Senate revealed that for fifteen years, the federal and states government have been diverting about N500 billion ecological funds meant to environmental problems of communities in the country.
This revelation was made during a public hearing on a Bill seeking to prohibit the abuse of the Ecological Fund of the Federation organized by the senate Joint Committee on Ecology and Environment.
The Ecological Fund is a special intervention fund of two percent of the consolidated revenue of the federation, and one percent of the derivation allocation, which is meant for addressing ecological problems across the states of the federation, including erosion, landslide, desertification, flood, oil spoilage, draught, among others.
The sponsor of the Bill, Senator Mohammed Hassan explained that the Senate’s resolution to enact a legislation to establish and regulate the operations of the Fund and other similar funds became imperative because over the years, the ecological fund was operated like a ‘slush,’ and rather utilized for varying unrelated purposes, at the free will of the incumbent.
His words: “Successive governments have been serially accused of diverting and enriching themselves from the ecological funds. The operation of the fine had been largely discretionary, with zero guidelines on the disbursement and utilization of the monies.”
Yesterday, it was established that there was massive diversion and misappropriation of N154.9 billion on projects not related to environment, which the senate committee on Public Account found in 2013.
A document on the report of the ecological fund which was obtained by newsmen yesterday revealed that “in 2009, N93.7 billion was illegally transferred from the ecology fund to the consolidated revenue fund to fund the acceleration of capital budget advances to state and local government to meet revenue shortfall and third quarter development fund warrant.”
“In December 2009, the National Economic Council reported that about N200 billion belonging to the Ecological fund had been spent on questionable projects that were either non- existent or had no relations to the fight against ecological disaster. The House of Representatives, in 2010, raised queries over curious withdrawals and loans to agencies and individuals totaling N146.5billion, mainly to irrelevant objectives of the fund.
“In December 2011, there was also an illegal deduction totaling N20.1 billion from ecological fund for debt servicing, in addition to the donation of N2 billion in 2013, by former President Goodluck Jonathan to certain states of the federation without any criteria, in which some states did not benefit.”
The document further revealed that “in 2013, N22 billion was withdrawn and shared out to some states and local governments, while N2.078 billion was withdrawn towards the building of the second Niger Bridge.”
“In 2002, the ecological fund gave a grant of N728 million to the Presidential Research and Communication Unit and disbursed N928 million for non-ecological projects, while in 2003, N1.9 billion was disbursed for non-ecological programmes out of which N800 million was given to the Ministry of Aviation for the renovation of the Aminu Kano Airport and N150 million to Kaduna state government to manage sectarian crisis in the state.
“In 2006, a total of N16billion was spent as grants to Yobe and Ogun states for road constructions, while in 2007, N24 billion was spent on the rehabilitation of the Shagamu expressway by the Ministry of Works, just as in 2008, the sum of N5.7 billion was given to the Ministry of Agriculture for food shortages.
“Similarly, about N44.9 billion was spent to fund the third quarter budget spending warrant of the Ministry of Agriculture in 2009. In 2010, N34.6 billion was withdrawn from the fund for treasury management and in 2013, N9.2billion was used to fund the procurement and distribution of clean cook stoves,” it stated.