Federal Government’s approach to its anti-corruption crusade.
While the PDP lampooned the APC for criticising Catholic Bishop Hassan Kukah and other members of the National Peace Committee, NPC, over their insistence that President Muhammadu Buhari must follow due process in his campaign against corruption, the ruling party said that the amount looted by public officials in the last six years was too huge to be treated with kid gloves.
In separate comments on Buhari’s fight against corruption yesterday, the two political parties disagreed on the best approach to be used by the President in sanitising the polity.
Members of the National Peace Committee now renamed National Peace Council, NPC, led by former Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd), had last Tuesday met with President Buhari where they appealed to him to ensure that his administration follows due process in its anti-corruption war.
Their piece of advice to the President did not go down well with the national leadership of the APC which accused them of attempting to sabotage the campaign.
The PDP, through its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said that some conscious actions and inactions of the President Buhari-led APC government that undermine critical institutions of democracy and emasculate the constitution is setting the stage for a return of dictatorial regime in Nigeria.
“The intolerance of the APC and the glaring insensitivity of this government, in spite of the outcries of well-meaning Nigerians against their undemocratic leanings, raise fears about the future of our democracy and the general health of our dear nation.
“For example, how can we begin to explain the venom and disparagement with which the APC has been attacking our highly revered national leaders in the National Peace Council, which has as members, former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, respected clerics: Archbishop John Onaiyekan and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, retired justices of superior records as well as others highly respected patriotic Nigerians, for daring to counsel Buhari’s government on some observed undemocratic tendencies and processes.
“The crass attacks are more astonishing, considering the much appreciated role these great Nigerians played in ensuring a peaceful and violence-free 2015 general elections.
“This is especially as we have no reason to believe that such weighty attacks from the President’s party can come without his approval, more so as the APC spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who authored the statements was not part of the meeting between the President and the Peace Council,” he said.
The PDP also raised the alarm that President Buhari’s actions and inactions are also posing a threat to democratic institutions in the country like the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
According to Metuh, Buhari has allowed, under his watch, an incessant violation of sections of the nation’s Constitution, a development that has become a huge threat to democracy and the stability of the country.
“For instance, how can this government explain the fact that a major institution of democracy like the INEC has been deliberately debilitated to the extent that it can no longer perform its statutory responsibility for lack of quorum?
“Nigerians are aware that before his tenure expired on June 30, the former INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, wrote to President Buhari, intimating him of the fact that the tenure of majority of the national commissioners will expire before August, yet the President never acted, resulting in the present crisis in the commission, where more than 80% out of the statutory 13 members remain vacant, even as eleven states of the federation are also without Resident Electoral Commissioners.
“We note that this anomaly is in addition to the uncertainty surrounding the controversial appointment of an Acting Chairman of INEC in the person of a national commissioner whose tenure has since expired, not minding that there is no provision for an acting chairman of INEC in our constitution.
“This development has completely enervated the commission from carrying out its functions as stipulated in part 1 of 3rd schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended, thereby putting our electoral system under severe threat.
“We ask, if not for a possibility of an ulterior motive to inject a constitutional crisis and undermine the nation’s democracy, why should President Buhari wait to be urged before he upholds his responsibility of forwarding replacements to the Senate for confirmation so as to enable the commission effectively carry out its constitutional responsibilities to the nation?
“Could this be a ploy by the APC-led government to use a decapitated INEC to conduct the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa to pave way for their planned ‘capture’ of the two PDP states?
“Is the weakening of INEC not part of the plot to use the commission to put the PDP in precarious position in various electoral tribunals to the advantage of the APC?
“Furthermore, Nigerians are witness to the undue interferences of the Department of State Services, DSS, in the activities of election tribunals in Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and other PDP states, where electoral officers are being harassed, intimidated and detained, ostensibly to influence judgments against the PDP.
“The PDP and indeed all discerning Nigerians are therefore left with no other option than to conclude that there is a clear agenda to undermine critical institutions of democracy, intimidate Nigerians and pave way for dictatorship in the land,” Metuh said.
The APC, however, has described as disturbing the massive looting of the country’s treasury by public officials and declared that nothing would stop the Buhari administration from recovering the money.
In a statement he issued in Lagos yesterday, Lai Mohammed (APC spokesman), said anyone who attempts, either by deeds or words, to sabotage the recovery efforts is not a patriot and deserves nothing but public condemnation.
Mohammed said: “It is absolutely gratifying that Nigerians are vehemently opposed to the few who would rather have the government of the day turn a blind eye to the looted funds and, in their words, carry on with the process of governance.
“Truly, what sort of governance can go on if the billions of naira in a few hands are not recovered? In the first instance, the government needs every kobo of the funds it can muster to bring about the change it has promised Nigerians.
“Second, leaving such hair-raising funds in the hands of the few looters is dangerous, because they can use the funds to destabilise any government. In fact, no one will be surprised if the looters use their dirty funds to sponsor public demonstrations against the government’s determination to recover the funds.
“Third, allowing those who privatised the commonwealth to get away is offering a thumbs-up for looting. No responsible government will do that,” he said.
Mohammed continued: “They and their paid hirelings have tried to employ sophistry to muddle the waters, but Nigerians are much wiser, and will not succumb to the dirty antics of the looters’ megaphones.”
According to him, N3.8trillion of the N8.1trillion earned from crude oil between 2012 and 2015 was withheld by the Nigerian national petroleum Corporation, NNPC
He also claimed that $2.1billion from Excess Crude Account was unaccounted for by the immediate past administration while the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR did not remit N109.7billion royalty it collected from oil firms.
The APC further said that $6 billion was looted by some minister in the last administration; 160 million barrels of crude worth $13.9billion lost between 2009 and 2012; $15million from botched arms deal was yet to be returned to Nigeria.
Mohammed also alleged that $13billion in NLNG dividends were mostly unaccounted for with N30 billion wasted on rice waivers while N183billion was unaccounted for by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
Federal Government’s approach to its anti-corruption crusade.