The All Progressives Congress has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan over $5.5bn dividends said to have been paid to the Federal Government by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited.
A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Sunday, urged the Buhari-led Federal Government to also probe the taxes and dividends accruable to the Jonathan administration through the NLNG in the last six years. The statement said, “We can tell Nigerians that apart from the said $1.6bn NLNG payment for 2015, NLNG also paid $1.4bn as Income Tax/Education Tax in May 2014, paid $0.3bn as Education Tax to the FG in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and $1.2bn in VAT and Withholding 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.
“In addition, dividend payments totaling $4,728,136,946 was paid to the Federal Government between 2004 and 2009, out of which only $127,851,348.19 was credited to the Federal Government’s Independent Account with JP Morgan, leaving a balance of over $4bn. The questions to ask, therefore, are why were all the past taxes and dividends neither fully paid into the Federation Account nor shared by the three tiers of government and what happened to the funds?” The APC’s demand for probe was against the backdrop of an allegation by the Peoples Democratic Party that the $2.1bn approved by Buhari to be shared among states of the federation was from the Excess Crude Account. The ruling party insisted that the $2.1bn was not taken by the Presidency from the ECA and that it was wrong and misleading of the opposition party to make such an allegation.
“Whereas the Presidency corrected the initial erroneous report that the shared money was sourced from the Excess Crude Account, the skittish opposition continued to insist it was from the ECA and that it was part of the ‘savings’ by the Jonathan administration,” the APC added.
The party, therefore, asked the Federal Government to probe the immediate past government on where it kept the $5.5bn which it said was the dividend paid to the Federal Government by the NLNG before the May 29 handover. “We didn’t see the $5.5bn in the system. Let them show Nigerians where it is,” the APC said. It advised the opposition to desist from telling lies, stressing that the Buhari government was committed to clearing the rot by the past government and ensure that all funds due to the federation account were paid. The statement added, “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. “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 other measures in the package that included a special intervention fund of between N250bn and N300bn from the Central Bank of Nigeria as a soft loan available to states to access for the purpose of paying the backlog of salaries. “The PDP also forgot the debt relief programme designed to assist the states to restructure their commercial loans of N660bn – with a view to extending the lifespan of such loans and reducing the states’ debt-servicing expenditures. 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 opposition party, in a statement by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, described as “misleading and outright falsehood” the statement credited to the APC. It said, “The truth is that the NLNG had been on a 10-year tax haven until 2014. Within this period, successive governments, right from President Olusegun Obasanjo, never shared nor tampered with the cumulative dividends.
“Whatever taxes paid from the NLNG went through the Federal Inland Revenue Services and recorded as part of the income of the Federal Government. It is imperative to note that by the end of the tenure of President Goodluck Jonathan, NLNG dividends had risen to a cumulative $5.6bn and not a single cent was ever taken from the funds.”