The preponderance of calls for a holistic probe into campaign funds and funding of the two major political parties in the country, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the last general elections is germane and well deserving.
It is now popular demand that even as government’s anti-graft agencies are unraveling massive public funds used by some members of the opposition PDP, those deployed into President Buhari’s campaign that resulted in ousting an incumbent and sitting president should also be probed at least once and for all. The call has been canvassed over time on national conversation platforms, in groups, public and private discussions, even at beer parlors. And it is no doubt the same agitation.
Arising from this therefore, the APC and their admirers should not consider this as trite or an outrageous demand. Those in government should not waive it aside or impugn politics or propaganda against this government. Probes are normal inquiries. In actual fact, the motive is to ensure equity and justice for both parties.
If government’s anti-corruption fight must not be described as selective, this is the time to demonstrate the time honoured saying that what is good for the goose is and must be seen to be good for the gander. With so many arrests only of PDP members, top political appointees of the last administration and their allies by agents of government, questions of bias and insincerity of the administration’s anti-graft war are being asked by Nigerians.
In this regard, the question the administration must ask should be: How did the APC, APGA, Labor party, SDP, UPN and others finance their candidates? Another must be: How many parties violated the funding benchmark approved in the Electoral Act? This should be the first standard for prosecuting any party, members or individuals that supported the party and not the selectivity currently going on.
Going by the shocking revelation from the armsgate scam, the level of involvement of some top PDP members, it would interest Nigerians how their dear President’s election was financed, even after he raised the alarm over the high APC price for the presidential nomination form which he could not afford but perhaps purchased with the intervention of his bank manager. Ditto that Nigerians want to know what the APC contributed and how it generated the campaign funds, who were the donors, what their leaders, each APC state governor and their governments donated; what the five new- PDP governors who later swelled the rank of the APC contributed.
It will also gladden the hearts of Nigerians to know the level of involvement of the private sector, friends of Buhari and the party: Those who gave their widows mite and those who also put their bets by donating generously to the Buhari’s candidature.
All we are saying is that this is the best time Mr. President and the APC can show integrity and dignity by being courageous and honorable enough to speak on the noble and clarion call to make public the funding of his campaign. This can be the only dignified path to tread at this juncture; to prove critics wrong, dissuade insinuations and doubts over allegation that public and illicit monies may have been used by some APC states, banks and organized private sectors for President Buhari’s success at the poll.
However we fault recent remarks by the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal that the All Progressives Congress, APC-led Federal Government is not focused on probing members of the party .He spoke in an interview with a national newspaper when asked if the president would start dealing with corrupt persons in APC. He made an obvious mistake when he said corrupt people are possibly only in the PDP.
Lawal said: “Let us be very sincere and reasonable. Obviously, to my mind, the preponderance of corrupt people would be in the PDP for one reason; they have been in government for 16 years and they were the only ones enjoying the booty, and they were doing it in a flagrant manner.“ He continued: “tracing my own (political) genealogy for instance, from ANPP to CPC and now APC, we were not getting anything. Nobody was giving us contracts. PDP were the ones in government; they were the ones the president was approving money for sharing; they were the ones that took government money to fund their election.”
We loathe such statements they are ridiculous, unfortunate and crassly undiplomatic for a top official of the administration. Simply put, Lawal displayed insensitivity and pretence to a long time agitation that is thriving in the public domain. More than ever before Nigerians now want to know and have shown more interest on how APC funded Buhari’s campaign than what the EFCC is churning every now and then.
It is not time to be partisan with such sensitive issues as corruption, as the SGF has shown. Do you need to be in government for 16 years to be corrupt; if the APC can oust the PDP that allegedly stole for 16 years and still loss an election as vital as the Presidential, then the money the APC deployed to win an incumbent and party in government for 16 years is from where? We demand these answers from Lawal and the APC and the time is only now. Buhari and the APC should show change by making public and allowing an independent probe not by the EFCC or ICPC of the APC presidential campaign funds, if he is really Mr. Integrity.