• Shares $1.7bn with states

Federal Government has finally taken a decision to liquidate the controversial Excess Crude Account by sharing the remaining $1.7billion in the account with states and local government areas.

President Muhammadu Buhari had while inaugurating the National Economic Council, NEC, Monday last week 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 also told the Council to look into the status of the ECA with a view to taking whatever is possible and use such to solve the present salary crises in states across the country.
The money will be shared under the auspices of the Federal Account Allocation Committee, FAAC, which comprises commissioners for finance in the 36 states of the federation.
The Committee was expected to meet yesterday in Abuja where they were to consider the funds remaining in the ECA and share it among the Federal Government, states and the 774 councils.
Accountant-General of the Federation, AGF, Alhaji Ahmed Idris, told State House correspondents that after the meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, 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 Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole as the amount left in the account.
“It is hovering between $1.6 and $1.7billion, 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 (yesterday) we are going to meet. The FAAC is going to meet, and we are going to distribute as agreed as 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 meagre 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, led the AGF to the 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.”
Nwobia said that the state of the nation’s finance was stable and not as uncertain 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,” she stated.
Asked on the reaction of the President to their briefing, Nwaobia said: “Obviously, when you brief the President, he will tell you what he expects in certain aspects of your operations and we have taken our briefings in that regard.”
On the 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.”
Speaking on alleged looting in some ministries as a result of absence of ministers, Mrs. Nwobia declared 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, 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 about. 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.”

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