By Ike A. Offor
I have been reading some folks talk about the former president Dr. Goodluck Jonathan not saving for hard times as we are facing now, while the price of oil was high. But many forgot how the APC governors and some PDP governors, spearheaded by Gov. Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State led APC governors and other rebellious PDP governors to demand that Federl Government share the money realised via EXCESS CRUDE ACCOUNT, ECA.
I vehemently remembered Dr Ngozi Okonjo -Iwela saying on television that we must save this money for rainy days, and not squander it. But Gov. Rotimi Amaechi was rebelious and hell bent on disagreeing with President Goodluck Jonathan, and his Finance Minister on every issue then. So, he led the group of rebellious APC governors, and some PDP rebels to ask that the money be shared amongst all the governors of the states.
In January, 2013, Nigeria’s Excess Crude Oil Account has $10 billion in it. Then, Governor Rotimi Amaechi led Nigerian Governors, under the umbrella of the Governors’ Forum and asked the then, President Goodluck Jonathan to share the money to the states.
For the fact that Nigerians do not remember this incident, and all the media attentions it generated affirms the reason our leaders take our citizens for granted. They see that majority of our citizens suffer from debilitating myopic amnesia.
Jonathan and his Minister for Finance, world renowned economist, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala insisted that Nigeria should put this amount aside and save the money for the rainy days, whenever that will come. Gov. Rotimi Amaechi, who was then a very rebelious governor, and who was hell bent on disrespecting President Goodluck Jonathan, led the governors in taking the Federal Government to court.
Jonathan’s led FG offered to settle with the governors out-of-court by sharing $1 billion and saving up the rest for Nigeria’s children and future. The governors rejected the offer. They wanted all the money to be shared, as it is mandated by the law.
Since the law mandates that the proceeds of the ECA is shared, the court gave judgement in favour of the governors and the $10 billion was shared. The government led by Dr Goodluck Jonathan lost the case in court.
It must be said that, though the aim of these governors was to taunt President Jonathan, but they forgot that days like this, which we are going through now will one day come. Now, here it is, and we are crying foul.
Buhari’s government will now go to borrow $3.5bn from both IMF and AfDB. What is $3.5bn compared to $10bn put aside by President Goodluck Jonathan for savings for economic downturn days? We are our own enemies and daownfalls.
The federal government lost the case against our elected governors, whose jobs are to help the federal government preserve and grow our economy. It is wise to say that the federal government lost, Nigerians lost, and our children lost.
The question should be asked, what did these governors do with the money? Immediately after that many of them were unable to pay salaries of their states workers. Where did they money go from the pockets of the state governments?
The President many in the North and South West loved to curse, knew and saw that there be rainy days ahead, and wanted to save money for those days as we have it now. Let us cast our mind to what profit 10 billion must have yielded now, plus the initial deposit.