2023: How Villa cabals are peddling lies against Osinbajo with N40b FIRS

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President Muhammadu Buhari and his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari
President Muhammadu Buhari and his late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari

New details have emerged from the Presidency indicating that there is no relenting on a grand plan by the cabal to sow seeds of discord between President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

According to OperaNews, the cabal’s latest attempt is around the alleged FIRS election campaign fund which had earlier been put at N90 billion but has now been scaled down to N40 billion in a fresh media onslaught championed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.

HOW FOWLER LOST OUT

Another top government source noted that “In the latest iteration of the lies in some sections of the media, the position is canvassed that Dr. Babatunde Fowler was not reappointed because of the bogus N40bn campaign fund and because the non-oil revenue generated did not meet up with estimated budget expectations.”

However the source added that a simple review of the non-oil revenues in the last four years indicated that there has been a cumulative and unprecedented increase in the non oil revenues generated.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

It was also disclosed that the only reason why Fowler was not reappointed was because a senior member of the Cabal (who is not an official of the Buhari Administration) pressured the President to pick “his own long term personal book keeper who later became a tax consultant in Kaduna. It had nothing to do with the much talked about query of the Chief of Staff to the immediate past FIRS Chairman, or a non- existent N40B presidential campaign fund.”

In fact informed sources in the Presidency revealed that at least three names were actively considered for the FIRS top job including Fowler himself. The two others are Mohammed Nami who was eventually picked by the President and the nominee of the President’s Chief of Staff, a certain Farouk Gumel, who was rejected because he was considered by the President as “uncomfortably too close to Kyari,” the sources hinted.

NO SMOKING GUNS

Sources now say while the top presidential functionary is desperate to rubbish the VP, he is becoming frustrated that there are no smoking guns against the VP after months of several “fishing expeditions,” across many government agencies. Yet he has now made alliances with a few media contacts to find ways of repeating some of the old allegations against the VP until such hopefully becomes resonant in the polity.

According to a Presidency insider, “just as there was no N90bn election fund, there is no N40bn FIRS campaign fund anywhere, and the renewed but rehashed allegations being peddled are mere figments of the imagination of a cabal in the Presidency set on a relentless mission to smear the reputation of the Vice President ahead of 2023.”

Former FIRS chairman, Babatunde Fowler went after tax evaders
Former FIRS executive chairman, Babatunde Fowler

Explaining the situation, the source noted that the Chief of Staff is the arrowhead of the effort and his responsible for rehashing lies against the VP using some media contacts already retained for the effort, in his bid to cause confusion and disaffection between the President and his deputy.

“It is simply impossible for anybody to move even N1B from the government coffers without a paper trail and the knowledge of several government agencies including the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, who would have been aware. Ask the NFIU, there were no such transactions.”

MISSING DETAILS, LACKING EVIDENCE

Furthermore other sources including FIRS officials explained last night that those making the bogus allegations should come out and detail how the alleged N40bn was moved. Was it cash? If so, were was it housed? Who and who moved it and when? “Imagine since at least two months now they have been peddling these lies, all we are told is about imaginary figures, first N90bn and now N40bn. It is because there are no plausible evidence or any kind of proof to support these claims,” the source volunteered.

In addition the sources raised the question of how easy it would be to detect the movement of such funds if it actually happened. According to them, “look, all the monies that FIRS collects as revenue go directly into the Consolidated Revenue Fund through the Treasury Single Account. And FIRS does not have powers to withdraw money from the TSA. So if a N40bn were moved out of the TSA whether in one fell swoop or in bits, that would involve quite a number of approvals including the Finance Minister and the Accountant General of the Federation and everyone involved in the regular allocation of funds for MDAs.”

HOW FIRS RECEIVES IT’S FUNDING

Investigations conducted also reveal that FIRS (like other MDAS) receive their allocations only after rigorously defending same at the National Assembly, and the budget heads are clearly spelt regarding the purposes including recurrent and capital spendings.

Besides, in all, FIRS is entitled to 4% of the estimated non-oil revenue share of the budget. And that target is not often attained as the agency is owed from year to year. In fact only once in the last 4 years has the agency actually received over N100B in a whole year in absolute total received income.

FROM N90B AND NOW 40BN

“So that was why when they first said N90bn, everyone knew that was just impossible. They have now scaled it down to N40bn. But that is still not possible and all of this are mere lies,” a top official in the Finance Ministry who pleaded for anonymity said last night.

The Finance Ministry official disclosed that FIRS collects its own funding on a monthly basis during the Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC meeting when FG, States and LGAs also get paid.

Said the official: “That means if FIRS is entitled to N100B for the year, they get it twelve times. To take out N40bn in such circumstances, considering that salaries and all other expenses of FIRS including projects, would simply be mind-boggling, unrealistic. These are very cheap lies!

SILENCE FROM PRESIDENCY AS PRESIDENT BEING ALLEGED TO HAVE BENEFITED FROM AN ELECTION FUND

A Presidency source also noted that it is curious that while presidential spokesmen will freely comment on rather innocuous and at times irrelevant issues to the President’s interest like the Bayelsa election and the perceived involvement of the former President, they have been eerily silent on an alleged fraud from which the President’s election was said to have been funded as the baseless claims go.

The source disclosed that the silence on the matter and refusal to clear the air is because the cabal that instructs the spokesman (often without the President’s knowledge) are behind the perpetuation of these bogus allegations and the purpose is to use them to continue smearing the VP and provoke discord with his boss, the President.

According to the source, “What is also interesting is that the peddlers of this lies about a N40B election fund seems ignorant of the implication that they are actually rubbishing the integrity and reputation of the President since such a purported fraud took place under his nose.”

The source concluded saying “and the fact is there is no presidentially ordered investigation on the matter since the claims are entirely baseless and the references to arrest made in FIRS in the some of the recent media reports are the same arrests made several months ago with on other matters including the investigation regarding exorbitant travel and DTA payments by some officials of the FIRS.”

This report was first published by Opera News