Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Victor Efeizomor and Adedapo Adebiyi
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Thursday described as a huge scam and an illegality the ‘Good Governance Tour’ currently embarked upon by Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku.
The verdict by ACN came as Maku, who was on tour of Delta State, said the tour embarked upon by his ministry was not intended to witch hunt opposition parties, but to showcase development strides of democratic governance in the country.
Also, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State has said the end of militancy in the Niger Delta region gave rise to the challenges of kidnapping, illegal bunkering and other criminal activities.
In a statement issued in Lagos Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party also commended Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State for rejecting a multi-million-naira proposal from the minister asking the state government to bankroll the state leg of the tour.
The party accused the organisers of extortion and said the tour should be discontinued forthwith and those behind it made to account for the public funds they have collected in the process.
“It said such a tour as currently being led by the minister across the country was an illegality in a federalism, the system of government which Nigeria is running, because it distorts the Constitution and gives the impression that the Federal Government is a supervisor of the various states.
“Under our federalism, no state is subject to any control from the Federal Government, and no Governor is mandated to report to the President. To now have a team assembled by the Federal Government inspecting the projects being carried out by the various states is not only fraudulent and illegal, but amounts to a blatant waste of public funds,” the party stated.
The party noted that the practice was a carry-over from the days of military rule under which Nigeria was governed as a unitary state.
“It is also a case of double jeopardy for the states, whose projects are made to look like they are being executed by the Federal Government, while at the same time they (states) are being made to pay for the meaningless tour.
“We say, unequivocally, that this tour fits into other fraudulent schemes concocted by this Federal Government to swindle the people, enrich a few and pad its war chest for the 2015 elections, and we are talking here of SURE-P as well as the oil subsidy and the pension fund scam. This jamboree must end today!” ACN said.
The party asked whether the Federal Government that initiated the tour has allocated any funds to it, adding: “If this answer is yes, why are states being asked to cough out millions of naira for it. And if the answer is no, why must states be made to pay for a Federal Government-initiated tour?”
“If the Federal Government has any project to showcase anywhere in the country, it is its prerogative to do so without extorting money from the states. And where it has nothing to showcase, it is fraudulent to be showcasing the projects embarked upon by state governments, many of which are not even under the same party as the Federal Government, hence they have their own mandates based on their party manifestoes.
“Would it not be laughable to see the Minister of Information questioning contractors of projects being executed by state governments or issue ultimatums to contractors he did not hire? Maku should immediately put an end to the jamboree he is leading, declare all the public funds he has collected in the name of this tour and return such to the state governments that have been swindled under the so-called ‘Good Governance Tour’,” it said.
However, Maku, while justifying the tour, said the programme was supported by the National Economic Council (NEC), while the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) also set up a committee headed by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Godswill Akpabio, to debate on the technicalities of the programme and agree on a template.
The minister, who spoke in Asaba, Delta State, noted that: “What we are doing today is not federal programme alone. The design we had before was virtually altered by governors. It is not Federal Government programme.”
Receiving the delegation, Uduaghan said all the state governors collectively agreed on the programme, as it was observed that a lot of issues take front burner in the media and development boxed to the corner.
“Although there is need to do more, we must appreciate what has been done, it also shows that the president has nothing to hide.
“You should not be discouraged. In leadership you hear the good, bad and ugly but you should not allow the ugly to deter you. The programme has gone to show the president has nothing to hide,” he added.
Uduaghan also said another challenge currently confronting the state was the aggression of herdsmen against farmers, adding that lives had been lost in the process.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that Uduaghan said: “For the identified vices, however, we are already working out strategies to tackle them.”
He stated that in spite of the problems, the Federal Government’s Amnesty Programme for former militants had yielded tremendous result.