A file photo of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu.
The Presidency has said that the latest Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum communiqué is a spectacular demonstration to Nigerians as to why the opposition party and its representatives should not be entrusted with the national leadership of the country at any time soon.
This comment is in reaction to the PDP governors’ take on the operations of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the deteriorating economic and security situation in the country,
Governors elected on the platform of the PDP had on Monday raised an alarm over what they termed the ‘OPAQUE’ manner in which the NNPC carries out its operations.
The governors decried the recent NNPC’s decision not to make its statutory contributions to the Federation Account, thereby “starving the States and Local Governments and indeed Nigerians of funds needed for employment, development and general well-being”.
The governors maintained that under the Constitution, the NNPC is duty-bound to make proceeds of sale or business of Petroleum available to the Federation Account which belongs to the three tiers of government, excluding reasonable and verified and verifiable cost of operations.
Commenting on the issue through the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the presidency argued that in bemoaning the decision by the NNPC not to make contributions to the Federation Account, the governors appear to believe NNPC can spend the same money twice: once on the petroleum subsidy – which they all support – and then on their States via the Federation Account.
In a communique on Wednesday, Mr. Shehu noted that the “NNPC is a trustee for the nation – and this means it must manage its finances with prudence and for the long-term to safeguard the financial support it bestows on our country. What the governors are asking of NNPC is to “break the bank” for their own profligate political ends”.
“Similar profligacy and contradiction are in full view with their call to the Central Bank to appreciate the value of the Naira. This would damage exports – including oil revenues on which NNPC depends – as well as damage small businesses and employment. But an appreciated currency would benefit those spending on luxuries from abroad – this, no doubt, being the leading desire of a typical PDP governor.
“When the governors claim a lack of federal institutions’ money pouring into their States’ coffers is an affront to democracy, constitutionalism, and federalism, they fail to mention the ugliest trend against the integrity of Nigeria comes by own hands with their refusal to support the Federal Government’s earnest desire to reinstate the local government as the third tier and finding a lasting solution to farmer-herder conflicts costing the nation lives and livestock.
“This initiative brings rights and support for generations of all ages to bring solutions to challenges that different communities of our country have faced but the PDP governors reject it – denying all Nigerians their constitutional right to live and work in any state of the Federation – preferring to appeal to ethnic division and hatred rather than support the first practical solution offered since independence,” the president’s spokesman stated.
Mr. Shehu also was of the opinion that the governors appealed to each other for more involvement of states in mining and geophysical activities within their states, which does beg the question as to why it has taken them so long.
According to him, such opportunities and states’ powers have been fully available since independence – yet only now do the PDP realise it.
“And, of course, the PDP grieve over the Federal Government’s action over Twitter – for it represents the curtailment of their ability to use the platform to spread fake news and invented stories to the detriment of community and good-neighbourliness between the peoples of Nigeria,” the president’s media aide stressed.
In his summation, Mr. Shehu said the PDP Governors propose no solutions to any of the nation’s challenges in the face of COVID and global economic downturn: “instead, they grasp for more money and mourn their lack of access to social media to spread falsehoods and hate”.
He further opined that their statement is evidence if any were needed, as to why the President and the APC ended the PDP’s one-party rule in 2015, why the ruling party was re-elected by an increased margin in 2019, and why their winning trend is set to continue far into the future.