The National Economic Council last week approved a special request by the Federal Government for the withdrawal of One Billion US Dollars ($1,000,000,000) from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to support the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East.
See reactions below from 12 prominent Nigerians:
1. Oby Ezekwesili, Former Minister and BBOG Convener
“Wawu! $1Billion? This money for the same war that the Chief of Army Staff recently said “is over and now left to the political class to mop up” or is it another?
“We BBOG had in our Statement wondered how the Chief of Army Staff could say the war was over and yet citizens were reporting deaths. Is it the same Army that now needs $1 Billion for war it said was over? Please clarify Aso Rock.”
Oby Ezekwesili who referenced the constitution and cited the provisions of the Appropriations Act, argued that, “I do not think that the NEC can just draw $1bn from the Excess Crude Account without involvement of the National Assembly. Let there be a PUBLIC HEARING on STATUS OF THE COUNTER-TERRORISM WAR immediately before any dollar is released from the ECA.”
2. Yinka Odumakin, Spokesperson Afenifere
“Afenifere sees this as the greatest heist against the country and the worst robbery of the republic. We were told by this government that Boko Haram has been defeated. The Chief of Army Staff had a press conference in Borno recently where he claimed that the Army killed some Boko Haram suspects and a BBC journalist asked if they were not killing innocent people since they claimed Boko Haram had been defeated. So, where is the phantom terrorist they are going to fight with this fund that is more than the annual budget of many states in Nigeria? Besides, the slush account called ECA belongs to the three tiers of government, how can the Federal Government alone spend the money in it? Is the power of appropriation now with the National Economic Council (NEC) or still with the National Assembly?
“It is becoming increasingly unfortunate that some people may be exploiting the Boko Haram war to feather their nests. The president should convince Nigerians that the hope reposed in him to fight corruption in Nigeria is not a mirage by stopping this haemorrhage.”
3. Shehu Sani, Senator Representing Kaduna Central
“One billion dollars to fight Boko Haram as approved by the FG officially means the insurgent are yet to be ‘technically’ defeated. The breakdown of the sum is necessary to make meaning out of it. Throwing money to counter those throwing bombs hasn’t worked in the past.”
4. Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, Spokesman House of Representatives
“It’s a good development. We cannot sit down and condemn efforts geared towards eradicating insurgency and other related crimes in the country. We are here for the purpose of providing leadership for Nigerians and if there are steps taken towards facilitating that, then it is welcomed by us.
“Let the pronouncement be implemented and if there are areas of mistakes, then we will all sit down to correct them. No reasonable Nigerian would want any part of the country to be under attack by any means.
“So we urge all well-meaning Nigerians to support government’s effort at restoring peace and progress to Nigeria wherever there is insecurity.”
5. Senator Mathew Uroghide, Senator Representing Edo South and Secretary Southern Senators Forum
“It is extra-budgetary, which is not supposed to be. It is the duty of the National Assembly to approve the expenditure of the executive. And I still remember that we resolved that the ECA should be abrogated and that all funds should come from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. All these are tantamount to illegality.”
6. Ahmad Salkida, Popular journalist noted for his exclusive access to the terrorist group
“One billion dollars to fight ‘remnants’ that are ‘on the run’ and are ‘willing to surrender?’ Indeed, we are a nation that doesn’t ask questions. We take anything that is thrown at us by those we call leaders.”
7. Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, Former Police Commissioner
“It is a good move but the government should ensure that it is judiciously utilised. I also want President Buhari to caution the governors and other office seekers against arming thugs to win elections. Insecurity is the result of proliferation of arms.”
8. Junaid Mohammed, 2nd Republic Lawmaker
“I am not bothered by the $1 billion approved to fight the insurgents. Whatever should be done to defeat this terrorist group must be supported by all of us. But the problem is that President Buhari seems not to be in charge.
“My problem has nothing to do with the $1bn approved from the Excess crude Account to fight Boko Haram. But it seems Boko Haram has been turned into a cash cow and some people and a crop of officers are making money from the insurgency. Whatever amount spent on the fight must be properly accounted for.
“There are problems between the EFCC and the SSS and there is no coordination at all and we don’t know who is in charge of all these security agencies. Buhari seems not to have the gut to call to order all these various security agencies.”
9. Femi Fani-Kayode, Former Aviation Minister and PDP Chieftain
“$1 billion is to be taken from the badly depleted Excess Crude Account to “fight Boko Haram”. This is a lie. The $1 billion will be used by Buhari and his APC to fight the 2019 presidential election and part of it will be shared between party leaders and the cabal.”
10. Governor Nyesom Wike, Rivers State
“If you can get funds from the national pool to tackle Boko Haram, then you should go to the pool to get funds to fight environmental problems in Ogoni and other Niger Delta communities.
“Niger Delta environmental problems are as serious as the Boko Haram Insurgency. I am not saying that you should not fight Boko Haram. “
The fighting governors
11. Governor Ayo Fayose, Ekiti State
“For posterity sake, I wish to place it on record that I was not among the governors, who approved the withdrawal of $1bn, almost half of our savings in the Excess Crude Account, which belongs to the three tiers of govt to fight an already defeated Boko Haram,”
“Since they said they have defeated Boko Haram, what else do they need a whopping sum of $1 billion (over N360 billion) for; if not to fund President Buhari’s re-election in 2019?
“The APC promised to wipe out Boko Haram within six months, now it is 31 months and what the APC government is wiping out is the economy of Nigeria and the means of livelihood of the people.”
12. Governor Abdulaziz Yari, Zamfara State and Chairman Nigeria Governors Forum
“If Governor Fayose was there at the meeting, he would have seen the wisdom in the decision. Yes, the administration is claiming to have decimated the insurgents out of Sambisa Forest but they are reemerging in different flashpoints across the country. They need to be tackled wherever they are and the NGF decided to support the Presidency just as it (The Presidency) had been supporting states with their own problems.
“Governor Fayose is on his own. We have to protect our people and we have to do it with everything we have.”
“Let me reemphasise one more thing, Mr. President is a responsible and honest leader who does not believe in money politics and he would never divert public resources into it.”