By Dipo Olowookere The Nigerian Senate has moved to stop an attempt by some of its members to influence the setting up of an ad-hoc committee to investigate the $122.2 million that had accrued from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) between May 2015 and August 2017, but not paid into the account. This is just as the upper legislative chamber approved immediate abolition of ECA, an account being used to save oil revenues above a base amount derived from a defined benchmark price. According to the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly, the account is alien to the 1999 constitution as amended or any known law in the country. The Senate resolution followed the adoption of a motion, \u2018The Excess Crude Account: an Illegality and a Drain Pipe\u2019, by Senator Rose Oko and co-sponsored by 43 other senators cutting across party and ethnic differences. One of the prayers on the motion was that the senate should \u201cmandate an ad-hoc committee to investigate the revenue that accrued from the amount above the oil benchmark from 2004 to date and its utilization, identifying any infractions committed and report back within two months.\u201d Surprisingly, majority of the senators, including former Governors who were parts of management of the account in their various states when it was introduced shouted \u2018nayes\u2019 while the Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki, also a former Governor quickly ruled in favour of opposition to the probe. The upper legislative chamber, however, urged the government to pay the amount above the oil benchmark into the Federation Account and appropriate some into the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and other sectors in compliance with the constitution. Senator Oko, while leading debate on the motion, said the Senate had observed that between May, 2015 and August, 2017, about $122.2 million had accrued and ought to have been paid to the ECA. She enjoined the upper house to place the $122.2 million in the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) upon the amendment of section 162 of the Constitution and other sectors as deemed appropriate. The lawmaker particularly advised the government to act in conformity with sections 80 (1-4) and 162 (1-3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended in its revenue receipt and expenditure, saying that the present administration had in May 2017, announced a resumption of arbitrary payment into the ECA of $87 million ostensibly since May, 2015. According to her, the Senate was \u201cdeeply saddened by the continued impunity of the ECA and its discretionary operation in contravention of the 1999 Constitution, creating room for imprudence, recklessness and arbitrariness.\u201d She added that the upper legislative chamber was \u201cvery concerned that this is one veritable source of huge revenue leakage in the country.\u201d The lawmaker informed that ECA was set up in 2004, ostensibly to provide savings for the country and stabilization for the economy during periods of shortfalls in oil revenue, adding that the accruals to the account were expected to be the amount above the benchmark of crude oil sales. Senator Oko said the Upper House was \u201cfurther alarmed that a report by the National Resource Governance Institute rates Nigeria\u2019s Excess Crude Account as one of the most poorly managed around the world, where its operation is discretionary and at the whims of the Executive.\u201d She noted for instance that the ECA increased from $5.16 billion in 2005 to over $20 billion in 2008, and decreased to less than $4 billion by 2010 with no known tracking of its operations. The lawmaker alleged that \u201cat various times and from several quarters in 2013, it was purported that $5 billion was missing from the ECA, and that $2 billion was withdrawn without authorization.\u201d According to her, Nigeria cannot continue to operate an appreciable quantum of revenue arbitrarily, outside the law with no checks and balances while expecting amendment of section 162 of the constitution to cure the problem of savings for the nation. In his contributions, Senator Adamu Aliero supported the abolition of the ECA which he recalled was introduced during former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration to protect planned budgets against shortfalls due to volatile crude oil prices. He said if the account, out of which the independent power project, IPP among others were sponsored, is stopped, it would ensure transparency and accountability in revenue generation and payment into the Federation Account. Senator Mao Ohuabunwa also argued that the ECA should be abolished despite the fact that the country needs to save for the rainy day due to the alleged impunity and arbitrariness in the account\u2019s operation. He called for the setting up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the revenue that accrued from the country\u2019s oil benchmark from 2004. Speaking in the same vein, Senator Atai Ali Aidoko described the present operations of ECA as the \u201cbiggest flush fund\u201d in the country, saying one-third of the spending were done with illegality. But Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi advised that National Assembly should look into how to regulate the ECA for surplus funding rather than its complete abrogation. According to him, the exigency of the time called for the introduction of the account, but agreed that the way it was poorly managed should be urgently addressed.