Senate Queries Accountant General Over Depletion Of Excess Crude Account, Payment Of $4m To Attorney


The Senate has queried the depletion of the Excess Crude Account (ECA) as it sought an explanation by the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.

Idris  explained how the federal government paid the sum of $4million to an attorney from the ECA.

The Accountant General who was in the Red chamber to explain the achievements of the government on the revenue projection for 2020 gave a breakdown of the progression and currently, retrogression of the ECA.

Idris said the Muhammadu Buhari administration met $2.2bn in the ECA on commencement of his government. The money rose to $2.6bn in 2016 and fell to $2.4bn in 2017. Ever since, it has been on a freefall as it got reduced to $631.4m In 2018; $324.9m in 2019 and now at a deplorably low $71.8m.

He said the sum of $254m was paid out this year from the $324.96m balance carried over from 2019.

He explained further that $250m was invested in the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority while a lawyer got $4m.

Idris drew the ire of the Senate Committee on Finance led by the Chairman, Solomon Adeola, when he failed to give details of the attorney who was paid $4m as professional fee.

Adeola directed Idris to furnish the panel with details of the beneficiary and what he did to qualify for the amount.

The accountant general pledged to supply details of the information demanded to the committee before the end of the week.

In his explanation, Idris said the ECA is an escrow account set up by the Federal Government and into which the difference between the benchmark price of crude and the actual sale price thereof in the world market is paid.

The money in this account is used to serve as buffer in the event of fluctuation in oil price or reduction in supply to the international market.

Nigerian Senate

“The inflows into the ECA have been fluctuating due to the positive and negative variances in the price of crude.

“The transfer into the account has witnessed downward trend in view of the low oil prices, particularly from year 2015 to date. The balance in the ECA as of 2nd March, 2020 is $71, 813,941.84,” he added.

Idris said Nigeria had realised N10tn so far this year for the three tiers of government, even as he said personnel cost had taken a hit on the funds gulping N493bn; consolidated pension, N59.77bn; overhead, N46.65 and capital supplementation, N20.76bn.

He, however, said no money had been released so far this year to fund capital projects.
The committee probed further and he said N340bn would be released before the end of the first quarter as capital expenditure.
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