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FG shouldn’t have paid Paris Club refunds with ECA – Akeni

FG shouldn’t have paid Paris Club refunds with ECA – Akeni

Journalists’ choice of words can incite or resolve violence – Umukoro

The Periscope culled Fombina Times

Arukaino Umukoro, CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Award winner, has called on the journalists to be careful with their choice of words when reporting.

Umukoro made the call while delivering a paper on “Conflict and Migration Crisis Reporting” during a workshop on data journalism organised by the Ripples Centre for Data and Investigative Journalism (RCDIJ).

According to him, while Nigeria was not at war, what journalists would report “has the power to worsen or resolve the crisis” currently plaguing the country.

On his part, Abel Akeni, head of the extractive unit of BudgIT, a civic organisation, who spoke on “Public Sector Fiance Reporting”, said the federal government was not supposed to pay the Paris Club refunds from the excess crude account (ECA).

Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, permanent secretary of the ministry of finance, said in December 2018 that the balance of the ECA declined by $1.68 billion between November 25 and December 19 following withdrawals shared to states as part of the Paris Club refund.

“The deductions was for the final payment of the Paris Club Refund. The final payments to states have been made and the figure was deducted from the Excess Crude Account,” he had said.

“A decision was taken to make these refunds and part of that decision is for the refund to be funded from the Excess Crude Account.”

But Akeni said the fund in the ECA belongs to all the tiers of government, asking why states should be paid from money that ordinarily belongs to them.

“You cannot pay someone money from money that belongs to both of you. The ECA belongs to all the tiers of government,” Akeni said.

He expressed concerns over the “lax” policies that govern withdrawal from the ECA as against that of the sovereign wealth fund (SWF).

Akeni said the country has to “wake up from the illusion” that it is an oil-rich nation, explaining that the US and Saudi Arabia make much more money from oil than Nigeria does.

“There is this illusion that we are an oil-rich country. We’re not, we’re very very poor. In fact, we’re broke,” he said.

Also speaking, Qasim Akinreti, chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), who represented Lanre Arogundade, director, International Press Centre (IPC), urged journalists to make self-development a habit.

Akinreti said the ability of a journalist to look beyond the surface and tell a human angle story is what would make them stand out as purely professionals

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