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States put pressure on us to spend all the money instead of saving in ECA, says Zainab Ahmed

Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, says representatives of states often put pressure on the federal government to spend all the income realised when some could be set aside in the excess crude account.

The minister made this known on Friday while speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the ongoing spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group.

“The ECA is an account where we put our savings from excess crude sales,” she said.

“We are supposed to be making these savings as a matter of routine but over the years we have not been able to do that.

“But we will try to start saving in the ECA routinely.

“The NSIA is supposed to be funded from the ECA but unfortunately because the build-up is very slow, we have only increased our investment in the NSIA periodically.

“So we want to change that to make it as a matter of routine that every FAAC once we pass a certain threshold, we save.

“We need the cooperation of the states as well because often times we see the states putting pressure, that they want all the funds to be used for the running of their states.”

The excess crude account is supposed to hold funds when oil prices are sold above the budget benchmark.

Abebe Selassie, head of the African department at IMF, had described Nigeria’s excess crude account as one of the worst managed sovereign wealth funds in the world.

In 2016, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former minister of finance, had said that there was no political will to save during her second term as finance minister.

“In my second time as a finance minister, from 2011 to 2015, we had the instrument, we had the means, we had done it before, but zero political will,” she said.

“So we were not able to save when we should have. That is why you find that Nigeria is now in the situation it is in. Along with so many other countries.”