$1 billion Boko Haram fund won’t be spent without Senate consideration – Saraki

Nigerian Senate Chambers
Nigerian Senate Chamber used to illustrate the story.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Thursday gave the assurance that the $1billion withdrawal from the Excess Crude Account, ECA, will not be spent until the Senate considers the processes involved.

The Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki had on December 14, announced the decision of the National Economic Council to spend $1 billion from the ECA to fight Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east region.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday explained that the funds will be used execute the Boko Haram war as well as address other security concerns across Nigeria.

However, there has been debate on whether the National Assembly’s permission is needed before such expenditure with some like the House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, arguing that it was not necessary.

The announcement which has generated criticisms from many quarters caught the attention of the Senate on Wednesday when Sam Anyanwu, Imo-PDP, sought the leave of the Senate to present it as a motion on Thursday.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, noticing that the motion was not on the items to be considered on Thursday called the attention of the Red Chamber.

“Senator Anyanwu came up with the issue of one billion dollars released by the governors’ forum on the fight against insurgency; and under our rule this matter is to come up today for our consideration. I have looked through the order paper and it is not there, I just want to seek explanation,” Mr. Ekweremadu said.

In response, Mr. Saraki said Mr. Anyanwu had sought more time to present the motion and would present it on the next legislative day.

The announcement caused rowdiness, mostly from PDP Senators, as the next legislative day will unavoidably be in 2018.

They raised the fear that the fund would have been withdrawn and spent before it would be slated for consideration by the Senate.

The Senate President however doused the fear while giving them assurance that the funds would not be spent without Senate consideration.

“We cannot take it when the person is not here and it is a very important motion that needs to be delivered very well. It cannot be delegated. We would take it. I assure you that we would take it.

“Our party does not do things like that. We would not spend money that does not follow due process I am assuring you that the money would not be spent until we come back and debate it. Leader, I hope you heard the commitment I made on behalf of all of us.”

The Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, corroborated the senate president in the promise.

“Mr President I have heard you very well and it is a promise we would keep,” he replied.

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