APC, PDP Clash Over N804.7 bn Bail Out Funds

THE Presidency and the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, were sharply divided, yesterday, over the sources of the N804.7 billion relief package being worked out to bail out many states of the country from their unpaid salaries burden

While the PDP said that a significant amount of the princely sum came from savings left behind by the out-gone administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan, the Presidency disagreed, arguing that the money came from proceeds of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG).
The Presidency also refuted some media reports that the presidential relief package was drawn from the Excess Crude Accounts, ECA, stressing that the ECA is intact. This came as state governments, the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and some eminent Nigerians lauded President Muhammadu Buhari over the relief package, saying itwill help boost the economy.Upon assumption of office on May 29,  President Muhammadu Buhari said the departing PDP government left an empty treasury and pleaded with Nigerians for patience as they await urgent implementation of his change agenda.
Buhari, APC should learn from PDP and save for the rainy day –PDP
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, the PDP said that the bailout would go a long way in alleviating the sufferings of Nigerian workers in various states of the federation, most of whom have been without their wages for several months.
The party, however, noted that a significant amount of the bailout came from savings accumulated in the Excess Crude Account handed over to the Buhari administration by the past Jonathan-led administration.
“This development is in clear contradiction to the earlier impression given by President Buhari to Nigerians and the international community that they should not expect much from his administration in its first 100 days because according him, on assumption of office, he met a virtually empty treasury.
“We want to believe that given the President’s release of such huge amount, he may have realized that he was earlier misdirected on the actual financial state of the nation at the time he took over. In this regard, we expect the President, as a respected statesman to do the needful to correct that erroneous impression.
“Furthermore, we expect President Buhari’s APC administration as direct beneficiary of this savings initiated by past PDP administrations to appreciate the strategic importance of always saving for rainy days and as such guarantee prudent and transparent management of the nation’s resources now under its care.”
Continuing, the PDP urged members of the APC to put their house in order and stop distracting President Buhari by allowing him settle down for the business of governance.
Metuh said: “The party therefore charged the APC as a party in government to put its house in order, desist from injecting confusion and distracting the President from settling down to form a government and face the enormous challenges of governance, especially the implementation of his long list of campaign promises to Nigerians.
“It said Nigerians are no longer interested in insults, tirades and propaganda but in actions and policies that would move the nation forward, a stance the APC has failed to recognize.’’
PDP lied—Presidency
Reacting to the PDP’s claims that a significant amount of the bailout fund came from the ECA left by former President Jonathan, the Presidency clarified that the fund was generated from proceeds paid in by NLNG.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said: “Let me say that no money was taken from the Excess Crude Account. I was present two weeks ago when the governors met with the President, one of them (governors) called his attention to the fact that he had heard that Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, had paid in some dividends to Nigeria.
“Let me also add that in the course of their courtesy visit last week, the board of NLNG announced to the president that they had made the payment. So in a similar way, the President was just informed about this money last week.”
Indeed, the presidency had before the telephone chat with Malam Garba Shehu refuted some media reports that the presidential relief package was drawn from the  ECA, stressing that the ECA remains intact.
It said that the bail out was drawn from the dividends realized from the proceeds of the Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG), a special intervention relief fund from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN and a debt restructuring deal by the Debt Management Office, DMO.
It will be recalled that the Accountant-General of the Federation, AGF, Ahmed Idris, on Monday told State House Correspondents that the three tiers of government were to share about $1.7 billion, equivalent of N391 billion.
But a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina yesterday overruled Idris on the ECA.
The statement read thus: “Reports in sections of the  media today that funds will be drawn from the Excess Crude Account for the relief package approved by President Muhammadu Buhari for states and local governments, are incorrect. For the purpose of greater clarity on the matter, the measures approved by President Buhari to deal with the problem of unpaid public sector salaries in many states are as follows:
*The sharing of the  $2.1 billion dividend paid to the Federation Account by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG);
*A Central Bank-packaged special intervention fund that will offer financing to the states, ranging from N250 billion to N300 billion. This will be a soft loan available to states for the purposes of paying backlog of salaries; and
*A debt relief programme designed by the Debt Management Office which will help states restructure their commercial loans currently put at over N660 Billion, and extend the life span of such loans while reducing their debt-servicing expenditures.
“The measures approved by President Buhari definitely do not include drawing down the remaining balance in the Excess Crude Account or the “liquidation” of the account as some media outlets have wrongly reported. No such decision has been taken or approved by President Buhari, and  last week’s meeting of the National Economic Council clearly concluded that the Excess Crude Account should be left untouched at this time.”
APC hails Buhari for ending workers’ mystery
Reacting to the development, the APC has hailed President Buhari for coming to the aid of the long-suffering Nigerian workers with a multi-billion-naira package that will not only ensure that all arrears of salaries owed by many states across the country are immediately paid, but will also make it easier for the states to meet their monthly salary obligations henceforth.
In a statement issued in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said it was particularly delighted that the President has shown that he is truly the father of the nation by eschewing partisanship in approving the intervention fund for all the states, irrespective of which parties they belong to.
‘’We say this because when states were financially handicapped during the tenure of the last federal government, opposition states were hung out to dry why states belonging to the then ruling PDP got generous bailouts.’’
APC said by his action, President Buhari has practicalized his deep understanding of the essence of governance which, more than anything else, is about the well being of the citizenry.
The party said worthy of note and commendation is the fact that the special intervention fund approved by President Buhari was packaged without any external borrowing, despite the paucity of funds occasioned by the fall in the price of crude oil and the unprecedented profligacy of the immediate past administration that dried out the pot of national resources.

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