The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said it will not be a party to the national conference as proposed by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The party, which rose from a crucial meeting of its interim national executive and its governors, defended its position, saying the present government had lost credibility to organise a genuine conference to be trusted by Nigerians.
The governors of the party have also expressed their determination to ensure that states get what is due to them and would use all means possible to tackle the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) to compel the body to stop illegal deductions from states’ allocations.
Addressing journalists at the end of deliberations by APC leaders at the party headquarters in Abuja yesterday, the interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, said the party was averse to any form of national conference that would have its outcome subjected to the approval of the National Assembly.
He said: “In any event, we see this thing as nothing but a diversion. What are we talking about a national conference for when even the president, himself, has said that the outcome of that conference will be subject to the approval of the National Assembly?”
The APC spokesman said though the party ordinarily would not have opposed any meaningful dialogue that would address the problems afflicting the nation’s polity, but that the present proposal by the federal government does not meet the expectations of Nigerians.
“The present government has lost credibility. It has lost control of the economy, and security; corruption has assumed unimaginable proportions and at this point in time, this government lacks the credibility to organise a real meaningful national conference.
“So what they have today is a constitutional amendment not a national conference and we will not be a party to it. We believe it is diversionary and not sincere,” he said.
The meeting, which had one of the party’s national leaders and former Lagos State Governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, five of the APC governors – Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo) and Ibrahim Giedam (Yobe) – in attendance, also resolved to shift the membership registration drive previously scheduled for October to sometime in November.
Also, the governors expressed their determination to ensure that states get what is due to them, adding that they would use all constituional means possible to tackle FAAC to compel the body to stop illegal deductions to state allocations.
Addressing journalists shortly after their meeting held at the Ekiti State governor’s lodge, the Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) and Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi said almost all the states of the federation have lost 40 per cent of their earnings in the last two to three months.
“We have come to a critical juncture as far as the FAAC deductions are concerned. Over the last three months, you are aware of what has been going on. You are also aware of what the state finance commissioners have had to do in removing themselves from the meeting of FAAC and we continue to insist that we condemn the illegal and unconstitutional deductions.
“On average, all of our states lost 40 per cent of our normal earnings in the two to three months from FAAC. We believe that this is not defensible in any way,” he said.
Fayemi said judging by the prevailing oil price benchmark, the federal government had no reason to default in the revenue sharing arrangement, adding that the price of oil has never gone below $105 per barrel.
He said the APC governors had decided that they would pursue all constitutional means to stop the abuse of the Appropriation Act by the federal government.
“We know that the benchmark that the National Assembly agreed for the 2013 budget is still very, very realistic, because at no time this year, and we are now in October, did oil sell at less than $105 per barrel. More often than not, oil has sold for $110 per barrel.
“So we see no basis for the kind of incomplete allocations to the states in this regard. We have decided to take appropriate constitutional measures in order to tackle the flagrant abuse of the constitution of Nigeria and the Appropriation Act in particular,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, the Imo State Governor, Okorocha, said the incessant deduction of state allocations by the federal government was condemnable.
“FAAC has engaged in incessant deductions of state allocations, employing different mathematical arrangement which are alien to us and which has left states being stifled of funds to run their affairs.
“The governors are not beggars, states are not beggars, they are only asking for what is theirs and equity should be done in that regard,” he said.
On the controversy surrounding the two by-elections held in Imo and Delta States, Okorocha said the APC governors condemned in unequivocal terms the last senatorial by-election in Delta Central as well as the reluctance by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conclude action on the Oguta assembly election.
“For over two years now, the people of Oguta Local Government have been denied a representative just because it was not the PDP that won the election. And we are still wondering why INEC has not concluded the election in only five polling booths when the winning party got above 2,000 over the PDP.
“So this has become worrisome and it also poses a big question as we approach 2015. So we demand as the Progressive Governors’ Forum that INEC immediately makes up its mind to conclude the suspended election in Oguta now.
“We learnt that INEC has said it will not conduct the election unless the Commissioner of Police guarantees them security. Can you imagine that kind of position? We ask the INEC chairman to make good his name and conclude the Oguta election.
“The report we have received so far showed that that was mere manipulation of electoral process and we are worried that this may pose a big danger to the 2015 general election. From what we are seeing, if we do not stand up to these things, Nigerians may pay a bigger price in 2015,” he said.
On the Anambra governorship election, Okorocha urged INEC and security agencies to ensure that the poll is conducted in a free and fair manner.
“We appeal that the Anambra election should be free and fair. The Progressive Governors’ Forum and Nigerians will not accept anything short of this; that is one man, one vote. We do not want a repeat of what happened in the Delta Central senatorial election and we warn strongly that the security agencies and INEC officials should stand firm as a people to defend this our nascent democracy.
“We have been a bit on the side by taking things easy, but have now resolved that Nigerians will know that an alternative party has emerged and is waiting to take over governance in 2015,” he added.
Okorocha, who said the party would do everything possible to prevent the rigging of the Anambra governorship poll, urged the APC leadership to work harder to strengthen the party to meet the expectations of the people.
Earlier, Fayemi had explained the absence of five of the APC governors from Borno, Lagos, Edo, Zamfara and Ogun States, saying they were unavoidably absent due to official engagements.
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