The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has tackled the Presidency over what it termed the shocking revelations by the National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Mongunu, on the whereabouts of $1 billion excess crude account security fund.
The opposition party, in a statement by its Spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, alleged that the NSA stated that “he was not aware of the whereabouts or disbursement of the money”.
A Presidential Spokesperson on Sunday, dismissed the allegations, describing the PDP as being under a ‘socioemotional distress.’
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the withdrawal $462 million from the ECA to the United States for the procurement of 12 Super Tucano aircraft, without a prior approval of the National Assembly.
In April 2018, a letter by the President to the National Assembly, said the U.S. Government had given a payment deadline for the aircraft purchase, hence, the need for the hasty approval and payment.
Buhari transmitted the letter to the National Assembly Leadership on April 13 and it was received in the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives on April 17.
The letter showed that Buhari had already given anticipatory approval for the withdrawal of $496.8 million (N151.4 billion) from the ECA for the purchase of the aircraft and was only seeking the inclusion of same in the 2018 Appropriation Bill that the National Assembly was finalising.
However, the PDP in its statement said that the ‘confession’ by the NSA, who coordinates the security architecture of the nation, directly places a huge burden on President Buhari.
It also lamented reported stealing and diversion of funds meant for security, while insurgency, banditry, killings and kidnappings fester in the land under his (Buhari) watch.
“The revelation by NSA further vindicates the PDP on our initial alarm that the All Progressives Congress, APC-led administration is overtly corrupt, deceptive and unreliable in the handling the affairs of our nation.
“It further validates the stance of the PDP that agents of the Buhari Presidency and the APC were hiding under the guise of security to siphon the $1 billion from the ECA.”
Ologbondiyan disclosed that this perhaps, “informed the desperation by the cabal to draw from the account without recourse to statutory due process of appropriation by the National Assembly.”
“From Gen Mongunu’s confession, Nigerians can further see why our nation is daily confronted with disturbing videos and reports of our fighting troops protesting their neglect and inadequate equipping, leading to their vulnerability in the fronts.
“Now that the National Security Adviser has declared that he is not aware of the whereabouts of funds, the burden, straightaway, lies squarely on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately address the nation on how the money was handled.”
The party said there were already allegations in the public space that certain funds meant for security were diverted for 2019 campaign activities of the APC “while our troops languished in the front.”
“Our party had always alerted Nigerians that the APC administration was insincere in the handling of the ECA fund leading to our demand in 2017 for the National Assembly to investigate the handling of the $1billion.”
The party further demanded that President Buhari allows for a system-wide investigation into the whereabouts of the $1 billion, as well as the handling of other funds meant for security purposes under his watch.
“Furthermore, the PDP invites Nigerians to note that such diversion of funds under the Buhari administration led to the articulation of a blueprint by Atiku Abubakar for a transparent system that eliminates siphoning of funds, particularly in our critical sectors.”
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson, Garba Shehu, on Sunday described the PDP as being under a ‘socioemotional distress.’
“They think that all governments in the world run on the basis of freewheeling looting as they did their own,” he said.
“It’s on record that the Buhari administration paid about USD 490 million for a dozen Super Tucano fighter aircraft in a direct, government-to-government (no Contractors or Commission Agents) transaction with government of the United State.
“Various other military procurements have been made. Balance of expenditure stands at about USD 880 million or so.
“Barring considerations of national security, the details of the stage of implementation, the procurements made and the suppliers will be obtained.”
He noted that full details of the procurement will be provided subsequently.
He accused the PDP of spending defence procurement funds on their “failed 2015 political campaigns” as proven in court. PDP has been the main opposition since 2015.
“That is not to say every succeeding government, more so one led by a Buhari will do the same,” Garba Shehu added.