â€¢ Ex-president: Stick to facts, not lies
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, has demanded an apology from ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for his dismal approach to the fight against corruption during his tenure in office.
While reacting to the statement by ex-president, Jonathan at the special non-elective convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held in Abuja at the weekend that his administration performed very well, Okechukwu dismissed it, saying the doors of corruption were made wider during the last regime.
Ex-President Jonathan said though he might not have completely plug the loopholes in the fight against corruption, his regime nonetheless performed creditably well.
In a statement he issued yesterday, Okechukwu said: â€œMy own sincere assessment is that our dear Jonathan rather than plugged loopholes of corruption; opened it wide.Â
He the former president should apologise to Nigerians whom he betrayed for being less than transparent.Â
On the contrary, Okechukwu said the biggest headache of the Buhari-led administration is the huge local and foreign debt amassed by the PDPâ€™s 16 years misrule.Â
On bailout fund and Paris Club refund, Okechukwu said Buhari has spent over N1 trillion on salary and pension arrears. According to him, BuhariÂ has also paid over $7 billion on obligations to International Oil Companies (IOC) with the little he got.
On the statement by the ex-president that hunger and poverty are ravaging the country, Okechukwu insisted that the Nigerian economy could had collapsed if President Buhari didnâ€™t come to the rescue.Â
â€œAn economy with 40,000 MW to Nigeriaâ€™s less than 4,000MW. This is a hard fact, otherwise lets refer to our financial records to see how the ex-president and by extension his party railroaded Nigerians into abject poverty, food insecurity and deficit infrastructure via planlessness and squandermania: â€œJonathan and his cohorts assume that many of us will easily forget how on 13 May, 2010, his regime announced publicly with joy the award of $23 billion contract for the erection of three Greenfield refineries, one to be erected in Bayelsa, one in Kogi and one in Lagos.Â
However, Jonathan advised Okechukwu to stick to facts and lies.
The former president who responded through his media office, said the VON DG should note that the premier global agency universally recognised to gauge corruption is Transparency International who release an annual Corruption Perception Index.
â€œIt may surprise Okechukwu and his boss to know that the last time Nigeria made progress on Transparency Internationalâ€™s annual Corruption Perception Index was in 2014 under former President Jonathan when we moved eight places from number 144 to number 136 under Jonathan.
â€œThat year marked the most improvement Nigeria has ever made since Transparency International began publishing the annual Corruption Perception Index in 1995.
â€œTransparency International took note of the Jonathan administrationâ€™s e-wallet system that cut out the corruption in Nigeriaâ€™s fertilizer procurement system, the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) which weeded out 50,000 ghost workers from the federal civil service, the cashless policy and the fact that the Jonathan government promptly fired two ministers (Professor Bart Nnaji and Stella Oduah) mentioned in corruption scandals.â€
â€œEver since 2014, Nigeria has not improved in Transparency Internationalâ€™s annual Corruption Perception Index ranking and has remained 136 in 2015 and are still 136 on the latest CPI ranking released in 2017.
â€œIn the most recent CPI Transparency International said and I quote â€˜Some other large African countries have failed to improve their scores on the index. These include South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania and Kenya.â€™
â€œIf it were true that the Buhari administration was really fighting corruption, why hasnâ€™t Nigeria made progress in the CPI?
â€œThe answer is because you can deceive some gullible Nigerians but you cannot deceive Transparency International.
â€œWith a Minister of Transport that admitted to spending $500,000 on a one day dinner for Professor Wole Soyinka in your government, with a suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation who was caught red handed looting funds meant for IDPs and who has not been fired, arrested or prosecuted and with a padded budget scandal that spends borrowed monies on luxuries for favored individuals, you canâ€™t pull the wool over the eyes of Transparency International.
â€œAnd whenÂ Okechukwu talks about the economy faring better under this administration, one must wonder if he is also a drunkard like the Presidentâ€™s spokeswoman, Lauretta Onochie.â€