Squabble over NLNG Funds

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Lai Mohammed

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The ruling All Progressives Congress has asked President Muhammed Buhari to probe the past administration of the President Goodluck Jonathan over revenue accruing to the federal government coffers

THE All Progressives Congress, APC, and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are again at each other’s jugular over revenue accruing from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited, NLNG.

The APC wants President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan over an alleged $5.5bn dividends said to have been paid to the federal government by the NLNG. But the PDP said there was no such amount missing.

The ruling APC made the request in a statement signed by Lai Mohammed, national publicity secretary of the party, on Sunday, July 12, in which it also urged the Buhari administration to also probe the taxes and dividends accruable to the previous administration through the NLNG in the past six years.

The party said the probe had become necessary against the backdrop of an allegation by the PDP that the $2.1bn approved by Buhari to be shared among states of the federation was from the Excess Crude Account, ECA. The APC said that the $2.1bn was not taken from the ECA and that it was wrong and misleading of the PDP to make such an allegation.

“Whereas the Presidency corrected the initial erroneous report that the shared money was sourced from the Excess Crude Account, the skittish opposition continued to insist it was from the ECA and that it was part of the ‘savings’ by the Jonathan administration,” the APC said.

Olisah Metuh
Metuh

The ruling party, therefore, asked the federal government to probe the immediate past administration on where it kept the $5.5bn which it said was the dividend paid to the federal government by the NLNG before the May 29 handover, adding that the $5.5bn was not reflected in the system.

It advised the opposition to desist from telling lies, stressing that the Buhari government was committed to clearing the rot left by the past government and ensure that all funds due to the federation account were paid.

The statement said in part: “While the PDP became fixated on the source of the money shared by the states, it forgot that there were other measures in the package that included a special intervention fund of between N250bn and N300bn from the Central Bank of Nigeria as a soft loan available to states to access for the purpose of paying the backlog of salaries.

“The PDP also forgot the debt relief programme designed to assist the states to restructure their commercial loans of N660bn – with a view to extending the lifespan of such loans and reducing the states’ debt-servicing expenditures. That way, the states are freed from their perennial inability to pay workers’ salaries, and more funds are available to the various governments to use for the benefit of the people.”

But in a swift reply, Olisa Metuh, the PDP national publicity secretary, in a statement, described as “misleading and outright falsehood” the statement credited to the APC.

The statement said: “The truth is that the NLNG had been on a 10-year tax haven until 2014. Within this period, successive governments, right from President Olusegun Obasanjo, never shared nor tampered with the cumulative dividends.

“Whatever taxes paid from the NLNG went through the Federal Inland Revenue Services and recorded as part of the income of the Federal Government. It is imperative to note that by the end of the tenure of President Goodluck Jonathan, NLNG dividends had risen to a cumulative $5.6bn and not a single cent was ever taken from the funds.”

—  Jul 13, 2015 @ 11:35 GMT

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