The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has declared an anti-corruption war on President Muhammadu Buhari over alleged unending looting by officials of his administration.
PDP is challenging President Buhari to speak out on the ‘’ monumental’’ corruption in his administration, and account for the N800 billion he has so far recovered from looters.
Buhari rose to power in 2015 on the crest of popular support as the messiah who will make corruption history in Nigeria.
But, five years after corruption appears to be well-entrenched in his administration. This tends to imply that his administration functionaries are not on the same page with him on their vociferous anti-corruption fight.
The administration’s Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, claimed on Tuesday at a press conference in Abuja, that the Buhari administration has recorded over 1,400 convictions, including high profile ones, and recovered funds in excess of N800 billion.
While PDP is alleging that recovered monies have been re-looted and shared among topmost officials of the Buhari administration and All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders, the minister is busy arguing that Buhari’s anti-corruption fight was still on course despite allegations of monumental corruption in a number of government agencies, including the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), and the anti-corruption agency, EFCC.
According to him, the ongoing probe at the EFCC is proof that the anti-corruption war is still strong. He, therefore, described the call for the resignation of the President by the Nigerian opposition PDP as infantile.
“The investigation of the nation’s anti-corruption Czar, has shown is that this Administration is not ready to sweep any allegation of corruption under the carpet; that there is no sacred cow in this fight.
“If the nation’s anti-corruption czar can be investigated, then the fight against corruption cannot be deemed to be fake, neither can it be said to be waning. Many, especially naysayers, have misinterpreted these developments as a sign that the administration’s fight against corruption is waning.
“I wish to state that the allegations of corruption in NDDC, for example, are not new. What is new is the speed and seriousness with which this Administration has tackled, and is still tackling, the allegations. Had such attention been paid to the running of the NDDC by previous Administrations, the Commission would probably have avoided its present predicament.
“As I said earlier, this Administration’s fight against corruption is as strong as ever, and we have the records to back up this claim”, Mohammed said.
He pointed out that the fight against corruption is not about loot recovery or convictions alone. He informed that the government is also putting in place enduring institutional reforms that will deter acts of corruption.
“Here we are talking about the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the whistleblower Policy, the expansion of the coverage of the Integrated Payroll Personnel and Information System as well as the Government Integrated Management Information System and the Open Government Partnership and Transparency Portal on Financial Transactions, among others”, the minister said.
In a seeming daring statement, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyn, said rather than resorting to false performance claims, ‘’the expectation of Nigerians is that this administration would have sent Lai Mohammed to apologise for this display of gross abuse of position especially as it relates to the fight against corruption.’’
The party is inviting Nigerians to note that the information minister, in his press conference, admitted that he could not go into the details of the various corruption issues in NDDC, NSITF, EFCC and other agencies.
‘’Our party holds that this is an evasion of gory tales of direct stealing, treasury looting and barefaced embezzlements by government officials and APC leaders as already exposed in on-going investigations at the National Assembly and at the presidential panel.
‘’With this shocking suppression of information related to corrupt practices, by no other person than the minister of information, Nigerians and the world at large are no longer in doubt that concealment of corruption in ministries, department and agencies is an official policy of the APC administration because their leaders are involved’’, Ologbondiyn said.
According to the PDP, there are ‘’ desperate efforts’’ by the Buhari APC administration to divert attention from the stench of monumental corruption in government, adding, ‘’Nigerians have noted the blackmails, intimidation and threats coming from government quarters, in their feverish bid to frustrate whistleblowers and truncate on-going uncovering of widespread corruption in ministries, departments and agencies.’’
It claims that one of such antics was the Tuesday press conference by the minister wherein he dared Nigerians, particularly whistleblowers, despite revelations of rampant corruption virtually in all aspects of government under the APC.
‘’Our party is however not surprised that this corrupt administration resorted to distortion of facts and daring of citizens when its officials from the top to the bottom are all soiled in the foul potage of corruption.
‘’It is ridiculous that this administration seeks to claim credit for the investigation and unearthing of fraud in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) when it is already public knowledge that the investigation only came as a result of pressure mounted by our party and other Nigerians.
‘’This is more so as the corruption in the EFCC under the APC had reached an embarrassing crescendo that it could no longer be concealed. Such humongous corruption in the EFCC under the APC confirms the level of financial malfeasance and a shameful breach of trust by this administration, in which very top officials of the Buhari Presidency had been mentioned.
‘’This is the same reason the APC and its government had suppressed the prosecution of officials indicted in the N90 billion stolen from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in which top members of APC were mentioned.
‘’This is in addition to the suppression of prosecution of APC leaders involved in the reported looting of N33billion from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the stealing of over N18 billion from the rehabilitation of IDPs in the Northeast as well as the over N25 billion from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) among others.
‘’Of course, the APC has not denied that it is the headquarters of corruption and also had nothing to say to reports by reputable international organisations, including the Transparency International (TI) that corruption had worsened under this administration’’, PDP said.
Continuing, the opposition argued that if the Buhari administration is indeed fighting corruption, Nigerians are allegedly wondering why it has not addressed the involvement of APC leaders in the looting of over N14 trillion, including the N9.6 trillion ($25 billion) as detailed in the leaked NNPC memo; the over N1.00 trillion worth of crude oil using 18 unregistered companies linked to APC leaders as well as the sleaze in the fraudulent oil subsidy regime.
‘’We also challenge the minister of information to inform Nigerians why this administration has failed to address the direct allegation by the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, that the N500 billion meant for Social Investment Program under this administration was diverted to private purses.
‘’We challenge Lai Mohammed to name those behind the $2.5 billion (N1.175 trillion) Chinese Gates oil theft scandal, in which officials of this administration were alleged to have been involved. We also challenge the minister to name those behind the looting in NEMA, NHIS, FIRS North East Development Commission and the NDDC.
‘’Moreover, in doing that, Lai Mohammed should also offer some explanations on his alleged role in the reported National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) N2.5 billion fraud, for which Nigerians had demanded his investigation by the ICPC.
‘’Of course, Nigerians have not also forgotten how the nation was defrauded with a fictitious Nigeria Air which only flew on the internet under the watch of this administration.
‘’As a party, we sympathize with our nation for having an administration that is replete with looters, who in the last five years have been dipping their leprous hands into the till at the expense of governance while Mr. President’s silence makes him complicit.
‘’Nigerians already know that due to the level of corruption in this government the eight years of this administration will, unfortunately, end up as a wasted era, in which life of the ordinary Nigerians have failed to find any sort of improvement; be it on the economy, security, education, healthcare, urban development and other critical sectors.
‘’Indeed, the stench of humongous corruption oozing out of an administration that claimed to have come to clean an alleged Augean stable have constituted a huge embarrassment to Nigerians in the face of economic, political and security misery confronting our people in the last five years.
‘’The PDP stands with Nigerians in stating that no amount of propaganda, blackmail, threats and intimidation from the APC and the Buhari Presidency will stop them from continuing to expose the monstrous corruption being perpetrated by APC leaders and government officials under this administration.
‘’As a party, it is a sacred duty we owe our nation and we will not be cowed or intimidated to abandon this cause for the good of our nation’’, PDP said.