By Olanrewaju Ajao The Federal Government has finally resolved to liquidate the Excess Crude Account (ECA) whose modus operandi has been a source of controversy over the years.
This is as the Federal Account Allocation Committee is set to share the remaining 1.7 billion dollars in the account among the Federal Government, state and local government areas.
President Muhammadu Buhari had while inaugurating the National Economic Council (NEC) last Monday directed that henceforth, all revenues accruing to the country should be remitted to the federation account, rather than other accounts as it was the practice with previous administrations.
The President had also told the Council to look into the status of the Excess Crude Account with a view to using it in solving the present salary crises in most states across the country.
The money will be shared under the auspices of Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC, which comprises of commissioners of finance in the 36 states of the Federation
The Committee was expected to meet in Abuja to consider the funds remaining in the ECA account and share among the Federal Government, States and the 774 local government council.
Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) Ahmed Idris, told State House correspondents that after a meeting with President Buhari that the amount would be distributed based on approved formula.
The $1.7billion to be distributed is however less than a figure of $2billion announced earlier by the Edo State governor Comrade Adams Oshiomole as the amount left in the account.
“It is hovering between $1.6 and $1.7 billion, and that is what we are going to distribute among all the three tiers of governments, the federal, states and local governments based on the approved formula.”
“Even today we are going to meet. The FAAC is going to meet, and we are going to distribute as agreed and directed during the NEC meeting last week, and the position is very clear, what we met on ground is what we are going to distribute,” he said.
The AGF continued: “Well, the general message is clear, Mr. President had a clear direction which we all have to fall in line, prudence management of resources and identify more alternative ways of generating revenue, which we are set to do and to manage the meager resources we found on ground very efficiently and effectively for the betterment of the economy.”
Permanent secretary in the ministry of finance, Anastasia Daniel Nwobia had led the AGF to a meeting with the President where they gave further clarifications of the handover notes in the ministry as presented by the immediate past administration.
She explained “We are basically here to brief the president on the activities of the ministry of finance. Well routinely, we go on with our work, our functions as the ministry of finance, the work has not stopped. Government is a continuum so all our mandates and functions, we will continue to implement them as required.
Mrs. also assured that the state of the nation’s finances was stable and not as shaky as being insinuated in some quarters.
“The state of Nigerian finances is okay, our finances are still okay, though we are still going through challenges of revenue stream to government, and this you know obviously is from the oil shock, the price of oil that has dropped.
“It has significantly reduced the revenue stream to government, but we are working in other ways to see how we can shore up the revenue, so that we will be able to meet our expenditure.
Asked on what was the reaction of the President on their briefing, the Permanent Secretary said, “Obviously when you brief the president, he will tell you what he expects in certain aspects of your operations and we gave taken our briefings in that regard.
Explaining on the level of payment of subsidy to marketers, she said “We did not say that we will not pay subsidy, like the former minister said, there is a liability on subsidy, which is being verified by the CBN and Budget Office of the Federation.
“The issue had to do with the forex differentials which they were claiming and this committee is looking into it, and as soon as it is resolved we will be able to pay the verified amount also.
Speaking on alleged looting in some ministries as a result of absence of ministers, Mrs. Nwobia noted that “It is an unfair statement to make.
“If people have evidence that there is large scale looting going on, they are free to come with such, and the freedom of information act allows that you ask questions, so if there are ministries they are suspecting of embarking on large scale looting, which I think is not true, but everybody is free to ask.
On the effect of the absence of political heads, she said “I don’t think it is an issue to bother. You know like I said, government is a continuum, even if you have political heads there, the engine room of the service are the civil servants, and we have continued to do our work.”