It has become clear that the decision of lawmakers belonging to the All Progressives Congress in the Kaduna State House of Assembly to reject a resolution requesting for the disbursement of SURE-P funds amounting to N2.744 has the support of the both the governor-elect, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, and the state’s party hierarchy.
This was made known recently in a press statement released by the spokesman for the governor-elect, Mr Samuel Aruwan, as well as comments made in the course of an exclusive interview by a member of the party’s state executive committee who is also the Public Relations Officer of the party, Dr Katuka Bege.
In the statement made available by Aruwan, El-Rufai wondered why such huge amount would be released less than two weeks to the hand-over date by the outgoing PDP administration, calling all involved in the process to beware of acts that would make the incoming administration hold them accountable if the need arose.
According to the press statement, el-Rufai said, “I have been made aware of desperate attempts to secure approval to spend N2.744 billion Sure-P funds. Less than two weeks to its exit, the outgoing government of Kaduna State is seeking to pressure the outgoing House of Assembly to permit it to spend 50 per cent of the money on the Kawo road project, while the 23 local government councils will share the balance.
“As governor-elect, it is my duty to caution every official involved in these last-minute deals that the incoming government will ensure that there are consequences for illegal conduct, breach of trust and stealing of public assets. Our government will certainly insist on accountability, and no one should be in any doubt about our resolve, be it the instigators of any impropriety or those who facilitated and executed it.
“Our transition committee is daily inundated with reports about the dire financial straits in which the outgoing government has placed the state. While I await the formal submission of the committee’s report, I am compelled to publicly affirm that we cannot and will not turn a blind eye to bad behaviour.”
Also reacting to this effort to disburse SURE-P funds on the part of the outgoing state governor, Mukatar Ramalan Yero, Bege said the action had become a major feature of the outgoing PDP government not only in all the states of the federation but at the federal level, calling it an alarming state of affair. “It is such an unfortunate situation and this is still the part of the abracadabra in governance that we are seeing after the conclusion of the general elections,” he said. “The leadership under the PDP as we have seen in several states has been surprising us in the way funds are being disbursed after the general elections, and we are wondering. For instance, on the issue of this 2 billion naira SURE-P fund, it is surprising that when they should be thinking of rounding off and ensuring a successful transition they are more concerned about disbursing funds at the last minute, so this is surprising and I don’t think there is sincerity in this act.”
Bege stated further that as far as he knew, the position taken by the APC caucus in the House of Assembly was not about the party, but about the people of the state, adding that the party at the state level gave its full backing to the decision of the lawmakers not to be part of what he called an effort at embezzling the fund meant for the well-being of the people. “As for the position of our lawmakers, I think they are just saying what the will of the people is. They represent the people’s will. I can tell you that before the APC caucus in the Assembly takes any stand it is with the backing and in line with the decision of the party; so whatever you see them standing on is just the product of what APC as a party has taken as a stand,” Bege said.
Asked if he was aware that the PDP government has gone ahead to disburse the SURE-P funds in spite of the refusal of the APC lawmakers to approve it, Bege said, “For now I cannot say exactly what the state of things are with respect to that. I cannot make a confirmatory statement if they have gone ahead to make the disbursement. But whatever it is, for them to come up with such a decision is something unacceptable in the first place, not even talking about disbursement. What we know is that what we are seeing is not about a party thing, but about the people and everybody that hears about this will find it surprising that the government that is moving out in two weeks is out disbursing funds; for what reasons? This is another attempt at embezzlement.”
Bege also said if any act of irregularity is committed by the outgoing administration, such will be given due adequate attention when the APC government comes to power. “Definitely, if there is any irregularity it will be addressed because you can’t continue with an anomaly; if something is wrong it has to be corrected, and correction could mean anything because there are various channels of addressing issues,” he said.