Members of the National Assembly Expresses Divergent Views Over The Proposed Withdrawal of $1b
Feelers emanating from members of the National Assembly suggests that proceedings at both legislative houses will be charged when they reconvene on Tuesday over the government’s decision to withdraw $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account to prosecute the war against Boko Haram.
Top members of the Senate and House of Representatives express conflicting views over the proposed withdrawal by the government. While some members say they back the decision, others says the withdrawal of the money was illegal without the approval of the National Assembly.
Chief among those against the disbursement, is the Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce (Bayelsa-East), who promised to raise the issue and subsequently vote against it if put to a vote.
He said, “I will totally vote against the $1bn from ECA to fight Boko Haram because it is ridiculous. We don’t need a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram. I will vote against it. And when we get to the Senate on Tuesday, I will raise it with my colleagues.”
“It is extra-budgetary, which is not supposed to be. It is the duty of the National Assembly to approve the expenditure of the executive. And I still remember that we resolved that the ECA should be abrogated and that all funds should come from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. All these are tantamount to illegality.”
Another lawmaker, who kicked against the spending, Karimi Sunday, wondered whether the Federal Government would have to make two expenditure channels for the war against Boko Haram having budgeted funds for it in the appropriation bill. In his words:
“Are we going to have provisions in the budget and another separate $1bn that will not be appropriated by the National Assembly?
“The Governors’ Forum, which made this recommendation or approval, do they have any constitutional power to appropriate money?
“Another question is, all the money budgeted for security operations, has anybody explained how the government spent it?”
On the other side of the divide is the Senate’s North East caucus, which described those kicking against the disbursement as making irresponsible comments.
Chief among the members of the caucus is Ali Ndume (Borno South), a former Majority leader of the Senate, who criticised people for linking the withdrawal to the prosecution of President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign for the 2019 election.
“I heard about it and I am surprised and disappointed; the response by some of the individuals that are opposing this timely and commendable decision by NEC to set aside $1bn from the ECA to finance the war against insurgents in the North-East.
“I am very disappointed because we are not taking the money to develop Borno or other states, this is money meant for fighting Boko Haram, which is a security issue.”
Also speaking in favour of the withdrawal is the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazak Namdas, who said the withdrawal was in the interest of the country.
He is quoted by the Punch as saying if the money is properly spent – on weaponry, training and the welfare of our military personnel, the move should result in the end of the insurgency in the country’s North East.
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