Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account, Once Over $22bn, Depletes to $321m
By Dipo Olowookere
The balance left in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) of Nigeria as at Monday, January 20, 20120 was $321.4 million, Business Post has gathered.
Last week, the National Economic Council (NEC) held a meeting in Abuja, which was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The council comprises Governors of the 36 states of the federation, the FCT Minister and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele.
At the gathering, NEC was informed of the amount left in the ECA and other special accounts of the federation, including the stabilization account, which stood at N31.8 billion as at Tuesday, January 21, 2020; the Development of Natural Resources Account, which had N97.0 billion as at January 21, 2020; and the Budget Support facility deduction which was in progress with N29 billion so far remitted to the CBN.
Business Post reports that the ECA was created by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2004 to keep the extra amount made from the sale of crude oil’s benchmark.
For instance, like in the 2020 budget, where the crude oil benchmark was set at $60 per barrel, anytime the commodity is sold above $60, the excess is saved in the ECA for rainy days and this helped the country during the 2008 global financial meltdown as it was not felt by Nigeria.
However, the tradition of not touching the ECA was broken under the administration of late Umaru Yar’Adua, when Governors under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors Forum led by former Senate President and then Governor of Kwara State, Mr Bukola Saraki, instituted a lawsuit at the Supreme Court in 2008 to seek an injunction to force federal government to share what is left in the account.
When Mr Obasanjo handed over power to late Mr Yar’Adua in 2007, according to the Ministry of Finance, the balance in the ECA was $9.43 billion and in 2008, he grew the amount to over $22 billion, the highest ever in Nigeria’s history. However, he passed on in 2010 and his deputy, former President Goodluck Jonathan, was sworn in as an acting President in May 2010.
Under the Jonathan administration, the ECA depleted as a result of his heeding to the demand of the Governors and it was reported that the amount decreased to about $4 billion by 2010.
In 2015, when the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari commenced, the sum of $2 billion, according to a former Minister/Deputy Chairman of National Planning Commission, Mr Abubakar Olarenwaju Sulaiman, was left by the Jonathan government for Mr Buhari.
In 2016, when the state Governors asked the Buhari administration to share the ECA, what was then left was about $2.3 billion.
In 2018, during a briefing with newsmen in Abuja on outcome of the NEC meeting, Governor of Kano State, Mr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, said the former Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, informed the council that as at Monday, January 15, 2018, the amount left was $2.3 billion and Mrs Adeosun later said in June of same year, 2018, that the balance had declined to $1.9 billion. This was after government had removed $1 billion from the account to fight terrorism in the country despite opposition from the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
As at October 2019, the amount left in the ECA was $324 million, but according to NEC, in an update of its last meeting in Abuja, the money has now reduced to $321 million.
During the meeting, Chairman of the NEC Committee on the matter and Governor of Kaduna State, Mr Nasir El-Rufai, briefed the council on the proposed consideration of 20 percent of pension funds to be invested in infrastructural projects such as rail, roads and electricity.
On the review of the status of the ownership structure of the electricity power Distribution Companies (DISCOs), he said plans were ongoing to determine the level of investment/ownership of states and federal governments in the Discos, and requested NEC to, among other things, place media advertisements for the public to submit memoranda on the way forward for the electricity sector.
NEC approved the prayers of the Committee that stakeholders in the sector be engaged, and that submissions from the public be received for analysis.
Also briefing NEC on polio eradication and improved routine immunization in Nigeria, the Minister of Health, Mr Osagie Emmanuel Ehanire, said Nigeria was on course to attaining polio-free status by June 2020, noting that the country has not recorded any new case of polio infection in the last three and half years.
He said there are incidences of Lassa Fever in some states namely; Edo, Kano, Ondo, Ebonyi and Taraba resulting in 84 cases and 15 deaths, noting that the National Centre for Disease Control has been alerted and is on top of the situation.
Mr Ehanire reported to council that the use of paracetamol to cook meat and the consequences that comes with it as well as the use of Aspirin to purify water, are deadly practices that damages major body organs, warning that these practices should be avoided.
He also briefed council on the Coronavirus that emerged in China, which has spread to four border countries such as United States of America, Thailand, Japan and Korea.
During his presentation, the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, made the presentation to the council in his capacity as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria.
Mr Sanusi, who titled his presentation a Call for Action, said “over 12 million children are stunted in Nigeria, while 2.6 million are wasted annually due to malnutrition,” adding that Nigeria records the highest number of stunted children in Africa.
According to the monarch, malnutrition accounts for 53 percent of deaths among children as high child mortality and stunting are linked to deficiencies in key micronutrients (vitamin A, Iron, Zinc and Calcium), macronutrients (Carbohydrates, Protein, Fats) and associated poor feeding practices, as well as overall nutritional status of the mother.
The Emir, who stated that the burden of malnutrition which include stunting, under-weight, obesity and other diet related non-communicable diseases, can be treated, said, “65 percent of dietary energy supply is derived from cereals, roots and fibres indicating low dietary diversity.”
Continuing, he said basic causes of malnutrition are poverty, socio-cultural, economic and political environment.
At the gathering, NEC appealed to states and local governments to deal with the problem by investing more in issues relating to malnutrition, adding that states should key into the World Bank sponsored programme on nutrition.