Jonathan tackles El-Rufai; denies discriminating against 19 states in sharing Ecological Fund


Former President Goodluck Jonathan has hit out at criticisms of his role in the disbursement of Ecological Funds during his administration, singling out Governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State as he sought an avenue to vent his anger.

In a statement on Friday, Mr. Jonathan described Mr. El-rufai as one who has “an incurable knack for lying”.

An interim report by the National Executive Council’s Ad-hoc committee on management of Ecological Funds had stated that 19 states, including the Federal Capital Territory, did not benefit from their statutory percentage share of the fund during Mr. Jonathan’s administration.

The NEC is an official platform for dialogue among the 36 state governors, the Central Bank governor, and other co-opted members, and is chaired by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.

The report, submitted by an 11-member committee headed by Mr. El-Rufai, shed light on how the Ecological Fund was disbursed during Mr. Jonathan’s government.

According to the committee, the states that did not benefit from the Fund include Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Jigawa, Kano, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger and Ogun.

Others are Osun, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara, and Abuja.

Submitting the report, Mr. El-rufai was quoted as saying that, “What President Goodluck Jonathan did was to take N2bn each from the Ecological Fund and gave to some PDP states. Any PDP state that was not his friend, like Kano and Kwara, didn’t get.”

Referencing a book, My Watch, written by another former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, wherein Mr. El-rufai was portrayed as a disloyal figure, Mr. Jonathan said he was not surprised at Kaduna governor’s recent comments.

“It is false that non-PDP states did not get monies from the fund,” Mr. Jonathan said in the statement issued by Ikechukwu Eze, his media adviser.

“It is so easy to expose Malam Nasir El-rufai as a liar being that Akwa-Ibom, a PDP state governed by the then Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and a close confidante and major supporter of the then President, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, did not get the monies alluded to by Malam El-rufai from the Ecological Fund as did multiple other PDP states including Ekiti state, a state governed by a thoroughbred patriot and Jonathan supporter, Ayo Fayose.”

“Nemesis catches up faster with liars than any other agent of evil. El-rufai was probably led by the gods against his own sinister plot to confess in another breathe (sic) that States under non-PDP parties like APGA and Labour party also benefitted.

“The fact remains that the Ecological Fund is a specialized fund with certain constitutional requirements which must be met before a state can access the funds. Every state benefitted from the fund under President Jonathan who bent over backwards to accommodate states that had difficulty meeting the criteria for accessing the fund.”

Mr. Jonathan said the Kaduna governor’s “sinister narrative” was intentionally silent on the over N10 billion specially deployed to fund the Great Green Wall (GGW) project in some northern states, in view of the need to work with the rest of Africa on the African initiative to check desert encroachment in the Sahelian states.

“These states included Zamfara, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina and Adamawa. Others are Yobe, Borno and Kano which belong to Mallam El-rufai’s class of ‘non-friendly’ states that he alleged never benefitted from any discretionary fund.

“Similar principle applies to the conditions for accessing the Universal basic Education fund where some states have not had access to what is due them, because they are yet to fulfill the mandatory criteria for allocation. Would it then be right in the name of El-rufai’s position on equity to blame the failure of those states to access their UBEC funds on Jonathan?”

The former president said it was sad that judicious presidential interventions to tackle emergencies and other pressing national needs were being interrogated in a rather facile manner, “by those who never get tired of playing dirty politics.”

“Nigerians may recall that this is not the first time that El-rufai has vented his known passion for lying against the former President,” he continued.

“The public will recall that in October 2015 he falsely alleged that former President Jonathan spent a whopping N64 billion on Independence Day celebrations, during his tenure when in fact only N333 million was spent.