Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Alhaji AbdulAzeez Yari Abubakar, has reacted sharply to the statement by one of the members of his Forum and, Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, alleging that the $1bn to be withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account, ECA, and ploughed into the battle with insurgency is a ruse.
Governor Fayose had, in a statement issued in Ado Ekiti on Friday, and signed by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said: “Since they said they have defeated Boko Haram, what else do they need a whopping sum of $1 billion (over N360 billion) for, if not to fund the 2019 elections? For posterity’s sake, I wish to place it on record that I was not among the governors who approved the withdrawal of almost half of our savings in the Excess Crude Account, which belongs to the three tiers of government to fight an already defeated insurgency.”
But Yari Abubakar, who is also Governor of Zamfara State, reacted swiftly saying that the decision, to allow the Federal Government to access the amount was a collective one by the Forum, and that absenteeism from the meeting does not exculpate anyone from responsibility from the Forum’s resolutions.
“I am saying that, that statement was an unfair cut against the Forum,” Governor Yari Abubakar said, “when a decision is taken by the Forum in one’s absence, once there was a quorum at the meeting where the decision was taken, becomes binding on all. I am sure Fayose was not making the statement to undermine the Forum. He was just doing his thing”.
The NGF Chairman rationalized that the decision was a conscious sign by the two parties to show the synergy between the NGF and the Presidency, “which ought not to be politicized,” but consolidated. This same lack of unity between governors and the presidency had brought about poor governance in the past, throughout the country and now that we are working together no one should constitute a wedge in the process.
He added that “you can never spend too much on security because the safety of lives and property are the most cardinal among all the principles of governance, in any democracy.”
Governor Yari Abubakar said that the issue of drawing from the ECA was very broadly deliberated at the Forum’s meeting on the eve of the National Economic Council meeting where the decision was taken. “If Governor Fayose was there at the meeting, he would have seen the wisdom in the decision. Yes, the administration is claiming to have decimated the insurgents out of Sambisa Forest but they are reemerging in different flashpoints across the country. They need to be tackled wherever they are and the NGF decided to support the Presidency just as it (The Presidency) had been supporting states with their own problems,” Governor Yari Abubakar argued.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum who spoke on the phone from Zamfara even contemplates addressing a world press conference on the matter to clear the air, and show how seriously we cherish human lives.
“Governor Fayose is on his own. We have to protect our people and we have to do it with everything we have,” Governor AbdulAziz Yari Abubakar emphasized, adding that “let me reemphasize one more thing, Mr President is a responsible and honest leader who does not believe in money politics and he would never divert public resources into it.”