Doye Diri, member representing Yenagoa/Kolokuma/Opokuma Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives has said the National Assembly (NASS), would put pressure on the federal government to ensure that the controversial $1billion approved for it by the National Economic Council to spend from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to fight Boko Haram insurgents in the north east “does not become money for the boys.”
The lawmaker who stated this at the weekend during a town hall meeting he held with youths from his constituency in Yenagoa said although the $1billion anti-insurgency fund was illegal because it was not appropriated by the National Assembly as required by law, he was not opposed to the rationale behind the governors’ endorsement of the withdrawal of the money from the ECA to tackle insecurity.
Diri said that issues of national security must be accorded serious attention and focus, adding that the governors should be given the benefit of the doubt over their approval of the fund to counter insecurity in the country.
He said, “Well, I am not against the governors for approving the ($1billion) fund. But many of my colleagues in the National Assembly believe that fund is illegal money. Because constitutionally, every money that comes into the account must be appropriated for before it can be spent.
“But for issues of security, we must acknowledge the security bedevilling us. This borders on national security. If one part of the country is sick, it means that everywhere (in the country) is sick”.
The federal legislator also added his voice to Governor Seriake Dickson’s request that the Federal Government should exclude the 13 per cent derivation fund accruable to the oil-producing states from the $1billion anti-Boko Haram fund.
Diri, like Dickson, argued that the oil-bearing states would be subjected to making double contributions to the anti-insurgency fund if the 13 per cent component of the $1billion was not removed and sent to the benefiting states.
“But here, I must join my Governor (Seriake Dickson) to call, and reiterate the call that if you are taking that money ($1billion) and all the states are paying, we from the oil-producing states cannot pay double.
“After collecting what every state should pay, they should deduct the derivation mode of 13 per cent from that money and refund to the oil-producing states so that we don’t feel cheated;
having paid as every other states and then you also collect our 13 per cent to be paid there. It’s an injustice to the states in the Niger Delta”, he contended.
On the Niger Delta struggle for equity and justice, the Rep said he would continue to advocate for the repeal of the ‘obnoxious’ Land Use Act to give way for true federalism, stressing that “land cannot belong to the Federal Government”.
Diri, who, informed that he has as a first-time legislator, moved over eight motions and sponsored three bills for the development of Nigeria and Niger Delta, re-assured his constituents of more effective representations to attract federal presence to Bayelsa.
Chris Eze, Yenagoa