Following the approval of $1 billion for the war against Boko Haram, to be taken from the Excess Crude Account (ECA), the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday demanded that an apology be tendered to Nigerians by the All Progressives Congress-led federal government “for deceiving Nigerians on the state of war against Boko Haram.”
In a related development, Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has denied being part of the 36 state governors that allegedly gave the federal government the go ahead to withdraw $1 billion from the ECA to fight Boko Haram in the North-east.
While briefing State House correspondents at the end of the 83rd National Economic Council (NEC) meeting yesterday, the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, stated that governors of the 36 states, under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), had given the federal government the green light to withdraw $1 billion from the ECA to fight Boko Haram.
According to Obaseki, the governors mandated the federal government to take the money from the ECA as their own contribution to the fight against the Boko Haram.
The balance in ECA, as reported to the council by the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris, was $2.317 billion as of December 13, 2017.
But the PDP said it was sad to note that long after the federal government claimed it had defeated Boko Haram, the administration had now turned back, seeking to commit a hooping $1 billion to the war.
It described the approval for the release of the $1 billion under the guise of fighting insurgency in the northeast as curious and alarming.
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party was “alarmed by the manipulative plot by the APC administration to secure approvals without recourse to due process, and for purposes of fighting the same insurgents it claimed to have defeated.”
PDP also said that the development had rubbished the integrity of the current administration and demanded that it should apologise to Nigerians “for lying to them about the actual state of the fight against insurgency in Nigeria.”
Ologbondiyan said: “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 the 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 was dead, then we challenge the 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.”
The PDP recalled that the three points upon which APC hinged their promise were security, corruption and economy, “and it is apparent that they have failed in all.”
Ologbondiyan said further: “On the economy, they have taken us into recession; on security, Boko Haram is still ravaging our people; on corruption, the APC government has only embarked on witch hunt of the opposition, while enmeshed in monumental corruption that is thriving unabated right inside the engine of its administration.”
The main opposition party vowed to ensure that the APC does not continue to play with the intelligence of Nigerians, “who are now only waiting for 2019 to consign them into the dustbin of history.”
In a statement issued in Ado Ekiti, Fayose declared: “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.”
The Ekiti State governor alleged further that the planned withdrawal of $1 billion in the name of using it to fight Boko Haram, was a ploy by the APC-led federal government to fund President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election in 2019.
Fayose 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.”
“Nigerians deserve proper explanation from the federal government on the rationale behind spending such huge sum of money to fight an already defeated Boko Haram.”
He challenged the federal government to make available to Nigerians, information on how the money released by international donors for the fight against Boko Haram was spent, adding, “even the Transparency International (TI) once said in its report that some top military officials in the country were feeding fat on the war against Boko Haram by creating fake contracts and laundering the proceeds in the United States, United Kingdom and elsewhere.”
The governor also alleged that the N50 billion kept by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in different commercial bank accounts outside the Treasury Single Account (TSA) was part of the fund being kept to fund President Buhari’s election in 2019.
Fayose said: “Nigerians are alarmed by the revelation from the House of Representatives that President Buhari exempted NNPC from transferring N50 billion to the TSA.
“Also, they are miffed by the federal government’s idea of withdrawing $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account to fund an insurgency they said had been defeated.
“They went on to tell Nigerians that the decision was taken by governors of the 36 states, whereas, it was solely the idea of the federal government, which they used the arranged National Executive Council meeting on Thursday in Abuja to achieve.
“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 governments)?
“The reality is that our treasury is daily being looted in readiness for the 2019 elections. Nigerians are therefore alerted to these 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.”