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Ekiti, Rivers Demand Share Of $1 Billion Insurgency Fund

• LGA chairmen sue AGF, govs
• Fayose wants state’s share of excess crude money
• Wike urges action on environmental terrorism
• VP, Yari insist govs okayed deal


The controversy on the Federal Government’s plan to spend $1 billion to combat terrorism in the country took a new twist yesterday as Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and his Ekiti counterpart Ayodele Fayose demanded their states’ share of the money.

This came as 16 local government chairmen in Ekiti State sued the Attorney General of the Federation and governors of the 36 states, seeking an order restraining the aforementioned from giving effect to the appropriation of the sum.

Following a meeting of the National Executive Council last week, state governors had given the administration the nod to withdraw $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to prosecute the campaign against insurgency.

Wike, however, said yesterday that more than anywhere else, the Niger Delta deserves a share of the money to tackle decades of environmental terrorism unleashed by exploitation. He stressed there would not have been excess crude funds without the contributions of oil-producing communities in the region.

“There should be balance in the way the Federal Government handles issues affecting different parts of the country. We are not saying that the Federal Government should not tackle Boko Haram. But as they tackle Boko Haram with $1 billion, they must remember that the environmental challenge facing the Niger Delta is the major security challenge. If something happens or there is a crisis in the Niger Delta, there will be no excess crude for anyone to draw from,” he said.

The governor noted that issues of development and security must be devoid of politicisation, because political parties are mere vehicles conveying people to desired destinations. “This country belongs to all of us. We must work to salvage Nigeria. We shall always talk about the interest of Nigeria,” Wike told members of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Local Content when they paid him a courtesy visit in Port Harcourt.

Wike’s view was shared by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).

Legborsi Pyagbara, MOSOP president, told The Guardian it was disheartening that the government wants to spend $1 billion from the ECA to fight physical terrorism, while ignoring environmental problems in the Niger Delta.

He regretted that interest groups in the country have allowed the Boko Haram issue to fester, to justify the diversion of funds to the North. He said the directive that the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) should remit $100 million yearly to the North East Development Commission is a pointer.

He added that the approval of the $1 billion smacked of sectionalism and discrimination against the Ogoni people whose land has been devastated and is still awaiting remediation, six years after the United Nations Environment Programme released its findings on the area.

On his part, Fayose said: “Nigerians deserve proper explanations from the Federal Government on the rationale behind spending such a huge sum of money to fight an already defeated Boko Haram.”

The Buhari administration has repeatedly insisted the militant group has been defeated.

In a tweet, the governor notes: “Just read FG’s new position on the $1bn (N367bn) ECA fund that it is not only to fight Boko Haram but for security issues in all the states.” He adds: “Most importantly, Ekiti wants its own share,” saying there was the need for the government to detail “who is getting what and for what reason.”

Also, at a meeting in Abuja yesterday between the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) and Speakers of state Houses of Assembly, Fayose explained that although the issue of the ECA withdrawal has generated interest from Nigerians, “I did not feature at the meeting of the NGF on Tuesday. I’m not in support of $1 billion and will never be in support. 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.”

According to him, “Every state has its own peculiarities in terms of security. Ekiti State has Hunger Haram 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’s money.”

The Chairman of the NGF and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’aziz Yari, who was also at the meeting, said Fayose was free under a democracy to disagree on the issue. He, however, explained that 32 of the 36 governors actually approved the deal.

Similarly, Osinbajo in Abuja yesterday clarified that the governors approved the fund for security concerns in all parts of the country and not in the North East alone.

In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1264/17, the Ekiti council chairmen asked the Federal High Court, Abuja, to declare that the approval of the sum by the governors to purportedly execute the constitutional duty of the Federal Government, which has been sufficiently funded from the Federation Account, without their consent, was ultra vires, unlawful, null and void.

The suit, which was filed yesterday at the registry of the court by counsel to the plaintiffs, Ola Olanikpekun (SAN), also listed the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission as a defendant.

The chairmen are: Deji Ogunsakin (Ado LGA); Bola Alonge (Ikere LGA); Lanrewaju Omolase (Ekiti South West LGA); Dapo Olagunju (Irepodun/Ifelodun LGA); Samuel Adeniyi (Ekiti East LGA); Olumide Falade (Ise/Orun LGA); Sade Akinrinmola (Gbonyin LGA); Tayo Ogundare (Oye LGA); Chief Ayodeji Arogbodo (Ido/Osi LGA) and Taiwo Oguntuase (Emure LGA). Others are: Kolawole Omotunde (Ekiti West LGA); Bolaji Jeje (Efon LGA); Adesola Adeyanju (Ikole LGA); Ganiyu Bakare (Ilejemele LGA); Adeniyi Adebayo (Moba LGA) and Abiodun Dada (Ijero LGA).