The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum has expressed concern over the rising cost of living and general economic difficulties in the country.
It urged Nigerians to give the party another change to put things right.
The forum met on Wednesday at Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s country home in Umuobiakwa, Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia.
In a communique issued at the end of the meeting, the governors declared the party’s readiness to wrestle power from the ruling-All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023.
The meeting, which was attended by 13 governors, stated that Nigerians were facing economic challenges in different facets of life.
The forum promised that PDP would provide quality leadership to tackle the challenges if voted into power.
It described the astronomical rise in the prices of diesel, premium motor spirit (petrol) and kerosene as a serious national issue.
It further decried the hike in the price of Aviation fuel to N700 per litre, leading to a sharp rise in flight tickets.
The governors also described as unfortunate the collapse of the National Grid by 126 times in seven years and the erratic power supply in the country.
The communique stated that the prices of basic foodstuffs had gone beyond the reach of ordinary Nigerians.
“Staple foods, such as rice, beans, cassava flakes are now slipping out of the hands of average Nigerians,” it added.
It regretted that the nation’s unemployment rate remained one of the highest in the world at over 33 per cent, adding that the poverty rate currently stands at 42.8 per cent.
It also decried the continued rise in the exchange rate, which currently stands at N580 per dollar in the parallel market.
It frowned at the nation’s rising domestic and external debt profiles under the present administration.
The forum also expressed worry over the decline in food production in the country, stating: “The major threat to the agricultural sector and food security in Nigeria is insecurity.
“In the Northeast, it is estimated that about 70,000 hectares of arable farmlands have been abandoned in the affected states and local government areas.
“The trend is the same all over the country and this further contributes to food insecurity.
It, therefore, advised the Federal Government to “cooperate with states to bring security down to the grassroots”.
It expressed concern over reports and claims of cases of crude oil theft, ranging from 80 per cent to 95 per cent.
It charged the federal government to set up an appropriate mechanism to reverse the trend and bring perpetrators to book.
The governors alleged that in spite of oil selling at above $110 per barrel in the international market, the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) had not been able to make its statutory contributions to the Federation Account.
“It is patently unconstitutional for NNPC to determine when and what to pay to the Federation Account because it is a mere trustee of the funds for the three tiers of government.
“We once again call for investigation and audit of the quantity of consumption of fuel ascribed to Nigerians,” they stated.
They also called for the deployment of technology at the filling stations to determine in a transparent manner the volume of local fuel consumption.
“The Governors would resist any further attempt by NNPC to ascribe unsubstantiated subsidy claims to other tiers of government,” they added.
They further alleged that 18 Federation Revenue Agencies were not remitting revenue to the federation account.
They named the agencies to include Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigeria Liquefied National Gas and Nigeria Communication Commission.
Others are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nigeria Ports Authority, and Security and Exchange Commission.
They accused NNPC of deducting N8.33 billion monthly for the rehabilitation of the nation’s refineries, yet none of the facilities was functional.
They alleged that in 2021, NNPC claimed to have paid over N1 trillion as petroleum subsidy and N220 billion in March.
They said that the company’s announcement that it would deduct N328 billion in April was unacceptable to them.
They advised President Muhammadu Buhari to relinquish his position as Minister of Petroleum. According to them, it has become necessary to separate the two portfolios for effective accounting and oversight.
The forum considered the approved timetable and timelines for the party’s congresses and convention and urged the leadership and members to remain focused and united for PDP to win power in 2023.
The meeting was attended by Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) – Chairman, Ikpeazu (Abia) – Vice Chairman, Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa) and Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom).
Others were Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), and Godwin Obaseki (Edo).