Deputy Editor, LEON USIGBE, in this piece, itemises the posers that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) threw at President Muhammadu Buhari over his perceived reluctance to act on corruption cases involving members of his party and government.
THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has, at every opportunity, tagged President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption as a ploy to muzzle the opposition. The party has been consistent with the message since losing election in 2015 when it had seen many of its officials in the previous dispensation arrested, detained and prosecuted by the nation’s anti-graft agencies for unbridled acts of corruption. The main opposition party says the present administration is only intent on harassing opposition in a bid to intimidate and demoralise it and pave way for a one-party rule. Were it not so, it believes, the government would have been even handed in tackling all cases of alleged corruption.
This was the message the party’s megaphone, Kola Ologbondiyan, sought to advance recently when he listed 14 acts of alleged corruption perpetrated by officials of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which he maintained President Buhari has turned a blind eye to. The party now demands answers from the president, whom, it says, had scammed Nigerians and the international community in the last three years.
The PDP is of the view that President Buhari and his APC deceived Nigerians to secure power on the promise of transparency, accountability and zero tolerance for corruption, saying that “little did Nigerians then realise that they had boarded a “one chance bus” driven by “vicious and vengeful, liars, scammers and a falsehearted and heavily corrupt leaders parading as saints and messiahs.” PDP’s argument is that Buhari’s Presidency and the APC-led Federal Government have been doing everything to “divert public attention from their “ocean of corruption and primitive stealing, launching brutal attack on the opposition, hounding innocent Nigerians for no just cause and seizing the airwaves to brand everybody else as corrupt, while underneath, they shamelessly pillage our nation’s resources, stealing money in trillions, under President Buhari’s official cover.”
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Ologbondiyan gloats in the perception that the Buhari Presidency has been busted as, according to him, “today, the very leader, who hitherto paraded as pro-poor and saintly has now been exposed to be at the head of the most corrupt administration that our nation ever had since independence.” The PDP says if President Buhari and his Presidency and the APC are not corrupt; they should address Nigerians on their complicity in the exposed acts of humongous corruption thriving in the high places under their watch.”
The opposition party has now challenged Buhari to explain why his anti-corruption fight has not been extended to investigate the corruption from the leaked memo detailing alleged underhand oil contracts to the tune of N9 trillion ($25 billion) at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, which are under the direct supervision of President Buhari as Minister of Petroleum Resources. It wonders why investigation into this scam has been suppressed. It wants the president to explain to Nigerians whose interest he is protecting by refusing to allow an independent inquest into the alleged corruption in the handling of the N1.4 trillion oil subsidy regime allegedly involving officials at the Presidency, particularly those benefiting from alleged N58 hidden tax per litre which it believes Nigerians have continued to bear since the fuel price increased from PDP subsidised cost of N87 to presumably unsubsidised cost of N145.
The PDP asks: “Can the Buhari Presidency and APC claim to be unaware of the damning report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a public document which detailed how officials were using bulk of the resources meant for the IDPs on contracts that were found to have immensely benefitted officials of the APC Government, including the sacked Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal? Can the Presidency and the APC claim to be unaware of the motion by Senator Baba Kaka Garba from Borno Central, who exposed how persons, known to have connections with the APC, fraudulently cornered N1.2 billion from the Federal Government under the guise of supplying items to IDPs?”
The PDP is also unhappy that President Buhari had failed to extend his “famed” anti-corruption dragnet to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) despite wide reports of alleged stealing of over N25 billion meant for the health need of the people from the account of the Scheme in the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by alleged APC agents. Also engaging the attention of the opposition party is the Presidency’s recall and reinstatement of the indicted Executive Secretary of the scheme, Professor Usman Yakubu, while he was still being quizzed by the EFCC for alleged corruption.
The PDP posits that it will be nice for Buhari to explain why his anti-corruption crusade has not been directed to the discovery of unremitted revenue from sale of crude by the NNPC under his watch, as well as the non-disclosure of revenue accruable to states for which there have been deadlocks at the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC).
While it notes that “birds of the same feathers flock together,” the former ruling party also observes that “the fact that President Buhari comfortably surrounds himself with persons indicted for corruption, sundry frauds, common scams, as well as forgeries, is very revealing on the phoniness of his administration’s fight against corruption.” The party believes that Buhari has no other explanation for engaging and rewarding corrupt individuals as ministers, including a certain individual whose state’s judicial panel of inquiry had, in 2015, issued a government white paper indicting him of looting over N90 billion through alleged illegal sale of the assets belonging to the state. After all, the said white paper further alleged that N40 billion out of the looted N90 billion was diverted for APC’s 2015 Presidential campaigns,” PDP recalls.
Recent cases of forgery involving some administration officials have not also escaped the scrutiny of the opposition party, which points out: “It is no longer news that one Obono-Obla, President Buhari’s Special Assistant on Prosecution and Chairman, Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property in Buhari’s anti-corruption team, has been indicted for forging his WAEC certificate, yet his boss, Mr. Integrity, has refused to investigate him. The same goes for Buhari’s Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who has been accused of dodging her compulsory national service and allegedly forged the NYSC Exemption Certificate. Despite her inability to deny the allegation, she is still the minister of finance under Mr. Clean.” In view of all these, the PDP queries: “Where is President Buhari’s fight against corruption?” adding: “Nigeria belongs to all of us and nobody, no matter how highly placed, has the right to continue to subvert our laws, beguile, intimidate or even attempt to subjugate our citizens at any time.”
However, the APC outrightly rejects PDP’s accusations and believes that the former ruling party is in no position to talk about corruption as it will amount to a prostitute preaching about chastity. Government’s spokesman, Lai Mohammed, also believes that the PDP’s 16 years in power witnessed monumental corruption and President Buhari is only trying to reverse the damage the opposition party did to the country.
On the allegation of not wanting to investigate his officials involved in forgery, the Minister of Information is of the view that Buhari’s integrity has not been diminished by it. According to him, “until when an allegation is proven, you do not expect the President to act. The appropriate agencies have spoken, and they say they are investigating. The only thing we can do is to wait.”