By Cecilia Ijuo
The Senate on Tuesday called for the abolition of Excess Crude Account (ECA).
The Upper Chamber also called on the executive to pay the amount above the oil benchmark into the Federation Account in compliance with the constitution.
It further requested the executive to act in conformity with Sections 80 (1-4) and 162(1-3) of the 1999 Constitution (Amended) in its revenue receipt and expenditure.
These resolutions followed a motion by Sen. Rose Oko (PDP-Cross River) and co-sponsored by 18 other senators.
Presenting the motion, Oko said the ECA was set up in 2004 to provide savings for the country and stabilisation for the economy during periods of shortfalls in oil revenue.
Oko expressed regret that the ECA was not in tandem with Sections 80(1-4) and 162(1-3) of the 1999 Constitution.
She stressed that the accruals to the ECA was expected to be the amount above the benchmark of crude oil sales.
“These breaches of the constitution in setting up and operating the ECA have created room for the pool of funds from revenue accruing to the federation being operated without legal backing.
She said that the funds accruing to the federation were being operated without checks and balances providing loopholes for imprudence and financial recklessness.
According to her, a report by the National Resource Governance Institute rates Nigeria’s ECA as one of the most poorly managed around the world.
According to the report, operation of Nigeria’s ECA is discretionary and at the whims of the executive.
“The ECA increased from 5.16 billion dollars in 2015 to over 20 billion dollars in 2008 and decreased to less than four billion dollars by 2010 with no known tracking of its operations.
“Also, at various times and from several quarters in 2013, it was reported that five billion dollars was missing from the ECA and that two billion dollars was withdrawn without authorisation.
“By May 2017, government announced a resumption of payment into the ECA of 87 million dollars ostensibly since May, 2015, arbitrarily.
“Furthermore, between May, 2015 and August, 2017, about 122.2 million dollars had accrued and ought to have been paid to the ECA,’’ she said.
She decried that ECA had been a source of huge revenue leakage in the country, adding that it had created room for arbitrariness.
Contributing, Sen. Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi), said the ECA should be stopped because its management was not transparent.
He stressed that “as far back as 2006, the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, used over 12 billion dollars to settle the Paris Club Loan and that is how we got out of debt.
“This money should have gone into the Federation Account and the three tiers of government would have benefitted.
“Many states who were not owing were shortchanged because their share of the money was used to settle the loan.’’
The lawmaker stressed that stopping the ECA would go a long way in ensuring transparency and accountability in management of the country’s resources.
Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP-Abia) also said that while there was no doubt that there was a need to save for the “rainy day, the operation of the ECA was not in accordance with the law.
“We are running a democracy and democracy is based on the rule of law.
“We have to stop this arbitrariness that has no legal backing and it is not an index for revenue allocation.
“The constitution stipulates that every revenue should be paid into the Federation Account but with the ECA, who determines how much goes into excess crude. Is it to be handled by the executive or NNPC.’’
The President of the Senate had earlier put the prayers in the motion to voice vote and they were adopted by the lawmakers.