Obasanjo regime 'squandered N200bn Ecological Funds'
Nigeria's National Economic Council (NEC) was yesterday told how the President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration squandered N200 billion ecological funds on non-existent projects.
Some of the ecological projects were also said to have been done in a “shoddy manner” and without observance of due process.
It was also told that most of the projects allegedly awarded under the ecological funds were done without the knowledge and inputs of the state governments.
The Council is chaired by Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan and consists of the 36 state governors as well as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
NEC is empowered to advise the President concerning the economic affairs of the federation, and in particular on measures necessary for the co-ordination of the economic planning efforts or economic programmes of the various governments of the federation.
Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, who made the revelations on the ecological funds while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the NEC meeting, said it was in order to curb further abuse of the funds that the present administration upon assumption of office in 2007 decided to put a halt to further disbursement of the funds to enable it adopt a more transparent process for the use of the funds.
According to him, the sum of about N50 billion is currently outstanding from the fund.
“The committee deliberated and observed that ecological fund in the past was not properly managed. Contracts that were awarded in some states were not priority or managed with the state consultation which could have made the states take ownership of such projects.
“And actually, the deliberation has agreed with what the present government is doing which looks transparent is to manage the fund efficiently and ensure the states are made aware of the projects and make a buy in before these projects are executed,” Obi said.
Also addressing newsmen on the outcome of the meeting, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi dispelled allegations that the Federal Government plans to nationalise some of the banks it recently took over.
According to him, “The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Minister of Finance and the Central Bank we do not believe that banks should be nationalised. That has been made very clear.
“However, if a bank has a problem and if it does not raise capital and if it does not get into a merger arrangement the government has a responsibility to ensure that that bank survives if it is not going to be liquidated. Any such shareholding by Government is necessary and temporarily to be disposed off at the earliest possible opportunity.
“But government has no active policy of nationalising banks, government has no desire of owning banks, banks are private enterprises, but they must be well managed.”
Sanusi also disclosed that the council reiterated its earlier support of the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry and advised that government sets up very effective communication strategies to enlighten Nigerians on the benefit of the policy.
Sanusi further disclosed that the council urged the CBN to take necessary steps to bring down the lending rates by banks and to make funds available to manufacturers to energise the sector.
NEC gave its support to the proposal by the Minister of Sports for the establishment of Community Sports Centres in each of the Senatorial zones of the country to aid the development of sports in the country.
This would be done by the private sector in collaboration with the states and federal government.