Senators poised for showdown over $1bn Boko Haram funds

ABUJA—STRONG indications have emerged that senators may be sharply divided today at the Senate Chamber over the approval given to the Federal Government by governors to take $1 billion in the nation’s Excess Crude Account, ECA, to fight insurgency and terrorism. The motion which will be moved today by Senator Samuel Anyanwu, PDP, Imo East, may sharply divide the senators as there would be resistance and opposition to the approval. At yesterday’s plenary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu had cited order 42 and spoke on the Nigerian Governors Forum’s approval of $1 billion from excess crude account. He sought the leave of the Senate to bring it as a motion on another legislative day which the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, approved. Recall that governors of the 36 states had last week approved the withdrawal of $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account for the ongoing fight against Boko Haram insurgents in the North East. The decision was taken at the National Economic Council, NEC, meeting presided over by the Vice-President, Prof.  Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja last weekend. The Excess Crude Account, being money saved from the sale of crude oil above the appropriation benchmark, currently stands at $2.3 billion. It is usually shared among the three tiers of government. Also recall that governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki had said that state governors who formed the bulk of  membership of NEC, decided to make the concession to allow the federal government spend the money due to its impressive effort in the fight against insurgency in the country, especially in the North East. He said:  “The NEC also resolved through the chairman of the governors forum to support the effort of the federal government in the area of security. Pleased with the achievements that have been made till date in the fight against insurgency, particularly in the North East, the state governors through their chairman, announced at the NEC meeting, that the governors have giving permission to the federal government to spend the sum of US $1billion in the fight against insurgency. “This money is supposed to be taken from the Excess Crude Account.” Also speaking at the briefing, Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo gave updates on the forensic audit report on government revenue generating agencies, the Natural Resource Development Fund Account and the Budget Support Facility among others as presented to the council by the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris. On the forensic audit, a preliminary report of which was submitted last month, the governor said, “Council was informed that KPMG is still conducting the audit of the Nigerian Customs Service and the Nigerian Communication Commission,” adding that by January 2018, the

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