Raging controversy over Edo Governor Godwin Obaseki’s claim that N60 billion was printed to augment March revenue, was laid to rest on Thursday.
The National Economic Council (NEC) dismissed the claim as unfounded.
Nothing of such happened, NEC – Nigeria’s highest economic body – said after April’s virtual meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The Council also hinted of a plan to take a position on the establishment of State Police as adopted by stakeholders at the Town Hall meeting on National Security in Kaduna.
Obaseki stirred the hornets’ nest when he accused the federal government of financial recklessness in printing extra cash to meet the revenue threshold. He also kicked against borrowing without a repayment plan.
But NEC said the governor got his facts wrong and dismissed the claim that N60 billion was printed by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
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It was after presentations by Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Mr. Godwin Emefiele and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).
NEC said it was satisfied with explanations that no money was printed.
The Council expressed satisfaction with clarifications made by the trio which included Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the NGF chair and Ekiti State governor.
On the recommendation by the Town Hall meeting, the Council said Nigeria would soon adopt a national consensus on all recommendations, including the policing structure.
The NEC affirmed the unity of the country, emphasizing that staying as one remained the best option.
Stressing the need to address the problems of agitation in parts of the country, the Council noted: “These agitations are common with countries with huge and diverse populations like ours and it is important not to allow the minority to hijack the mainstream of opinion.”
The Council directed states “to hold consultations and dialogues on the issues and report back by the next meeting of Council so that a firm position would be taken on the recommendations of the Town Hall, many of which it already welcomed.”
It urged the states (even where there are no agitations) to hold wider consultations to have diverse opinions on the burning issues, taking into consideration local peculiarities and report back to NEC the outcome of the consultations.
The resolutions of the NEC were contained in a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande.
The statement said the consensus would be adopted after planned state-wide consultations.
At the meeting, Mrs. Ahmed gave an update on the balances in the various accounts of the federation.
She said: “Excess Crude Account balance, as at 22nd April 2021, stood at $72, 413,008.60; Stabilisation Account balance, as at 22nd April, 2021, was put at N23, 299,008,799.06; and the Natural Resources Development Account balance, as at 22nd April, 2021, was N77, 742,012,342.87.
On the budget support facility, the minister observed that the deductions for repayment by states are meant to resume next month.
The governors, however, requested for an extension considering the economic challenges in the states.
Emefiele cautioned on the technical challenges involved should there be a further postponement of deductions.
Prof Osinbajo directed those concerned on the matter to hold a meeting as soon as possible to properly consider the issue and take a decision on it.
According to the statement, the proposed parley would be chaired by the vice president and Fayemi will represent governors. Others expected are the CBN boss and the Finance minister.