Sovereign Wealth Fund: Stop Lying Against Me, Jonathan Tells Buhari

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By Bayo  Akinloye

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has called on his successor, the incumbent Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, to not only abstain from food during the Ramadan fast but also to eschew lies as Jonathan refuted a claim by the Presidency that his administration failed to save money in the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

In a statement titled, ‘More Lies from The Presidency at Ramadan,’ by the Goodluck Jonathan Media Office on Friday, the statesman slammed the President Buhari for lying against his person and administration.

He said, “To my dismay, I woke up on Friday the 1st of June, 2018 to find out that President Buhari, who is meant to be on a Ramadan fast, had released a statement, through the Presidency’s Twitter handle, alleging that the Jonathan government, which created the Sovereign Wealth Fund in 2012, had failed to save money in the fund after the initial $1 billion deposit it made into it. Such a lie, coming at a time when the President is meant to be fasting is shocking.

“It therefore amounts to historical revision for the Presidency to make these spurious allegations against the Jonathan administration, President Muhammadu Buhari should be aware that just like I told him, after the many lies from his Democracy Day speech, Ramadan fast does not just mean abstaining from food, it also means abstaining from lies.”

The statement recalled that after starting up the Sovereign Wealth Fund with an initial deposit of $1 billion in 2011, the Nigerian Governors Forum, led by Rotimi Amaechi and supported by other governors, who later joined the All Progressives Congress, took the Jonathan administration to court to declare the Sovereign Wealth Fund illegal, asserting that the Jonathan-led Federal Government could not force them to save.

Speaking further, the ex-president noted: “In fact, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi released a statement justifying his opposition to the Sovereign Wealth Fund on August 31, 2011 and said: ‘The SWF is an attempt to desecrate section 162 of Nigeria’s Constitution. Section 162(1), (2) and (10) of the 1999 Constitution prescribed the mode of sharing the revenue of the Federation. 

It states that “the Federation shall maintain a special account to be called the Federation Account into which shall be paid all revenues collected by the Government of the Federation, except the proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the Ministry or department of government charged with responsibility for Foreign Affairs and the residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The law says that anything that is outside the constitution is wrong and section 162 of the constitution also says so.’”

It would be recalled that many attempts by the Jonathan administration to settle the matter out of court were rebuffed by Amaechi (while he was the governor of Rivers State) and his colleagues who frustrated the plans by the previous administration to save for a rainy day.

“Working in tandem with Mr. Amaechi and his supporters in the Nigerian Governors Forum, the then minority APC members of the House of Representatives also filed another suit at a Federal High Court on the 7th of February, 2014, seeking a perpetual injunction restraining the Jonathan administration from operating the Excess Crude Account, from which they intended to source for money to fund the Sovereign Wealth Fund, and to pay all the proceeds of that account into the Federation Account for sharing amongst the three tiers of government,” the statement added.

As a result of these actions, Jonathan said his administration was forced to pay all the states a total of N2.92 trillion (a little above $20 billion, using the value of the Naira at that time) from the Excess Crude Account between 2011 and 2014.