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Terrorism: FG To Spend $1bn From Oil Savings To Fight B/Haram

By The Nigerian Voice
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Abuja – To bolster its fight against Boko Haram insurgency, the Federal Government has requested permission to spend $1 billion from the nation’s $2.31 billion Excess Crude Account (ECA).

The information was made public by Godwin Obaseki, Edo State governor, after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The government has not made it clear whether the war against insurgency was being hampered by paucity of funds, but there has recently been a surge in security challenges, especially in the North East.

Analysts have noted that there have been renewed clashes between herdsmen and farmers as well as cluster bombings by the Boko Haram sect.

The deterioration of security in the North East had necessitated a change of strategy by the military hierarchy on several occasions.

While insurrection has been on the rise, clashes between farmers and herdsmen increased across the country, thus warranting the passage of anti-open grazing laws in some states like Benue and Taraba.

But the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association has strongly opposed this law.

According to Obaseki, “The National Economic Council resolved, through the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, to support the effort of the Federal Government in the area of security.

“Pleased with the achievement that have been made till date in the fight against insurgency, particularly in the North East, the governors of Nigeria, through their chairman, announced at the NEC meeting that the governors have given permission to the Federal Government to spend the sum of $1 billion in the fight against insurgency.

“This money is supposed to be taken from the Excess Crude Account.”

“The money will cover the whole array of needs which includes purchase of equipment, training for military personnel and logistics,” he said.

Ibrahim Dankwambo, Gombe State governor, who corroborated his Edo State counterpart, gave the balance amount in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) as at December 13, 2017, to be in the margin of $2.317 billion.

He pegged that of Natural Resource Development Fund Account at N106.984 billion, while the Stabilisation Fund Account stood at N7.78 billion.

Damkwabo said, “Council was also informed by the Accountant-General of the Federation that the balance in the Natural Resource Development Fund Account as at 13th December 2017 stands at N106.984 billion.

“The AGF also informed Council that the balance in the Excess Crude Account as at 13th December, 2017, stands at $2.317 billion.

“Update of the current balance of the stabilisation fund account was also reported by the Accountant General of the Federation which, as at 13th of December, 2017, stands at N7.78 billion.”

In the meantime, the Ministry of Finance, headed by Kemi Adeosun, has given states conditions for accessing further budget support facility from the Federal Government.

Part of the conditions the government gave was that states wishing to enjoy extra-budgetary provision or loans from the Federation Account would be required to submit a detailed fiscal sustainability plan to convince government of a repayment plan.

According to the minister, some states have been defaulting in submitting the plan, prompting the threat from the government.

Dankwambo, who gave an update on behalf of the finance minister, noted that some states had already collected for the month of June, July, and August.

Although he did not mention the states, he gave an indication that states which did not comply with the directive may jeopardise the opportunity for other states.

Dankwambo said, “Update on budget support facility loan granted to states was also reported to Council, and that for the month of June, July and August, states have been paid and the Federal Ministry of Finance is working on the payment of the month of September budget support.

“The minister of finance informed Council that the budget support facility to states is also based on certain conditions as agreed under the fiscal responsibility plan, but she complained that most states are yet to comply and added that non-compliance will make her ministry stop further loans to be given to states that do not comply.”

He said a detailed forensic audit which would reveal how much has accrued into the Federation Account up to 2015 was being stalled by the Nigerian Customs Service and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

According to the Gombe governor, the firm handling the forensic audit had assured of making the report available by January 2018.

“At the 83rd meeting of NEC which coincided with the 10th meeting in 2017, some of the issues that were considered included the taking of update from the forensic audit of revenue that accrued into the Federation Account up to 2015, and as a follow-up to that report that was submitted last month. Council was informed that KPMG was still conducting the audit of the Nigerian Customs Service and the Nigerian Communications Commission, hopefully by January 2018 this audit will be concluded and reports will be submitted to the Council”, he said.

Meanwhile, Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, has assured that ongoing fuel scarcity will end in 48 hours.

Kachikwu gave the assurance on Thursday while briefing members of the National Economic Council (NEC), comprising the governors and some ministers.

According to Obasaki, “The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources assured council that within the next 48 hours fuel supply will be restored nationwide because there is enough fuel in our strategic reserves and the ministry has released fuel from these reserves and it expects distribution will reach all parts of the country within the next 48 hours.”