DESPITE of the ongoing litigation between the federal and state governments over the Excess Crude, the state governors are asking for the release of $1 billion from the account, to enable them to meet their contractual obligations in their various states.
Rising from a meeting in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday, under the National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, they resolved to seek the intervention of the Attorney-General of the Federation on the best way to achieve it without subverting the court process.
Governors Ibrahim Dankwabo (Gombe), Amadi Elechi (Ebonyi), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and deputy goveror of Sokoto State, Alhaji Mukhtar Shagari, briefed State House correspondents after the meeting.
Speaking on the account, Alhaji Shagari said the states needed the money to meet their financial responsibilities.
“We have held discussion fully on the issue of releasing at least about $1 billion from the excess crude to help the state governments to meet up with their financial responsibilities, because most of the states have contracts that are ongoing.They need money so that the contractors will not leave. A decision was taken that this will be looked into,” he said.
On the ongoing court case, he said they agreed on the need to allow it to proceed, in order for a ruling to be reached, though he maintained that the states were not in dispute with the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, Professor Ricardo Haussmann, an economic expert, on Tuesday predicted that Nigeria’s crude oil will dry up in 2053.
Haussmann, who is also a director, Centre for International Development Harvard University, made this prediction in his paper titled: ‘Product Space and Export Competitiveness’ at the 4th Economic Policy And Fiscal Strategy Seminar in Abuja, organised by Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA).
He regretted that countries that have crude oil than Nigeria are more diversified.
Advising Nigeria to diversify into non-oil economy rather than wholly depend on crude oil products, Haussmann pointed out that there would not be any meaningful development in Nigeria if it does not diversify.
For him, the process of development is the process of diversification.
According to Hausmann, while the rich countries make more products, the poor ones produce few goods emphasising that Nigeria is the sixth worst country in capital space.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director, CSEA, Dr Ebere Uneze said that while it is true that real gross domestic product (GDP) has grown at over six per cent in recent year, the economy cannot be said to be competitive when compared with other emerging economies.
He also noted that Nigeria has been sliding back in key indices such as the ‘Ease of Doing Business index’.
Uneze said that a situation where the top 100 non-oil exporters in Nigeria earned about $1.8 billion in the whole of 2010, less than one month of oil revenue is a confirmation of lack of competitiveness of the economy.
However, he said, while the non-oil exports to the national treasury is less, Nigeria continues to face challenges arising from leakages from crude oil.