The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari; and the Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, on Tuesday disagreed openly on the $1bn the governors recently asked the Federal Government to withdraw from the Excess Crude Account to fight insurgency.
While Yari who is also the Zamfara State Governor insisted that the resolution was reached at the forum’s meeting in November, Fayose insisted that he was not part of such decision.
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The two governors took the different positions while addressing State House correspondents at the end of an emergency meeting of the NGF held inside the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Yari said the decision taken by the governors was not new, saying similar decision to withdraw $2bn from the same account was taken during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He 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issue at our November meeting and we agreed across party lines that this thing has been done in 2014 where $2bn was withdrawn in agreement with the governors at that meeting. Governor Akpabio was the one that moved the motion.
“This time, we realised that there was the 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 $1bn out of our own share of excess crude which we are going to back up with state assembly resolution at a later time.
“This is not the first time a decision like this is being taken. It happened during Jonathan’s era when they took $2bn . We all agreed at that time collectively in the same chamber to withdraw $2bn to procure equipment for the military and also for logistics for the military because they were telling us whether it was true or false that our soldiers were being killed.
“Some came on the social media saying that they were being killed like rats because they didn’t have the training and the equipment. That was what generated discussions at the same Chamber and there was no controversy, there was no opposition to the decision at that time.”
Yari also recalled that under late President Umaru Yar’Adua, over N5bn was also withdrawn when funds were being sourced for the Niger Delta Power Holding Company.
He said the same process was followed to withdraw the money from the same account while respective Houses of Assembly confirmed the resolution.
He urged all stakeholders to stop playing politics with national security.
“At the governors’ forum, 12 members form a quorum.
“At the time we took this decision, we had 32 members in attendance and there was no single opposition to the decision.
“If anybody has his own way that he wants things to go, we had the majority and there was no even minority opinion at that meeting.
But Fayose insisted that he was not in support of the decision to withdraw the $1bn.
He said he had approached the court in order to get justice.
He said, “I’m not in support of $1bn and I 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.”
Fayose said although the issue was not discussed at the Tuesday meeting, he had taken the appropriate steps because the money belongs to the people of his state.
When he was asked if he was opposing the decision on behalf of Peoples Democratic Party governors, Fayose said, “I am speaking for Ayo Fayose. With the PDP and the stakeholders, we have not met.