By COLLINS OLAYINKA
Caution Against Wasting Extra Oil Revenue
Former Minister of Education, Mrs Obiageli Ezekwesili and former Director of Department of Petroleum Resources, Olsten Olorunsola have urged the National Assembly to legalise the Excess Crude Account to prevent wastage of oil earnings.
Speaking at a policy dialogue on the savings of stabilisation mechanism for Nigeria recently, Mrs Ezekwesili, who was a pioneer coordinator of the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), explained that the National Assembly must institutionalise the Excess Crude Account through constitutional amendment.
Ezekwesili said: “There is a need to amend the constitution to ensure having a stabilisation fund because the idea of Crude Account (ECA) was to save money that is in excess of planned expenditure at a time there is a bonus revenue. This is needed to balance out shortage of revenues where there is not enough to execute projects. The source of revenue of Nigeria is oil whose prices are volatile and with volatility, it is difficult to have economic growth. Therefore, in order to ensure the stability of public investment, nations use best practices of having a set aside fund from their oil proceeds when prices are high. Nigeria has not done this. So, the forward measure is to do something with the constitution specifically on Section 162, which expects everything that enters not the federation account to be shared amongst the three tiers of government. So, we must insist as citizens that the ECA, which is a mere political arrangement to have a constitutional mandate, imposed on all our levels of government. Let the President of the country and the National Assembly lead this process by inviting governors and Chairmen of local government councils and have a discussion that leads to an amendment of the constitution for this purpose. If countries like Ghana and Botswana have this as a law, why can’t Nigeria has it?”
On his part, a former Director, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Olsten Olorunsola submitted that having a Petroleum Revenue Management arrangement is not an option for Nigeria if it desires to safe excess money that will accrue to the country as oil prices steadily rise in the international crude oil market.
He said: “There is something that is called ‘Petroleum Revenue Management Act’ across countries round the whole world have it. We wanted to start here in Nigeria, but there is a constitutional bottleneck around that here. That has to happen as we must have a Petroleum Revenue Management Act that is backed by law for it to achieve the purpose it is meant to achieve.”
In her presentation, a former member of the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Faith Nwadishi said the appointment of members of the NSWG otherwise known as board by the government is not in tandem with the dictates of the standards of the international Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), saying, “the EITI actually expects relevant stakeholders to select their representatives on the board. What government should do is to appoint head of the secretariat – the Executive Secretary- and allow the concerned stakeholders to select their own representatives. Indeed, the members should select from the Chair of the NSWG amongst the stakeholders. This will bring integrity and independence to the implementation of the EITI processes in Nigeria.”
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