Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday said the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the social intervention programmes of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its government as a ‘total hoax’.
PDP alleged that the APC leaders have been fleecing the country through the social incentives programme rather than deploying it to benefit the people.
The party said in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, that the manifest failure of the COVID-19 social palliatives for Nigerians contrary to claims by the APC-led administration also validates allegations that the APC has been using ghost beneficiaries to siphon government resources.
It described as alarming and revealing that not even a handful of Nigerians has acknowledged receiving any social panacea from the government despite claims by officials of having paid out billions of naira as palliatives to individuals and households.
The PDP urge Nigerians to note how officials of the APC-led administration fraudulently sidestepped extant financial regulations and illegally resorted to cash disbursements directly by a cabinet minister instead of using Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) cash disbursement facility.
According to the PDP, “Such was part of the design to use few unsuspecting Nigerians to circumvent the system, muddle up financial documentation and accountability processes and facilitate the siphoning of huge chunk of the palliative fund.
“Such practice directly points to fraudulent diversion of funds by APC leaders, who have been using the same template of the discredited social investment programmes, which had been exposed by the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, as a fraud, when she revealed last year that the N500billion Social Investment Programme of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was not getting to the targeted beneficiaries.”
More embarrassing, PDP said, was the duplicitous inclusion of the scandalous school feeding programme as an expenditure line even when schools are closed following the social distancing directives, “an alarming development that points to the level of corruption in the APC administration.”
According to the opposition party, “The public can now see how the APC-led administration has been using the names of poor Nigerians to loot our national treasury and fritter away billions of naira to finance their wasteful lifestyle while majority of the citizens wallow in hardship and abject poverty.
“This explains why the APC-led administration has refused to open up on the handling of palliative funds despite huge allegations of fraud and diversion.
“It also explains why the APC, as a party, has failed to speak up in support of transparency and accountability in the social intervention programmes, even at this perilous time.”
Instead, the PDP stated that the APC leaders are falling over themselves and stampeding the National Assembly for anticipatory approval of N500 billion for yet-to-be itemised social palliative measures.
It added that it’s standing with millions of Nigerians, and restated its call on the National Assembly to properly scrutinise the N500 billion request to ensure clauses that guarantee that the N500 billion and all other social intervention funds get to ordinary Nigerians.