… Want 7 billion dollars withdrawn from foreign reserve account investigated
BY OBUTE JAMES
A member representing Yamaltu/Deba Federal Constituency of Gombe State, Hon. (Dr) Ahmed Abubakar Yunusa said some of the lawmakers in the National Assembly were not putting pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend its directive border closure is because of the long time benefits of the action.
Speaking to THE LEGISLATURE in an interview, Yunusa said the action of the Federal Government is to check the abuse of ECOWAS protocol by the neighbouring countries.
“Take for example, Benin Republic is a country that is less than 20 million people but the country is the 6th importer of rice in the world.
“Nigeria with a population of about 200 million does not come closer in terms of the ranking. The truth is that whatever they import will find its way to Nigeria.
“In order to discourage direct exportation of goods to Nigeria, these neighbouring countries less than 25％ of what Nigeria Government charge as import duties.
“Since the closure of the border, the activities in the port have increased tremendously leading to increase in revenue for the Nigeria Government while those countries are now lamenting.
“I think, when they agree to abide by the ECOWAS Protocol the decision to close the land borders will be reversed,” he said.
Responding to question on alleged misuse of Ecological Fund, Yunusa said
“I agree with you that the Ecological fund is not properly utilized based on the law establishing it.
“Ecological Fund is a special intervention vehicle earning of 2％ from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation and 1％ from derivation allocation which is meant to address the issues such as soil erosion, flooding, drought, desertification, oil spillage, general environmental pollution, storms, crop pests , landslide, earthquakes as well as prevent suffering and possible death from these natural disasters.
“As it is today these problems the Ecological fund needs to address are hardly addressed because of several other things the fund is used for.
Some of the agencies that are depleting the Ecological fund include NEMA, National Agency for the Great Green Wall, North East Development Commission, Niger Delta Development Commission, etc.
“The reason for establishing these agencies is very good but they should be financial backing for them to operate so that Ecological fund can be used for its primary purpose.”
According to him, if the government intends to use the Ecological fund for other things aparts from what it was intially meant for, then it should be redefined.
Also speaking on the recent resolution of the House of Representatives to investigate 7 billion dollars withdrawn from the foreign reserve account, following his motion, Dr Yunusa said the investigation becomes very necessary to ascertain what has happened to the fund.
“As at 2015 when this government came to power, our foreign reserve stood at 26 billion dollars but today it stands at 40 billion dollars.
“In 2006 7 billion dollars was taken from the foreign reserve account and given to 14 banks as well as their 14 foreign partners. This is different from Excess Crude Account, that one is another issue. Each of these banks was given 500 million dollars but about 13 years, nobody can tell what has happened to this money.”
He said some of the banks have been liquidated while others were acquired but nothing is being said about the money given to them.
According to him, effort should be made to deepen the foreign reserve so that Nigeria can attain its status in the common wealth of nations.