PDP Demands Transparency On N1.3tr COVID-19 Intervention Fund

By Amara Christa

****Says APC Wrecked Nigeria’s Economy

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)  declared that it is worried over allegations of corruption in handling of the N1.3 trillion set aside to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on the economy.

The party therefore called on the federal government to come clean on the source of the intervention especially on the specific intervention projects where the fund will apply as well as the level of involvement of other tiers of government and private stakeholders.

Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had last week declared that it will bolster manufacturing and other key sectors of the economy by 1 trillion naira ($2.7 billion) to counter the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak.

The national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, however said, “The PDP is worried over allegations of corruption in handling of the N1.3 trillion set aside to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on the economy.

“Our party demands ultimate transparency. The Federal Government should come clean on the source of the intervention, the specific intervention projects where the fund will apply, the level of involvement of other tiers of government and private stakeholders, as well as the mode of disbursements and monitoring.

The PDP demands that the COVID-19 interventions be allocated to the three tiers of government for effective delivery and monitoring.

“Furthermore, the PDP calls on all economic stakeholders, particularly in the private sector, to immediately rally to articulate solutions and palliative measures, since it is clear that the Buhari-led APC government is clueless and has no solution to offer.

“The PDP urges the economic stakeholders to articulate ways to effectively diversify our economy and provide jobs using the all-inclusive measures implemented by PDP administrations to effectively grow the economy as well as successfully handle emergencies such as the Ebola virus disease.” he said.

Ologbondiyan also blamed the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Mihammadu Buhari Presidency of wrecking the nation’s economy, noting that there is no hope in sight under their control.

He added that the current administration should be held responsible for the devaluation of the naira due to its failures.

The party therefore asked the President to “immediately end all tactless economic policies, accept failure, seek help and get more competent hands to work on the economy, develop strategies to strengthen the naira as well as paddle our nation out of the current economic quandary.”

The party also added that the government should end what it called its exclusionist policies and allow competent Nigerians, who are now being engaged by other countries, to help out.

“The Buhari-led APC administration should immediately cut down the size of its over-bloated government and plug waste by clipping the luxury expenditure of the Presidency, cabinet ministers and other executive appointees while channeling billions of naira to be saved to national economy.”

The party also reiterated it’s call for the Buhari-led administration to shelve every plan of increasing the already excruciating taxes including the Value Added Tax (VAT) which it increased from 5% to 7.5%, with an attendant high costs on essential goods and services.

The opposition party also cautioned the federal government not to touch items that have direct bearings on the welfare of Nigerians over its plans to review the 2020 budget.

PDP asked the government to immediately “cut all over-bloated executive votes as well as expunge paddings and fraudulently duplicated items, which our party initially pointed out in the budget.”

The party further tasked the Buhari Presidency to immediately take steps “to recover the over N14 trillion stolen by APC cabals, including the N9trillion stolen oil money as detailed in the leaked NNPC memo and channel same to social palliatives.”

Ologbondiyan added, “The APC and Buhari Presidency have turned us into a beggar nation and the world poverty capital with their inherent recklessness and lack of capacity to articulate strategies that will sustain and grow our hitherto robust economy which they took over from the PDP in 2015.

“Nigerians are all aware that before the PDP left office in 2015, our party had succeeded in growing our economy with policies and programmes that boosted private sector participation to the extent that Nigeria was ranked the third fastest-growing economy, after China and Qatar, with capacity to lend to other countries.

“Today, the sheer incompetence, greed, reckless policies and deep corruption of the APC have reversed all these gains and destroyed our national economic capacities to the extent our nation can no longer finance our national budget.

“Our nation is currently in shambles with a drifting economy, a devalued currency (N380 to a dollar), collapsed infrastructure, a frightening 23.1% unemployment rate, high cost of essential goods, increased morbidity rate, reduced life expectancy and a despondent citizenry leaving our country in droves.

“This situation is worsened with the reckless foreign borrowing by the APC and its administration which today stands at an alarming $108 billion with no productive repayment plan; funds which have been exposed as being frittered and stolen by APC leaders and the cabal.

“It is on record that the APC, as a party, has never made any useful suggestion or contribution towards good governance. Of course it has no such propensity, being only a power-grabbing vehicle fabricated by treasury looters that have no interest in the welfare of Nigerians.

“More distressing is that the APC Federal Government has become overwhelmed, confused and now resorts to uncoordinated knee-jerk measures and lame excuses such as trying to heap the blames of our economic woes just on the COVID-19.

“It is however instructive to note that even before the COVID-19, our economy was already in shambles and had been on a free fall in the last five years, due to the incompetence and reckless policies of the Buhari administration

“It is also on record that our party had consistently pointed to the economic lapses of the Buhari-led APC administration with options on economic recovery, which were all ignored.

“President Buhari and the APC had persistently ignored wise economic counsels by well-meaning Nigerians, groups and even international organizations, who had consistently advised the government on the need to diversify our economy and boost private sector participation.

“Instead, the APC administration had continued to stifle foreign investments and cripple domestic production with its thoughtless exclusionist polices, inordinate lust for control, excessive taxes, repressive and exploitative export and import restrictions, suppression of open market participation, obnoxious forex policies, neglect of infrastructural development, abuse of human rights and disregard to the rule of law while failing in promises made to investors and domestic entrepreneurs. These have led to loss of investors’ confidence and crippling of strategic businesses across critical sectors.

“It is indeed wearisome that the Buhari administration had chosen to be laidback in the face of serious issues of governance. Nigerians can recall that when oil price dropped to $52 per barrel, below the $57 benchmark for the 2020 N10.95 trillion budget, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, while briefing newsmen at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting on March 4, 2020, admitted that the Government was not taking any measures but waiting, according to her, for a “reasonable time” to act.

“The minister’s declaration only confirmed that the APC Government failed to proactively engage other players in the international oil and gas market to adopt quick measure that would have protected our economy from the fallout of the international price war that triggered oil price crash, which now slumped to an alarming $28 per barrel.

“It is worrisome that while other countries quickly adopted measures to ease liquidity, the APC administration remained laidback and helpless, only to resort to knee-jerk measures.

“The result was that last week, not a single Foreign Portfolio investor participated in the Open Market Auction conducted by the CBN. That was a huge vote of no confidence on our system. The APC government later responded with a desperate measure of devaluing our currency to N380 to 1.USD at the Investor and Exporters (1&E) window; a development that has put our economy under more stress.

“It is therefore clear that our nation is doomed under APC and our challenges can only get worse under this dysfunctional party.”

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