The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has warned that the Federal Government’s current abuse of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), set up in the wake of last year’s partial removal of fuel subsidy, amounts to a gross violation of the country’s constitution and constitutes an impeachable offence.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the PDP-controlled federal government is now using part of the funds accruing to the programme to empower the party’s cronies ahead of the 2015 general elections, instead of using it for the benefit of all Nigerians.
It warned SURE-P’s head, Dr Christopher Kolade, a respectable citizen who is known for his transparency and integrity, not to allow the skewed and partisan implementation of the programme by the FG to tarnish his hard-earned reputation.
”Ordinarily, SURE-P seems laudable as it is aimed at the empowerment of the citizens through job creation and infrastructure development, but in reality, PDP apparachiks have hijacked it for the purpose of empowering only the party’s members.
They have created State Implementation Committees (SICs) to handle the disbursement of SURE-P cash to party members as a strategy to arm them with a war chest ahead of the 2015 elections.
”To make matters worse, the PDP is denigrating the traditional institution by using traditional rulers in some states as the conduit to distribute SURE-P funds, ostensibly to empower Nigerians but in reality to put money in the pockets of PDP supporters,” ACN said.
The party reminded the FG that only bodies created by law can disburse funds accruing to the Federation Account, and warned that since the SICs are not recognized by the law, it is an illegal body and its operations violate the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
”Money being spent on fuel subsidies was in the past taken out of the Federation Account, hence its is money that would have been divided among the three tiers of government in accordance with the revenue allocation formula.
”But by virtue of the SURE-P arrangement, the funds are now available for the FG to share freely by approving contracts, programmes and activities in accordance with its whims and caprices. The PDP-controlled FG has now seen the accruing huge funds as money which may well be spent with special favour for its cronies and party affiliates.
”This is very dangerous for the polity as the funds are now been used to empower PDP and its pointsmen to commence early preparations for the 2015 elections. It risks undulating the playing field ahead of the 2015 general elections, thus giving the ruling party an edge over the others,” it said.
ACN also warns that the abuse of SURE-P will simply create a monument to corruption, since accountability and transparency are being sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.
”The abuse of SURE-P by the PDP-led FG, which is now awash in free funds, may well blow up in Nigeria’s face unless urgent steps are taken to ensure due process in its disbursement and transparency, especially concerning the origin and track records of those who are eventually entrusted with this hard-earned money for the benefit of Nigerians.
”In any case, we will like to remind the FG that any kobo spent outside the ambit of the 2013 budget and without going through the regular governmental agencies and processes is illegal and fraudulent. Above all, it violates the constitution, which is crystal clear on the question of public expenditure. Therefore, setting up a phoney structure for the disbursement and expenditure of public funds will have grim consequences for all those involved,” the party warned.
The Peoples Democratic Party in the South West has described as mischievous and laughable the Action Congress of Nigeria’s claim that the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme has been hijacked by the PDP to empower only the party’s members.
The PDP said: “It is politics taken to a bizarre level and we hope these characters in the ACN won’t criticise God for creating human being in His own image one day.”
The PDP, which accused ACN-controlled states of siphoning their own share of the subsidy fund, added: “Instead of making noise on the implementation of the federal government’s SURE-P, the party should rather account for over the N10 billion Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti and Edo States share of the Subsidy Fund.”
In a statement signed by its Zonal Publicity Secretary, Hon. Kayode Babade, the PDP said: “We just read a statement from the ACN loudmouth, Lai Mohammed, claiming that the PDP-controlled federal government was using part of the funds accruing to the programme to empower the party’s cronies ahead of the 2015 general elections, instead of using it for the benefit of all Nigerians.
“The questions that we wish to ask the ACN is; assuming but not conceding that only PDP members and supporters are benefiting from the SURE-P programme, are the supposed PDP members and supporters not Nigerians?
“Who are the beneficiaries of the ACN controlled States’ share of the Subsidy Fund because the fund is shared among the Federal Government, States and Local Councils?
“As at today, there is no State in Nigeria that has not received more than N1.5 billion as its share of the Subsidy Fund and if the PDP-controlled federal government is empowering Nigerians with its own share, to whose pocket has the over N10 billion received by the ACN-controlled States gone?”
While berating the party for insulting traditional rulers in Yorubaland by accusing them of being used as conduit to distribute SURE-P funds, the PDP said: “Such a statement insinuating that our revered traditional rulers are being used to steal public fund is to say the least, reckless.
“It goes to further demonstrate the hatred these elements in the ACN have for our traditional institution and they must withdraw the statement and apologise to our Obas.
“As against their claim, Obas in the South-West have been very supportive in mobilising their people for the SURE-P and that was demonstrated particularly in Ekiti State where the Obas released their palaces for use for the distribution of the SURE-P recruitment forms for all and sundry.”
PDP’s Reaction culled from The Eagle Online
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