The National Economic Council (NEC) yesterday disputed claims by Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, that the federal government printed N60 billion to augment the March 2021 allocation to the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
It aligned itself with the positions of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, that no money was printed.
The council, rising from its monthly meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, anchored its stance on presentations it received from Ahmed, the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF).
A statement by Osinbajo’s media assistant, Mr. Laolu Akande, quoted the NEC as saying that there was no printing of N60 billion or any other amount whatsoever to shore up allocation for March as wrongly insinuated.
NEC expressed satisfaction with clarifications made by the NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Ahmed and Emefiele on the alleged printing of N60 billion.
Ahmed and Emefiele had told the council that the allegation of the printing of money was false.
The NGF also supported the conclusion and NEC affirmed the same as the highest constitutional body tasked with economic affairs in the country.
On the resolution of security concerns in parts of the country, the council unanimously affirmed the unity of Nigeria, saying it will adopt the report of the national town hall meeting on national unity and security held recently in Kaduna.
The NEC, while welcoming the outcome of the town hall meeting, urged all states to hold wider consultations and report back to NEC the outcomes of the meetings after which a national consensus would be reached on the recommendations which included the adoption of state police, among others.
On the budget support facility, Ahmed stated that the deductions for repayment by states would resume in May while the governors requested for an extension considering the economic challenges in the states.
Emefiele explained the technical challenges involved should there be a further postponement of the deductions.
Osinbajo then directed that a meeting be held soon to reach a consensus on the matter.
In his presentation, Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, informed the council on how rail development was stalled in the 1960s until 1986 when the federal government commenced the construction of 326 km standard gauge (1,435m) rail lines phase 1 from Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri.
He said: “Rail infrastructure development halted until the present administration came on board and brought to reality the railway modernisation plan of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) by commencing the implementation of the 1,367 km Lagos-Kano railway lines. The outcome of the present government intervention includes completed and made operational the 186km Abuja-Kaduna Standard gauge rail lines; commencement of 185.5 km Lagos-Ibadan new double standard gauge rail lines in 2016 and is almost completed; completed and made operational, the 302 km Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri standard gauge rail lines; and connected the Apapa Ports by rail, while that of Warri Port has been concessioned.”