Monday, June 14, 2021 10:40 pm
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum says the Country’s current debt of over N36 trillion is becoming clearly unsustainable.
The governors warned that the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration will plunge the country into avoidable bankruptcy if rising debt profile is not checked.
The forum of PDP Governors made the assertion at the end of their meeting, held at the Government House, Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State on Monday.
In a fourteen-point communiqué read by Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, who chaired the meeting, the PDP Governors frowned at the rising and seemingly uncontrollable debt profile of Nigeria with over 80% of normal Appropriation spent on debt servicing.
“All the gains of the PDP Government under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, where Nigeria exited its foreign debt obligations has been destroyed. Borrowing for frivolous items such as funding the Nigerian Television Authority is scandalous. Money should only be borrowed for productive purposes as Nigeria’s current debt of over N36 Trillion Naira is becoming clearly unsustainable relative to our earnings and GDP.”
The meeting also frowned at the opaque manner the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) carries out its operations, particularly its recent decision not to make statutory contributions to the Federation Account, thereby starving the States and Local Governments and indeed Nigerians of funds needed for employment, development and general wellbeing.
“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. The Federal government through NNPC is a manager of our oil wealth merely as A TRUSTEE for all Nigerians.”
The PDP governors decried a situation where the NNPC decides in a totally discretionary and often whimsical manner, how much to spend, how to spend it and how much to remit to the Federation Account, contrary to the letters and even the spirit of the 1999 Constitution.
In attendance were Governors: Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Nyesom Ezenwo Wike (Rivers) Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Samuel Ortom (Benue State), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
Others were Governors Oluseyi Makinde (Oyo), Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri (Adamawa), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Deputy Governor Mahdi Mohd (Zamfara).
The PDP governors demanded that States should have a say in determination of the operating cost of other agencies of Government such as Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Federal Inland Revenue Services, Customs and Excise and similar organisations that are statutorily required to make contributions into the Federation Account, to ensure transparency and accountability.
The meeting expressed deep concern that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is operating as an independent government within a Government, which is a pervasion of the autonomy of the Bank.
“A situation where CBN creates money, decides how much of it to spend, on what to spend it on 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, dabbling into every sphere and scope of governmental activity, not just as a lender of last resort, 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 called for the resignation of the chairman and members of Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission for failure to send the revised Revenue Allocation Formula that will make more resources available to States and Local Governments where ordinary Nigerians reside, to President Muhammad Buhari for onward transmission to the National Assembly for enactment.
The PDP governors, who also examined the suspension of TWITTER in Nigeria, condemned the personalised reasons given for the action by the presidency and demanded a review of the action in national interest.
“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. We hope that this is not a harbinger or early warning signs of descent into dictatorship.
“The meeting noted that social media regulation can only be done within the existing laws on the subject and should not be used as an attempt to punish or gag Nigerians from enjoying constitutionally guaranteed rights. Nigerian youths do not have adequate access to employment and a lot of Nigerians rely on TWITTER for their livelihood, businesses and self-employment.
“This will further worsen Nigeria’s 33% unemployment rate which is the highest in the world, improve Nigerians ranking as the country with second highest poverty rate in the entire world, all of which happened under APC’s unfortunate stewardship.”
The PDP Governors observed the emerging threats to the country’s democracy, constitutionalism and rule of law and cautioned the Federal Government to exercise power with restraint.
“The need for law and order is paramount to secure our nation but mindless killings of innocent civilians should be avoided and is hereby condemned. It is in the same vein that the meeting reiterated its earlier revulsion at any attack on security personnel and their property anywhere in the country as a criminal and egregious act for which perpetrators should be brought to book.”
The PDP governors noted with regret that President Buhari seem not to be aware that the coercive instruments 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 States have a role to play. Cooperation and synergy between States and the Federal Government in security operations is 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.”
The governors further reiterated the call for the National Assembly to expedite action in passing the Electoral Act and Constitution amendments to ensure restructuring and decentralisation of governmental powers and functions.
They extolled the virtues and achievements of Governor Udom Emmanuel for his prudence, and competence in the management of state resources.