Abuja — The Senate yesterday referred the request of President Muhammadu Buhari for Senate approval of N10.06 billion promissory note for Kogi State as refund for projects executed on behalf of the federal government to its committee on local and foreign debts.
This is just as the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has kicked against the proposal and advised the Senate to rather approve the presidential refund for the payment of outstanding salaries of workers in Kogi State.
The Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, read the President's letter at plenary before referring it to the Senate committee headed by Senator Clifford Ordia, which has two weeks to report back to plenary.
President Buhari, had in a letter dated October 10, entitled The President in the letter stated inter alia, "the Distinguished Senate President will recall that based on my request for the resolution of the National Assembly approving the establishment of a promissory note and bond issuance to certain inherited local debts and contractual obligations of the federal government, the Eighth National Assembly passed the resolutions approving the issuance of promissory note to refund state governments for projects executed on behalf of the federal government.
"The resolutions of the eighth assembly were conveyed through three different letters from the Clerk of the National Assembly.
In a swift reaction to the presidential request, the PDP urged the National Assembly to invoke its statutory powers and directly channel the N10.069 billion presidential funds for payment of salaries and pensions of suffering Kogi State workers.
The party in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan said it is scandalous that the Buhari Presidency, with its claims of transparency and integrity, would seek to mislead the National Assembly by asserting that the fund is for projects done by the state government on behalf of the federal government, "when in reality no one can point to any such project executed by Governor Yahaya Bello in the last four years".
The PDP described as endorsement of corruption and inexcusable injury to the people of Kogi State, for President Buhari to seek to direct funds to Governor Bello, for phantom projects, and neglect the Kogi workers many of whom are owed salaries and pension in arrears of 36 months.
"Such action by Mr. President further confirms that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is directly in league with Governor Bello to strangulate the people of Kogi State," the party said.
The PDP opined that if there are no intensions of pushing the fund to Governor Bello for anti-people purposes, the Presidency should name and point to the particular project executed by Governor Bello as well as make the terms and payment agreements public for Nigerians to see.
"If the Buhari Presidency means well for Kogi State, it should reword its request and put the interest of the masses ahead of all selfish and parochial political considerations, particularly as the state approaches a critical election in which the people have made up their minds to vote out Governor Bello.
"Mr. President cannot claim to be unaware of the critical situation of workers in Kogi State. He cannot claim to be unaware that workers in Kogi State are being owed, in some cases up to 36 months, and that retirees and seniors are dying over non payments of their pensions after giving the best of their lives in public service".
The PDP therefore urged President Buhari to resist attempts by his handlers and Governor Bello to drag his Presidency into this shameful attempt to steal fund that ought to go to the suffering masses in Kogi State.
The party urged the legislature to be on the side of the people by applying its legislative instruments to commence an immediate investigation into the alleged squandering of over N700 billion Kogi State funds by the Bello administration in the last four years.
The opposition party also called on the people of Kogi State as well as financial watch organisations to be red alert and monitor all disbursement of funds to the state and ensure that Bello and the APC do not achieve their aim of diverting the N10.069 billion for their selfish purposes.