By; SUNDAY ODE, Abuja
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari and his Ekiti State counterpart, Ayo Fayose, have disagreed 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.
While Yari said the governors took a collective decision on the matter, Fayose insisted that the issue was never discussed and he will never be a part to it.
Speaking to State House Correspondents Tuesday after an emergency NGF meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Yari said when the decision was taken, 32 governors were in attendance and there was no single voice of dissent.
Yari explained “This is democracy and each and every person has its own way to want to look at things and you cannot stop him from agitation. One, 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 Akpabio was the one that moved the motion. This time we realize 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 our of own share of excess curse which we are going to back up with state assembly resolution at a later time.
According to him, this is not the first time a decision like that had been taken, noting that it happened during Jonathan’s era when they took $2 billion.
He commented ” We all agreed at that time collectively in the same chamber to withdraw $2 billion 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.
While recalling that during the late Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration over N5bn was also withdrawn when funds were being sourced for the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, Yari added that they followed the same process to withdraw the money from the ECA and the respective Houses of Assembly confirmed the resolution.
He also pointed out that the $2 billion taken under Jonathan’s time was not backed up by any resolution from the state assemblies.
Yari also advised politicians not to play politics with issue of national security.
“By the way, we at the governors forum 12 members form 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. We look at the country Nigeria first before any other issue, it is only when you have the country that you can have the politics,” he stated.
On giving out $1 billion despite not paying salaries, he said: “you see, if you are not an economist you may not understand what you are talking about. This monies are kept there for the rainy days. And how much are those monies it is $2 billion. Except in 2015 when we came begging, now we are asking for what is our own.
“Federal governments as deducting the money illegally in those days, we were asking federal government to give us what is our own. Then we were appealing they were not listening, thank God today we have a listening government who make attempt to pay 50 per cent and now we are looking forward to the last balance of 50 per cent.
‘And graciously understanding the economies of the states, federal government has agreed to pay so that the state government can pay salaries and meet their obligations to their citizens”.
On his part, Fayose insisted he was not in support of $1 billion ECA funds and will never be in support.
He said he had approached the court in order to get justice on the matter.
He said ” 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.
When asked if there was a consensus at the meeting, he responded “the issue was not discussed at all. But for me I have take appropriate steps because the money belongs to Ekiti people not to any other use.
On whether he is alone in this fight or the entire PDP states are with him, 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.
He said every state has its own peculiarities in terms of security, pointing out that Ekiti state has Hunger Ram where hunger is catching people everywhere.
He added” A lot of people are being kidnapped daily, whatever is in that money for me we should share it, let everybody go and solve his own problem. I have challenges and they should give me my money. It is a Ekiti money.
On whether this would have been a good platform to raise the issue, he replied, “May I say this to you, I filed the case in court as early as 12 noon today, if it was not listed as part of the meeting, how am I going to raise the issue. I have options and I have said it expressly, I have gone to court.
On rumours that there was disagreement over the issue at this meeting he said, “no no no. If it was one of the issues discussed I would have said so. I am not a pretender I won’t suffer in silence.