Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives, yesterday, threatened to bar the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the North East Development Commission (NEDC) from benefiting from the ecological fund if they failed to account for funds received in the past by December 31.
Chairman, House Committee on Ecological Fund, Ibrahim Ayokunle, issued the threat at a public hearing on a “Bill for an Act establishing the regulation of ecological funds to address Nigeria’s ecological challenges, particularly erosion, landslide, desertification, flood, oil spillage, drought and for related matters.”
Ayokunle disclosed that from January to September 2020, N54,819,713,400.08 was distributed to the federal, states, 774 local government areas and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
However, the lawmaker said NEMA and NEDC, which are among the four federal agencies benefiting from the fund have refused to account for monies released to them despite several appeals from the committee
He decried the increase in the deployment of funds from the ecological fund to fund government agencies that equally draw funds from the national budget.
“Curiously enough, agencies like NEMA and NEDC have refused till date to respond to several appeals by the committee requesting for account of their respective shares from the ecological fund.
Meanwhile, the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, has said the proposed legislation will conflict with existing agencies like NEMA, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency and National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency.
Besides, the SGF, who was represented by Clinton Igwe, director, Pollution Control, Ecological Fund Office (EFO), said the fund as presently constituted was not subject to the process of appropriation by the National Assembly.
“This gives the president the much needed flexibility to effectively and timeously respond to ecological emergencies the fund is created to address. If the bill is passed into law as proposed, it will impede Mr. President’s power to use the fund for emergencies if it has to revert to the National Assembly for appropriation and approvals.”