Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday said the much-criticised $1bn that state governors asked the Federal Government to withdraw from the Excess Crude Account was not meant for the fight against insurgency alone.
He said the sum was meant for all security challenges being experienced in all the states of the federation. Osinbajo gave the clarification at the opening of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation/Secretaries to State Governments’ retreat at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
It will be recalled that the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari, had, at a meeting of the National Economic Council last Wednesday, announced that the governors had asked the Federal Government to withdraw $1bn from the ECA to fight insurgency.
The decision had attracted criticisms from groups and individuals, including the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose; and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
But Osinbajo explained that the governors resolved to approve the money for national security after a national security summit organised by the National Executive Council about two months ago.
He said the summit considered various security challenges across the country, including kidnapping, small arms trafficking, terrorist activities of Boko Haram in the North East, clashes between herdsmen and farmers, as well as cattle rustling.
The Vice-President said, “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 $1bn, 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.”
Osinbajo’s explanation was, however, in contrast with the statement made by the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, while addressing State House correspondents at the end of the NEC’s meeting. Obaseki was clear in his presentation that the $1bn was approved for the fight against insurgency.
He had said, “Pleased with the achievements that have been made till date in the fight against insurgency, particularly in the North East, the governors of Nigeria through their chairman announced at the NEC meeting that the governors have given permission to the Federal Government to spend the sum of $1bn on the fight of insurgency.
“This money is supposed to be taken from the Excess Crude Account. “As you know, the issue of security, particularly with regard to the North East, is a very comprehensive response by federal forces.
“So, we expect that the contribution of the states to these efforts will cover the whole array of activities required to secure the country and counter insurgency.
“We expect that the amount will include but not limited to purchase of equipment, procuring intelligence and logistics and all what is required to ensure that we finally put an end to the scourge of insurgence.”