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Excess crude account: Jonathan bows to pressure, releases $1billion

By on January 30, 2013

President Goodluck Jonathan has succumbed to pressure from state governors to share accruals into the Excess Crude Account, ECA, with the approval of the disbursement of $1bn to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

The approval was given to enable states to execute people-oriented projects and follows the deduction of another $1bn for fuel subsidy payment. Briefing State House correspondents yesterday at the end of the 45th meeting of the National Economic Council, NEC, in Abuja, Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, said the Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, reported to the council that the ECA had a balance of $9.24bn after the $1bn subsidy payments.

“The minister also told the council that the President had approved the distribution of $1bn among the 36 states and FCT to enable them to execute more people-oriented projects in line with the government’s Transformation Agenda and the need to deliver more democracy dividends,” Amaechi said.

The governors had at the NEC meeting of December 11 last year demanded the release of $1bn from the ECA to settle financial and contractual obligations pending the resolution of the court case instituted against the Federal Government over the operation of the account.

The governors have already asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether the government was acting illegally by deducting monies from oil sales above the budget benchmark price to fund the ECA without recourse to the states.

The government has however insisted that the ECA is meant to serve as a buffer in times of economic uncertainty. Also speaking at the post- FEC meeting briefing, the Minister of National Planning, Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman, said he presented a memo to the council on the status of the ongoing implementation of the States GDP Computation Programme embarked upon by the National Bureau of Statistics, the NGF and the states.

Usman said the council was also informed that following the successful flagoff of the exercise in the six pilot states, the National Bureau of Statistics was now working closely with the states’ statistical bureaux/ agencies to conduct the survey and publication of data on the GDP computation for Niger, Rivers, Gombe, Anambra, Kano and Lagos states.

The minister noted that the states’ GDP computation programme was being implemented in two phases with the first phase covering the six pilot states in each of the geopolitical zones due to be completed in April, adding that the second phase of the programme would cover other states during the period of April – December, 2013.

Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji while speaking on the report of NEC committee on the states buy-in to the activities of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, said the council considered a report in which far-reaching recommendations were made towards combating human trafficking.

According to him, the recommendations include development and effective implementation of State Level Trafficking in Persons Plans of Action, development and strengthening of the States Social Welfare System’s for Child Protection as well as provision of basic needs, including medical care, educational, vocational and recreational facilities for victims of trafficking.

Other recommendations include mobilizing and providing support for civil society organizations working on combat-trafficking and related issues, assisting and empowering identified victims of trafficking by providing educational grants, scholarships and other incentives as well as enabling and fully implementing the Child’s Rights Law in each state.

Orji disclosed that NEC adopted the recommendations and directed the Minister of National Planning and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and Chief Executive of NAPTIP to liaise with the states towards ensuring better collaboration in addressing the situation with Abia, Kogi and Ogun states as pilot cases in the bid to combat the societal scourge.

President of the Manufacturers Association, MAN, Chief Kola Jamodu, who spoke on the issue of multiple taxation, said that a presentation was made to council on multiple taxation across the country at various levels and its effects on the manufacturing sector’s productivity.

According to him, MAN is asking the Federal Government for reduction in stamp duty, Value Added Tax, VAT, exemption on some raw materials, harmonisation of taxes and levies within the three tiers of government, outlawing of unorthodox means of collecting taxes as well as full automation of the entire tax administration system.

According to him, the issues raised by MAN were discussed extensively at the NEC meeting while a committee has been set up to look further into the issues and report back to the Council in March.

He said the Committee has Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo as Chairman while Governors of Zamfara State, Abul’aziz Abubakar Yari, Idris Wada (Kogi), Theodore Orji (Abia), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Ibikunle Amosu (Ogun) and Babatunde Fashola (Lagos) are members.

Others are National Planning Minister, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Central Bank Governor, Economic Adviser to the Vice President, Secretary to the National Planning Commission and MAN President.

Meanwhile, the 36 governors, under the platform of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, on Tuesday lambasted the Federal Government over its attitude to the management of ECA and resolved not to entertain further adjournments of the case pending at the Supreme Court.

Several attempts at an out-of-court settlement by the Federal Government have failed to appease the governors, who described the deductions made by the Federal Government on the account as illegal. The governors stated this after their first meeting for the year, chaired by Rivers State Governor Amaechi.

The governors noted that they were not in opposition to the Federal Government and also declared their confidence in the chairman and endorsed his leadership as head of the forum.

Reading the resolution after the meeting, Amaechi said: “The forum decries the present attitude of the Federal Government on Excess Crude Account and resolves to take no further adjournments in the subsisting case in court but to seek a final resolution of the matter from the Supreme Court.”

On the remark of First Republic Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark, who accused the forum of being in opposition to the Federal Government, Amaechi said: “No. Chief Edwin Clark is an elder statesman; we are not going to take issues with him.”

Speaking also on the health of the Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, he said: “I talked with him; put him on the phone to an editor who is my friend. It was real.” Amaechi in the communiqué also said the forum agreed to hold a two-day retreat to deliberate on the current state of security in the country.”

A committee is working on it. When the committee brings in their report, we will fix a date,” he added. On the rising incidence of polio in the country, he said that the governors “unanimously agreed to lead the efforts to eradicate polio by instituting the following:

*A monthly campaign to be headed by governors to promote healthy environmental habits.

*Governors from nonpolio states will support their counterparts in affected states by joining them in their states during upcoming national polio campaign.

*To meet with the Presidential Task Force on Polio Eradication in order to identify current funding gaps and challenges against polio eradication in Nigeria.

*The forum said it remains resolute in the development of our different states for the benefit of the nation and citizens. States represented at the meeting include; Abia, Kogi, Kaduna, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Kwara, Adamawa, Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti, Jigawa, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Nasarawa, Taraba, Kano, Sokoto, Bauchi, Ondo, Oyo and Anambra.

In a related development, the House of Representatives has thrown its weight behind the decision of the governors to drag the Federal Government to court. In an interview with National Mirror yesterday, the Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Publicity, Hon. Victor Afam Ogene (APGA-Anambra), who spoke on behalf of the House, said the governors were only exercising their rights as enshrined in the constitution.

He said: “The governors have done the right thing by going to court. Let them go and test the waters and let’s see what will come out of it.

“But we must also remember that the issue of constitution is there. For example, section 162 of the 1999 Constitution says all revenue of government must be lodged into the Federation Account.

“It does not allow for other accounts, but it also goes to reason that whatever belongs to states from crude oil sales should go to them, so the governors are free to go to court for a decision on that.”
[National Mirror]

One Comment

  1. Kay

    January 31, 2013 at 5:44 am

    Check the caption and correct ‘Express Crude Account’ to “EXCESS CRUDE ACCOUNT”