Defection gale is hitting the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State as the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is battling to tag the ruling party as worse than it in corruption.
The Magugate scandal in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the massive rip-off in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) are currently opening the underbelly of the Buhari administration as far as its anti-graft fight is a concern.
PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, says the monstrous sleaze being unearthed in NDDC is just a tip of the iceberg of the stinking corruption and criminal racketeering that have pervaded the APC administration of President Buhari.
The opposition party is boasting that the mass defection from APC to its fold, ahead of the Edo governorship election, is an end-of-the-road signpost for Osagie Ize-Iyamu who was the PDP governorship candidate in 2016.
PDP spoke while acknowledging the solidarity of thousands of members of other political parties, who have also adopted and expressed support for its candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki, as their preferred choice for the election.
‘’Our party has been receiving daily reports of massive surge for PDP membership cards in our state, local government and ward offices, following the soaring popularity of Governor Obaseki and the PDP across the state.
‘’This is in addition to the expressed support of various volunteer groups, as well as professional bodies, community associations, trade unions, youth groups and other critical players across the voting population of the state’’, Ologbondiyan says.
The party notes that with the gale of defection and mass flow of support from the people of Edo, the APC candidate will soon look back and find himself standing alone.
Following the claimed surge, PDP has directed all its ward offices across the state to expand their registration capacity to ensure adequate accommodation for all Edo people in their irrevocable quest to realise their aspiration on the platform of the PDP.
Continuing, Ologbondiyan said, ‘’our party notes that the Edo people are already aware that unlike the suppressive and corrupt APC, the PDP is the only true platform where their voices, wishes and aspirations as individuals and as a people, are completely guaranteed at all levels and all without the oppressive control of corrupt god-fathers.
‘’Our party is already aware of the worsened crisis, disagreements and trepidation in the APC over their imminent crushing defeat by the Edo people. For them, the September 19 election is a referendum and determined march for freedom from the stranglehold of the repressive, heartless, vindictive, exploitative and corrupt APC.’’
It has accordingly charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to note that the people of Edo have made up their mind to re-elect Governor Obaseki and as such must ensure that all the processes allow only for free, fair and credible election on September 19.
On the rot in NDDC, PDP says the shocking details of the allegation by the Commission’s former Managing Director, Joi Nunieh, of massive stealing, manipulation of budget processes, victimisation and implication of innocent Nigerians and fetish practices by corrupt officials, allegedly spearheaded by the supervising minister, Godswill Akpabio, have further exposed how ministries, agencies and departments (MDAs) are run under the Buhari administration.
For the PDP, ‘’the silence and inaction by the Buhari Presidency and the APC since the uncovering of the fraud in the NDDC signpost complicity at the highest levels as well as validate public stance that treasury looting and cover-up for corrupt persons are normal official statecraft and manifesto of the APC and the Buhari administration.
‘’Nigerians are still in a state of shock over reports of how the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Akpabio, allegedly bullied officials to pillage the Commission’s foreign currency account; how the laid down procedures of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) are allegedly circumvented to siphon unapproved budgets as well as how innocent workers and federal legislators, who are averse to corrupt practices, were victimised, implicated and even harassed with fetish practices.
‘’The allegation by the former NDDC MD that a certain NDDC top notch said he can kill if Akpabio asks him to do so, shows the level of recklessness and the victimisation in MDAs under the APC rule. More distressing is that the Buhari Presidency and the APC had remained silent even when the embattled minister has not provided any concrete defence to the allegations beyond personal attacks on the whistleblower.
‘’Our party had in April, alerted of massive looting in the NDDC and called for investigation, which was however not addressed by the government. We also alerted that the NDDC management has not been able to give cogent explanation to the reported Lassa fever contract fraud through which over N4 billion naira NDDC fund was alleged to have been frittered on hazy procurement deals.
‘’This is in addition to alleged N5.5 billion COVID-19 scandal which trails reports that the NDDC had already spent over N1.045 billion purportedly for supply of kits and palliatives to Nigerians in nine states.
‘’We hold that any credible administration like the one the APC and the Buhari Presidency would want Nigerians to believe as running would have spoken out and commenced an immediate investigation into the matter if its officials are not complicit.’’
While PDP charges the Buhari Presidency to speak out on the issue, particularly, given the delicate nature of the Niger Delta, and take steps to investigate and prosecute all those involved in the alleged fraud, it also demands that Akpabio should step aside and submit himself for investigation over these weighty allegations.