Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has cautioned the Federal Government against plans to release N7 billion in VAT refund to the Bayelsa State Government, claiming that the state will deploy the fund into buying votes for the November 16 governorship election.
Expressing doubt over the judicious deployment of the fund for its purpose with a few weeks to the election, the national leadership of the party pleaded with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, to delay approval until after the conduct of the state election.
The appeal was made on Thursday by the APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, in a statement made available to reporters in Abuja.
“There is a N7 billion VAT refund to Bayelsa State awaiting the approval of the Minister of Finance. The Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, has committed to a commercial bank to give him the N7 billion with an agreement that the Ministry will in turn pay the money to them,” the APC chieftain said.
Nabena argues that if the money is released to the outgoing government in the state, it will not serve its intended purpose.
“We want to appeal to the Minister not to approve the VAT refund until after the governorship election. Governor Dickson has recently been in the news on account of several schemes to raise money through diversion of state funds to bankroll the election of his stooge and Bayelsa governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“Apart from the Governor Dickson illegally withdrawing and diverting N17.5 billion from bank accounts belonging to the state government to prosecute the November 16 governorship election in the state, Bayelsans are still smarting from the exposed plan of Governor Dickson to sell off an oil field, Atala Marginal Field (OML 46) belonging to the state, months to the his handover.
“Governor Dickson must be stopped from achieving his selfish and desperate plan to buy votes using state funds to rig the election in favour of his unpopular candidate,” the national leadership of the ruling party appealed.