The Presidency yesterday denied claims by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the financial relief package made available to state governments and public sector workers were from savings by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
A statement by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the PDP claim was false and ridiculous.
The statement reads: “The Presidency deplores the attempt by the PDP and its agents to create an unnecessary controversy over the well-intentioned effort by President Muhammadu Buhari to give some relief to state governments and long-suffering public sector workers.
“We also reject the banal and ludicrous demand by the PDP’s Spokesman, Olisa Metuh, that the PDP government, which was ousted by Nigerians at the last general elections for running the country aground, be given some credit for “saving” the funds that were disbursed as part of the intervention package approved by President Buhari.
“Metuh’s claim that a significant amount of the funds came from savings accumulated in the Excess Crude Account and handed over to the Buhari administration is completely false and deliberately intended to mislead the public.
“As we clearly stated yesterday, the funds approved by President Buhari for sharing to the three tiers of government on Monday came entirely from dividends and taxes paid to the Federation Account by the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG), not from the Excess Crude Account.
“The disbursed NLNG dividends and taxes were paid into the Federation Account in June this year and confirmed by the Central Bank’s Statement to the Federal Government on July 7, 2015. The funds cannot therefore be considered ‘savings’ by the Jonathan Aadministration which left office in May, 2015, as disingenuously claimed by Metuh”.
It added: “Instead of being repeatedly impugned and castigated by the PDP and its agents for honestly telling Nigerians that the nation’s treasury has been immensely depleted and its resources looted or squandered under previous administrations, President Buhari should be commended for the openness, transparency and accountability, which he has now brought to the management of national funds.
“It was in keeping with that disposition, that the President promptly disclosed the accrual of the NLNG dividends and taxes to the Federation Account at his recent meeting with governors and approved the convening of a special session of the FAAC to share it.
“As a governor, who was present at the meeting remarked, under past administrations, the states never had the benefit of such disclosures.
“Mr. Metuh and others who now ungratefully see Monday’s disbursement of the NLNG proceeds as their ‘legitimate’ earnings and not a ‘bailout’ from the Federal Government may wish to tell Nigerians if such earnings were ever disclosed by the PDP Federal Government and paid to the states in the past.
“The public may also wish to note that the Buhari administration itself has never referred to the actions which it has taken to ease the current financial difficulties of states as a ‘bailout’”.