By Reno Omokri
It is quite possible that Rotimi Amaechi is losing his marbles otherwise why else would he be asking former President Jonathan to account for the $65 billion that former Olusegun Obasanjo left in the Excess Crude Account when there was never any such amount?
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria who served under his tenure, Professor Charles Soludo are both alive and journalists can take advantage of the Freedom of Information Act signed into Law by former Jonathan to verify from them if there was ever any $65 billion in the Excess Crude Account.
Rotimi Amaechi is a notorious ignoramus who speaks without thinking and it is suspected that he is going senile.
The reason I say so is because Rotimi Amaechi as Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum is precisely the reason why the Excess Crude Account had to be phased out and below are the facts:
The Jonathan administration met $6.5 billion in the Excess Crude Account upon inception in 2010 and not $65 Billion as wrongly asserted by Rotimi Amaechi. In fact, the Jonathan Government ought to be praised for increasing the amount in the ECA to almost $9 billion by 2012.
However, the Nigerian Governors Forum led by no other person than Rotimi Amaechi, using their influence at the House of Representatives, had gotten that August body to declare the Excess Crude Account illegal in 2012.
So excruciating was the pressure from the Nigerian Governors Forum and most notably from the then Rivers state Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, (now the minister of transport) for the Jonathan administration to end the Excess Crude Account and the Sovereign Wealth Fund regimes and instead share the funds in those accounts amongst the three tiers of government that they approached the Supreme Court, to challenge the legality of the Excess Crude Account and then President Jonathan’s decision to transfer $1 billion from that account to the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
In fact, after hosting a meeting of the forum on September 21, 2012, at the Rivers state Governor’s lodge, Rotimi Amaechi said inter alia:
“On the Excess Crude Account, Forum unanimously decided to head back to Court to enforce the Federal Government’s adherence to the constitution.”
To those who do not know what the Constitution says, let me give you an insight by quoting from Section 162.
Section 162, provides that
“(1) The Federation shall maintain a special account to be called ‘the Federation Account’ into which shall be paid all revenues collected by the Government of the Federation, except the proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the Ministry or department of government charged with responsibility for Foreign Affairs and the residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“(2) The President, upon the receipt of advice from the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, shall table before the National Assembly proposals for revenue allocation from the Federation Account, and in determining the formula, the National Assembly shall take into account, the allocation principles especially those of population, equality of States, internal revenue generation, land mass, terrain as well as population density;
“(3) Any amount standing to the credit of the Federation Account shall be distributed among the Federal and State Governments and the Local Government Councils in each State on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly.”
From the above, it was clear what the Amaechi led Governor’s forum wanted.
Mr. Amaechi led the governors in taking the Federal Government to court. The Jonathan administration offered an out of court settlement with the governors in a deal that would have seen the federal government sharing some of the money and saving up the rest for Nigeria’s future but the governors rejected the offer.
In fact, the Jonathan Administration had argued at the Supreme Court that sharing the money in the ECA would affect “the day to day running of the nation’s economy”.
Working in tandem with Mr. Amaechi and his supporters in the Nigerian Governors Forum, the then minority APC members of the House of Representatives approached a Federal High Court on the 7th of February, 2014, for a perpetual injunction restraining the Jonathan administration from operating the ECA and to pay all the proceeds of that account into the Federation Account for sharing amongst the three tiers of government.
As a result of these actions, the Jonathan administration paid the 36 states of the federation a total of N2.92 trillion from the Excess Crude Account between 2011 and 2014. Using the value of the Naira at that time that amount was just above $20 billion dollars.
So it is quite clear that anyone who accuses the Jonathan administration squandering $65 Billion ECA funds is speaking in ignorance.
What I would advise Rotimi Amaechi to do is to take his own advise from last week when he said “I agree with those who said we should stop criticising the last government and that we should do our own”
It is very wrong for Rotimi Amaechi to keep blaming the Jonathan administration while at the same time enjoying the fruits of its labour like the Abuja-Kaduna railway and the national railway that was revived by the Jonathan government after years of being moribund. If they are drinking from Jonathan’s well, let them appreciate the man who dug the well
– This piece was written by Reno Omokri (for Dr. Goodluck Jonathan)