Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja and Obinna Chima in Lagos
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday described the claim by President Muhammadu Buhari that it squandered the sum of $500billion oil proceeds within 16 years as baseless, unfounded, and unsubstantiated.
The party urged the president not to allow his aides railroad him into peddling such groundless allegations and bandying of unverified figures, as doing that could detract from his personality.
The partyâ€™s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement, said the figures alluded to by the president does not even tally or reflect the actual oil related profile of the nation during the said period and urged the president not to allow his handlers set him up for public ridicule.
According to him, â€œThe entire country is aware that the presidency is on a feverish mode over their bound-to-fail 2019 re-election bid for which they have resorted to making spurious claims against the PDP even when it is clear to Nigerians that the PDP has since rebranded while preponderance of those who mismanaged the nationâ€™s resources have now found a safe haven in the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC).â€
The party however challenged President Buhari to name one corrupt person in the repositioned and rebranded PDP and it will hand him a list of an army of corrupt persons who are hiding in his APC including those who funded his 2015 presidential campaigns with stolen money in addition to his many cronies who are now frittering away billion of naira under his watch.â€
The PDP added, â€œWe know that President Buhari did not source his figures, otherwise we would have directly taken him to task on the veracity of his claims and detestable image of his party
â€œWe however ask: Is the President and his handlers not aware of the humongous corruption going on under the Buhari presidency? What have they to say to the recent Transparency International (TI) report which shows that corruption has worsened under the Buhari administration?
â€œWhat have they to say about the official memo detailing shady oil deals to the tune of N9 trillion ($25 billion) at the NNPC which is directly under the purview of the president as Minister of Petroleum Resources?â€
The major opposition party said that the Presidency is yet to address its complicity in the heavy sleazes in the National Health Insurance Scheme where billions of naira have allegedly been siphoned by their agents, in spite of the Treasury Single Account (TSA); the alleged diversion of N1.1 trillion worth of crude oil and the frittering of billions of naira meant for rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the northeast, all to service APC interests.
â€œNigerians are alarmed by the presidentâ€™s claim that his administration inherited a collapsing economy when it is common knowledge that he was actually handed a thriving economy, ranked the third largest in Africa and one of the fastest growing in the world,â€ the party further stated.
â€œHas Mr. President forgotten that when he assumed office in 2015, the value of our naira was N185 to 1USD? Nigerians are aware that the naira went as low as N510 to US$1 and in case Mr. President is not aware, Nigerians are also ridiculing his much touted strengthening of the naira.â€
PDP therefore urged President Buhari and his â€œdysfunctional APCâ€ to come to terms with the fact that Nigerians now know the truth and can no longer be swayed by propaganda and false claims with which the APC hoodwinked the nation in 2015.
Also, a former Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Reno Omokri, described as false, the allegation by President Buhari that the Jonathanâ€™s administration squandered over N500 billion and massively depleted the countryâ€™s savings during the tenure of the erstwhile president.
Omokri, said this in reaction to Buhariâ€™s speech to the All Progressives Congress (APC) members who visited him at the Presidential Villa on Monday that the Jonathanâ€™s administration encouraged â€œfuel subsidy fraud, arms fund diversion, depleted excess crude account savings, depleted foreign reserves, massive unpaid debts to contractors and suppliers amidst failure to invest or even maintain our infrastructure namely railways, roads, electricity, in spite of having earned over US$500 billion from oil and gas alone, during the 16 years of PDP rule.â€
Omokri argued that it was unfortunate that Buhari who once deceived the country with the mantra of integrity, could add lies to it.
According to him, if nothing else justifies the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index rating which revealed that corruption in Nigeria had worsened under President Buhari, â€œthis latest presidential lies does.â€
He pointed out that â€œit is true that there is â€œunprecedented theft and systematic mismanagementâ€, but such activities are taking place under President Buhari, rather than the preceding administration.â€
He added: â€œThe PDP government of President Jonathan dismissed Abdulrasheed Maina, the biggest alleged thief in Nigeriaâ€™s civil service history, and declared him wanted.
â€œThe incumbent APC government of President Buhari brought him back, reinstated him and gave him double promotion.â€
The aide added: â€œFurthermore, the president, through his Attorney General of the Federation, went to court to block the Senateâ€™s attempt to unravel how Maina was smuggled back to Nigeria and given armed guards.
â€œWe already know the truth about that as revealed in the leaked memo from the Head of the Civil Service, Mrs. Winifred Eyo-Ita.â€
He added: â€œAt a sworn testimony in the National Assembly by the immediate past acting Director General of the Nigerian Intelligence Agency, Nigerians were also regaled with details of how a cabal in the presidency tried to get him to share the $44 million Ikoyi apartment loot with them.
â€œThe nation has still not forgotten the allegation by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, whose leaked memo revealed that the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Maikanti Baru, awarded $25 billion worth of contracts without due process.â€
He added: â€œNigeria under the PDP government of Jonathan was not heading to collapse. As a matter of fact, the nation was projected by CNNMoney to be the third fastest growing economy in the world after China and Qatar in 2015.
â€œContrary to what President Buhari said, it was precisely under his rule that Nigeria entered its first recession in 25 years just a year after he took over a vibrant economy that was growing at six per cent under the PDP.
â€œNigerians will recall that the recession was self induced by President Buhariâ€™s refusal to name a cabinet six month after being sworn in and his flip flopping economic policy that saw the naira collapse to â‚¦510 to $1 leading to an unprecedented capital flight out of Nigeria.â€
Further responding to the presidentâ€™s comment, Omokri said it would further be remembered that whereas Buhari had said he did not know what fuel subsidy is and called it a fraud, it was revealed last December that his administration had been paying subsidy on fuel without appropriations from the National Assembly, despite increasing the pump price of petrol from the N85 per litre that President Jonathan reduced it to, to the current pump price of N145 per litre.
â€œFrom the facts listed above, it should be clear to the nation that President Buhari and the APC intend to repeat the lies and propaganda they used to deceive the Nigerian people in 2015 such as the Presidentâ€™s promise to make N1 equal to $1, his promise to provide 24 hours uninterrupted electricity supply and his promise to create three million jobs per annum even though 10 million jobs have been lost since May 29, 2015.
â€œLet me seize this opportunity to remind President Buhari that lying is corruption and you may be able to fool some people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time,â€ he said.