▪︎ Govt source: opposition governors that got from $2.1b budget support are insincere
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors on Monday hinged the country’s worsening debt profile on frivolous borrowings by the Federal Government.
They said the N36 trillion debt is grossly unsustainable given the nation’s earning and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
They added that the debt situation could plunge the country into bankruptcy.
The opposition governors alleged that over 80 per cent of appropriation is spent on debt servicing which is “economically damaging”, adding that the gains of debt exit and cancellation during the Obasanjo administration had been destroyed.
The PDP Governors’ Forum made this claim in a communiqué at their meeting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
It faulted the operational systems and methods of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other revenue-generating agencies, which they described as a “Leviathan” and “a government within a government.”
The communiqué reads: “The PDP Governors frowned at the rising and seemingly uncontrollable debt profile of Nigeria with over 80 per cent of normal appropriation spent on debt servicing.
“All the gains of the PDP government under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, when Nigeria exited its foreign debt obligations, have been destroyed.
“Borrowing for frivolous items such as funding the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) is scandalous.
“Money should only be borrowed for productive purposes as Nigeria’s current debt of over N36 trillion is becoming unsustainable relative to our earnings and GDP.
“We should not saddle incoming generations with undue debt burden. The borrowing spree of the APC administration if unchecked will certainly lead Nigeria into avoidable bankruptcy.”
The governors expressed concern about the CBN operational systems and methods, saying it has become an independent government within a government.
The forum said: “A situation where CBN creates money, decides how much of it to spend, on what to spend it without any form of controls or supervision is patently subversive of our constitutional order.
“It has become not just a Leviathan, but also a father Christmas of sorts, but as a full executing agency of government.
“The meeting observed that the CBN has become such an octopus that it threatens state governments publicly, without decorum, about sanctions on any attempt to question its modus operandi.
“The CBN should take immediate steps to halt the depreciation of the naira.”
The forum reiterated its call on the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to urgently forward the revised revenue allocation to President Muhammadu Buhari for onward transmission to the National Assembly for passage.
At the meeting hosted by Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel were forum Chairman, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, his deputy Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Duoye Diri (Bayelsa), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
Others are Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Darius Ishaku (Taraba) and Deputy Governor Mahdi Mohd of Zamfara State.
The forum called on the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Federal Inland Revenue and Customs and Exercise to generate more revenue for the country.
It added that federating units should have a say in the determination of operating costs to ensure transparency and accountability.
The governors told the chairman and members of the RMAFC to resign if they cannot discharge their constitutional responsibilities.
However, the forum suggested that the constitution review had presented an opportunity to make the commission more independent and accountable to the stakeholders.
To the governors, the implementation of the judicial and legislative autonomy at the federal and state levels conforms with the 1999 Constitution.
But, they called for the involvement of the state in mining and geo-graphical activities to ensure diversification and complement earnings from oil.
Reflecting on the worsening insecurity, the governors condemned the attacks on security personnel and their property across the region, adding that the perpetrators should be brought to book.
Frowning at the ban on Twitter, the forum said the reasons adduced was not genuine, stressing that it smacked of dictatorship.
It added: “The mere ego of Mr. President is not enough for such a drastic action that deprives millions of Nigerians from such an affordable means of expression and communication.
“The meeting consequently requested Mr President to review the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria in the national interest,” the communiqué said.
According to the governors, the APC-led Federal Government should find lasting solutions to the recurrent power outage which hinders rapid industrialisation.
Also, the governors reiterated their call for the decentralisation of security apparatus to permit the input of local operators at the state and local government levels.
The forum added: “Mr President seem not to be aware that the coercive instrument of state security is firmly within his hands and not the governors, considering his recent media interview on the subject.
“The meeting reminded Mr President that he has ultimate authority under the Constitution over security organisations, even though the state has a role to play.
“Cooperation and synergy between states and the Federal Government in security operations are critical in securing Nigeria. In any case, even though, Police is on the Exclusive List, the states, as a practical matter spend huge sums of money to support the security agencies to carry out their duties.
“The need for an appropriate legal framework to involve the states in policing has become even more urgent by the day. To this end, we reiterate our call for the National Assembly to expedite action in passing the Electoral Act and Constitution amendments to ensure restructuring and decentralisation of government power and functions.“
‘They are insincere’
Efforts to get reactions from the Federal Government through key functionaries of the Buhari administration failed.
A source in the Presidency promised last night that the government will make its position clear and react to the claims by the opposition party’s governors.
However, a top source said the PDP governors were playing “dirty politics” with the country’s economy.
He said the Buhari administration took loans to upgrade existing infrastructure and to provide new ones, citing the rail project that the PDP-led administration could not deliver in 16 years, as one of such projects.
Besides, the source described as “playing to the gallery” that claims by the governors, who partook in the $2.1 billion Budget Support given to all the states except Lagos, by the Federal Government, could classify such facility as “frivolous”.
A CBN official who pleaded anonymity said: “The CBN will not say anything for now because the remark by the state governors is politically motivated.”
BMO carpets PDP
The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) accused the PDP of pitting Nigerians against the Federal Government and alleged that the opposition party is providing funds and other logistics for the anti-Buhari protests in some parts of the country on Democracy Day.
The allegation was contained in a statement by the group’s Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke.
The BMO claimed to have “credible information” that members of the opposition party played active roles in the botched protests, which they alleged were targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari.
▪︎ By The Nation