Fayose, Lai Mohammed trade words over Bayelsa, Kogi polls
• Disagree on alleged plot to rig
with TSA funds, military, others
A WAR of words erupted yesterday between Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State and Information and Culture minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, over the imminent governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
In Lokoja yesterday, Fayose accused the All Progressives Congress (APC)- led Federal Government of hurriedly paying out N25 billion from the controversial Treasury Single Account (TSA) to its allies to create a fertile ground for the party to rig the Kogi State governorship election in its favour.
The Senate last Wednesday asked its Committees on Finance, Banking and Financial Institutions as well as Public Accounts to investigate operations of the TSA.
But the minister dismissed as a contrived distraction the alleged fraud in the TSA and the rumoured diversion of the funds to bankroll elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, the minister said if those behind the accusation had allowed themselves some measure of honesty, they would have realized that there has not and there will be no such impunity under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The governor who spoke during the grand finale of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) campaign for Governor Idris Wada’s re-election said N12.5 billion out of the amount has been deployed to Kogi State for the purpose of rigging for the APC. He also alleged that the entire Kogi State has been infiltrated with guns and by thugs.
“This election must not be militarized,” he said just as he asked Kogi leaders to copy from his experience in Ekiti where he stood his ground and ‘crushed them from ward to local government and to the state level.’
“You are in the majority. Don’t be intimidated,” he asserted.
“It is a shame that Buhari wants to turn Nigeria into a one-party state,”
He added that Buhari’s administration was a photocopy of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s where the rule of law was not respected because both had their roots from military dictatorship.
He questioned the integrity of the President for allowing the APC to clear the former governor of the Kogi State, Alhaji Abubakar Audu, to contest the election when the latter has numerous corrupt charges hanging on his neck in the last 12 years.
A former PDP national chairman, Alhaji Ahmadu Ali, said the turnout at the grand finale was a testimony that it still very strong in the state, stressing that all the antics of the APC to rig the Kogi election have been uncovered and would be resisted. Wada while highlighting his achievements said the party in the last 12 years touched the lives of citizens through the provision of basic infrastructures. He said APC was playing politics with the bailout fund without regard for the welfare of the workers who are supposed to enjoy it. The state capital came to a standstill for Wada immediately after the rally with the citizens waving as he drove through the city. However, the minister said: ‘’It is understandable that the psyche of those who are making the frivolous allegations concerning the TSA has been badly affected by the impunity that permeated the country under the immediate past
Administration, when unappropriated funds were freely used to finance elections and the public till was seen as an extension of personal piggy banks. “‘But the lies that have been wilfully disseminated by scandalmongers over the TSA cannot and will not fly, because it was precisely to put an end to such impunity that Nigerians voted massively for President Muhammadu Buhari, who has an unblemished reputation for integrity, due process, transparency and the rule of law.’’ The minister assured Nigerians that no one has tampered with the TSA funds, saying though the TSA was initiated under the previous Administration, the reason it has begun to enjoy a new lease of life and attract national attention is because of the political will and transparency demonstrated by President Buhari. Mohammed added: ‘’Those behind the rumour that a single company, Systemspecs, made 25 billion Naira from charging 1 per cent of TSA funds that passed through the company’s software, Remita, may need to return to elementary school to get some lessons in arithmetic. ‘’This is because in order for 1 per cent charge to fetch 25 billion Naira, the funds accruing into the TSA must have reached 2.5 trillion Naira.
Yet, the total amount of funds in the TSA to date is still much less than 2 trillion. “More importantly, at the time the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) ordered that all monies that were erroneously charged as ‘revenue’ be returned to the TSA Account late last month, the TSA had less than 800 billion Naira. It therefore beggars belief that anyone could attempt to mislead the public by raising a false alarm that a firm made 25 billion Naira in TSA charges.’