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Saturday, December 16, 2017

President Muhammadu Buhari Refuses To Break Silence, As APC’s $1 Billion For The Fight Against Boko Haram Tears Nigeria Apart


President Muhammadu Buhari Refuses To Break Silence, As APC’s $1 Billion For The Fight Against Boko Haram Tears Nigeria Apart

President Muhammadu Buhari has since maintained a dignified silence, following the decision of the All Progressives Congress-led, APC, Governors Forum, to take $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account, ECA, to prosecute the war against Boko Haram.

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of the National Economic Council, NEC, meeting, presided over by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday, had said the Governors Forum made the approval.
Post-Nigeria could recall that the approval was made when Buhari was still in faraway France, during the Climate Change Summit.
In reaction, Junaid Muhammed, a vocal Northern political leader and a member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic, noted that he was not bothered by the amount of money spent on the fight against the insurgent group, but that the protracted war appeared to have become a “cash cow” for some people.
“I am not bothered by the $1 billion approved to fight the insurgents. Whatever should be done to defeat this terrorist group must be supported by all of us. But the problem is that President Buhari seems not to be in charge.
“My problem has nothing to do with the $1 billion approved from the Excess Crude Account to fight Boko Haram. But it seems Boko Haram has been turned into a cash cow, and some people and a crop of Officers are making money from the insurgency. Whatever amount spent on the fight must be properly accounted for.
“There are problems between the EFCC and the SSS, and there is no coordination at all, and we do not know who is in charge of all these security Agencies. Buhari seems not to have the gut to call to order all these various security Agencies”, he said.
Also reacting, the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, described the approval of the $1 billion by the Governors, as “the foisting of the greatest heist on the country”, with Nigerians having been told by the Federal Government that the Boko Haram group had been defeated.
The Spokesman of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, revealed that the government was not sincere with Nigerians on the purpose the $1 billion was meant for, adding that the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai, and the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had separately told Nigerians that the insurgent group had been defeated.
“The Chief of Army Staff had a Press Conference in Borno recently, where he claimed that the Army killed some Boko Haram suspects, and a BBC Journalist asked if they were not killing innocent people, since they claimed Boko Haram had been defeated.
“So, where is the phantom terrorist they are going to fight with this fund that is more than the annual budget of many States in Nigeria? Besides, the slush account called ECA belongs to the three tiers of government; how can the Federal Government alone spend the money on it? Is the power of appropriation now with the National Economic Council (NEC), or still with the National Assembly?
“It is becoming increasingly unfortunate that some people may be exploiting the Boko Haram war to feather their nests. The President should convince Nigerians that the hope reposed in him to fight corruption in Nigeria is not a mirage, by stopping this haemorrhage”, the Afenifere said.
Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, also disagreed with the disbursement of the funds, and quickly claimed that he was not part of the Governors who gave the approval. He further stated that the money was not meant for fighting Boko Haram, but to fund the re-election bid of Buhari in 2019.
Also, the Rivers State government said it smacked of doublespeak for the Federal Government, to get an approval of $1 billion to prosecute its war against Boko Haram, when it had once claimed to have defeated the group.
Speaking on the issue, the state Commissioner for Information, Emma Okah, said it was strange for the Federal Government to get an approval for such a huge amount from the ECA, to prosecute a war it claimed to have won.
“The Boko Haram insurgency is a Federal Government problem. The government had once claimed to have won the war, yet it is still going ahead to take such a large chunk of public money to fight same war.
“More importantly, since it is a Federal Government problem, the government should carry the burden, instead of spreading it over to the State Governments. The State Governments are still battling with the payment of salaries, and their problems should not be further compounded”, he said.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in its reaction, said it had observed as curious and alarming, the decision of State Governors to cede $1 billion of Excess Crude Account, ECA, to the Federal Government to fight the insurgency in the North-East.
The leading opposition party, in a statement issued in Abuja, on Friday, described the approval for the release of the money to the APC-led Federal Government under the guise of fighting insurgency in the North-East, as “curious and alarming”, pointing out that the terrorists had already been defeated, going by the government’s own proclamation.
The statement, signed by the PDP 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 since defeated.
The PDP also wondered why the Federal Government had to recourse to the National Economic Council, NEC, while “avoiding the direct constitutional appropriation channel of the National Assembly, for funding of items already provided for in the federal budget, if it actually has nothing to hide.
“The PDP supports the fight against the 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 claimed purpose of the fund.
“Nigerians will 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 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 statement said, as the party also noted that the development had rubbished the integrity of the current administration, and demanded that it apologised to Nigerians for lying to them about the actual state of the fight against insurgency in Nigeria.

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