X-raying vagabond exchanges between APC, PDP
According to a rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), which computed the figures against the backdrop of recent accusations and counter-accusation by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the politicians have been using dishonest party politics and ethno-religious sentiments.
It all started as a mere podium exuberance of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who told the audience at the 7th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum for private sector stakeholders at the old banquet hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja; that the officials of the preceding administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, engaged in last minute looting of the treasury to the tune of N150b prior to the 2015 election, which the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), lost.
Later at the 2018 Ogun Investment Forum in Abeokuta, the Vice President up scaled his allegation, remarking that the former President and his aides looted $3b in the guise of strategic alliance contracts.
However, against public outcry and repartee by the main opposition party that the ruling party and the Presidency should come out clean by naming names of persons that took part in the blind looting, the APC government through the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, released a shortlist of former play makers in the immediate past administration.
Matters of process arising
WITH the bold face and devil may care the list of looters was released, as well as, personalities involved, a firestorm was let off.
While PDP chieftain countered that the APC ruling party facilitated the victory of its Presidential candidate in the 2015 election, Muhammadu Buhari, with proceeds of corruption from some states, some lawyers argued that it does not belong to the government to name names of persons not convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Although the national chairman of PDP has threatened court action against the Information minister, some Nigerians see the whole episode as theatre.
In the main, both APC and PDP have by their recent dance in the public square done much to buttress former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s assertions that the two do not possess the compass to the country to navigate the promised land of stability and prosperity.
Two sides of the same coin
AT the height of the nasty exchanges, a group, #TakeBackNigeria slammed APC and PDP, saying that they are but two sides of the same coin and enjoined Nigerians to use their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to sack the corrupt leaders out of the polity in 2019.
While APC was grandstanding that it has found PDP’s underbelly, spokesman to the former President Jonathan, Reno Omokri, released his list of alleged looters in APC, wondering why the ruling party found it convenient to gloss over those names.
Just as Nigerians discussed Omokri’s list and its content, a former Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, who was one of the prime movers of APC; narrated how the ruling party extorted millions of naira of some former PDP governors that defected to APC.
Bafarawa disclosed that each of the former governors, including the current minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Senator representing Kano Central, Rabiu Kwankwaso; Admiral Murtala Nyako, Senator Aliyu Wamakko and incumbent Kwara State governor, Alhaji Abdulfattah Ahmed, parted with N100m to obtain the APC structures in their respective states prior to the 2015 poll.
Declaring that he was there when the deal was struck, the former Sokoto governor regretted that some of them in APC at its formative stage were chagrined when “the pillars of the PDP were coming to give their financial contributions of One hundred million naira each.
Intersociety in a statement signed by its chairman Board of Trustees, Emeka Umeagbalasi, said from its investigation, all the component units of the federal government, including the 36 states, 774 local councils had since 2003 budgeted and spent a total of $724b or N14.8tr. without anything concrete to show for it.
Intersociety said: “Our decision to constructively redirect the attention of all Nigerians from ongoing naked display of shamelessness by two umbrellas of corruption in Nigeria called APC and PDP, is to open their eyes and probing mindsets, especially against the backdrop of the fact that Nigeria had been irreparably afflicted by the same political criminals masquerading as ‘top public office holders in Nigeria.’”
The group said Nigeria’s political criminals are like butterflies perching around any government in power nationally and sub-nationally, stressing that 99.5 percent of serving or ex public office holders in Nigeria, especially since 2003 are living far above their legitimate incomes.”
What the politicians respond
GOING by their antics, it is possible that both APC and PDP might act like vagabond political forces and destroy themselves in 2019, thereby canonizing Obasanjo as the saint who identified the sinners.
However, looking back at the genesis or the immediate factor that triggered the ongoing altercations, particularly the office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, some prominent Nigerians believed that the APC has deliberately reduced the anti-graft war to politicking having realized its failure on the fight.
Of course, one of the respondents to The Guardian said there was nothing wrong in the fact that the erstwhile ruling party came out to apologies to Nigerians it was sorry for mishandling the country for 16 years.
The ruling party however mishandled the situation in its response especially having to come out to list names of PDP members that were alleged looters.
The Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin flayed the Minister of Information and Culture. He said the minister must have forgotten he is no longer the Publicity Secretary of APC but now a spokesman of government “The way he handled the issue is berating and embarrassing to the country.”
According to him, “The altercations between PDP and APC on the pages of the print indicate failure on the part of this government, which Obasanjo pointed out yesterday.”
Although, Odumakin said he is in support of exposing all the looters in the country, the list by the minister is however biased, stressing: “Is Mohammed saying that those former PDP members who defected to APC are now saints?
“We must also realise that out of almost 30 governorship aspirants presented by the ruling party in the 2015 election more than 20 were former PDP members.”
The Afenifere Spokesman blamed the Federal Government for trivializing a serious issue that has to do with the integrity of the country and its position among the comity of nations.
Secretary General, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide said if APC is serious about fighting corruption it should explain why it waited till now before publishing names of convicted looters despite a court order last year that compelled it to do so “this is one issue that needed clarification.”
He also faulted the list released by APC as been subjudice “because it was obviously selective. If the minister is now telling the entire world that only the PDP members who are yet to defect to his party are corrupt what of those that we know are former PDP but now in APC?”
He also said if APC is honest, why did it not include names of its members that were returning looted funds in its list? “At least, in law, anybody that agreed to returned money must have accepted the fact of guilt. Where are those people name on Mohammed’s list?”
The Executive Secretary, Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Mr. Tony Uranta described the scenario as shameful and appalling to the country, urging that the leadership of the ruling party should immediately call the minister to order.
He said one of the greatest dangers in anti-graft war is to politicise it, which the ruling party has done. “It has turned to a political discuss between APC and the major opposition party as if it is an issue for campaign.
We are all aware that majority of the officers in APC are former strong members of the PDP.”
Uranta also want the ruling party to explain the source of some of the funds it used for campaign in 2015. He said Lai Mohammed should realise that he is not doing anything credible to the image of the country by the ongoing media war of looters list with the opposition PDP.
According to him, “While I would not agree with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in many areas, I think his (Obasanjo) alarm that this government has failed and it should be replaced is true. There is no need to continue to reinforce failure.”
Also, faulting the process, National Chairman, African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralph Nwosu said what APC and PDP are doing is the lowest point in Nigeria’s democracy.
He accused the ruling party of deceiving Nigerians to get their vote in 2015 on the premise it would fight corruption, which it has turned into a witch-hunting weapon against perceived enemies.
The ruling party has reduced corruption fight to a very scandalous thing in the country. He urged Nigerians to start aligning with Obasanjo’s call for change as this government has failed.”
Constitutional lawyer, Mike Ahamba (SAN) said it was wrong of the ruling party to list the names of those undergoing trials. He asked what would happen if some of the people were eventually cleared by the court?
He also blamed the APC for reacting negatively about PDP’s public apologies to Nigerians, saying there was nothing wrong if the PDP said it was sorry for its past mistakes but for the ruling party to have taken the matter beyond proportion is worrisome.