Nigerian lawmakers call on government to scrap controversial oil savings account
By Olumidagreaton November 8, 2017
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Nigerian lawmakers on Tuesday called on the government to scrap a sovereign wealth fund that the Natural Resource Governance Institute, an international watchdog, has called one of the world’s most opaque and poorly governed. The Excess Crude Account (ECA), which as of September held $2.31 billion, is a rainy day fund that in theory takes money from oil sold over and above the finance ministry’s benchmark price, and can be used to plug emergency gaps in spending. Nigeria is wracked by endemic corruption, particularly in its oil sector, from which the government derives roughly two-thirds of its revenues. The upper chamber of parliament passed a motion calling for the operation of the ECA to be suspended, saying it was in violation of the constitution. A committee will be set up to investigate the movement of money in and out of the account and identify any infractions, the senate motion said. Various branches of Nigeria’s government have called for an end to the ECA for years, and a case has been debated in the country’s supreme court at least since 2012. There are disputes about who should control the ECA money, and state governors often argue the central government is hoarding the money and should distribute more to them. But so far there has been no resolution.