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295 views | Akanimo Sampson | November 19, 2020
The Buhari administration has again come under the hammer of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as ministries, departments and agencies under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari do not appear to be on the same page with the president in the fight against corruption.
The obviously worried PDP is also calling on Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Fashola, to immediately come clean on reports in the public space that N4.6 billion public funds was funneled into private accounts during his tenure as Minister of Power, Works and Housing.
The putrefying stench of corruption is oozing out of the inner recesses of the Buhari administration as Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister, Zainab Ahmed, discloses that Nigeria is saving about N45 billion monthly through the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
Ahmed made this public as she signed, for Nigeria, a Memorandum of Understanding with The Gambia to avail the foreign nation Nigeria’s vast knowledge, experience and technical expertise on the TSA.
According to her, the MoU was based on the recommendation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revealing that The Gambia had in 2019 requested for technical cooperation with Nigeria to support its own transition to TSA.
At the MoU signing ceremony, the minister further stated that Nigeria will export other Public Financial Management reforms to The Gambia, adding, “the cooperation seeks to avail the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs of The Gambia with the vast knowledge, experience and technical expertise that Nigeria has gained in the past 15 years of implementing TSA in particular and other Public Financial Management reforms, in general.
“By so doing, The Gambia is properly guided as it implements its own TSA. The cooperation will enable The Gambia to leverage on the experience of Nigeria to build on our strengths while avoiding our mistakes.”
On the benefits of TSA implementation in Nigeria, Ahmed stated that it had helped the Federal Government to make monthly savings that run in several billions of naira.
She said, “Implementation of TSA has benefited Nigeria immensely. Among other verifiable benefits, we can now easily determine our aggregate cash balance which is critical for managing public finances at a time of acute fiscal constraints.
“In addition, we are saving an average N45bn monthly in interest payments. On the monetary policy side, we have better control over money supply and therefore are able to rein in inflation and undue pressure on the naira.”
The minister said the country’s foreign reserve position had also recorded appreciable improvement through the consolidation of Federal Government foreign currency earnings under the TSA.
Ahmed said it was her expectation that The Gambia would enjoy all of these benefits if they diligently implement the TSA.
In the mean time, PDP is charging the Buhari Presidency to speak out on the report which has further exposed the rot and humongous corruption going on in ministries, department and agencies under its watch, despite the much orchestrated anti-corruption stance and “holier than thou” attitude of its officials.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement says Nigerians were shocked by the revelations that between September and December 2019 alone, the sum of N4.6 billion was stolen through fraudulent payments in 654 tranches, without any explanatory details to 21 private accounts belonging to some faceless individuals and certain directors in the then Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, under Fashola.
‘’It is indeed appalling and of course revealing that such huge fraud, which is in direct contravention of Sections 7, 701 and 713 of our nation’s financial regulations reportedly occurred under Fashola’s watch’’, PDP says.
Section 713 clearly provides that no “public money shall be paid into a private bank account” and that “an official who pays public money into a private account is deemed to have done so with fraudulent intentions”.
The opposition party is inviting Nigerians to note that the pattern and route of this fraud points to a high level conspiracy to funnel out funds from the ministry to service some higher interests, which must be unraveled and the funds immediately recovered.
‘’Nigerians can now see why the nation’s power, housing and road infrastructure had remained in shambles despite the huge resources allocated for development under the Buhari administration. The public can now see how officials in the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration are recklessly plundering and looting resources meant for national development and blaming it on past administrations.
‘’Nigerians now know why our nation has been reduced to a beggar nation and why resources never get to projects they were voted for under the APC. If a whooping N4.6 billion is exposed to have been stolen in a space of two months in one ministry, one can only imagine how much has been stolen in the last five years in various ministries and departments by officials of the Buhari administration.
‘’Moreover the silence by Fashola and the Buhari Presidency over this very weighty revelation is heightening apprehensions of complicity in the public space’’, PDP said, and accordingly calls on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to take steps to invite Fashola and all those mentioned in this alleged fraud and ensure that the law takes its course on any one found wanting.