NIGERIA: APC Challenges FG on Budgetary Discipline, Accountability

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday asked the federal government to lead the way on the issue accountability by accounting for the huge budgetary allocation it receives monthly from the Federation Account in view of its poor record of development.
This came as the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), monday lamented the growing trend of insecurity in different parts of the country, noting that it poses daunting threats to the 2015 general election.
The governor also said the emergence of the APC presidential candidate would be open and transparent, assuring supporters that the process would allow every aspirant ventilate their interest.
In a statement issued yesterday by its interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said while the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is right in asking Nigerians to challenge their state governors to account for their monthly allocations, such challenge should not be limited to the state governments alone.
''Yes, Nigerians should seek accountability from their state governments, but it is important to note that the biggest challenge should be directed at the federal government, because it takes the biggest chunk of the monthly budgetary allocations.
''While all the 36 states together collect only 26.72 per cent and all the  774 local governments collect a total 20.6 per cent, the federal government alone takes 52.68 per cent, hence it bears the greatest responsibility to Nigerians in terms of the provision of social amenities, creation of jobs and infrastructural development.
The party said since education, agriculture and health fall under the concurrent list, Nigerians must – in addition to challenging their state governments on performance must also ask the federal government what it has done with its huge chunk of federal allocations in the sector.
It said its demand became necessary against the background of massive unemployment, dilapidated infrastructure and the poor health facilities that had seen public officials, including the president, scurrying to foreign hospitals for medical treatment,
The opposition political party said there was no doubt that whatever achievements the Jonathan-led federal government had attributed to itself since assuming office had constituted a mere tokenism compared with the quantum of funds that have accrued to it.
''It is therefore imperative that he who must come to equity must come with clean hands, and that those who point a finger at others must realise that four others are pointing at them. It is not just enough to say certain states have received certain allocations, Nigerians also want to know how much the federal government has received in total to date and what it has done with it.
''The federal government must lead the way in ensuring accountability for the funds from the Federation Account, just as local and state governments have a responsibility for accountability,'' the party said, warning against using such allocations as an instrument of blackmail by a non-performing federal government," it said.
Meanwhile Fashola, who expressed concerns over the country’s state of insecurity during a courtesy visit, of the graduate students of Royal College of Defence Studies,  United Kingdom, to the State House at Alausa.
Some members of the state Executive Council, including the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeola Ipaye and Special Adviser on the Environment, Dr. Taofik Folami, among others were present at the session.
But when asked about the 2015 general election at the session, the governor admitted that insecurity “is a threat every time. It is not only to electoral process, but even to human existence and business activities.
“The enemy of national security and human security is changing from the conventional army to an unconventional enemy. Nature itself portends very high risk for nations in terms of shortage of water, land and others. The world is changing and it will very soon be a world for the intellectuals.”
Fashola also expressed strong belief that the country “will overcome its security crisis in a short time and in a way it will not impede the ability and desire of Nigerians to make a choice at the next election.
“Every election brings up the contest of idea and opportunity to make the choice either to keep the incumbent government or to elect another party to govern the country. I do not think it will be different in Nigeria next year.”
On APC primaries, however, the governor said there was nothing unusual in the emergency of the presidential candidate of  the party, noting that the process would be an open activity and an accountable system.
According to him, "I believe everyone who has aspiration will be given a fair chance to express and ventilate that aspiration; subject to the rule of politics that we are all aware off, votes, persuasion, lobbying and others. Nothing unusual will happen. There will not be anything behind the closet.
Also, he canvassed real diversification of the country’s national economy, stating that crude oil and gas as resources “are only seasonal resources. Until the late 50s, no one was talking about oil.
“We were concerned about agriculture and agro-products. It is important to pay attention to the strategic resources that provide the sizeable portion of our income and revenue to date. I think we should pay attention to the people in the way they utilise the resources and that will be the basis for real diversification.
“It will not be like this forever. The proceed that comes from the oil and gas sector today must be put to use in terms of providing infrastructure that will help improve the standard of living in the country .”
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