Yari, Fayose clash over $2 billion ECA fund

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The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari and Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose on Tuesday continued to oppose each other over the approval of $2 billion to be spent on security matters from the Excess Crude Account (ECA).

While Yari insisted that 32 state governors endorsed the approval, Fayose said that he has already gone to court to stop the removal of the fund from ECA.

Speaking to State House correspondents after emergency meeting of NGF with speakers of State Houses of Assembly in Abuja, Yari said “Gentlemen, this is democracy and each and every person has its own way to want to look at things and you cannot stop him from agitation.  One, Nigeria Governors Forum discussed this issue at our November meeting and we agreed across party lines that this thing has been done in 2014 where $2 billion was taken in agreement with the governors at that meeting.

“And governor Akpabio was the one that moved the motion. This time we realize that there was need to purchase equipment for the military, so we felt we should not compromise the issue of security for the entire country.

“We said as governors, we agreed to forfeit $1 billion out of own share of excess crude which we are going to back up with state assembly resolution at a later time.

“This is not the first time a decision like this is being taken, it happened during Jonathan’s era when they took $2 billion. We all agreed at that time collectively in the same chamber to withdraw $2 billion to procure equipment for the military and also for logistics for the military because they were telling us whether it was true or false that our soldiers were being killed, some came on the social media saying that they were being killed like rats because they didn’t have the training and the equipment, that was what generated discussions at the same Chamber and there was no controversy, there was no opposition to the decision at that time.”

The governor added “Secondly, there was this decision also under Yar’Adua’s time when they were sourcing funds for Niger Delta Power Holdings, they also took over N5 billion for power generation, we followed the same process to withdraw the money from the same account and our respective houses of assembly confirmed the resolution.”

He noted that the $2 billion taken under Jonathan was not backed up by any resolution from the state assemblies.

He also urged Nigerians not to play politics with the issue of national security.

He said; “By the way, we at the governors’ forum 12 members form quorum, at the time we took this decision we had 32 members in attendance and there was no single opposition to the decision. If anybody has his own way that he wants things to go, we had the majority and there was no even minority opinion at that meeting.

“We look at the country Nigeria first before any other issue, it is only when you have the country that you can have the politics,” he added.

On giving out $1 billion despite not paying salaries, he said: “You see, if you are not an economist you may not understand what you are talking about. These monies are kept there for the rainy days. And how much are those monies it is $2 billion. Except in 2015 when we came begging, now we are asking for what is our own.

“Federal governments as deducting the money illegally in those days, we were asking federal government to give us what is our own. Then we were appealing they were not listening, thank God today we have a listening government who make attempt to pay 50 per cent and now we are looking forward to the last balance of 50 per cent. And graciously understanding the economies of the states, federal government has agreed to pay so that the state government can pay salaries and meet their obligations to their citizens.” he stated

On his part, Fayose said he was not in support of the $1 billion approval and that he will never be in support of it.

He said “In my state we have agreed to go to court to contest this. It is our legitimate right, all accruals to the federation must be shared by the three tiers of government and for me to get justice I have to go to court.

On what the consensus was at the meeting on Tuesday, he said “The issue was not discussed at all. But for me I have taken appropriate steps because the money belongs to Ekiti people not to any other to use.

Asked if he was alone in the fight or if the entire PDP states were with you, he said “Excuse, I am speaking for Ayo Fayose. With the PDP and the stakeholders we have not met. I did not attend the meeting, even if I was part of the meeting I would have made it expressly clear but I will not support it.

“Every state has its own peculiarities in terms of security; Ekiti state has Hunger Ram where hunger is catching people everywhere. A lot of people are being kidnapped daily, whatever is in that money for me we should share it, let everybody go and solve his own problem. I have challenges and they should give me my money. It is Ekiti money.

On whether this would have been a good platform to raise the issue, he replied, “May I say this to you, I filed the case in court as early as 12 noon Tuesday, if it was not listed as part of the meeting, how am I going to raise the issue. I have options and I have said it expressly, I have gone to court.

On rumours that there was disagreement over the issue at this meeting he said, “no no no. If it was not one of the issues discussed I would have said so. I am not a pretender I won’t suffer in silence.”

At the end of the emergency meeting, the communique read and signed by Honourable Ismaila A. Kamba, Speaker Sokoto  State House of Assembly, Chairman Conference of Speakers and Honourable Abdul-Aziz Yari Abubakar, Governor Zamfara State, Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum reads “We, all the governors of the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, under the platform of the Nigeria Governors forum and the Speakers of the state houses of assembly, under the auspices of the Conference of Speakers at the end of a consultative meeting regarding the ongoing efforts to amend certain sections of the 1999 constitution resolved as follows:

“The meeting agreed to approach this amendment with maturity and the future of our democracy at the back of our minds.

“The meeting agreed that the state houses of assembly should consult all stakeholders and hold public hearing on all the items transmitted to them by the National Assembly in a bid to promote our democracy and strengthen its institutions.

“Finally, the meeting agreed to constitute a committee to look at all the issues pertaining to the constitutional amendment and revert to members within a reasonable time,” he said.

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