Going down memory lane, a Nigerian government account used to save oil revenues above a base amount derived from a defined benchmark price. Thirteen (13) years ago, the Excess Crude Account was established, and its objective is primarily to protect planned budgets against shortfalls due to volatile crude oil prices. By delinking government expenditures from oil revenues, the Excess Crude Account aims to insulate the Nigerian economy from external shocks.
Surging Crude Oil prices led to the Excess Crude Account increasing almost four-fold, from 5.1 billion in 2005 to over 20 billion by November 2008, accounting for more than one-third of Nigeria’s external reserves at that time. By June 2010, the account has fallen to less than 4 billion due to budget deficits at all levels of government in Nigeria and the steep drop in oil prices. By 2012, the ECA had a balance of over 10 billion dollars, but depleted to 2.07 billion dollars by May 2015.
As at 13th December, the Excess Crude Account had a balance of 2.317 billion, in which 1 billion dollars has been yanked from it by the real owners of Nigeria. It is when they need your vote that they would blow up your head, deceiving you that you are a stake holder, but when crucial decisions are to be made in Nigeria, you’d know that you are just a mere statistic. And when you even ask objective questions, they’d say that you detest the President in power. It is so sad!
What’s the major aim of the ECA when it was founded thirteen years ago? This is it: “To insulate the Nigerian economy from external shocks.” The idea is that it is a rainy day fund, but in Nigeria, one of our banes is that what is written is always different from what is eventually done. We do not stick with objectives, hence where we are as a people. Nothing works in Nigeria, because things are not done as they ought to be done. And if we are going to emerge triumphantly as a nation in the days to come, we would need to stick with why—what is founded. Let me move away from the giant issue of indiscipline that is combating all of us and move on to the main matter at hand.
A year ago, Nigeria’s Army Chief stated and went head to regurgitate the government’s stance that the Boko Haram insurgents have been defeated. Also, recently, the Chief of Army staff recently said that: “It’s over and now left to the political class to mop up.” I guess what the political class needs 1 billion dollars for now is mop up operations.
What flummoxes every upward thinking Nigerian is that a country that keeps borrowing to support its budget is now taking funds to finance the war that has been declared over. Is this not amazing? And governors—who are not paying their workers’ salaries are suddenly in love with the citizenry and they are now unrepresentatively committed to further fight a sect that the Army Chief said has been decimated and defeated.
The question on the lips of every right thinking and apolitical Nigerian is: What are we spending 1 billion dollars on? Why are we spending so much on nothing? Nigerians are demanding that the president of Nigeria breaks the ice and speak to them on this conflicting and contradictory issue. When there are too many conflicting voices coming from the corridors of power, it sends the wrong signals to the citizenry. Who shall we believe: The governors or the Army Chief? The Army Chief said it is over, but the governors are saying that it is not over yet. We are collectively saying that Mr. President needs to address the nation on this issue and more. In our clime, political leaders do not like to be accountable to those who put them in power, but it is high time we began to make them to become accountable to us because they are called public servants, not public masters. We put them in power and they are existing for us.
Not long, it came to my mind that the NEC cannot just draw 1billion dollars from the Excess Crude Account without the participation of the House of Reps and the Senate, but I was shocked—when one of the governors said that they do not need the legislative arm of government before drawing money from the ECA—as a woman would draw water from a well. Once again, who do we believe: The governors or the Army Chief? Those fighting the war said it is over, but our governors said the war is just beginning.
One of the reasons why I got tired of the administration of President Buhari is his tongue-tied silence when he is supposed to speak out. It takes more than integrity to build a nation. It takes both—integrity of heart and skillfulness of hand. PMB isn’t bonding with the people that voted him into office. He needs to develop people skills. This is non-negotiable in leadership.