidnappings and so on and so forth. I think the governors are arising to the challenges of insecurity in the country.”