By Lawrence Olaoye
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and the governor of Zamfara state, Abdulaszeez Yari, has insisted that the decision to support the federal government with $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) in the fight against insurgency in the North-east was the collective decision of the 36 state governors.
He made the clarification yesterday while briefing newsmen after chairing an emergency meeting of the NGF where a committee was set up in conjunction with the Conference of Speakers to look into issues concerning the constitution amendment.
The Ekiti state Governor, Ayodele Fayose, who had publicly disagreed with the decision of the NGF to approve the $1 billion to support the government in its fight against insurgency in the North-East, disclosed that he had already filed a case in court challenging the decision.
This was just as the Governor of Bayelsa state, Hon. Henry Seriake-Dickson stated that the controversy generated by the approval was unnecessary assuring that the matter would be discussed further among the governors.
Commenting on the controversy, Yari said “ Nigeria Governors Forum discussed this issue at our November meeting and we agreed across party lines that this thing has been done in 2014 where $2 billion was taken in agreement with the governors at that meeting. And Governor (Godswill) Akpabio was the one that moved the motion. This time we realized that there was need to purchase equipment for the military, so we felt we should not compromise the issue of security for the entire country.
“We said as governors, we agreed to forfeit $1 billion of our own share of excess crude which we are going to back up with state assembly resolution at a later time.
“Secondly, there was this decision also under Yar’Adua’s time when they were sourcing funds for Niger Delta Power Holdings. They also took over N5 billion for power generation, we followed the same process to withdraw the money from the same account and our respective Houses of Assembly confirmed the resolution.
“The $2 billion taken under Jonathan’s time was not backed up by any resolution from the state assemblies. Gentlemen we shouldn’t play politics with the issue of national security.”
Fayose on his part said “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.”
He, however, said that the $1 billion security support approval was not discussed at the meeting to the NGF yesterday.
Asked whether he was fighting alone or on behalf of his colleagues in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) he said “Excuse, I am speaking for Ayo Fayose. With the PDP and the stakeholders we have not met. I did not attend the meeting. Even if I was part of the meeting I would have made it expressly clear but I will not support it. “
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