Oshiomhole, Ex-PDP Govs Clash over Economy, Naira Devaluation

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  • Duke: Today’s politicians are jobbers, budget ‘padders’
  • Babangida: People are crying in the markets, streets

Paul Obi in Abuja

Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, wednesday clashed with former Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke, and former Governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, over the poor performance of the economy and free fall of the naira against other currencies especially the dollar.

The political fireworks and exchanges which took the shape of disagreement on policies of the two major political parties-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC)-pitched Duke and Aliyu on one side against Oshiomhole, who vehemently defended the policies of his party amid economic hardship.

The clash took place during the second public lecture organised by the Kukah Centre for Faith, Leadership and Public Policy with the theme: ‘From Activism to Political Power: the Challenges of Democratic Governance in Nigeria’ and moderated by the founder and Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Hassan Kukah.

The Edo State governor, who spoke as the guest speaker, rationalised the idealism that governs activism and the reality political office holders are confronted with when in power.

Oshiomole lambasted the previous PDP government, arguing that the looting spree that characterised the regime was the architect of Nigeria’s current economic woes. According to him, the consequences Nigeria is facing presently in the economy and the depreciation of the naira are results of the massive looting during the PDP era.

“We have to change the society where all you need to do is get your brother elected and get him around the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and he becomes oil marketer, do some papers and become a billionaire in the name of subsidy.

“We have to change that and that’s what this change is all about. There is always a time between decisions and consequences. What politicians did in the past are the consequences we are facing now.

“There’s always a time line between massive looting of the treasury, transfer of defence budget to private pockets and take money meant for infrastructure. Spend $16 billion on light; the more money you spend, the more darkness,” he stated.

Oshiomhole, while speaking further on the new minimum wage, said: “We should demise the idealism. To be an activist does not mean being progressive. What I question is that you cannot have centralised system of compensation for governors, chairmen and councilors.

“So, if we have a national compensation, how can those governors turn around and question the national minimum wage?

“It is that discrimination that I found extremely offensive and unacceptable. No one can change society with individual activism.

“The idea is not to bring down a government but to defeat a particular policy. It was not my interest to bring down President Olusegun Obasanjo but to oppose some of the policies.”
In his remark, Duke, who doubled as the chairman of the occasion, took a swipe at the APC government and its change mantra, stating that the change campaign was nothing but a fake propaganda.

“Sadly, politicians in our society today are mostly jobbers and budget ‘padders’, advocating for themselves and not the society.

“They cleverly and surreptitiously apply the word change. I won’t use that word because as a member of the PDP or what is left of it, that word change ‘dey do me wan kind’,” he seriously joked.

Duke also questioned the sincerity of Oshiomhole as a labour leader during his days as Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) president, stating that his idealism then contradicts some of the programmes he championed as a governor.

Similarly, Aliyu tackled the APC government, governors and their economic policies, warning that such economic policies have increased the suffering of Nigerians.

Aliyu confronted Oshiomhole, who he said benefited tremendously from the PDP government only to turn around to ridicule the party.

He said: “During my time, we paid salaries in the North, and apart from Kano State, the rest 18 states are civil service states. The payment of salaries is very crucial in sustaining the economy. This time, they don’t understand anything about the essence of salary.”
On APC policies, Aliyu said: “Please Oshiomhole talk to Governor Rochas Okorocha, tell him that civil servants were not employed to be farmers.”

He said though the governor can defend the government, the prevailing economic circumstance was biting the masses severely, adding that the governor should “go to the market, go to the streets, you will hear cries. I don’t understand this silence when some people are messing up.”
Some of the guests who graced the lecture were Prof. Jubrin Ibrahim, Mr. Issa Aremu, Rev Fr. Emmanuel Ojeifo as interlocutors; THISDAY Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Kayode Komolafe; Prof. Kabir Mato among others.