By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA- Governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic, Party, PDP, Thursday, flayed Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu over the statement he authored on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari wherein he said the PDP governors were seeking more money “for their own profligate political ends.”
Vanguard reports that the PDP governors had in a communiqué after their meeting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital, recently, called on the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, to review revenue sharing formula with a view to making more money available to states to execute their developmental projects.
They also called for the appreciation of the naira against the dollar among other recommendations.
The Presidency in a statement signed by Shehu however argued that “an appreciated currency will benefit those spending on luxury items abroad; being the leading desire of a typical PDP governor.”
In a statement signed by Cyril “CID” Maduabum, Director General of the PDP Governors’Forum, the governors said the counsel they availed the federal government was in the best interest of the country.
The statement read in part: “Our attention has been drawn to a poorly worded and pedestrian statement issued by Alhaji Garba Shehu on behalf of Mr. President in response to the patriotic and weighty issues of state raised by the PDP Governors’ Forum (PDP-GF) in their Communique after meeting.
“The statement betrays the abysmal ignorance, lack of appreciation of the issues raised in the PDP communique. It is unbelievable that such low quality response could come from Nigeria’s seat of power.
“He celebrates the non remittance of funds by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to the Federation Account because they should not ‘break the bank’ for PDP Governors. What a pity!
“The duty and responsibility of NNPC to pay revenues into the Federation Account is not a matter of discretion by NNPC. It is an imposition of law.”
According to the statement, “the constitutional provisions on public revenue is clear. Section 162. (1) of the Constitution says, ‘The Federation shall maintain a special account to be called “the Federation Account” into which shall be paid all revenues collected by the Government of the Federation, except the proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the Ministry or Department of Government charged with responsibility for Foreign Affairs and the residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“It is a demonstration of impunity and gross abuse of law for NNPC to continue to disregard the unmistakable mandatory constitutional provisions above. It is even more shocking for the Presidency as an institution to embody the desecration of our constitution in such a flippant, brazen and unserious manner as portrayed by the presidential spokesman,” it added.
The governors also added that the NNPC and other revenue generating agencies of the federal government have “mandatory obligations to pay into the Federation Account all its revenue after deducting legitimate cost of operations.
“Fuel subsidy or other profligate expenditures are not part of the cost of production. When NNPC makes its contributions to the Federation Account, the federal governments share in the Federation Account can be spent by it in a manner it desires. NNPC cannot spend money belonging to the other tiers of government for them.
“This is the way the constitution is designed by its authors. Mr President cannot change the constitution at his pleasure. Perhaps these matters are too complex for Garba Shehu to comprehend!
“The states and local governments in Nigeria bear the brunt of education, health care, water, food production, infrastructure such as roads, and increasingly the security of lives and property among others.
“The states and local governments share of the Federation Account does not belong to governors. Certainly not to PDP governors! The case made by the PDP governors communique concerns all the states and local governments in Nigeria, not only PDP.
“Garba Shehu celebrates the fact that naira is now over N500 to a dollar in the parallel market. If his statement represents the thinking of the APC federal government, then we are in more trouble than we think.
“The implication of the fall of the naira for cost of goods and services, including the price of food and basic needs of Nigerians is becoming unbearable for the average Nigerian. It has made even the recent minimum wage increases almost useless. But of course, those ensconced in the Presidential villa do not feel it,” the statement added.
They also chided President Buhari’s recent suspension of Twitter, saying it is an attempt to stifle free speech in the country.