Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the National Assembly to immediately commence action against President Muhammed Buhari for gross misconduct over what it said was his unilateral approval for the release of $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account for the procurement of military equipment to fight the insurgency in the North-east without getting legislative approval.
The party also urged Nigerians to reject and resist the renewed attempt by the presidency to allegedly loot $1 billion from the national coffers to finance Buhariâ€™s interests in the All Progressives Congress (APC)â€™s national convention and the 2019 general election.
At the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting in December last year, the federal government was given the nod by the state governors to withdraw $1 billion from the $2.31 billion left in the ECA to fight insurgency in the North-east.
The NEC decision, however, led to criticism from both the opposition PDP and some of the governors, notably Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose, at the time.
The National Assembly also joined the fray, saying it must be consulted before the withdrawal could be made.
Since then, nothing was heard of the money until the defence minister, Col. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd), disclosed last Wednesday that the president recently gave the approval for its use.
Dan-Ali was also silent on if the state Houses of Assembly had given the federal government the green light to withdraw the funds from the ECA, even after the governors had given the approval at the NEC meeting for the $1 billion to be taken from the account.
The PDP, in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity issued Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said its investigation had revealed that the presidency willfully sidestepped the National Assembly so as to avoid legislative scrutiny and accountability, and in order to pave the way for the diversion of the $1 billion for selfish partisan purposes.
â€œIt is a notorious fact that the presidency and the APC have been plotting to loot this $I billion from our heavily depleted Excess Crude Account since last year, using the guise of fighting insurgency.
â€œThis is the same Buhari administration that has been boasting of having technically defeated the insurgents. This is also the administration that is not known to have exhausted the subsisting budgetary allocations for defence.
â€œNigerians are thoroughly disappointed that President Buhari, the same African Union (AU) â€˜Anti-corruption Championâ€™, who swore to be above board and to defend the constitution will allow himself to fall for the temptation of resorting to ways and means that are totally at variance with the laws and all democratic tenets.
â€œDemocracy thrives on constitutional processes of separation of powers, due diligence and transparency, and not on totalitarian tendencies.
â€œPDP believes the president, as a leader, reasonably ought to have known that he is in not above the law.
â€œWe therefore urge the National Assembly to look into the constitution and impose the appropriate legislative instruments against the president, if any part of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) has been breached by this unilateral decision.
â€œWe further urge the National Assembly to scrutinise the constitution and other statute books for the purposes of strengthening the laws guiding the application of funds in our country, particularly under this inherently corrupt and incompetent administration.
â€œMoreover, since it has come to light that the Buhari administration is using the fight against the insurgency as a conduit to siphon funds, as evinced in the alleged looting of the N18 billion internally displaced persons funds, we demand an independent investigation into the processes of release and utilisation of all special funds for the war against the insurgency in the last three years,â€ the party said.
PDP also said APC is in tatters and had lost the â€œenormous goodwillâ€ that brought it to power in 2015 after failing in all its promises to Nigerians.