• Say money to fund Buhari’s re-election
From WOLE BALOGUN, Ado Ekiti, Gyang Bere, Jos and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the approval for the release of $1billion to the Federal Government for the fight against insurgency in the North East as alarming.
The PDP in a statement issued yesterday by its National Publicity, Kola Ologbondinyan by accepting the $1billion , the All Progressives Congress( APC)- led Federal Government has admitted that it lied to Nigerians, when it announced that it had defeated Boko Haram insurgents in the North East.
Consequently, the opposition party demanded that the government should apologise to “Nigerians for giving them a false sense of security, resulting in their vulnerability to attacks by terrorists”.
The development came as Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State alleged that the money was to surreptitiously fund President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election in 2019.
The governor dissociated himself from the governors who gave the government the nod for the huge withdrawal stressing: “For posterity sake, I wish to place it on record that I was not among the governors, who approved the withdrawal of almost half of our savings in the Excess Crude Account, which belongs to the three tiers of government to fight an already defeated insurgency.”
But the President, at the graduation of 767 police cadets commissioned Assistant Superintendents of Police after 12 months of rigorous professional training at the Famous Police College Jos yesterday, said that his administration inherited security challenges that threatened the stability of Nigeria that apparently warranted greater funding of the war against them.
The PDP in its statement, wondered why the government had to channel its quest for the approval from the National Economic Council (NEC) while “avoiding the direct constitutional appropriation channel of the National Assembly for funding of items already provided for in the federal budget, if it actually had nothing to hide.
It added: “The PDP supports the fight against insurgency. We hold our officers and men confronting the terrorists and securing our territorial integrity in high esteem, but we are concerned about the manipulative tendencies connected with the approvals as well as the veracity of claimed purpose of the fund.
“Nigerians would recall that the APC-led Federal Government had claimed that it has since defeated the insurgents. If it would take a billion dollar from a nation’s savings to kill what they long claimed dead, then we challenge APC government to come clean and tell Nigerians the whole truth. The era of lies and propaganda is long gone and Nigerians now know the truth. The Federal Government must be held accountable and stopped from any move to fritter away our national savings.
“We therefore call on the National Assembly to interrogate this proposed disbursement and subject it to a thorough but rapid interrogation”.
Fayose, on his part, in a statement issued in Ado Ekiti on Friday, and signed by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said: “Since they said they have defeated Boko Haram, what else do they need a whopping sum of $1 billion (over N360 billion) for; if not to fund the 2019 elections? The APC promised to wipe out Boko Haram within six months, now it is 31 months and what the APC government is wiping out is the economy of Nigeria and the means of livelihood of the people,” Governor Fayose said.
The governor said N360 billion was equivalent to what the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) shared to the Federal Government, the 36 states and 774 local councils monthly, nothing that “Nigerians deserve proper explanations from the Federal Government on the rationale behind spending such huge sum of money to fight an already defeated Boko Haram.”
He challenged the government to make available to Nigerians, how the money released by international donors for the fight against Boko Haram was spent, adding that; “Even the Transparency International (TI) once said in its report that some top military officials in the country were feeding fat from the war against Boko Haram by creating fake contracts and laundering the proceeds in the United States, United Kingdom and elsewhere.”
“The question is; how can the federal government alone spend almost half of the Excess Crude money that belongs to the three tiers of government (i.e. Federal Government, States and Local Councils)?
“The reality is that our treasury is daily being looted in readiness for the 2019 elections. Nigerians are therefore alerted to this lootings by the APC led federal government to amass huge fund for the 2019 elections under the pretense of fighting insurgency in the Northeast as well as other dubious means.”
Buhari, who was represented by Minister of Interior Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, said his administration is working hard to secure the lives of Nigerians from the dreaded Boko Haram.
“I wish to restate my pledge as President, commander in chief to commit special attention and deserved resources to secure Nigeria and our dear people. Accordingly another round of recruitment of more Police officers and men to positively deal with the problems associated with our internal security will commence in this budget year,” he said.