Ecological Fund requires N1.4trillion to implement 1,752 projects ― FG

•Says four govs want N300billion for ecological projects

THE Federal Government on Tuesday said it has received more than 1,752 requests worth N1.4trillion from state governments, National Assembly members and other stakeholders for intervention on ecological challenges at a time when funds are not available.

Permanent Secretary, Ecological Fund Office (EFO), Dr Habiba Lawal, who made this known at 2020 annual media interactive session in Abuja, lamented that dwindling resources as a result of crash in the price of crude caused by COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected the operation of the Fund.

She disclosed that out of the N1.4 billion, four state governors demanded N300 billion to address ecological challenges in their states. 

The Permanent Secretary noted this could not be met now because of paucity of fund.

While calling on the state and local governments to make judicious use of their share of the Ecological Fund Fund, Lawal disclosed that the hitherto 3.00 per cent allocated to Ecology and Derivation Funds was redistributed based on the modification Order of 2002, with states and Local government councils getting 0.77 and 0.60 per cent respectively, while the Federal Government is getting 1.46 per cent. 

According to her, the balance of 0.22 per cent was transferred to the Stabilization Account, adding that in 2004 the Federal Government granted 2 per cent of its share of revenue allocation to states, and that the N1.46 per cent FGN share of Ecology and Derivation was adjusted to 1 per cent till date. 

She explained that EFO has put in place reasonable implementable strategies for quick response and intervention to ecological challenges nationwide, saying quarterly requests from all segment of the society were to the President for approval of the projects, ensuring that every geo-political zone is captured.

She added that because of paucity of funds this quarterly request has been scaled down to six months and that the projects are implemented by her office when approved.

“We have introduced stakeholders’ forum for sensitization and awareness creation among benefitting communities and commissioning and handing over to benefitting communities,” Lawal said.

She disclosed that prior to the last three years when ecological projects were just implemented and relaxed, the EFO now ensures that host communities are properly engaged in order to get their buy-in, saying this has helped in project tracking and ensuring that expectations were met in addition to taking ownership and project sustainability.

She added that the Fund has also put in place provision of monitoring template for project officers, upgrading of Information Communication Technology (ICT) office, and the introduction of manuals to educate stakeholders, especially contractors and consultants.

She said: “We are presently in custody of a huge databank of project requests received from all stakeholders that cut across the six (6) geo-political zones.

“We receive request from every Nigerian, either a stakeholder group, community association, traditional ruler, state government, members of National Assembly among others. 

“I want to inform that currently, we have the request of over 1,752 in the databank requiring N1.4 trillion to be able to implement. I’m sure, you will agree with me that those funds are not available.”

She explained that the Federal Government’s share of the Ecological Fund annually ranges between N28 billion to N25 billion on an annual basis.

She said there was the need to share this information because “people think there is much more in the office in terms of funding than there is”.

Lawal further disclosed that from the inception of the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 to date, the President has approved 247 projects which have been awarded.

Out of this number, 160 projects have been completed and handed over to the benefiting communities while 45 have been complete but awaiting commissioning, while a total number of projects are at various stages of completion.

She lamented dwindling resources as a result of a crash in the price of crude caused by COVID-19 pandemic, saying “We will continue to make steady progress in the discharge of our mandate within the limit of available resources.”

Some of the challenges she noted include three agencies of government that draw money in different percentages from the Ecological Fund in spite of the fact the affected agencies get budgetary allocation.

The agencies are National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) drawing 20 per cent; National Agency for Great Green Wall (NAGGW) 5 per cent with North East Development Commission (NEDC) drawing 10 per cent. NAGGW’s mandate is to address land degradation, desertification and drought problems in the 11 Northern states.

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