FG Will Ensure Timely Disbursement Of Ecological Fund – Garba Shehu

Exit From Recession: We Won't Rest Until All Nigerians Feel The Impact – Buhari
file photo

The Federal Government will ensure the timely release of the Ecological Fund to states to address pressing environmental challenges in their localities.

This comes from the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, who pledged that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration would continue to assist flood victims across Nigeria.

“The Buhari administration will under no circumstance abandon its humanitarian obligations to alleviate the distress of flood victims,” Shehu said on Sunday at an audience participation programme on FRCN Kaduna.

“In spite of Nigeria’s technological limitations and the paucity of funds to handle or manage large scale and complex emergencies, the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration will leave no stone unturned in offering succour to victims of natural disasters across the country.”

On the Ecological Fund, he said it was the right of citizens to demand the judicious use of the fund, which he said was distributed among the three tiers of government from the Federation Account.

FG Will Ensure Timely Release Of Ecological Fund – Garba Shehu
File photo: Garba Shehu

The presidential aide said, “The largest chunk of the fund goes to the states and local governments. Every month, states and local governments receive 1.4 per cent from the Federation Account as Ecological Fund, compared to the Federal Government’s share of one per cent.”

“From the one per cent the FG gets, the National Emergency Management Agency takes 20 per cent for its operation.”

He lamented that lately, disaster management in the country was gradually being ceded to the Federal Government by other tiers of government.

According to Shehu, whenever there is an emergency from natural or man-made disasters, “all you hear is ‘where is Buhari, what is he doing? What happens with the other tiers of government?”

He asked Nigerians to demand transparency and accountability in the management of ecological funds, at the state and local government levels.

“Without accountability by local political leaders, the Federal Government would continue to be the scapegoat for the failure of states and local governments to use ecological funds for the purposes they were released,” he said in a statement signed by the Deputy Director of Information, State House, Attah Esa.

The presidential aide, however, hinted that the Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation has been mandated to step up the provision of relief infrastructure to those in need.

NEC Approves New Disbursement Criteria For Ecological Fund

The National Economic Council has approved new criteria for the disbursement of the ecological fund to cut down on discriminatory spending and sanitise the management of the fund.

The new guidelines are contained in a final report by an ad-hoc committee of the council on ecological fund headed by the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, which the council approved at its meeting today.

The Abia State Governor, Mr Okezie Ikpeazu told State House Correspondents after the closed-door meeting of the council that the committee has come up with a robust governance structure.

He said, “In Council today also, the Committee on Ecological Fund submitted its final report… The Chairman of that committee, Governor El-Rufai, recommended, among other things that a robust governance structure and stringent disbursement criteria will be required to sanitise the management of the funds, going forward.

“In their recommendations, they prescribed that physical visitation by the Ecological Fund management team and the on-the-spot assessment of ecological disaster was very important. They also recommended that technical evaluation of disasters by experts in disaster management was also key.”

Governor Ikpeazu added that the committee said there was the need for community involvement in the process.

“The Chairman of that committee, Governor El-Rufai

Ecological Fund: Jonathan Accuses El-Rufai Of Lying Against Him

G-winFormer President Goodluck Jonathan has denied the claim by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State that he favoured some states in the disbursement of the Ecological Fund while he was President.

El-Rufai, who was Chairman of a committee set up by the National Economic Council, to review how the Ecological Fund was utilised under the Jonathan administration, had said the disbursement under the former President was based on his discretion.

“We established this beyond all doubt, that in the year 2013, the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan gave N2bn each to certain states of the federation but excluded other states,” El-Rufai had said.

He later told State House Correspondents that the states that got the funds were those from the Peoples Democratic Party and others sympathetic to its cause with states ruled by opposition parties left out.

But the former President in a statement by his Media Adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, accused the governor of lying about the disbursement, insisting that every state benefitted from the fund under his administration.

“It is false that non-PDP states did not get monies from the fund,” the statement said.

It added, “The fact remains that the Ecological Fund is a specialised fund with certain constitutional requirements which must be met before a state can access the funds.

“Every state benefitted from the fund under President Jonathan who bent over backwards to accommodate states that had difficulty meeting the criteria for accessing the fund.”

Jonathan also accused the Kaduna State governor of deliberately being silent on the “over N10
billion specially deployed to fund the Great Green Wall (GGW) project in some northern states”, which were not PDP states.

“It is really sad that judicious presidential interventions to tackle emergencies and other pressing national needs are being interrogated in a rather facile manner, by those who never get tired of playing dirty politics,” he added.

Anambra Tribunal Declares Senator Ekwunife Winner

EkwunifeSenator Uche Ekwunife, representing Anambra Central Senatorial zone, has been declared winner of the March 28 Senatorial Election by the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka, Anambra State.

Justice Naiyi Aganaba, who read the over 2-hour judgment held that the petitioners, Victor Umeh of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and APGA failed to establish their case which they hinged on alleged mutilations and incorrect figures from which INEC declared Senator Ekwunife winner of the senatorial election.

The court also struck out the relief sought by Mr Umeh, urging the court to declare him winner on the grounds that he got the highest number of lawful votes cast.

Concluding the judgment, Justice Aganaba ruled that the petitioners failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt as to have the election nullified and insisted that it lacked merit.

Senator Uche Ekwunife, reacting to her victory, commended the judiciary for restoring hope, once again, to the common man and said that the judgment was a reflection of the wishes of the people.

Earlier, the tribunal had nullified the result of the PDP candidate for Anaocha/Dunukofia/Njikoka Federal Constituency, Prince Emeka Eze and declared the APGA candidate, Mr Dozie Nwankwo, winner of the House of Representatives election.

Yobe Governor Presents 80.6 bn Naira For 2015 Budget

2015 budgetYobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, has presented an appropriation bill of 80.6 billion naira to the State Assembly for scrutiny and subsequent passage into law for the 2015 Budget.

The Governor, while presenting the budget to the House, said that the current figure represents decrease of 22.2 billion naira, equivalent to 22 per cent less than that of 2014.

Ibrahim Gaidam said that the reduction in budget size was because of the downward projection from the federation’s account.

Governor Gaidam revealed that 37 billion naira is allocated to capital expenditure, while 43 billion naira is for the recurrent expenditure, a representation of 46% and 54% respectively.

The budget, which would be financed through Internally Generated Revenue, statutory allocation, Value Added Tax, ecological fund and access crude oil, according to him, is aimed at upgrading the performance of infrastructural facilities and identify areas of job creation, among others.

Giving highlights of the 2014 budget, the Governor said that so much was recorded despite the insurgency which claimed several lives in the state. He also condoled with those who lost loved ones, as well as properties during the chain of attacks.

The Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Adamu Dogo, said that the presentation of the appropriation bill by the Governor marked the first reading. He gave an assurance that the House would give the bill speedy deliberations, with a view to achieve immediate passage into law.

The Speaker also praised the leadership style of the Governor, which has made the return of almost all House members ahead of the 2015 election easy.

Saraki visits flood ravaged-Kogi state

The Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology have expressed shock over the level of devastation of riverine communities in Kogi state by the flood.

The Chairman of the Committee, Bukola Saraki disclosed this in Kogi State Government House, Lokoja when he led Senators to commiserate with the state governor, Idris Wada over the flood which devasted parts of the state.

Mr Saraki said the committee was in Kogi state to assess the level of devastation and to sympathise with the victims who were affected by the flood.

He promised the governor that his committee would submit a comprehensive report on the floods. He believed that the report will bring about the needed assistance to the residents of the state.

He also promised the governor that the committee will intensify the release of ecology fund to the state to cushion the effect of the devastation.

Mr Wada, while thanking the committee members for the visit, described the incident as a great calamity to the state and a loss for most residents of the state.

The senate committee went for an on the spot assessment of the Ganaja Village where the floods have taken over the road and has made it impassable for commuters.

Mr Saraki assured the people taking refuge at the relief camp that the federal and state governments will intervene to take them out of their present state.




Group urge FG to release N850 million fund for Zamfara’s lead poisoning

Humanitarian aid group, Doctors without Borders has urged the federal government to release the N850 million allocated for intervention in the lead poisoning crisis in Zamfara state.

This group claim is urgent and essential to save thousands of children at risk in the state.

The demand was made at a news conference after a two day discussion on how to salvage the lead poisoning crisis in the state, which has claimed the lives of over 400 children since 2010 and left over 2000 others at the risk.

The children were poisoned by dust released by gold miners breaking open rocks near their homes.

The provision of fund is part of the actionable plans and resolution made at a gathering aimed at cleaning up affected communities in the state and treat children who have been poisoned in the contaminated environment.

The group said there has been so much talk about funding without action, considering that the N850 million ecological fund, budgeted since November 2011 is yet to be released for the clean-up.

Health and humanitarian experts noted the prevailing alarm in the state, where the environment is still in need of cleaning and many children lives are still at risk.

They complained that funds set aside for intervention in Zamfara are yet to be released, over five months after approval by the authorities.

The main concerns for which these aid workers are determined to develop an action plan for today are environmental remediation , medication and treatment of lead poisoned children and charting a course for safe mining to eliminate recontamination of the environ.

These humanitarian and health experts believe that prohibiting mining in Zamfara state is not a solution as it would only bring more disaster.

They argue that the indigenes will explore their natural resources in secret and hide away the ailing children thereby causing more death and intense contamination of the environment