21 September 2012

Nigeria: Jonathan, Governors' Meeting Deadlocked

Photo: Abayomi Adeshida/Vanguard
From left: Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun; Niger State Governor, Aliyu Babangida and other council members during the National Economic Council Meeting at the State House, Abuja, yesterday.

The 36 state governors have resolved to return to the Supreme Court over their dispute with the federal government on deductions from the excess crude account.

They also threw their weight behind the Good Governance tours with the aim of showcasing their achievements across the states in various areas of service delivery. The tour was conceptualised by the National Economic Council (NEC).

The governors have been having a running battle with the federal government over what they described as illegal deductions from the excess crude account jointly owned by both levels of government. The governors subsequently dragged the federal government to court.

Both parties, however, opted for an out-of-court settlement on the matter early in the year.

According to the communiqué read by the chairman of the Forum and governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, on Wednesday, the governors "unanimously decided to head back to court to enforce the federal governments' adherence to the constitution".

On the governance assessment tour, Amaechi said: "The Forum supports the upcoming Good Governance tours as conceptualised by the National Economic Council (NEC) and plans to use the opportunity to showcase achievements of the states in various areas of service delivery.

"The tour will be commencing tomorrow, 20th September 2012, with states in the north-central zone.

"Lastly, the Forum resolved to embark on various strategies to deepen advocacy and administration of polio vaccines with a view to eradicating polio in the country."

Governor Amaechi, however, declined to comment on the moves by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to introduce N5,000 note, saying they had not discussed it.

Governors who attended the meeting included those of Adamawa, Abia, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Niger, Taraba, Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Anambra, Imo, Jigawa, Nasarawa, Kogi, Yobe, Plateau, Kebbi, Edo, Cross River, Enugu, and Gombe.

Meanwhile, the National Economic Council (NEC) yesterday insisted that governors of the 36 states settle the rift between them and the federal government over the excess crude account out of court.

Briefing State House correspondents after the NEC meeting presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo at the Council Chamber of the presidential villa yesterday, Gombe State governor Ibrahim Dankwambo, alongside his Kwara counterpart Abdulfatai, minister of national planning Shamsudeen Usman and minister of environment Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia, said NEC which is the highest economic policymaking body in the country maintained their ground that the governors must forget about going back to court and negotiate with the federal government on a neutral ground.

"After considering a report by the committee on the out-of-court settlement on the excess crude account litigation, NEC encouraged the counsel of both parties to continue the consultations towards working out an amicable solution," Abdulfatai said.

The forum had threatened to go to court in July on the matter but had also sought to explore the option of an out-of-court settlement with the federal government.

The governors also criticised the continued deduction of oil subsidy from the excess crude accounts, saying the deduction negated the principle of federalism and budgetary provision.

NEC also commended the Governors' Forum for its decision to fully support and participate in the nationwide Good governance tour which started today in the FCT.

This, according to the governor, "followed a report by His Excellency Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom governor and chairman, NEC ad-hoc committee on the nationwide Good Governance tour on the preparedness of the governors to support the project with necessary logistics".

"The aim of the tour, which NEC identifies with, is to properly project the effort of this administration to the people, seek the buy-in of the citizens on government projects at all levels and sensitise them to support and protect such projects for the welfare and development of the nation," he added.

He said NEC also considered a presentation by the minister of national planning on the new Performance Measurement and Results delivery System in Nigeria, which has begun at the federal level with the recent signing of performance contracts between President Goodluck Jonathan and the ministers and its extension between ministers/heads of agencies and permanent secretaries.

Abdulfatai said, "The minister noted that the process which is being coordinated by the National Planning Commission has many advantages: improves service delivery to the public and accountability for results by top-level managers; instills sense of accountability and transparency in service delivery and utilisation of resources; increases efficiency and focus resources on the attainment of key national policy priorities; institutionalises performance-oriented culture in the public service through the introduction of an objective performance appraisal system and ensuring a pervasive culture of accountability across all levels of government.

"The NEC noted the need to cascade the New Performance Management system to sub-national level in order to harmonise performance management and tracking system and adopted a roadmap presented by the National Planning Minister to that effect."

He further stated: "NEC therefore agreed that the states should establish a functional monitoring and evaluation department to coordinate the implementation of the framework and support performance management, conduct sensitisation/induction workshops for all commissioners, permanent secretaries, heads of agencies and parastatals and directors; and Governors' Forum to adopt as part of Peer Review Mechanism and the National Planning Commission to co-ordinate the production of templates and provide overall technical support.

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