The National Economic Council (NEC), on Thursday, commended the Federal Government for taking a stand to prosecute and recover monies claimed by oil marketers as subsidy on petroleum products never delivered.

This is even as the council urged Nigerians to support the government’s effort to prosecute some of those indicted in the subsidy report.

With the case in court, the Federal Government has suspended further subsidy payments, and the affected marketers have allegedly instigated a withdrawal of services of petrol tankers.

NEC is chaired by Vice President Namadi Sambo, and members include all state governors; the Ministers of Justice, National Planning, Finance, and the Federal Capital Territory; the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

While briefing journalists after the meeting at the Presidential Villa, Governor of Anambra, Peter Obi, said he and his colleagues were solidly behind President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration’s quest to rid the oil sector of fraud.

Obi also disclosed that some of the indicted companies had started refunding the monies, though he could not say how much had been returned so far.

The Council also considered a presentation by the Honourable Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, on the planned non-partisan Good Governance Publicity Tour being jointly organised by the Federal Ministry of
Information and the National Planning Commission.

Obi said the tour is meant to monitor, evaluate and showcase Federal and State projects across the six geopolitical zones.

“The Council deemed the tour worthwhile, not only for its potential to showcase best practice in project implementation and value delivery, but also for the prospect of exposing the investment opportunities in each state”.

NEC, therefore, directed the Governors’ Forum to set up a committee that will meet with the FMI and NPC to review the logistics for the tour and agree on the date of commencement. The committee will be chaired by the governor of Akwa Ibom state.

Council also considered a briefing by the Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy (CME)/Honourable Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on the progress being made by the SURE-P youth engagement and employment initiative.

A joint presentation by Okonjo-Iweala and the Honourable Minister for Environment Hadiza Mailafia, on the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) and the interest-free $500m facility, was also reviewed by the Council.

“The Ministers explained that the medium term soft loan with a 40 year duration and 10 year moratorium was meant to check gully erosion in the South East and other parts of the country [where flood] is increasingly threatening lives and livelihoods of millions of Nigerians,” Obi said.

On the issue of pending loans, the Council directed the Ministry of Finance and the Governors? Forum to hold further discussions, beginning from tomorrow, August 24, 2012. This is to facilitate states? access to such facilities, considering their benefits in reducing vulnerability to soil
erosion, promoting agriculture and infrastructural development as well as creating employment opportunities.

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