Controversy rages over alleged N25b TSA fraud
• Senate vows to investigate allegation
• Ekiti APC laments gov’s stand on policy
• Fayose berates Lai Mohammed over comment
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has said no amount of intimidation will stop the upper chamber from investigating the alleged N25 billion fraud in the operation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
Saraki, who was reacting to a motion by Senator Dino Melaye yesterday over a newspaper article allegedly blackmailing the Senate for pointing out the alleged fraud, said the lawmakers would not relent in carrying out their constitutional duties, including pointing out any action that could be detrimental to the interest of Nigerians.
“No amount of either blackmail or intimidation will stop us from doing the work we have to do. We have a responsibility here to ensure that there are no leakages in government funds, and if there are, we will call the attention of the public and do whatever it takes to salvage the situation.
“The fact about the TSA will come out and everybody will have opportunity before the committee to state the fact, the facts will speak for themselves,’’ the Senate president said.
Earlier, Melaye said his attention was drawn to the write-up accusing the Senate of working against President Muhammadu Buhari’s effort to implement the TSA. He expressed concern that the writer could conceive such an idea in spite of the National Assembly’s resolve to work with Buhari in fighting corruption.
Melaye recalled that it was the Senate’s stand on the alleged TSA fraud that led SystemSpecs to refund the one per cent it collected from mopped up funds to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“We did not at any time in this Hallowed Chamber implicate President Buhari of being involved in TSA fraud. We will not stop carrying out our legislative duties for fear of being blackmailed.”
The Senate had on November 11 raised the alarm over alleged payment of N25 billion to one e-collection firm, REMITA, in one day as one per cent of monies transferred to TSA. It also directed its Committee on Finance, Banking and other Financial Institutions and Public Accounts to carry out a holistic investigation into the matter and report back in two weeks.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State has criticised Governor Ayodele Fayose’s opposition to the TSA policy, saying his stance smacks of deliberate ploy to conceal fraud.
It also described the governor’s vow never to attend the TSA meeting slated for Abuja for all state governors as impunity taken too far and a smokescreen to cover up his fraudulent financial transactions so far in the state.
Publicity Secretary of the party, Taiwo Olatunbosun, in a statement, described Fayose’s alleged recalcitrant attitude to a policy with potential to save the country from national malaise of corruption as dangerous and reckless behaviour from a governor averse to accountability in financial matters and who has taken impunity as important element of governance.
Also, former Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Femi Bamisile,
advised Fayose to forward evidence to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the alleged diversion of N25 billion from the TSA, rather than engaging in “frivolous” criticisms.
Bamisile said it was quite shameful that only Fayose has consistently maintained a dissenting voice among the 36 governors, urging the governor to learn how to exercise restraint.
Fayose was said to have, on Sunday, described the TSA initiative as a colossal fraud meant to delude Nigerians, adding that he would continue to shun any meeting called by the Federal Government to deliberate on the issue.
Fayose went further on Monday in Lokoja, Kogi State during Governor Idris Wada’s campaign for re-election, to allege that N12.5 billion had been diverted by the Federal Government to fund governorship campaigns of APC candidates in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
From Fayose’s camp yesterday came criticism of the Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, for allegedly asking the governor to return to elementary school because of his opposition to the TSA policy.
In a reaction, the Special Assistant to the governor on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, described the minister as unfit to speak for any decent government, saying “he speaks like a tout.” He said it was shameful that the minister ran away from the main issue and chose to attack personalities.
Olayinka said further: “Now that Daddy Lai Mohammed has been elevated to the position of the spokesperson of the Federal Government of Nigeria, he needs to be purged of the APC basket mouth syndrome that made him to speak like a tout.”
The Fayose’s spokesperson insisted that the Federal Government must explain to Nigerians why and how it mortgaged their existence to a single company that has made what no manufacturing companies with thousands of employees can make in one month. “Ekiti State under Governor Fayose is managing its finances perfectly well without the Treasury Single Account, which is obviously aimed at enriching a few individuals at the expense of Nigerians,” Olayinka claimed.
He advised President Buhari to urgently de-brief Mohammed so that he will operate normally as a spokesperson of the government and not APC propagandist.
“At 63, Lai Mohammed should know that speaking for the Federal Government of Nigeria is different from speaking for the APC, which he did by always tying corn to his anus while dancing naked at the market place. He should know that opposition is a major ingredient of democracy and any democratic government devoid of opposition must be ready to embrace anarchy.
“It is therefore the duty of Nigerians, especially the National Assembly to ask questions on the administration of the resources being held in trust for them by those in power, and it is the responsibility of government at all levels to explain.”
“When a man like Lai Mohammed, who is employed and being paid with tax payers’ money now choses to insult Nigerians just because they ask questions, sane minds should pity the President who employed such a loquacious person to speak for his government.
“As for Governor Fayose, he will continue to uphold the truth and speak in the overall interest of Nigerians, not minding the offensive odour emanating from the propaganda infected mouths of Lai Mohammed and his ilk.”