House Demands Evidence of $11bn Withdrawn from ECA from 2005 to 2007

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Ado Doguwa

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The House of Representatives has demanded evidence for over $11 billion withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) between 2005 and 2007 by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee on Power Sector Review, Hon. Ado Doguwa, issued the directive after the presentation of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Ahmed Idris, who announced that the total sum of $8.234 billion was expended between 2005 and 2007 deducted from the ECA as approved by Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Doguwa alleged that there were discrepancies in the total amount withdrawn from the ECA and the N1.3 trillion announced by Ministry of Finance in its submission.

He said there was need for clarification on the status of the additional $2.9 billion withdrawn from the ECA as well as status of the N600 billion payment assurance facility in 2019 and the sum of N701 billion loan to Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) company between 2017 and 2018.

The chairman observed that the President’s letter (Ref. No: PRES/134 dated September 9, 2005) sent to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, referred to by the Accountant General of the Federation could be a mere notice for the record or normal record keeping, hence, the need to produce the copies of approval for the additional approval to the tune of $2.9 billion, being the clearing point for all financial transactions for the federal government.

A document that was made available to journalists showed that President Obasanjo informed the National Assembly via a letter Ref. No: PRES/134 of 9th September, 2005.

The breakdown of the funding of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) and National Integrated Power Projects contributed by the three tiers of government showed that the federal government contributed the total sum of $3,773,952,839.22 (45.83 per cent) while the state governments contributed $2,984,670,057.16 (36.25 per cent) while the Local Government Councils contributed $1,475,767,435.23 (17.92 per cent).

The breakdown further showed that the total sum of $2,859,390,31.61 was released from the ECA for the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) projects from 2005 to 2007.

“Mandates were issued to Central Bank of (CBN) for the total sum of $3,068,167,378.92; but mandates for the sum of $364,513,747.31 were not applied by CBN and the total sum of $364,513,747.31 was reversed.

“Subsequently, approval was given to use part of the unapplied mandates for the payment of $155,736,700 to Kaztec Engineering Ltd, leaving a balance of $208,777,047.31 as analysed in the summary and ledger.

“On June 19, 2008, the National Economic Council approved the sum of $5.375 billion be sourced from Excess Crude Savings Account by federal, states and local government councils in the sum of $2,463,448,500, $1,948,244,000 and $963,307,500 respectively and to be utilised on the Emergency Power projects. The total amount withdrawn for the power project from ECA was $8,234,390,331.61,”the AGF’s document stated.

But, in a letter dated November 23, 2005, with Ref. No: PRES/87/111 and signed by the Special Assistant to the President Taiwo Ojo, in reference to a letter with Ref. No: FMP&S/HM/ABJ/033 dated November 22, 2005, conveyed the approval of Mr. President for the approval of $2.5 billion (N309.7 billion) for the implementation of Niger Delta Integrated National Power Project.

The Director General of Debts Management Office (DMO), Ms. Patience Oniha disclosed that $1 billion Eurobond commercial loan was sourced from investors at commercial rate sequel to the approvals of the Federal Executive Council and National Assembly for the power sector.

According to Oniha, $500 million was for five years while additional $500 million was for 10 years repayment.

She also notified the lawmakers of the $150 million loan sourced by Rural Electrification Agency (REA) under the Nigerian Electrification Project, out of which $0.71 million (representing 1.47 per cent) has so far been released to the agency by the development partner.

She added that the loan attracted five years moratorium and 20 years repayment plan.

The accountant general while responding to a question on the refund of the $8,234,390,331.61 withdrawn from the ECA from the privatisation proceeds as encapsulated in the President’s letter, said: “So far the treasury has not seen anything being paid back. Yet efforts are ongoing towards this direction.”

While responding to question from the Chairman, House Committee on Power, Hon. Dau Aliyu Magaji on the N701 billion released to NBET and N600 billion released in 2019, Idris denied knowledge of the funds stressing that the “payment outside treasury, we are not aware of it.”

He, however, noted that funding arrangement to meet the power sector and other intervention programmes could be sourced from the development partners or any other sources including roads, as applicable to the CBN intervention scheme for the Anchor Borrowers Scheme for the agricultural sector.