After a meeting on Thursday, the National Economic Council announced that it has granted the request of the Federal Government to withdraw $1billion dollars from the Excess Crude Account to combat terrorist group, Boko Haram.
What is the Excess Crude Account?
The ECA, according to Investopedia, is an account set aside by the Nigerian government in 2004 account to save oil revenues above a base amount derived from a defined benchmark price. In simple English, every year, the government set a benchmark on amount of oil expected to be sold at a price; should the government make sales beyond its target, the excess is saved in the account.
The purpose is to help the government survive ”rainy days” or economic shock.
Why the withdrawal?
Explaining the rationale behind the decision, Governor of Edo state, Godwin Obaseki, who briefed the press said “we expect that the amount will include but not be 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 insurgency.”
Fears and doubts
The decision was however met with nationwide doubt on the intention of the withdrawal of such huge amount, especially as the Federal Government has, repeatedly, insisted that Boko Haram has been ‘technically defeated’, ‘on the run’ and ‘willing to give up’.
With its proximity to the commencement of political activities ahead of the 2019 election, many have speculated that the sum may be diverted to the President’s bid to win another term although he is yet to formally declare an intention to run.
It goes without saying that it is hard to reconcile the stance of both the military and the government on the status of the war against Boko Haram and the amount requested.
To prevent another financial scandal, experts have called for full disclosure and accountability on what the government specifically wants to purchase with the sum, how said equipment would be purchased, timeline of activity and execution.