Rotimi Amaechi

Martins Ifijeh

A former media aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omikro, has advised the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, to always learn to keep quiet and not exposed himself as ignorant.

Omikro described the minister as a notorious ignoramus and someone suspected to be speaking under the influence of drugs for asking the former president to account for the $65 billion left in the Excess Crude Account(ECA) by Olusegun Obasanjo.

He said the Jonathan administration met only $6.5 billion in the account upon inception in 2010, and that the former president ought to be praised for increasing that amount to almost $9 billion by 2012.

In a statement made available to THISDAY wednesday, and on behalf of the former president, Omikro said former President Obasanjo and the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria who served under his tenure, Professor Charles Soludo are both alive and that journalists can take advantage of the Freedom of Information Act signed into law by Jonathan to verify from them if there was ever any $65 billion in the ECA.

He said it was in fact Amaechi, who was the then Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum that used the forum’s influence at the House of Representative to declare the ECA illegal in 2012.
“So excruciating was the pressure from the forum and most notably from Amaechi for the Jonathan administration to end the account and the Sovereign Wealth Fund regimes and instead share the funds in those accounts amongst the three tiers of government that they approached the Supreme Court, to challenge the legality of the Account and then President Jonathan’s decision to transfer $1 billion from it to the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

“In fact, after hosting a meeting of the forum on September 21, 2012, at the Rivers state Governor’s lodge, Amaechi said inter alia: ‘On the ECA, forum unanimously decided to head back to court to enforce government’s adherence to the constitution,” Omikro explained.

Quoting from section 162 of the Nigerian constitution, he said the section states that, “The federation shall maintain a special account to be called ‘the Federation Account’ into which shall be paid all revenues collected by the Government of the Federation, except the proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the Ministry or department of government charged with responsibility for Foreign Affairs and the residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

“The president, upon the receipt of advice from the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, shall table before the National Assembly proposals for revenue allocation from the Federation Account, and in determining the formula, the National Assembly shall take into account, the allocation principles especially those of population, equality of states, internal revenue generation, land mass, terrain as well as population density.

“Any amount standing to the credit of the Federation Account shall be distributed among the federal and state governments and the local government councils in each state on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly.”

Adding, Omikro said from the three statements quoted from section 162, it was clear what the Amaechi-led governors’ forum wanted.

He said Amaechi led the governors in taking the government to court, even though the Jonathan administration offered an out of court settlement with the governors in a deal that would have seen the federal government sharing some of the money and saving up the rest for Nigeria’s future but the governors rejected the offer.

“In fact, the Jonathan administration had argued at the Supreme Court that sharing the money in the ECA would affect the day to day running of the nation’s economy. But Amaechi and his supporters in the Nigerian Governors Forum, the then minority APC members of the House of Representatives approached a Federal High Court on the 7th of February, 2014, for a perpetual injunction restraining the government from operating the ECA and to pay all the proceeds of that account into the Federation Account for sharing amongst the three tiers of government.”

He said as a result of these actions, the Jonathan administration paid the 36 states a total of N2.92 trillion from the ECA between 2011 and 2014. “So, it is quite clear that anyone who accuses the Jonathan administration of squandering $65billion ECA funds is speaking in ignorance.”

He advise Amaechi to take his own advice from last week when he said ‘I agree with those who said we should stop criticising the last government and that we should do our own,’ adding that Amaechi keeps blaming the Jonathan administration while at the same time enjoying the fruits of its labour like the Abuja-Kaduna railway and the national railway that was revived by the Jonathan government after years of being moribund. “If they are drinking from Jonathan’s well, let them appreciate the man who dug the well,” he said.