$2 billion from oil savings has been approved for release to government by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday, to help the country recover from paralysis caused by the absence of its ailing President Umaru Yar’adua. The Acting President made the decision to release the money three days after he assumed executive powers of the country. The money will be shared by the three tiers of government, including governors of some 36 states who publicly backed the handover of powers to Jonathan. Analysts say it is a stabilisation move that was needed to keep the states and government from getting restless and that once the money has flowed through there will be a semblance of stability as against the atmosphere of high instability which prevailed before.
But it seems that Jonathan may be able to exert authority over the cabinet as acting leader, but he has less power in the face of the state governors, who are set to play an important role in choosing presidential nominees for next year’s elections. According to Minister of State for Finance Remi Babalola, Nigeria’s oil savings account had dwindled from over $20 billion in 2007, the year Yar’Adua took office, to around $6.2 billion on spending to counter the impact of a global downturn. These figures are before the latest distribution of funds. Revenue from oil accounts for more than 90 percent of Nigeria’s foreign earnings. The Acting President is the first person from the Niger Delta to lead Nigeria, but he does not enjoy universal support in his home region.
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