Nigeria: Presidency, PDP At Loggerheads Over $1bn ECA Security Fund

Explain whereabouts of U.S.$1 billion security fund, PDP urges Buhari.

The presidency and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are back tothe trenches over the latter's claim that the whereabouts of the $1billion drawn from the treasury by the federal government is unknown.

The PDP fired the first shot when it described as shocking the purported confession by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Babagana Mongunu that he was not aware of the whereabouts or disbursement of the $1bn drawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) by the Muhammadu Buhari presidency in 2017 for security purposes.

It said that the confession by the NSA, who coordinates the security architecture of the country, directly places a huge burden on President Buhari's doorsteps over alleged stealing and diversion of funds meant for security, while insurgency, banditry, killings and kidnapping fester under his watch.

But in prompt response, President Buhari said that there was no substance in the PDP's allegation. He also denied the party's claims that the $1billion was used by the government for the 2019 campaign activities of the APC.

Taking up the PDP on the matter on behalf of the president, his media aide, Mallam Garba Shehu, said the opposition party is under a "socio-emotional distress."

According to him, the opposition thinks that all governments in the world run on the basis of freewheeling looting as it did while in power.

On what happened to the $1billion, Shehu stated that "it's on record that the Buhari administration paid about $490 million for a dozen Super Tucano fighter aircraft in a direct, government-to-government (no contractors or commission agents) transaction with government of the United States.

"Various other military procurements have been made. Balance of expenditure stands at about $880 million or so.

"Barring considerations of national security, the details of the stage of implementation, the procurements made and the suppliers will be obtained later.

"The PDP spent defence procurement funds on their failed 2015 political campaigns as proven in court. That is not to say every succeeding government, more so one led by a Buhari will do the same," he said.

In a statement issued yesterday by the PDP national publicity secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said that the revelation by the NSA further vindicated it on its initial alarm that the APC-led administration was "overtly corrupt, deceptive and unreliable in handling the affairs of the nation.

"It further validates the stance of the PDP that agents of the Buhari Presidency and the APC were hiding under the guise of security to siphon the $1billion from the ECA. This, perhaps, informed the desperation by the cabal to draw from the account without recourse to statutory due process of appropriation by the National Assembly.

"From Gen. Mongunu's confession, Nigerians can further see why our nation is daily confronted with disturbing videos and reports of our fighting troops protesting their neglect and inadequate equipping, leading to their vulnerability in the fronts.

"Now that the NSA has declared that he is not aware of the whereabouts of funds, the burden, straightaway, lies squarely on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately address the nation on how the money was handled.

"This is especially as there are already allegations in the public space that certain funds meant for security were diverted to the 2019 campaign activities of the APC while our troops languished in the front.

"Our party had always alerted Nigerians that the APC administration was insincere in the handling of the ECA fund leading to our demand in 2017 for the National Assembly to investigate the handling of the $1billion," Ologbondiyan said.

The PDP restated its demand that President Buhari should allow for a system-wide investigation into the whereabouts of the $1billion, as well as the handling of other funds meant for security purposes under his watch.

The party noted that such alleged diversion of funds under the current administration led to the articulation of a blueprint by Atiku Abubakar for a transparent system that eliminates siphoning of funds, particularly in the critical sectors.

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