Ag President Jonathan Fulfills Deal with Governors; shares $3bn EC Money

The ECA has fallen from 20 billion dollars to 6.2 billion dollars

Chairman of the governors forum, Bukola SarakiAs part of a secret deal between the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and governors, the Acting President has already fulfilled his bargain to share the $3bn excess crude oil earnings among the federal and state governments, has learnt.

This comes as it is reported that proceeds from Nigeria’s excess crude oil has sharply fallen, as the government dipped into the account to cope with the global financial crisis.

Chairman of the governors forum, Bukola Saraki

In the last three years, nearly 14 billion dollars (10.2 billion euros) have been taken from the account, which holds excess cash made from upward swings in world oil prices, said the office of Deputy Finance Minister, Remi Babalola last week.

When the Yar’adua administration came into office in 2007, it “met over 20 billion dollars in the excess crude proceeds account, which has now declined to about 6.2 billion dollars due to its utilisation by all tiers of government as a result of the impact of the economic recession,” The Minister said in a statement.

A reliable source in government told authoritatively last night that Goodluck has shared the money in fulfilment of the deal Jonathan reached with the Governors Forum as part of the horse trading to make him the Acting President.

“Jonathan Goodluck was desperate to act as president and may have used the bait of sharing this 420 billion Naira excess crude money to lure the governors to prevail on the legislators to carry out this “coup against the constitution”, he said. 

The Governors Forum had shown initial resistance to make Jonathan Acting President, following the over two-month absence of President Umaru Yar‘Adua, who has been undergoing medical treatment in Saudi Arabia since November 23, 2009.

Chairman of the Governors‘ Forum, Dr. Bukola Saraki, had insisted on behalf of his colleagues, while speaking with journalists after a meeting on January 6, 2010, that there was no vacuum.

”People should be called to order. We must warn anti-democratic elements. All the organs of government are working and functional at all levels. The President‘s health is improving,” Saraki had said.

On Wednesday this week we reported that when the governors first met with the vice president last month with a request for Goodluck to approve the sharing of the excess crude money as was the custom under President Yar’adua, the vice-president was said to have adamantly refused arguing that as vice president, he lacked the powers to do so.

The Governors then told him that “if you have been presiding over the Federal Executive Council, FEC, Session where Contracts worth Billions of Naira were awarded, what stops you from also approving the sharing the excess crude money”.

But the vice president was said to have pointedly told them that the award of contracts at FEC meetings were acts in the “usual course of office”, but “If you want me to approve this money simply make me an acting president with full presidential powers”.

“the Vice president will only want to take actions that will benefit him and ministers but will not want others to benefit”, a governor was said to have lamented afterwards.

The governors later made a volte-face and decided to throw their weight behind Jonathan after allegedly giving him two major conditions, which included the dissolution of the FEC and the sharing of funds from the Excess Crude Account that had not been touched since Yar‘Adua travelled on medical grounds.

The ECA currently holds $6.2bn, which the governors argued could be used to beef up the monthly allocations to the states in the event of funds shortage from the Federation Account.