by Ebere Ndukwu

N4.1trn needed to pay arrears of salaries, others –Odigie-Oyegun

All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday denied reports that its National Working Committee, NWC, had zoned the seats of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives to the North-Central and South- West zones, respectively.

A statement yesterday by APC National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni, in Abuja, said the party was deeply embarrassed by the story, which he said was apparently planted in the media to sow seed of instability in the party.

“The NWC never discussed the issue of zoning at its meeting. Therefore, the report of its decision on zoning is a figment of the imagination of whoever concocted the story,” he said.

The statement added that nothing had changed since the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, said he was ready to work with anyone from any part of the country, who occupied any of the principal offices of the incoming National Assembly.

It has been intense political fight among Senators George Akume, Bukola Saraki, both from North Central geopolitical zone, and Ahmed Lawan from Yobe State in the North East.

Before now, Senator Saraki held the ace in the race. His influence as a former Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) seemed to pay off, and all he had to contend with was APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s preference for former Benue State governor, George Akume, as Senate President.

Akume is the current Minority Leader in the Senate, and Tinubu appears determined to reward his consistency. Meanwhile, Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie- Oyegun, yesterday raised the alarm that the Buhari government would have to source for N4.1trn to pay accumulated arrears, oil subsidy debts, costs of debt servicing of salaries and many others. He stated this at a twoday retreat for members of the House of Representatives- elect on the platform of the party in Abuja.

He said: “Upon assumption of office, our government will be expected to raise about N4.1trn to pay accumulated arrears of salaries at federal and state levels, oil subsidy debts, costs of debt servicing and other sundry indebtedness incurred by the outgoing administration.

“When this is weighed against the massive depletion of national savings like the Excess Crude Account, ECA, additional huge debt of about $60bn and the sharp fall in crude oil prices in the international market, one can begin to contextualise the magnitude of problems confronting the incoming administration.

“This has not taken into account huge amount of funds lost to crude oil theft on an ongoing basis through negligence and in some cases officially sanctioned corruption.

“Yet, our people expect massive investment in infrastructure, public works to create jobs and cash transfer reliefs to ameliorate the harsh economic environment.”

Odigie-Oyegun noted that as representatives of the people, the lawmakers could be called upon at any time to take “unusual actions to address the extraordinary challenges that confront our nation.”

He added: “Our new administration will need the support and cooperation of the 8th National Assembly to fulfill its campaign promise to Nigerians.

“You may be required to pass important bills at very short notices. There will be unprecedented demands on you, but as members of the same party with the President and having campaigned on a common manifesto, your buy-in to the programmes of the President and the party is assumed.

“There is therefore, an assured willingness to work with him and the party for the benefit of all Nigerians. The demands on you will be tasking, but you are up to the task!”

He urged the lawmakers to dig deep into their inner reserves of wisdom, and have an unshakeable faith in country and a fearless commitment to the service of Nigeria in order to surmount the daunting legislative challenge that would swiftly face you in the days and weeks to come.

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