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ALLEGED PRINTING OF N60BN: APC, PDP govs at war over Obaseki’s claims

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Court of Appeal dismisses APC’s alleged certificate forgery suit against Gov Obaseki
Governor Godwin Obaseki

….Obaseki is wrong, APC govs insist; say his accusation unfortunate, urge CBN’s Emefiele not to be distracted

…Leave Obaseki alone, PDP govs warn FG, APC govs

…His claims can’t be spurious —Wike

By Omeiza Ajayi & Dirisu Yakubu

Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and their Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, counterparts are currently at war over a statement credited to Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, that the Federal Government printed N60 billion to augment allocations to states from the federation account for the month of March.

While APC governors scolded Obaseki for the allegation, and asked the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, not to be distracted by such comments, PDP governors asked APC and its governors to leave the governor alone, saying Obaseki’s comment was an innocent advice on how the Federal Government can better manage the economy.

In a statement signed by Cyril Maduabum, Director-General of the PDP Governors Forum yesterday, the governors chided their colleagues in the ruling party for what they called “the partisan slant” that had since greeted Obaseki’s advice to the Federal Government on how best to manage its monetary policies.

APC gov’s intervention unhelpful — PDP govs

The statement read: “The PDP Governors Forum is alarmed at the partisan slant a patriotic advice to the Federal Government by Governor Godwin Obaseki  on its monetary policies has taken.

“It is unhelpful for the Progressive Governors Forum to join the fray in the manner it did by its recent statement attacking the bona fide of Governor Obaseki who merely warned the monetary authorities about the danger of uncontrolled use of Ways and Means, that is, the printing of Naira, to support government’s expenditure.

“Governor Obaseki has a background in economics and finance and is a very responsible governor who talks in a measured way. His advice, which by the way has been corroborated by none other than the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, himself, and the international ratings agency, Fitch, should be heeded rather than being crucified for sounding a note of caution.

“No doubt, the Federal Government has been supporting the states in the area of agriculture, budget, refund of federal government executed projects by states and a few other areas of intervention.

“Is CBN trying to be vindictive and vengeful by recalling its loans to the states because of an informed advice by a governor? It is unfortunate that governance has plummeted to this level.

“The Federal Government should plug financial leakages in the system and curb wasteful expenditure of billions of naira on projects that can be executed by the private sector and save a lot of money in the process, thereby relying less on ways and means by the CBN, which brings pressure on the Naira with its inflationary consequences.

“Inflation in Nigeria is currently at 18.2 per cent, the highest in recent years. We should all be concerned to find ways of stemming the tide.

“We are all involved in the urgent task of rescuing the economy of Nigeria and nobody should, indeed play the ostrich.”

Obaseki is wrong, APC govs insist

On their part, APC governors, under the aegis Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, debunked Obaseki’s claims.

Noting that the claims did not reflect the true position of things, the APC governors said given the significance of the statement from a sitting governor and the possible negative impact it had brought to the credibility of both the federal and state governments in managing government finances, they were obliged to clarify the issues.

The Forum in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by its Chairman, Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, said at first, the impression it got was that it was an off-the-cuff remark made in a private meeting, but “we were, however, shocked to see yet another response from our colleague to the rebuttal by the Minister of Finance, insisting that the March 2021 FAAC was augmented via the printing of money.”

The APC governors also urged the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele not to be distracted by Obaseki’s claims.

The APC governors’ statement read: “To set the records clear and to the best of our knowledge, the total distributable statutory revenue for the month of March 2021 was N596.94 billion.

“Due to the shortfall in gross statutory revenues by N43.34 billion, compared to the previous month, an augmentation was made in the sum of N8.65 billion from the Forex Equalization Fund Account, which brought the total distributable revenue to N605.59 billion.

“Federation revenues distributed monthly primarily consist of mineral revenues from the sale of oil and gas, as well as non-mineral revenues from Customs and Excise duties, company income tax, and Value Added Tax,” the APC governors said.

They admitted that there were periods when the country experienced significant fiscal shocks in federation revenues, but noted that the shocks were offset by other savings serviced from the federation account, including distributions from the domestic excess crude proceeds and the foreign excess crude savings account.

“These payments started since 2008 when the country first experienced fiscal shocks from the fall-outs of the global financial crisis of 2008 – 2009.

“As a trained economist who has been a governor since 2016, Mr. Obaseki is aware of all the support states have received from President Buhari in coping with the shocks that have resulted from COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic recession.

“Not only have we received budget support, bail-out support to meet salary obligations and infrastructure refunds to all states, this was implemented in the overall public interest without discrimination on the basis of party affiliation.

“This is why it is unfortunate and disingenuous to allege preferential treatment of APC states when PDP governed states are even greater beneficiaries of all the support,” said APC governors stated.

The governors said there was nothing “exceptional in this current review of economic orthodoxy because almost every Central Bank in the world is taking steps to support their government in coping with the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the national economy.

“This has become the norm rather than the exception, as all countries grapple with the deleterious effect of economic recession.”

‘Obaseki’s accusation unfortunate’

APC governors stated further: “This unfortunate and inaccurate assertion by Governor Obaseki becomes even more worrisome when juxtaposed with the official statement released after the meeting of PDP governors last week, calling for restructuring and greater devolution of powers to the states.

“It would appear that matters that require the collective resolve of all leaders are now being turned into purely partisan, point scoring claims.

“Every discerning Nigerian knows that the APC’s position on restructuring and devolution is clearly articulated and accurately captured in the report of Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s committee on True Federalism.

“APC Governors Forum has since made representation to NASS in furtherance of that position. However, since there are constitutional boundaries, we cannot usurp the responsibilities of NASS on constitutional reform process, having made our position known.

“These are challenging times for the country. The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the recent macro-economic challenges, has had a significant impact on government finances. “However, both the federal and state governments are working assiduously to confront the challenge through greater collaboration to increase independent government revenues, rationalize non-essential spending and improve the efficiency of public spending.

“Indeed, we are beginning to see the positive impact of these initiatives, given the country’s exit from recession in the first quarter of 2021.”

APC governors said while the right to criticize and hold alternative views was acknowledged, “all state governments have been equitably treated by both the Federal Government and national institutions, particularly the CBN.

“The support include, among others, bailouts, special interventions and various refunds that were owed to states prior to the Buhari administration.

“For example, as of June 2015, 27 states could not pay salaries but the Federal Government provided support to states to enable them pay salaries and pensions.

“The Federal Government equally refunded the long-standing claim by states on deductions made in 2006, wrongly, to pay the Paris Club debt. Furthermore, states were refunded various amounts for roads and other projects undertaken on behalf of the Federal Government.

“In addition to the above, the Central Bank of Nigeria designed and implemented various interventions which helped in stimulating economic activity in all the states, and contributed to the country’s quick emergence from recession in 2016 and 2021.

“Such interventions include the Anchor Borrowers Programme, Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme, Small and Medium scale enterprises support scheme as well as expansion of pre-existing programme such as Commercial Agriculture Credit.

“The world economy had been challenged in the last few years with fiscal and monetary authorities responding in various ways to support their respective economies.

‘’In all situations, the Central Bank had responded to ease credit and in a number of cases where interest rates were near zero, quantitative easing measures were undertaken to expand money supply to the economy.

Emefiele shouldn’t be distracted — APC govs

“Given the constraints faced by the Nigerian economy, the Central Bank of Nigeria had responded commendably well while still working hard on exchange and interest rates.

“We urge the governor, management and staff not be distracted. Equally, we are grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari and his team for the support and partnership extended to all the federating units.

READ ALSO: Anambra 2021: Waiting for Soludo?

“In addition to occasional meetings with Mr. President, the National Economic Council, chaired by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, meets every month and all issues are discussed transparently and exhaustively.

“It would, therefore, be helpful to admonish ourselves as leaders to work collaboratively in tackling these challenges rather than resort to cheap and demagogic point scoring in our quest to rescue the economy.”

Obaseki’s N60billion claim can’t be spurious—Wike

Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, says the claims by Edo state, Godwin Obaseki that  Federal Government printed about N60 Billion to share to the federating units in March cannot be regarded as spurious.

The governor, has meanwhile challenged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to unequivocally declare if money was printed or not.

Governor Wike stated this while briefing journalists shortly after he attended the child dedication of Mr and Mrs Uche Nwosu in Abuja on Sunday.

His word: “Obaseki was in APC, so he understands them. So, Obaseki couldn’t have come from the blues to say they printed N60 billion. He knows them.”

Governor Wike, said it was regrettable that instead of the Governor of Central Bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele to address the issue raised by Govenor Obaseki, he opted to issue a veiled threat to states to pay back bailout loan given to them by the federal government.

“Instead of answering the question he ( Emefiele) said governors have to pay back the bailout loan. Bailout is a loan, if you want to take it, go and take it. But answer the question whether money was printed or not printed.”

The governor said his decision to attend Uche Nwosu’s (the son in law of former Imo State governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha) child dedication, is devoid of politics or political affiliation.

He explained that his relationship with Senator Okorocha, who is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) started in 1999 when he was the chairman of Obio-Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.

“I’ve known him (Okorocha) since 1999 when I was chairman of council. I didn’t know him today, so I don’t  because of politics or whatever it is, abandon people. It is my character to always keep my friendship with people. It is not based on party or politics. Friendship is friendship.”

Governor Wike , urged Senator Okorocha and his wife not to be dispirited by the political persecution they are currently facing. According to him, the kind of political battle they have been through will cause them to rely on God and not on their mortal strength.

He further  charged Senator Okorocha to consider joining hands with Nigerians who are determined to pull Nigeria from the brinks of economic collapse to path of economic prosperity.

He lauded Uche Nwosu and his wife, Uloma, for organizing the praise and worship church service to dedicate their son to God.

Governor Wike, explained that the reason why he has been able to survive several fierce political battles is because he has never stopped to give thanks to God.

“Because of my thanksgiving they can never defeat me. The greatest Army is God.”

The founder of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo  said he has enormous respect for families and individuals who always return to show gratitude to God for what he has done for them.

The pastor commended Mr and Mrs Nwosu for dedicating their child to God. He maintained that whatever is dedicated to God shall never diminish.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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