Rivers State Governor and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, alongside his Sokoto State counterpart, Aliyu Wammako shed light on the forum’s retreat while appearing on a special edition of Channels Television’s breakfast programme Sunrise, from the ancient city of Sokoto.
The host governor, Aliyu Wammako stated that general belief in the forum on the need to have a dialogue geared towards moving Nigeria forward was the major motivation for him volunteering to host all the 36 Nigerian governors in Sokoto State for the Nigeria Governors’ Forum retreat.
He stated that this is the second time the Governors’ Forum will be meeting outside Abuja, having met in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state before stressing that the forum has now resolved to henceforth rotate their meetings across the states to enable them know more about the country and know the truth based on facts and figures and not just on emotions.
He reeled out topics outlined for the retreat to include good governance, economy, security, and rule of law which are all very important to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum. He also stressed that focus will be on taking stock of how they have performed with a view to agree on how to move forward.
Excess Crude Account Is Illegal
While responding to a question on the perceived lack of understanding for the NGF’s purpose among Nigerians, Governor Amaechi referred to the NGF’s role in the Oil Subsidy debate. According to him, “if we didn’t step in, oil subsidy would have hit 3 Trillion. That we are talking about 2.3 Trillion now is because the NGF stepped in.”
“We refused to collect our monthly allocation more than 4 times in 4 different months because it was ridiculous to hear that oil subsidy that was 300 billion Naira when Yar’adua was alive or when Obasanjo was President had astronomically risen to trillions…and Governors had to step in. And when we stepped in, things had to stop.”
He also mentioned that the Governors’ Forum stepped in on the issues of the excess crude account. “Since January, before the second term election of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum Chairman, what was left in the excess crude account was between 8 and 9 billion dollars, as at last month only 4 billion dollars from 9. So you can begin to see the role we play, the absence of the Governors’ Forum will worsen the case.”
He went further to emphasize the alleged illegality of the Excess Crude Account, “if the Supreme Court has said it is illegal, the fact that they’re still keeping that account shows how much respect we have for our judiciary.”
“The more they (Federal Government) keep that money, the more the account is mismanaged. We don’t know how the money is managed, we will just wake up one day and they will say its 9 billion, the next meeting in 2 months, 4 to 5 billion would have disappeared. Who is doing that?”
Governor Wammako referred to the Excess Crude Account issue as very painful for the Governors. “We all spoke against this account and we believe that this money is supposed to be invested in the future of Nigeria by way of creating jobs for our youths, by way of investing more in the areas of infrastructure but keeping the money doesn’t make sense, Nigerians are not as happy as they should be.”
Governors And Corruption
On the alleged corruption of some governors, Governor Amaechi highlighted that things have changed from what it used to be in the past. He said that in this generation, it is the governors who are complaining about corruption and Nigerians should have noticed that this is because there is a new sense of responsibility among the governors.
He complained that the Federal Government’s approach towards corruption has been inadequate.
The interview also touched on several issues like Nigeria’s electoral process, the reduction in states’ monthly allocation, allegations of corruption in the NNPC, the Senate’s report of 500billion Naira being stolen from the SURE-P account and the National Assembly’s report that 2.3trillion Naira has been stolen from the oil subsidy account.
Governor Wammako also seized the opportunity to talk about the developmental projects embarked on by his administration, claiming that the state is already reaping from its good roads and other infrastructures in terms of investment coming into the state from the agro-allied sector, mining and so many other sectors. He also emphasized the peaceful state of Sokoto as a major achievement of the administration.
Invited as resource persons for the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, are Professor Wole Shoyinka, Professor Chidi OdinKalu, Professor Junaid Mohammed, Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais, and many other prominent Nigerians.