Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, says there is no cause for alarm over the depletion of the Excess Crude Account (ECA) from $325 million to about $71.81 million in about a month, explaining that every investment made by the Federal Government with the money had the approval of State governors.
Addressing journalists at the end of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House, Abuja on Thursday, Umahi denied reports that governors were protesting the development.
He said that the account was so depleted because the governors authorised the investment of substantial part of it through the National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
He also gave out balances in other federation accounts thus:
“On Excess Crude Account, as at February 24, 2020, the balance is $71, 813941.84. On Stabilisation Account, as at February 24, the balance is N34,186,655,761.82. Development of Natural Resource Account, as at the same date, stands at N101,889,686,452.53.”
He further explained that: “On the question of ECA $325 million depleted to $71 million and what happens to the $254 million; first, it is not true that governors were not consulted. The $250 million was an agreed investment by governors and federal government on NSIA, and they are doing very well.
“They are handling our infrastructure so nicely that it was further agreed that we should reinvest into it. When these investments are made the federal, state and local governments all get their investment certificate. So we are together in this.
“The other $4 million was used in paying consultancy and services that would have cost the fund about $500 million, it was renegotiated to $4 million because, some people went to court over certain transactions in NNPC and so federal government had to engage consultant to handle that.
“We would have paid the consultant five percent of the cost that they were seeking and it would have translated into $500 million. So if you add $250 million plus $4 million you will get $254 million and if you add $71 million you get $325 million, we are back to where we were. So no money is missing.”
Giving an update on Budget Loan Facility, Umahi said that during the months of January and February, 2020, deductions had been made from statutory allocations of the affected states.
He revealed that “next discussed at NEC was the issue of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) and the following were discussed: the NLTP emerged from an extensive process involving engagements with stakeholders and detailed analysis of opinions.
“After the initial decisions were made by the state governors, the focus of the initiative shifted to the implementation. Outline of the established engagements process include:
“Letter of intent and counterpart funding, state livestock transformation office and community engagements.
“Preliminary analysis of survey results, which includes data capturing analysis, such as analysis of enumerated data of five gazetted grazing reserves now in Adamawa state.
“We also have two gazetted reserves data obtained in Plateau and in Nasarawa, we have four gazetted reserves so data is being collected and analysed.
“We had prayers to Council, one of which was that Council should consider and approve that the three states should submit their detailed plans for the 80 percent funding of the total cost by the federal government, as stipulated in the National Livestock Transformation Plan and of course the states that are participating will have to pay 20% counterpart funding.
“The second prayer was that these states should commit five percent of funding to support the work of the secretariat, in line with the National Livestock Transformation Plan’s policy. Council approved the two prayers.”
Governor Umahi restated his disapproval of a regional security outfit in the Southeast, stressing that it was unconstitutional.
He said that “security is not discussed on the pages of newspapers and if there is anything the governors have done, it is to brainstorm with the security agencies among themselves and the federal government on this issue of security in various places in the country.
“When people continue to mention regional security, as chairman Southeast Governors Forum, I said there will be nothing like regional security but there can be something like regional cooperation, state cooperation.
“Because, security is state-based. I watched the Lagos state governor said ‘Amotekun’ law is state based, because when you take of regional security you are talking of something higher than state police.
“You are looking at one central command, one law, one office and one command and there can’t be anything like that with the present constitution and every governor swore to uphold the tenets of the constitution.
“I think the governors are doing quite a lot, we have in our various states private security outfit be it in herdsmen, kidnappings and so on and so forth. I think the governors are arising to the challenges of insecurity in the country.”