January 1, 2022

Poor Oversight and diversion of Ecological Fund affects its efficiency

Promise: Amend the Ecological Fund Act to allow for effective oversight by the House to ensure efficient and accountable use of the Fund.

Abiola Durdola
Last Updated
January 9, 2022
min read

In the legislative agenda document of the house of representatives, one of the legislative actions to be taken by the lawmakers is to “amend the Ecological Fund Act” for transparency and accountability in its use. In the revised document published by the house of representatives on the legislative agenda website, the house promised to amend the Ecological Fund Act for effective oversight by the House towards ensuring efficient and accountable use of the fund which has been mismanaged over the years. It is among the immediate term action of the house meaning that the house has planned to achieve this promise before the 5th of May, 2022.

The first real step at achieving this was the introduction of the Ecological Fund Management Board Bill, 2019. The bill which was proposed by Hon. Onanuga Oriyomi was put off after the first reading in the lower chamber (House of Representatives).

In 2020, another bill that proposed a Council in its Part 2 was introduced by Hon. Ibrahim Ayokunle Isiaka. The bill titled “A Bill to Establish the Regulation of Ecological Funds, 2020.” passed the first and second reading in February and June 2020 respectively.

The Bill to Establish the Regulation of the Ecological Funds, 2020 which has been referred to the House Committee on the matter proposed a council that will strip the president’s office of its role in the control of the ecological fund. According to the proposed bill, the new council “Shall take custody and monitor the ecological fund to address any of the following challenges: erosion, landslide, desertification, floods, oil spillage, drought and any other environmental challenges that may arise in the application of the fund”.

However, the stiff resistance of this bill in a public hearing in November 2020 by the office of the secretary to the federal government (OSFG) has affected the progress of this bill. This has made the actualization of a promise like this a herculean task as the lawmakers face yet another executive unwillingness. It is now unclear whether the bill will move beyond the current stage after its implementation hits a wall.

According to its website, the Ecological Fund was established in 1981 through the Federation Account Act of 1981 on the recommendation of the Okigbo Commission while the Ecological Fund Office was established in 1985. Currently, the Fund constitutes 2% of the Federation Account and it is known as Derivation and Ecology Fund with the prime aim of pooling funds that would be solely devoted to the funding of ecological projects to mitigate serious ecological problems.

However, the non-conformity to stipulated disbursement guidelines, incomplete remittance of the fund to relevant agencies, as well as the unauthorized diversion of the fund has affected the effectiveness and efficiency of this fund. Hence, the need for an intervention of the house of representatives on EFO.

According to a report, a total of ₦432,502,455,521 (four hundred and thirty-two billion) accrued to the Fund between 2007-2015 against the backdrop of several abandoned projects that were funded littering the country. With the proposed bill propositioning a process of appropriation for the EFO to ensure transparency, it is not sure whether the bill will be further pushed to address the mismanagement of this fund.

We rate this promise as Stalled. AdvoKC will continue to track this promise to provide updates on the progress made in achieving the promise before the set deadline.