Members of the lower legislative chamber of the national assembly were divided on Thursday over a motion to deduct 13 percent derivation from the $1 billion approved for the fight against insurgency and general security in the country.
The bill, introduced by Ken Chikere, from Rivers state, seeks to ensure that the 13 percent derivation is given to oil-producing states in the country.
Last year, governors approved that the $1 billion should be taken from the excess crude account (ECA) to help in the fight against insurgency and as well as for security purposes.
While introducing the motion, Chikere said even though the money should be deducted and given to the states in accordance to the section 162 (2) of the 1999 constitution “as benefits” payable to them, such had not been done.
He added that the money, if not paid to the states, “would amount to double contribution from the said states” in the war against insurgency and also a breach of section 162(2) of the constitution as well as section 1 of the Allocation Revenue (federation account) Act.
However, while some of the lawmakers agreed that the 13 percent derivation should be deducted, others argued that the excess crude account in question is not subject to such provision as contained in the constitution.
Some also asked if such withdrawal is subject to the approval of the national assembly.
Contributing to the motion, Henry Achibong from Akwa Ibom asked: “This money being used to fight insurgency, has it been approved by the national assembly?
“Is it meant for states or for the federal government or for the entire federation? If it is for the entire country, then it is subjected to the approval of the national assembly.”
Yisa Orker-jev, chairman of the house committee on rules and businesses, described the motion as “speculative as it is not yet clear the tier of government and the account the fund belongs to”.
“The best thing to do in this case is to assign the committee on finance to study this and know what is in the excess crude account, what belongs to each tier of government and what should be done,” he also said.
Also speaking, Yusuf Lasun, deputy speaker of the house, said while the bill is relevant, the lawmakers should take cognisance of the fact that “Boko Haram is real and we have suffered a lot from it”.
He said: “This motion touches the heart of our constitution but we have not been able to differentiate between federation account and consolidated account. And that is a major problem.
“So we should sit down and study the issues involved well before we take any action on this.”
Commenting on the motion, Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house, said the lawmakers should be more concerned with whether the constitution had been tampered with or not.
He said: “If this money has been withdrawn and we know which tier of government it belongs, our concern will then be if whatever is being done is against that provision of the constitution or any other provision.”
The lawmakers, therefore, mandated the house committee on finance to study the issue and report back to the house within four weeks.
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