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States scramble for FGs Natural Resource Fund

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An account meant to diversify the nation’s economy and develop its solid mineral deposits spread across the states of the federation, appears to have become a subject of political patronage, BusinessDay investigations have found.

Already, an approval of about N80 billion by the Federal Government for one of the states has opened agitations by other states to share from the N783 billion special account created in 2002 that warehouses 1.68 percent of balance in the Federation Account.

Consequently, it was learnt that the Federal Government was considering extending the facility, called Development for Natural Resources Fund, beyond the state so as not to be accused of favouring it.

Also, the current agitation is occasioned by near bankruptcy of some of the states and the need to seek for political relevance, as 2015 presidential election draw near. But the development has drawn the irk of Nigerians who see some state governors as falling short of expectations of enhancing the welfare of their citizens through the idle fund.

Already, some of the states have completed discussions with some consultants to package them for the facility. The consultants are equally expected to defend the proposal before the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), which has the statutory function of ensuring that available funds in the Federation Account were allocated according to the laws and the principles of equity, justice and fairness.

The special account, domiciled at the Federal Ministry of Finance, was created through Executive Order in 2002 to develop mineral resources so as to lessen the nation’s dependence on petroleum.

But BusinessDay investigations showed that the fund, which has been subjected to series of withdrawals of over N700 billion, under the guise of loans by successive governments, had been diverted for the use of payment of monetisation arrears, fertiliser procurement, servicing of budget deficits, among others.

But some analysts have berated states for lack of focus and direction over the non-utilisation of the fund, meant to develop the natural endowments in their states for employment generation and eradication of poverty.

This they argue, had given the Federal Government unfettered access to the fund, with the resultant effect of the alleged misapplication.

“This has shown lack of commitment on the part of our political leaders. If not, how does the government justify diversion of funds meant for the development of natural resources to other uses when poverty is staring most Nigerians on the face,” according to a source.

To another source, “It is either that some of our governors are not concerned about the welfare of their citizens or that they are just there to take their own share and leave.”

Other analysts wonder at states like Kogi, Benue, Adamawa, Enugu, among others, with abundance of natural resources, but which are not being developed and they are not talking about accessing the facility.

Further investigations showed that government’s unilateral spending habit was as a result of a lack of regulation on the use of the fund, and the fact that it was created through executive fiat. This development, according to a source, may have removed the constitutional powers of the legislature over it.

However, a bill meant to regulate the fund and also cover the Ecological Fund and Stabilisation accounts are in the offing, so as to check what a source describes as “executive recklessness.”


Article Credit: Businessday Newspaper

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Updated 6 Years ago

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