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Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum has raised alarm over the current debt profile of the country put at N36 trillion incurred by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government.

The forum expressed worry that the over 80 per cent of the Appropriation is being spent on debt servicing.

The meeting was attended by Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State (Chairman); Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom; Douye Diri (Bayelsa); Samuel Ortom (Benue); Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Oluseyi Makinde (Oyo); Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa); Godwin Obaseki (Edo); Bala Mohammed (Bauchi); Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Darius Ishaku (Taraba); and Deputy Governor Mahdi Mohd of Zamfara State.

In a communiqué issued in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, the PDP Governors Forum also accused the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other revenue-generating agencies of the Federal Government of lack of transparency and accountability in the declaration of revenue proceeds.

The communiqué read by the Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, reads in part: “PDP Governors frowned on the rising and seemingly uncontrollable debt profile of Nigeria with over 80 per cent of normal Appropriation spent on debt servicing. All the gains of the PDP government under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, where Nigeria exited its foreign debt obligations, have been destroyed.

“Borrowing for frivolous items such as funding the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) is scandalous. Money should only be borrowed for productive purposes as Nigeria’s current debt of over N36 trillion is becoming clearly unsustainable relative to our earnings and GDP. We should not saddle incoming generations with the undue debt burden. The borrowing spree of the APC administration if unchecked will certainly lead Nigeria into avoidable bankruptcy.

“Also, the Forum examined the operations of NNPC and expressed alarm at the opaque manner it carries out its operations. It decried the recent NNPC’s decision not to make its statutory contributions to the Federation Account, thereby starving the States and Local Governments and indeed Nigerians of funds needed for employment, development and general wellbeing.

“The Federal Government through NNPC is a manager of our oil wealth merely as a trustee for all Nigerians. The meeting frowned on a situation where the NNPC decides in a totally discretionary and often whimsical manner, how much to spend, how to spend it and how much to remit to the Federation Account, contrary to the letters and even the spirit of the 1999 Constitution.

“The meeting called on other agencies of Government such as Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Customs and Excise and similar organizations that are statutorily required to make contributions into the Federation Account, to do more. The federating States should be going forward now have a say in the determination of operating costs to ensure transparency and accountability.

“The Governors reiterated the call for a review of the revenue allocation formula and urged the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to urgently send the revised Revenue Allocation Formula to Mr President for onward transmission to the National Assembly for enactment, such that more resources are made available to States and Local Governments where ordinary Nigerians reside.

On the issue of insecurity in the land, the Forum says that the time has come for decentralizing the policing of the nation.

“In any case, even though Police is on the Exclusive List, the states, as a practical matter spend huge sums of money to support the security agencies to carry out their duties. The need for an appropriate legal framework to involve the states in policing has become even more urgent by the day. To this end, we reiterate our call for the National Assembly to expedite action in passing the Electoral Act and Constitution amendments to ensure restructuring and decentralization of governmental powers and functions.”

On the suspension of Twitter by the Federal Government, the PDP Governor’s Forum condemned the personalized reasons given for the action.

“The mere ego of Mr President is not enough for such a drastic action that deprives millions of Nigerians of such an affordable means of expression and communication. We hope that this is not a harbinger or early warning signs of descent into dictatorship.

“The meeting noted that social media regulation can only be done within the existing laws on the subject and should not be used as an attempt to punish or gag Nigerians from enjoying constitutionally guaranteed rights. Nigerian youths do not have adequate access to employment and a lot of Nigerians rely on Twitter for their livelihood, businesses and self-employment. This will further worsen Nigeria’s 33 per cent unemployment rate, which is the highest in the world, improve Nigeria’s ranking as the country with second-highest poverty rate in the entire world, all of which happened under APC’s unfortunate stewardship.

“The meeting consequently requested Mr President to review the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria in the national interest.”

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