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$1bn ECA Fund: FG Can’t make Withdrawal Without NASS Approval – Senate

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BY AHURAKA ISAH AND SOLOMON AYADO, Abuja

Senate President, Bukola Saraki yesterday insisted that the debate on the federal government’s plan to withdraw $1billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to fight insurgency and other security challenges in the country will certainly hold on resumption from holidays in January 2018.

Saraki said the debate was stepped down yesterday due to the absence of Senator Sam Anyanwu (PDP Anambra East) who was meant to present the motion on the floor.

National Economic Council (NEC) had during its meeting chaired by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, last week agreed to withdraw $1 billion from the ECA to tackle insecurity in the country.

But commenting on the matter raised by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu on the floor of the senate, Saraki assured that the matter would be treated as a matter of priority upon resumption for plenary in January 2018.

The senate president pleaded with his colleagues to exercise patience on the matter, assuring them that it would be listed as first motion for consideration on the Order Paper next year.

Saraki explained: “The issue would have come up today but Senator Sam Anyanwu could not present the motion today.

“He pleaded for more time and I agree that we move it to another legislative day, which is when we resume. It will be the first item on the Order Paper.

“It is an important motion that we cannot take if the person that moved it is not here. It cannot be delegated. I assure you that we will take it.

“Our party will not spend money that did not follow due process. I am assuring you that the money will not be spent until we come here and debate on it”.

The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu had observed that deliberation on the matter was not listed on the Order Paper of yesterday.

NEC which has all state governors as members has authorized the federal government to withdraw $1 billion from the $2.3 billion currently in the ECA to fight against Boko Haram in the North East.

But the Vice President later explained that the proposed $1 billion was not meant for fighting the terrorist organisation alone but also to tackle other security challenges in the country.

Osinbajo spoke at the opening of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF and Secretaries to State Governments, SSGs’ retreat in Abuja.

He said the fund will be used to tackle security challenges such as, activities of Boko Haram in the North East, kidnapping, small arms trafficking, cattle rustling and clashes between herdsmen and farmers.



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