The All Progressives Congress, APC, has raised the alarm over clandestine moves by the Presidency to dole out N2 billion each to 16 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) controlled states.
The Interim National Publicity Secretary of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made this known yesterday while addressing reporters yesterday in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, at a forum organised by the state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Mr. Mohammed claimed that the purpose of the largesse was to starve APC states of funds for development purposes.
He said: “As a matter of fact, as I am speaking today, we have in our possession a document that the President has given N2 billion each to 16 states, and of these states not one of them is an APC state. The idea is to starve the APC states of their constitutional entitlements and secretly fund states that are perceived to be with the President.
“This is a matter we will take up and the National Assembly, we hope, will also take up the matter. I think the matter should be thrown to the court of public opinion.
“The President should understand that whatever money accrues to the Federal revenue account is for the benefit of all Nigerians. It is not for Mr. President to use as Christmas gift or as a carrot for those who support him. We know that the battle for 2015 would not be easy but we want to assure the President that he is going to have a tough battle on his hand.
“Many things are happening in the Villa today. One thing is clear: Mr President is ready to use all manners, all methods constitutional and illegal to ensure he punishes governors.
“I will only give you two instances. I am sure you have heard about the controversy over the benchmark issue. The President wants the benchmark to be put at $74 per barrel of crude oil; the Senate passed $76; the House of Representatives insisted on $79. The politics of benchmark is very simple. If you remove all the fine grammar of economics, benchmark simply means cost price. Crude today sells for about $110. “At $74, it will be impossible pay states their statutory allocations. If it is $74, the states will be entitled to only 28 per cent of $74, multiplied by, say two million barrels. At the end of the day the balance between $110 and $74 will be kept in the Excess Crude Account (ECA).
“The Excess Crude Account is at the discretion mostly of the President. The idea is that if the National Assembly approves $74 as the benchmark, the states will be starved of funds and there will be no money for development.
“Meanwhile, the President will now take money out of the Excess Crude Account to give to states that are very close to him through probably Ecological Funds or relief”.
The APC scribe added: “The singular act of registering the All Progressives Congress (APC), the face of opposition changed in Nigeria and the opposition became broad-based. On August 1, this year, seven Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors walked out of the national convention of their party and I believe that the PDP is yet to recover from that internal rebellion.
“On November 28, five of the PDP governors came along with the leadership of the New PDP to become part of the APC. I think these three events have changed the political climate, landscape and calculation of the entire polity. These three events, put together, have also altered the aspirations, ambitions of not just the individuals but also of the political parties.
“We are today standing on the threshold of a new dawn for Nigeria, because as things stand today, there is a balance of term in Nigerian polity”.
Before now, the biggest opposition political party had only six governors, 18 senators and 66 members of the House of Representatives. But following the recent defection of five New PDP governors to APC, the opposition now boasts of 16 governors, 217 members in the House of Representatives and 53 senators.
“Yes, we might control just 16 states, but if you look at the demography of those states, they are the largest in terms of population in the country. Even in those states where we don’t produce governors, the APC is the party of choice. I believe Nigerians are all witnesses to this. I believe the next few months will be interesting and entertaining.
“With the antics and reactions of the PDP and the President at the Villa, we can say there is confusion and panic in the Villa and the Presidency today.
“Only yesterday (Sunday), I heard the President say the governors who defected to the APC were not kings or gods. That was a very strange reaction, because if you lose one governor, it is a tragedy; if you lose five in one fell swoop, is a fiasco.
“Mr President’s statement is akin to a person who is so lost.
“Only yesterday (Sunday), the President invited two of the newly converted APC governors. You begin to wonder that if the President said the loss of five governors did not matter and yet he was wooing them. “I am happy that at that meeting Governors Musa Kwankwaso (Kano) and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) told the President that their decision to leave PDP was irreversible”, Mr. Mohammed said.