- lIt’s a plot to bring back corruption –APC
The Federal Government and the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday fired a volley of missiles at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for daring to demand the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari on account of the seeming inability of the present administration to provide viable solutions to the nation’s economic woes in the last one year.
The Federal Government described the former ruling party as a shameless irritant, which is bent on distracting the present government from its rescue mission. On its part, the APC said calls for Buhari to quit office was a plot by the PDP to return Nigeria to the era of corruption and unchallenged looting of the public treasury.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who fired the first salvo, said that if the PDP had understood the meaning of shame, it would never have dared to even make a single comment on the current state of the economy.
According to him, the PDP did everything to kill the economy while it was in power. Mohammed said that while the Federal Government will continue to welcome constructive criticism, it had nothing to learn from PDP, alleging that the opposition party was in charge of the nation’s affairs at a time of plenty, but ended up frittering away the commonwealth and setting the stage for today’s economic crisis. According to the minister, what the PDP presented as a vibrant economy under its watch was nothing, but a bubble that was buoyed by massive corruption, chronic incompetence and an economy in which some privileged persons became billionaires for doing nothing.
“While the PDP was emasculating Nigeria on all fronts, including social, economic and political, the rapacious party was deceiving Nigerians by giving them the illusion of growth and prosperity. Instead of showing remorse and rebuilding itself to a strong opposition party, the PDP has continued to blame the successor Buhari administration which is left to pack their mess. PDP undertakers have continued to engage in a blame game, when they should be hiding from the shame they brought upon themselves and the nation.
“They keep saying we should stop talking of the past, yet the past will not stop rearing its head. They keep saying we should no longer refer to the past, but how can we forget so soon that our foreign exchange reserves plummeted from $62 billion in 2008 to $30 billion by 2015, at a time when oil prices were at a historic high, reaching a level of $114 per barrel in 2014. By comparison, Indonesia, another oil producing economy with a high population, increased its reserves from $60 billion in 2008 to $120 billion in 2015.
“The candid truth is that we failed under the successive PDP administrations to save for the rainy day, and we need to constantly remind ourselves of that so that we won’t repeat the mistake. Take the excess crude account, which fell from about $9 billion in 2007 to about $2 billion in 2015.
The argument that it was the state governors that depleted the account does not hold water since there were governors in place when the account was being built up. “Worse still is the fact that up to $14 billion in revenues from Nigerian LNG remains unaccounted for and indeed until the Buhari administration came to office, state governments never got any allocations from this source of funds which properly belongs to the Federation Account. The naked fact on the revenue front is that there was just a failure of leadership. This was compounded by the non-transparent uses of funds. We are all witnesses to the sacking of a Central Bank Governor because he raised an alarm about $20 billion that had gone missing.
“We are, indeed, still trying to recover huge sums looted from the national treasury under the PDP’s watch, with $15 billion stolen from the defence sector alone. Perhaps most painful is that because of the way funds (about $322 million) returned from Switzerland were mishandled, we now have to accept conditionalities before our stolen assets are even returned to us,” he said. Mohammed recalled that while the PDP was in power, the nation earned so much from oil revenue, yet it accumulated more liabilities as external debt rose from $5.6 billion to $10.7 billion between 2011 and 2015.
“The case of domestic debt was even worse, al most tripling from N888 billion to N2.1 trillion in the same period. Even these figures mask the extent of unpaid obligations to contractors and the huge plethora of uncompleted projects on which money continued to be spent without visible results. Payments to contractors stopped several years ago, while not a single dollar was contributed to the Joint Venture activities.
Over N4.5 trillion was spent on fuel subsidy in just two years under the PDP! “Despite a recent oil boom, Nigerians are indeed all victims of the dilapidated and decrepit infrastructure. The economy that the Buhari administration inherited was certainly in dire straits, if the huge amount of salary arrears that were being owed at various tiers of government is anything to go by. If, after earning so much resources and increasing the total debt stock, our governments were not able to meet salary obligations, sometimes for up to seven months, then something was definitely wrong somewhere and if this is not evidence of a collapsing economy, one wonders what it is. “Indeed, it was not so long ago that the fuel subsidy regime almost bankrupted the country.
Through credibility and commitment to good governance, the current administration has managed to save up to N1.4 trillion that would have been spent on subsidies for PMS. Moreover, the daily demand for PMS has halved from 1,600 trucks a day to 850 trucks a day. If we could achieve such savings, then clearly the pet rol sector, which was and remains a huge source of foreign exchange demand, was not being well managed,” he said.
In a separate statement signed by the National Secretary of the APC, Hon. Mai Mala Buni, the governing party said it would not have dignified the comments of the PDP on the economy and their calls for Buhari to step down but for the need to set the records straight. According to the party scribe, the demand for Buhari’s resignation was a plot by the PDP to return the country to the years where looting of the public treasury was the order of the day. “Instead of this charade by the PDP, we advise the PDP and their cronies to apologise to Nigerians and toe the path of honour by returning public funds stolen under its watch.
While the PDP attempts to fraudulently re-write history and misrepresent facts on its misrule of the country, Nigerians are traumatised on a daily basis on disclosures of the startling level of pillage of the country’s commonwealth perpetuated under its watch.
“Instead of saving for the rainy day, past PDP administrations and their cronies literally looted the public treasury blind, using the loot to build luxury hotels and other properties, stashing loot in farmlands and hidden bank accounts,” Buni said.
He said that while the APC-led administration would remain open to positive and constructive contributions on resolving the country’s economic challenges, Nigerians should be rest assured that the Buhari administration was already employing all legitimate and innovative means to restore the country’s battered economy back to health in the quickest possible time.