Reps divided over proposed withdrawal of $1bn to fight insurgency

A motion on the proposed $1billion to be drawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to fight the Boko Haram insurgency generated an intense debate on Thursday on the floor of the House of Representatives in Abuja.

The motion, which led to a divided House, seeks to ensure that the 13% derivation due to the oil producing states is deducted from the amount before it is given.

Benefitting states include Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo, Abia, Imo, Ondo, Anambra and Lagos.

On December 14, 2017, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum approved the deduction of $1billion by the Federal Government from the Excess Crude Account to fight insurgency during the meeting of the National Economic Council.

The decision had sparked mixed reactions while some governor, including Mr Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, rejected the approval and demanded their own share of the fund.

Leading a debate on the matter today, Ken Chikere from Rivers State told the House that while no amount was too small to spend for peace in the county, the provision of the Constitution must be obeyed for the sake of equity.

He urged his colleagues to ensure that the 13 per cent derivation fund was deducted and paid to the oil producing states as it would be needed to tackle some of their major challenges.

But his counterpart from Kaduna State, Shehu Mona, had a different opinion and disagreed with the motion.

Mona asked the lawmakers to consider the fact that fighting Boko Haram is not a regional problem and, therefore, the motion should be looked at from that point of view.

On his part, Henry Archibong from Akwa Ibom raised a point of order in Section 80 (2), asking if the money had been approved by the National Assembly.

The Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, responded that the issue was not relevant at that point.

Also reacting, Aliyu Patigi (Kwara State) believes the motion relates to accounting and stated that it would be in addition to other charges if the President was requesting for $1billion.

Speaker Dogara then informed the House that the State Houses of Assembly would have to endorse a resolution giving the Federal Government approval to spend the money.

After further deliberation, the chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Emmanuel Orker Jev, advised that the motion was stepped down as it was deprived of adequate information.

His position was, however, countered by Nnenna Ukeje from Abia State while the Speaker stepped down the motion.

Dogara consequently directed the House Committee on Finance to look into the matter and report back within four weeks.

The committee is expected to ascertain the actual amount in the Excess Crude Account and the amount due to the different parts of the Federating Units.

 

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