By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah, Abuja
Following uproar over the approval of the National Economic Council to spend one billion dollars from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) on the fight against Boko Haram insurgents, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the money was for the security architecture of the entire country and was agreed on by governors across party lines.
Osinbajo spoke Tuesday when he declared open the retreat of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation with Secretaries to the State Governments at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Osinbajo said that the decision followed a security summit hosted two months ago by the NEC, which was “crucial in understanding and dimensioning the security problems of the country and the weaknesses of our security architecture.”
According to him, the security summit examined issues of kidnapping, small arms trafficking, terrorist activities of Boko Haram in the north east, clashes between herdsmen and farmers and cattle rustling.
“It was on account of the security summit that the governors at the Governors’ Forum subsequently decided that they would vote a certain sum of money, which has become somewhat controversial, the $1billion, to assist the security architecture of the country.
“It was to assist all of the issues in the states, including policing in the states, community policing, all of the different security challenges that we have.
“It was after the security summit that the Governors’ Forum met across party lines, again I must add, in order to approve and to accept that this is what needed to be done to shore up our security architecture.”
He also stated that little would be achieved if relevant state government agencies do not work with the federal government to achieve the country’s developmental objectives.
He said the role of the secretaries to the state governments “is clearly central to cascading the action points and conclusions of the MDAs in their states.”
He said all policies of the government of the federation in agriculture are programmes of the states since lands belong to the states.
“So, the agricultural policy of the federation is actually the agricultural policy of all of the states,” he stated, pointing out that the federal government controls no land outside of Abuja.
According to the vice president, such agricultural policies of the federal government on fertilizer and the Anchors’ Borrowers Programme would not he be successful without the states being part of them.
He said greater engagements between the SGF’s office and the SSGs would lead to better understanding of the management of the Ecological Funds and the National Emergency Management Agency both of which are hosted by the office of the SGF.
In his welcome address, the SGF, Boss Mustapha, said the retreat was aimed at providing a forum where balance could be achieved to allow for full, effective and efficient function of the state structure.
He said the office of the SSG is an important part of the executive arm of government at the states, which “plays the role of clearing and forwarding house of all government decisions, policies and general administration.”
“It is therefore imperative that we strive to achieve synergy at this level of governance between the federal, state and local government structures,” Mr. Mustapha said.
He called for greater collaboration and interdependence between the federal and state governments irrespective of political party affiliations.