The All Progressives Congress says that President Muhammadu Buhari is right on track in his performance in the last two months while Peoples Democratic Party disagrees, saying the President is discriminatory, acting unconstitutionally, unilaterally depleting the national treasury and incurring debt for the country to defray his party’s campaign expenses
| By Maureen Chigbo | Jul 27, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
THE All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples’ Democratic, PDP, are exchanging vitriolic over the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last two months. While the PDP draws public attention to “very important issues constituting a threat to our democracy, the general health of our nation and our welfare as citizens under the APC administration”, the ruling party lambasted PDP, saying “it cannot provide any worthwhile opposition to the APC-led federal government if its spokesman continues to issue convoluted and fustian statements just so that he can be in the news”.
The first shot in the face off started when Olisa Metuh told journalists in Abuja at the weekend that Buhari’s much publicised visit to the US which had proven to be anything but successful, yet another miscarried cosmetic intervention to hide government’s inefficiency and inability to face the real business of governance.
“As a responsible political party, committed to peace and the stability of our dear nation, the PDP restrained itself from embarrassing the President by not raising, while he was in the United States, issues of harassment of citizens, interferences in the activities of the National Assembly and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, total disregard for tenets of democracy, resort to sole administratorship as well as other violations which have become the order of the day in Nigeria since the inauguration of his administration.
“Rather, we remained calm, while hoping and praying that the visit would afford our President and his party leaders reasonable tutorials on the respect and application of the tenets of democracy and fundamental rights of citizens under the rule of law,” a statement signed by Metuh and made available to Realnews on Sunday, July 26 said.
According to PDP, “as patriotic citizens, we looked forward for gains especially given our restated support for any action or policy by the federal government aimed at stamping out corruption, ending insurgency and promoting economic growth, which formed parts of the publicised agenda for the visit.
“However, now that the visit has come and gone, our fear is that nothing whatsoever has been learnt or gained. What we continue to receive as a nation have been embarrassing disagreements, accusations and counter accusations, blames and denials on very important issues due to lack of tact and skill in the management of state matters by the APC-led administration.”
PDP said: “It is disheartening that rather than secure any sort of tangible gain for the fight against terrorism, which has lost steam under the APC watch, with insurgents, who were pushed to the verge of surrender by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, now surging back and spreading into the country, we get nothing but exchanges and disagreements between the Presidency and their American hosts. This is not only embarrassing but also worrisome indication of crass ineptitude in the handling of international affairs on the part of the present administration.
“We urge the APC-led administration to settle down, put its acts together and get determined, without further excuse, to face the fight against insurgency with every sense of seriousness especially given President Buhari’s promise in his April 2, 2015 CNN interview to end the scourge two months after his inauguration, which is by the end of this month.
“Also, while Nigerians awaited for reassuring words to promote our democracy and unity as a nation, they were shocked as they watched President Buhari unfold to the world his decision to administer the country on the basis of the voting pattern in the last general elections rather than on equity as stipulated by the constitution and his oaths of office as the President of Nigeria.
“President Buhari told a stunned audience in the US that “constituencies that gave me 97 percent cannot in all honesty be treated, on some issues, with constituencies that gave me 5 percent”, signifying that his government will be discriminatory. Never in the history of our nation has a president made such a divisive and vindictive declaration. Never in the history of Nigeria has a President made such tendentious, biased and partisan statement, a blade on the chord of unity of his own country and people.
“President Buhari as a respected leader and the father of the nation whose “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody’ inaugural speech brought great hope to Nigerians, must therefore note the enormous damage and danger his recent partisan declaration brings to the polity.
“We demand that the President come clear on this matter. Would this form the basis of government appointments rather than adherence to merit and the principle of federal character as enshrined in the constitution? Would this be a basis for termination of appointments, promotions and key policies in the service circle?” PDP said, asking: “Would it form the basis for distribution of infrastructural development projects and other essential interventions rather than the principle of equity and equality of federating units as stipulated by the constitution? Is this a deliberate policy by the APC or his personal stance? Are we expecting the same discriminatory policy from APC state governors?”
The opposition party reminded President Buhari that his declaration to run a discriminatory government is in clear violation of his oath of office as President wherein he publicly swore “that in all circumstances, I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will; …”
“Our fear however is that the President’s stance has further divided the people along sectional and religious lines and may trigger a return of quest for ethnic and sectional self-determination. The burden therefore lies squarely on him to moderate the political ambiance in the nation and do the needful in reassuring all sections of the nation of his commitment to be fair and just, in keeping with the oaths and demands of the highly respected office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, PDP said.
PDP pointed out that similarly, the business community in Nigeria and indeed across the world noted with utter dismay the disgraceful treatment meted out on some Nigerian bankers and captains of industries by President Buhari during his US visit.
Whereas the President has the right to decide who makes his entourage on such an important official visit, which visibly excluded National Assembly leaders, economic experts and had no woman, the manner with which he shamed and walked out Nigerians businessmen sends very wrong signal to international investors and poses great threats to inflow of direct foreign investment into our country”.
These Nigerian businessmen, PDP said, were rejected by their President only for them to be valued by other Presidents of African nations who led them into a meeting with President Barrack Obama in their own countries on account of their investments in those nations.
“Whilst we reserve our comments on the numerous blunders and gaffes in the presentation of ideas, we note the embarrassment caused by the absence of an economic team for healthy and informed discussion at the meeting with officials of the US government. Whereas President Obama came to the meeting with a formidable team of experts and key federal officials, our President had three APC governors with questionable performance and who owe salaries and billion of naira in debts, thereby robbing our nation the benefits and gains of the discussions.
“Furthermore, since the President has insisted on running his government as a sole administrator, making important decisions on national affairs without recourse to relevant statutory arms and organs of government, we are compelled to demand that this administration come out clear on its expenses since assumption of office in May in keeping with its much harped stance on transparency.
“We make this demand because since the APC took office, the nation’s financial system in the absence of statutory functionaries has been enmeshed in confusion, controversy and fertile atmosphere for financial sleazes,” PDP said.
Metuh recalled that when it assumed office, this administration raised the issue of empty treasury only for the nation to learn few days later from the accountant general of the federation that about $2.1 billion was left in the Excess Crude Account, ECA. When the PDP demanded credit for the ECA savings, the nation was suddenly made aware of huge sums from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas dividends from which the APC-led Federal Government announced financial bailout for states.
“It is interesting to note that whereas the Presidency has gone ahead to unilaterally deplete the funds without recourse to appropriate statutory arms of government, state governors are on air announcing that they have not received any form of bailout whatsoever from the center, raising serious questions on the handling of national resources.
“This is more so as we have information that the Presidency acting alone, has gone into discussions with the World Bank for a loan of $2.1 billion for purposes unknown to Nigerians. What is the loan for? What are the terms and who are those working the papers? Who are the people to decide on how the money will be spent? Is it true that the $2.1 billion loan is meant to pay back huge contributions for the APC Presidential campaign expenses? If truly this government is transparent, it should come out clear on this loan as well as publicise details of its expenditure in the last two months.
“We are worried that the ineptitude, avoidable inactivity, lack of policy direction and absence of ministers to coordinate government affairs have left the nation’s economy sour with continued slide in the naira which has fallen from under N200 to the dollar in May to an all time low of N240, in addition to the excruciating loss in the capital market which has lost over N1.1 trillion in the last two months,” he said.
According to PDP, “With the recent display of insensitivity in deciding that ministers would be appointed in September, a reneging on the earlier promise to unfold a cabinet two weeks after inauguration, Nigerians should brace up for more economic loses ahead, a development which spells doom for the gains earlier achieved by the PDP administration in growing our economy to the biggest in Africa and one of the fastest growing in the world.
Indeed, Nigerians are no longer in doubt that they have been scammed with long list of empty promises. This government has failed to articulate any policy direction in any sector. What we see is a smart attempt at cosmetic governance, loud propaganda and artful move to appropriate the achievements made by the PDP-led administration; such as the effort in ending polio, the improvement in power supply which is a dividend from numerous investments by the previous administrations, the return of the railways among others.”
He said: “the only achievements and change brought by the APC government are the curbing of the fundamental human rights of citizens; engaging in selective application of war against corruption, interfering in the activities of the National Assembly and eroding the independence of INEC. The order of the day has become the crass victimization and harassment of officials of the immediate past administration. The recent organised public humiliation of the immediate-past First Lady and wife of the former President, Dame Patience Jonathan at the Port Harcourt airport where she was refused access to the protocol longue based on ‘order from Abuja’ is a particular case in point. We stress this case because when the immediate past President was in power, all former Presidents and their spouses had unhindered access to the protocol lounge.
While we note that this development has been widely condemned by Nigerians, Metuh asked “If the former President erred in conceding defeat. Is the Federal Government by any means encouraging a sit-tight attitude by government officials?”
According to him, PDP has been watching with keen interest the unfolding scenario in INEC where the Presidency has been making every effort to rewrite the constitution and the law with the singular aim to perpetuate Amina Zakari as Chairman in spite of her relationship and closeness to key APC leaders. We are also aware of the position of the law and that Zakari’s tenure as a member of the commission elapsed on July 21, 2015.
“We restate that as long as Mrs. Zakari remains in the commission, it should not be considered as independent and we will not accept any attempt to manipulate the results of the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa, which are known PDP strongholds.”
The opposition party stated clearly that “for the APC, it is a matter of so far, bad change. So far, bad change that the government has failed to articulate any clear policy direction with attendant avoidable confusion and economic downturn; so far, bad change that our dear nation is gradually sliding into a banana republic were the fundamental rights of the citizens are being trampled upon and where security agencies have become compromised instruments of oppression in the hands of the ruling party.
However, the APC, fired back that PDP’s statement “is the most tortuous yet by the PDP and, honestly, sounds more like a compendium of beer parlour gossips and side talks than a serious criticism of a sitting government.”
Lai Muhammad, spokesperson of the APC in a statement issued in Lagos, on Sunday and made available to Realnews, said: ”To be in opposition does not mean you have to constitute yourself to a nuisance by rushing to the press with all sorts of hot air statements. It is the quality, rather than the frequency, of your interventions that makes you relevant as an opposition in a democracy.”
It said that “in the light of the above, the APC will not dignify the latest in a series of confused statements by the PDP with any response. ‘We can only say that we have been justified, and indeed prescient, in our earlier offer to organize a crash course for Olisa Metuh so that he can more effectively perform his role as the spokesman of the main opposition party.
”Those who thought we were joking with that offer can now see that indeed, Mr. Metuh is seriously in need of some form of coaching on his new role,” APC said.
The party said “for the record, no government in Nigeria’s recent history has been as focused and systematic as the one headed by President Muhammadu Buhari in restoring good governance, especially coming after the worst stretch of governance, lasting all of 16 years, by the immoral and reckless PDP.”
“It is worth noting that even the leader of the world’s foremost democracy, President Barack Obama, said that much during the recent visit to the US of President Buhari, when he described him (President Buhari) as a man of integrity with a clear agenda.
President Buhari is working hard every day in the priority areas of tackling security and corruption, rebooting the economy to provide jobs for our teeming youths and generally to restore good governance. We are sorry for those who are too blind with hatred to see this.
”We know that the PDP is terrified by the expose of how the Federal Government it led has looted the treasury and created an environment for impunity to thrive, as well as the fate that will befall those who were part of the show of shame and disgust.
”But we assure Nigerians that this government will not interfere with the work of the security and anti-corruption agencies, and also that under the Buhari Administration, only the guilty needs to be afraid. ‘In the meantime, no amount of mumbo jumbo from the PDP will stop the Buhari Administration from its tough but inevitable task of restoring Nigeria’s lost glory,” Mohammed said.