Says Nigeria worse off under Buhari   

•APC: Frank canvassing personal opinion

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank, has lamented the worsening cases of corruption, battered economy, killings, hunger and injustice in the current administration.

While tendering an apology to a former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Frank said Jonathan was largely misunderstood and that his good nature was taken for weakness by those who maligned him and pushed hard to remove him from office.

“I would first of all like to use this opportunity to formally apologise to the immediate past President of Nigeria, Dr. Jonathan, for all the tantrums and mistreatment orchestrated by me against his person while he held sway at the helm of affairs of our great country,” he said.

Frank, who is the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of APC, in the open letter released at the weekend in Abuja, titled: ‘Open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on the state of the nation’, said the present government has shown total disdain for court pronouncements and the enforcement of fundamental human rights of citizens.

He regretted that having voted out President Jonathan, it is now crystal clear that the change that was clamoured for is not the change we got.

In his letter to Buhari, Frank said: “Under your tenure, the rule of law has been replaced with the rule of force. You have injected fear into the society. People who voted for you to save them from corruption and ineptitude have been barred from speaking up against the myriads of evil and wicked acts being perpetrated by officials in your government.

“Unfortunately, corruption is in the upward swing under your watch. This is why I had to apologise to Jonathan since events of the last three years have shown the former President was a better leader. People freely expressed themselves under Jonathan’s administration without fear of being branded cultists’ sponsors, gunrunners or aiding murderers, but not so in this administration.

“In Jonathan’s government, Nigerians enjoyed freedom of speech, association and right to hold dissenting views, including organising and partaking in protests against unwelcome government policies. All these are no go areas today. “Does it mean Jonathan was a better democrat? It is a fact that no member of the APC which was then in the opposition before 2015 was jailed or harassed for expressing dissent.

“However, under this administration, the Senate president is being persecuted, Senator Dino Melaye has been arrested and detained like a common criminal, Senator Matthew Urhroghide had been attacked for telling Nigerians that the federal government breached the constitution by paying the sum of $496million for 12 Tucano fighter jets without the National Assembly approval; the trial of Senator Isa Misau by the AGF over his face-off with the Inspector General of Police(IG), the persecution of most members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the name of fighting corruption are all examples of intolerance in this administration.

“Mr. President, while your fight against corruption is being promoted as gathering steam leading to an award given to you by the African Union (AU) recently, the allegation of illegal award of $25billion contracts levelled against the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has not been investigated, rather the malfeasance and shoddy dealing in the NNPC has been swept under the carpet because as the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources, any probe of the agency would require that you make some explanations.”

While urging Nigerians to wake up and face the current realities “and save Nigeria from total collapse under the jackboots of impunity by this administration, the Bayelsa State-born politician said: “History will not be fair to him if he had championed the campaigns against President Jonathan and now remain silent in the face of anti-democratic tendencies and sheer impunity going on now.”

Frank said instead of enhancing freedom and rule of law, the country’s democratic gains are being frittered away under the pretext of fighting corruption, adding that rights to freedom of speech and association are increasingly being denied.

He noted that the statement credited to former Minister of Defence, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma (rtd), came as another rude shock to Nigerians on the state of our security architecture in the country.

Meanwhile, the APC has disassociated itself from the positions expressed against the President Buhari-led administration by Frank, describing it as his own opinion.

In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdulahi, the APC said it was wrong to describe Frank as a chieftain of the party since he was suspended as a member of the APC following a recommendation of a disciplinary committee.

“Our attention has been drawn to a report on the online newspaper, in which one Timi Frank was addressed as a ‘chieftain’ of the APC

“We wish to correct the wrongful designation and remind the newspaper and indeed the public that Frank has since November 2016 been suspended as a member of the APC following a recommendation of an APC disciplinary committee and subsequent ratification by the party’s South-south zonal executive committee.

“Hence, whatever position Frank holds or canvasses is done in his personal capacity and has no bearing on the APC,” it said.

In the same vein, Frank reminded President Buhari about statements attributed to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and General Ibrahim Babangida, reemphasizing that the government under his watch has failed Nigerians.

“People can no longer freely express themselves without security agencies harassing, accusing, arresting, parading, and prosecuting them like common criminals over spurious allegations.

“I dare say that I am by this letter offering myself to pay whatever price it will take for Nigeria to be free once again. I know your goons will soon come after me but I am not bothered a bit. I will continue to speak the truth. I spoke the truth when Jonathan, my kinsman, was in power and I will continue to speak the truth. Be that as it may, the truth is that you have destroyed our democracy so much so that Nigerians are now living in fear,” he said.