While speaking at the graduation ceremony of the College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti last weekend, the governor of Ekiti state, Ayo Fayose, made a nonfactual statement about the federal allocation disbursed from the federation account last month.
The governor claimed at the event that the amount distributed to the states was the lowest ever federally distributed allocation. Fayose therefore called on Buhari to address the nation on the state of the economy.
While it is true that the amount shared was very low, it wasn’t the lowest this year. And that was the point which President Muhammadu Buhari emphasised in a rebuttal to Fayose.
In a statement signed by special assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, the presidency used data to show that “the governor got his facts wrong.”
Shehu pointed out correctly that contrary to Fayose’s claims, the lowest monthly allocation in the last 12 months, amounting to N358 billion, was distributed in May this year under the PDP government, adding that the figure rose to N380 billion in June before it fell to N373 billion in October.
“Records obtained from the Ministry of Finance show that the decline in federally collected revenues shared by the three tiers didn’t just set in but had become clearly manifest under the PDP administration. In February, N480 billion was distributed. In March it was N459bn; April, N385bn; May, N357bn; June N389bn, and July, N526bn. In August, N499bn was paid out; September, N412bn and N374 in October,” Shehu said.
He further bashed the governor and his party, PDP, while explaining that the decline in revenue has chiefly been caused by the drastic fall in oil prices, “compounded by the free-wheeling crude oil theft which was allowed to thrive under the PDP administration in which Governor Fayose was a leading character.”
“Fayose equally knows full well that his party in government ruined the economy to the extent that workers in 27 states went for several months without salary. This crisis situation has now been reversed in nearly all the states. Governor Fayose is himself in line for the collection of his state’s bailout.
“Under the PDP federal government, ministries were not given overhead costs for five months while the capital budget was unpaid for six months in the run-up to the exit of the PDP administration. Is there anyone in that party with a moral justification to criticise the Buhari administration which is working hard to clean up the mess they (PDP) left behind?”
Expressing optimism,especially in the face of the huge fears about the general lack of direction of the economy under Buhari, the presidency said the low allocation under the present administration was a temporary phase that would soon go away, “as the various measures put in place by the government to block leakages in revenue generation come to fruition”.
On how the problem of declining allocation would be addressed, Shehu said: “Non-oil revenue is expected to rise substantially with the effective take-off of the Treasury Single Account (TSA). With this in place, government now has a framework for understanding the picture of accruable revenues in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). They will no longer tax and spend, but do so only in line with their budgets.
“Reforms and the close monitoring in the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Customs are all expected to shoot up federally collected revenues and would, in a short period from now, start to move the country from over-reliance on oil as promised by the president.”
“Governor Fayose needs to be advised to desist from spreading falsehood against the person and government of President Muahmmadu Buhari as has become characteristic of him. He needs to get his facts right before making accusations of the nature he makes,” the statement said.
Typically, Fayose has responded. However, rather than address the points on the nonfactuality of his claims, he decided to tackle the presidency for “advising the Ekiti State Governor to stop speaking on the running of the economy by the federal government.”
Speaking through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, the governor said the statement from the presidency was a demonstration of military dictatorship mentality.
Olayinka said that it was sad for the presidency to be warning a Nigerian, who is heading one of the country’s federating units on what to say and what not to say. Checking the statement by the presidency however, it is clear that at no time was Fayose advised not to speak on the economy, rather he was asked not to spread falsehood about it.
The Ekiti statement was silent on the facts concerning the allocation as Olayinka chose instead to criticise the FG over the state of the economy. He maintained that the country’s economy was in serious recession, adding that; “the president himself attested to this when he said that the country was broke and this has also been corroborated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group financial report, indicating that the corporation incurred a total loss of N120.07bn in the months of August and September.”
According to the statement, “JP Morgan is also removing Nigeria from its Emerging Market Bond Index, a move analysts say would have far reaching implications for the country’s dwindling economy as investors could move their funds to competing countries, resulting in higher lending rates.
“It is therefore a sad reminder of the military era that in a democracy, under a federation in which all federating units enjoy some degree of autonomy, the Presidency is warning a State Governor on what to say and what not to say.
“Top functionaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC), including State Governors criticised the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government of Dr Goodluck Jonathan, the Presidency did not go about warning them.
“Certainly, these people working with the President need to be purged of Acquired Immune Military Dictatorship Syndrome (AIMDS), even as they must be told that Governor Fayose won’t stop speaking his mind and exposing their hypocrisy in the overall interest of Nigeria and its people.”
Speaking further, the governor’s aide said “Nigerians are desirous of the change promised by the APC led federal government, but as it stands, no clear direction yet.
“Rather than engage credible Nigerians to help in the revive of the ailing economy, what we have seen from the APC Presidency is appointment of their cronies and political robbers as well as harassment of perceived political opponents with anti corruption agencies and men of the Department of State Security.”
He said it was not in the interest of the President for his aides to take on Governor Fayose, adding that; “leaving issues and attacking Fayose is like hitting ones head on the rock.”