By Ben Agande
Kaduna—Governor Nasir el-Rufai of of Kaduna State, yesterday, asked former President Goodluck Jonathan to take responsibility for presiding over the skewed distribution of Ecological Funds to only governors elected on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and his friends in other parties.
Jonathan had accused the governor of lying against him by claiming that only PDP states benefitted from Ecological Funds distributed by his administration in 2013.
But addressing a press conference in Kaduna, yesterday, Senior Special Assistant to Governor el-Rufai on Media and Publicity, Samuel Aruwan, said the issues raised by Mallam el-Rufai were not his personal opinions but the view of the committee he chairs.
According to the governor, rather than resort to attacks on his person, the former president should provide a rationale for presiding over the distribution of federal funds in a discriminatory manner.
He said: “Former President Goodluck Jonathan is not a man that can take responsibility for anything. In March 2015, not long after making a concession call to President Buhari, he summoned his party and asked its leadership to reject the results of an election whose winner he had congratulated in private.
“That effort at duplicity failed spectacularly and the will of the people prevailed. So, no one should be surprised that he is denying presiding over the skewed distribution of ecological funds. His denial begs the question.
“What special circumstances ensured that only states that were controlled by the PDP and its allied parties qualified for N2bn each? Is it not curious that not only were his allies the only ones who got the funds, but that the various ecological problems in all 17 states required the same N2 billion across the states?
“Almighty God made it possible for the sun to shine on all. But Dr. Jonathan exercised his powers as President as if he governed for only his party or his family. The Jonathan government was so conscious that there was something untoward with sharing public funds in that manner that they did not publicize the payments to their preferred states.”
“Dr. Jonathan cannot argue with the facts. The payments are in the records of the Ecological Fund. He knowingly engaged in discriminatory disbursement of federal funds. The legality of that is open to question, despite the existence of presidential discretion.”
Giving a background to what transpired, the Kaduna State governor said: “On Thursday, May 25, 2017, Malam Nasir El-Rufai presented an interim report of the National Economic Council (NEC) Ad-Hoc Committee on the management of Ecological Fund.
‘’This committee was set up on April 27, 2017, with 11 members, including seven governors, ministers and Permanent Secretaries.
“Following the presentation of the Interim Report, Malam Nasir El-Rufai briefed the press on the highlights of the report in his capacity as chairman of the ad-hoc committee. The Interim Report detailed how 17 states each received N2bn direct support from the Ecological Fund in 2013.
‘’The states are Abia,Anambra,Bauchi, Bayelsa,Benue,Cross River,Gombe, Kaduna,Katsina,Kebbi, Kogi,Ondo,Plateau,Ebonyi,Delta,Enugu and Taraba.
“19 other states and the FCT did not receive this direct support. Any perusal of this list shows clearly which party controlled them as at 2013. Fifteen of the 17 recipient states had governors from the PDP, while the governors of Ondo and Anambra were from PDP-allied parties.
‘’As the chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Malam Nasir El-Rufai drew the attention of NEC and the public to this skewed pattern of allocating the Ecological Fund.
“Former President Goodluck Jonathan has responded to this disclosure by launching a personal attack on Malam Nasir El-Rufai. He did not make a distinction between a committee of the National Economic Council and the person chairing it.
‘’While this is unfortunate and calculated to draw the headlines, Dr. Jonathan strained to explain away this strange pattern of fund allocation. But the facts are not deniable. They are in official records, and cannot be erased by slinging mud at people.
“ Thankfully, Dr. Jonathan did not deny that the N2bn payments were skewed to certain states. His mindset in trying to create an equivalence between those payments and federal support for the green wall projects in some of the northern states can be easily seen as a disingenuous argument.”