By Onyebuchi Ezigbo â€¨in Abujaâ€¨
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has accused the Jonathan administration of willfully converting the money accruing from SURE-P to campaign funds.
The party said the crisis that is now tearing apart the Lagos chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the sharing of SURE-P funds among its members in the state, has vindicated its (ACN) stand that the funds meant to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal have now become a-2015-campaign war chest for President Jonathan.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said when it alerted the nation to the abuse of the SURE-P funds in a statement on February 3, 2013, the federal government as well as SURE-P managers rushed to deny any abuse of the funds and called the party (ACN) unprintable names.
“On the basis of this, we are now calling for an independent investigation into how the money accruing to SURE-P has been disbursed since the inception of the programme, with a view to establishing to what extent the funds have been abused, and in order to prescribe the appropriate sanctions for those found culpable,” it said.
ACN said by the disclosures by members of the PDP themselves, no one should be left in any doubt that the SURE-P funds have now become campaign funds for President Jonathan and his party ahead of 2015.
''Today, the truth has prevailed as the PDP members themselves have confirmed that the SURE-P funds are being shared among them across the federation.
''Thanks to the alleged hijacking of the SURE-P funds meant for the PDP members in Lagos State by the Bode George faction and the crisis that it has generated, the nation can now see that the Jonathan administration has willfully converted the money accruing from SURE-P to campaign funds.
''This is a very serious violation of the constitution, because the State Implementation Committee (SIC), a body not recognised by law, has been set up to distribute the SURE-P largesse to PDP members in all the states. Recall that money being spent on fuel subsidies was in the past taken out of the Federation Account, hence it 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, part of the funds are now available for the federal government to share freely by approving contracts, programmes and activities in accordance with its whims and caprices. The PDP-controlled- federal government has now seen the accruing huge funds as money which may well be spent with special favour for its cronies and party affiliates, without regard to the constitution. For President Jonathan, this is an impeachable offence,'' ACN said.
The party further alleged that most - if not all - state coordinators for the President Jonathan's campaign in 2011 are also the current state coordinators for SURE-P, adding that this is not a mere coincidence but a well-orchestrated attempt to give the Jonathan campaign an unfair head-start ahead of 2015 - with public funds.
It listed some of the coordinators as Alhaji Bode Oyedele (Lagos); Mr. Joseph Ishekpa (Nasarawa); Alhaji Garba A. Kurfi.(Katsina): Alhaji Aliyu Mamman (Niger); Alhaji Adamu Yaro Gombe (Gombe); Hon. Femi Akinyemi (Ekiti); Jarigbe Agbom Jarigbe (Cross River); Chief Abdullahi Ohioma (Kogi); Mr. Dare Adeleke (Oyo); Alhaji Al-Kasim Madoka (Kano) and Alhaji Kolo Bukar (Borno).
On the crisis in Lagos PDP over the SURE-P largesse, ACN said a public statement by a faction of the PDP in Lagos has let the cat out of the bag.
It quoted the PDP faction as having said in the statement that, "'Bode Oyedele cannot coordinate Sure-P in Lagos State. We reject him. He has packed all Bode George’s agents as Sure-P beneficiaries. Is this the objective of Sure-P? Some local governments like Eti-Osa, Ajeromi, Lagos Islands, etc. Please find out how they got the beneficiaries.
''In Eti-Osa there are names of criminals as beneficiaries, especially Ward HI. This is a waste of subsidy money and defeating the objective of the programme. There are responsible eminent citizens who should be contacted to verify and screen the submission of names for beneficiaries but Bode George’s loyalists are putting names of touts and miscreants for his own personal agenda.
“We won’t allow this to happen. We intend to go to court to obtain an order to dissolve the state executive if the caretaker committee won’t do it," it said.