By Sadiq Umar, Abuja.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to institute a probe into how the Company Income Tax/Education tax as well as dividends paid to the Nigerian government by the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) were spent by the last administration.
The call is coming against the backdrop of published reports that the funds were either not paid or partially paid into the Federation Account during the last administration.
In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Lai Mohammed,on Sunday, the party accused the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of distorting facts about the source of the $2.1 billion bailout approved for the three tiers of government by President Muhammadu Buhari.
It reiterated its earlier position that the money was not from the Excess Crude Account (ECA), describing PDP as skittish opposition.
“Whereas the Presidency corrected the initial erroneous report that the shared money was sourced from the Excess Crude Account (ECA), the skittish opposition continued to insist it was from the ECA and that it was part of the ‘savings’ by the Jonathan Administration.
“Well, we can tell Nigerians that the $2.1 billion was sourced from the $1.6 billion Company Income Tax/Education Tax paid to the FG on June 17th 2015, over two weeks after the Jonathan Administration left office, as well as the $500 million tax paid by Shell.
“We can tell Nigerians that this is the first time the payment of the Income Tax/Education Tax by the NLNG was being disclosed by any government, in addition to paying it into the Federation Account for sharing, hence those who call it their ‘legitimate’ earnings should be asked why they did not demand the sharing of such ‘legitimate’ earnings in the past.
“We can tell Nigerians that apart from the said $1.6 billion NLNG payment for 2015, NLNG also paid $1.4 billion as Income Tax/Education Tax in May 2014, paid $0.3 billion as Education tax to the FG in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and $1.2 billion in VAT and With-holding Tax to the FG since 2009. These payments are just those made in the past six years alone, hence there were other payments before then,” it said.
“In addition, dividend payments totalling $4,728,136,946 was paid to the FG between 2004 and 2009, out of which only $127,851,348.19 was credited to the FG’s Independent Account with JP Morgan, leaving a balance of over $4 billion.
The questions to ask therefore are why all the past taxes and dividends were neither fully paid into the Federation Account nor shared by the three tiers of government and what happened to the funds,” it queried.
According to APC, now that President Muhammadu Buhari has started to ensure that all funds due to the Federation Account are paid in there as well as plugging all financial leakages, in an effort to restore transparency to the system, it is important to let Nigerians know why all due funds were not paid into the Federation Account in the past and what happened to such funds.
The party also said that as part of the investigation, the PDP must be asked where it kept the $5.5 billion which it said was the dividend paid to the FG by the NLNG before the 29 May handover.
“Since, according to the PDP, President Goodluck Jonathan asked that the money be ‘left for the incoming administration to manage’. it is important for the party, therefore, to tell Nigerians in which account the money was ‘saved’ because it is definitely not in the Federation Account,” the party stated.
APC insisted that for any opposition to be credible, it must not only be factual and truthful, it must eschew pandering.
“Had the PDP embraced these cardinal principles, it would not have, in the rush to belittle the package that was approved for the states by President Buhari and to discredit his administration, engaged in outright lies and selective perception.
“While the PDP became fixated on the source of the money shared by the states, it forgot that there were were other measures in the package that included a special intervention fund of between N250b and N300b from the CBN as a soft loan available to states to access for the purposes of paying backlog of salaries.
“The PDP also forgot the debt relief programme designed to assist the states to restructure their commercial loans of N660b, with a view to extending the life span of such loans and reducing the states’ debt-servicing expenditures,” it said.
Adding, “That way, the states are freed from their perennial inability to pay workers’ salaries, and more funds are available to the various governments to use for the benefit of the people. They have forgotten that the only time in the country’s history that this kind of rescue package was made was also during the tenure of Muhammadu Buhari as military Head of State,” the party said.
It advised those who are showboating and distorting facts to tarry a while, as what they are seeing is just the first step in a long journey to clear the rot left behind by years of purposeless governance, plug all financial leakages, ensure that all funds due to the Federation Account are paid in there for the benefit of all Nigerians and bring to justice all those who have mismanaged or looted the commonwealth.
“The revelations concerning the deep rot in the system that will come in the weeks and months ahead will shock even the most ardent critics of the Buhari Administration’s salvaging efforts,” APC said.