Labour Party Queries $1bn ECA Withdrawal for only Boko Haram Fight


Hammed Shittu in Ilorin

The Labour Party (LP) thursday queried the rationale behind the approval for the release of $1billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to prosecute the fight against insurgency alone.

The party said the decision to vote such whopping sum for only insurgency smacks of suspicion when funds earmarked for crucial sectors like education are grossly insufficient going by globally recognised standards.

The National Chairman of the party, Mr. Mike Omotosho, in a statement issued in Ilorin, Kwara State, thursday, wondered why the government would only think of spending the huge fund on the fight against Boko Haram when other issues including abject poverty and hunger are severely ravaging the land.

“Take education for instance, university lecturers have been paid half salaries since December 2015 and are being owed N619billion quoting ASUU,” the LP national chairman said.

Omotosho questioned the approval for the withdrawal of the fund coming at a time when the federal government claimed it had decimated Boko Haram terrorists, saying the idea for the release of the money was ill conceived and makes the government appear unresponsive to the cries of the masses even as security is imperative across the entire country.

Omotosho said his party had taken stock of reactions of ordinary Nigerians across divides, and maintained that in as much as it was the duty of the government to budget fund for security, the sum of $1billion was outrageous especially for a country that allocates a mere seven per cent to education while other African countries’ education budget are in double digits.

The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) recently announced its approval for the federal government to withdraw the sum of $1billion from the ECA to enable the government procure military hardware and other logistics for the ongoing counter insurgency in the Northeast.

Omotosho said: “Nigeria is running a democracy where government is expected to not just be accountable but also be transparent so that they can gain the trust of the people, who he added, are the cornerstone of any democratic administration.

“As a party that cares about the welfare of the people, we know the importance of winning the fight against Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast, because of the colossal damage and ruins it has done to our nation.

“While we appreciate the federal government for showing the willingness to prosecute the fight against insurgents with the deployment of the armed forces, we cannot afford to keep mum on what concerns us all as a people.

“In a country that is grappling with abject poverty and hunger, the government is duty bound to use such huge sum not only for security but education and other crucial sectors that are currently begging for attention.

Government’s claim of deploying such fund to security in the North east alone when million of people are losing jobs daily and civil servants are being owed salaries amongs other ills is antithetical to equal opportunity and social justice.”