Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday, said the much-criticised $1bn that state governors asked the Federal Government to withdraw from the Excess Crude Account was not meant for the fight against insurgency alone.
He said the sum was meant for all security challenges being experienced in all the states of the federation.
Osinbajo gave the clarification at the opening of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation/Secretaries to State Governments’ retreat at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari, had, at a meeting of the National Economic Council last Wednesday, announced that the governors had asked the Federal Government to withdraw $1bn from the ECA to fight insurgency.
The decision had attracted criticisms from groups and individuals, including the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
But Osinbajo explained that the state governors resolved to approve the money for national security after a national security summit organised by the NEC about two months ago.
He explained that the summit considered various security challenges across the country, including kidnapping, small arms trafficking, terrorists’ activities of Boko Haram in the North-East, clashes between herdsmen and farmers as well as cattle rustling.
The Vice-President added, “It was on account of the security summit that the governors at the Governors’ Forum subsequently decided that they would vote a certain sum of money, which has become somewhat controversial, the $1bn, to assist the security architecture of the country.
“It was to assist all of the issues in the states, including policing in the states, community policing, all of the different security challenges that we have.
“It was after the security summit that the Governors’ Forum met across party lines, again I must add, in order to approve and to accept that this is what was needed to be done to shore up our security architecture.”
Osinbajo’s explanation was however in contrast with the statement made by the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, while addressing State House correspondents at the end of the NEC’s meeting.
Obaseki was clear in his presentation that the $1bn was approved for the fight against insurgency.
Meanwhile, the Vice-President has observed that there would be no visible progress if relevant state government agencies do not work with the Federal Government to achieve the country’s developmental objectives.
He said the role of the Secretaries to State Governments “is clearly central to cascading the action points and conclusions of the MDAs in their states.”
Osinbajo noted that all policies of the Federal Government in agriculture were programmes of the states since the land belongs to the states.
“So, the agricultural policy of the federation is actually the agricultural policy of all of the states,” he stated, pointing out that the Federal Government controlled no land outside of Abuja.
He said greater engagements between the SGF’s office and the SSGs would lead to better understanding of the management of the Ecological Funds and the National Emergency Management Agency, both of which are hosted by the office of the SGF.
Earlier, the SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said the retreat was aimed at providing a forum where balance could be achieved to allow for full, effective and efficient function of the state structure.
He stated that the office of the SSG was an important part of the executive arm of government at the states, which “plays the role of clearing and forwarding house of all government decisions, policies and general administration.”
“It is therefore imperative that we strive to achieve synergy at this level of governance between the federal, state and local government structures,” Mustapha said.
He called for greater collaboration and interdependence between the federal and state governments irrespective of political party affiliations.