• Buhari: We seek to replace poverty with prosperity
• Don’t be used again, PDP replies ex-Lagos gov
Ismail Omipidan; Moshood Adebayo; Juliana Taiwo; Chinelo Obogo; Ndubuisi Orji
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, yesterday, turned the 10th Bola Tinubu colloquium to a platform to showcase its achievements in the last three years, especially in human capital development, with Buhari reiterating his commitment to make Nigeria a better place.
The event, put together to celebrate the 66th birthday of the former Lagos governor and National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, also provided opportunity for party leaders to further lampoon the immediate past administration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which it claimed looted the country’s treasury blind.
For “looting and wasting our resources,” Tinubu noted, Nigerians should not take the apology tendered by PDP. Instead, he said, Nigerians should lend their support to the APC so that it could rescue the country.
While urging Nigerians not to vote for the PDP, insisting they were yet to account for their 16 years of misrule, Tinubu who abandoned his prepared text, to speak extempore, further said there was a whole lot of difference between the administration the PDP ran and the incumbent one of the APC.
“We believe and we are strongly determined that we can change Nigeria for good and we believe that we are still going to do it. Our logo is the broom, which bonds us against terrorism, corruption and promotes economic revival of the country. I can see the positive things that the government is doing and the fact that it has demonstrated it in practical terms is what we need to get our country from the throes of corruption.
“The PDP says we should not talk about corruption but we must talk about it. We have to report to voters what we found when we got into government. We won’t encourage corruption. Forget about the PDP, they won’t come back. PDP looted, wasted our resources and they didn’t do what they promised. The (oil) markets gave them the maximum, yet the economy was stagnant. The difference between the PDP and the APC is like night and day and I urge Nigerians not to accept their apologies. They lied; they falsified and changed figures for 16 years. We won’t take that. We have a good leader to emulate and a nation to treasure. I don’t want to address those writing ‘bad belle’ letters as if they have not been there before.
“I am happy that the president is moving the country in the right direction. I am happy that the president can change the course of this ship that was headed for destruction. The voyage of hope is on and we are reclaiming Nigeria. We are going to work with the president on strengthening the pension plan to stimulate growth for the economy. Every Nigerian knows that there are challenges but we make a promise to Nigerians that hope is back,” Tinubu said.
The event had at least 12 governors, several ministers, captains of commerce and traditional rulers in attendance.
In his remarks, Buhari, who described Tinubu as a selfless political strategist, restated the commitment of his administration to the development of the nation.
“We, as a people and a nation are in the midst of a grand endeavour. We seek to change the ways and means of our collective existence, we seek to construct a nation where leaders no longer rule by whim but govern according to law and for the betterment of the people. We seek to replace corruption with correctness, insecurity with safety and poverty with prosperity. The road we tread is rough and hard in spots. The search for progress and reform has its rough patches. Many will fight you and connive to deter the march toward a better land. But that march is inevitable. There is no mortal hand that can keep us from our best destiny unless that hand be our own. Thus, we invest in people, we invest in ourselves because we are enlivened by God-given faith that tomorrow can be better than today and that good will triumph over evil. Forums such as this present ideas and spark important discussions that enliven our national discourse and enrich our policy options. We seek to rebuild what has been wrongfully constructed and to plant a firm foundation for progress where nothing now exists. Our goal is to bring together every section of the nation and every Nigerian of every creed, every region and ethnic group in mutually beneficial, productive, social, economic and political relationships. To accomplish our historic mission, we must invest in people,” he said.
Also on the occasion, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said no matter the antics of the opposition party, the APC would continue to talk about the corruption perpetrated under the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, just as he said the Buhari’s administration was determined to change the narrative of Nigeria, known as a country where corruption is perpetrated with impunity.
“The corruption of the previous five years destroyed the economy. Let me say that when we began our journey in 2014, our party, the APC, was determined to change the dominant narrative about our country. We were determined to ensure that the notion of a country rich in natural resources and even richer in human capital but being destroyed daily by grand corruption and the impunity of the looting of public resources, had to change.
“So, we decided on two things- to invest heavily in agriculture to create jobs in the hinterland, provide enough food locally and for all in the urban areas and I’m sure with our agriculture programme, many will agree it is already a success.
“In fact, Mr. President told a story of his own village where people use to lease out farms but now nobody is leasing out their farms anymore, everybody is on his own farms. The most interesting part of that story is that, not only are more people now going to Hajj, they are now marrying more wives.
“We embarked on an audacious social investment programme to the tune of N500 billion, the largest pro-poor programme in the history of the country and the largest in sub-Saharan Africa, in other to give the people hope.
“This was despite the fact that in 2015 oil prices fell by 50 percent and also our production fell from over 200 million barrels a day to less than 700,000 barrels a day, sometimes even 500,000 barrels.
“We have seen today the empirical evidence of the successes of the programme and we have listened to several of the testimonies and stories, 200,000 jobs for undergraduates involved in the N-Power, 300,000 more waiting to be employed, seven million children being fed daily in 22 states so far, beneficiaries of micro-credit loans going to about 300,000 and almost 700,000 household benefiting from conditional cash transfer.
“As for our fight against corruption, we realise, as Mr. President said, that if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us. Corruption is an existential problem for Nigeria.
“Let me pause here to reiterate, that from what I have seen in government in the past few years, the corruption of the previous five years destroyed the economy.
“Every time we talk about corruption, our opponents say, ‘don’t talk about it, just do your own, don’t talk about it.’ The Yorubas have an adage, ‘when the conversation comes to a matter of tales, the frog will say let us skip that, don’t talk about it.’”
Osinbajo insisted that the APC would continue to talk about it.
“The reason we will talk about it is that we must let our people know we cannot afford to go this way again, never again should we allow this system where people take the resources of this country, and steal the resources of this country, use the resources against the people and at the same time they want to continue in rulership.
“The second is that we as a party and as your government must show the difference between us and the previous government that impoverished the nation.
“Let me give you an example, in 2014, when oil was $100 and $114, the actual releases of capital for three ministries – power, works and housing when they were three separate ministries, in total was N99 million, transportation N14 million, agriculture N15 million.
“Compare that to the actual releases to the same ministries in 2017 when oil prices were between $50 and $60 a barrel; it was N450 billion, N80 billion for transportation, N65 billion for agriculture, totaling N560 billion, in a time when we are earning at least 50 percent less than we were earning before. What is the reason why this is possible? It is possible because if you do not steal the resources of the people, you can spend it on projects that concern the people, it is as simple as that.”
He also claimed that under the Jonathan administration, $3 billion was lost to the Strategic Atlantic Alliance Contract in NNPC.
“The people simply took the oil and never paid back. The same $3 billion which is in trillions of naria, the minister of finance sat with us at the Economic Management Meeting, and we were proposing the following roadsfor the same $3 billion Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Road, 2nd Niger Bridge, Enugu-Port Harcourt road, East West Road, Shagamu-Ore-Benin road, Kano-Maiduguri Road, Abuja-Lafia-Akwanga-Keffi Road, Lagos-Abeokuta Road, all for the same $3 billion. That is why the criminal looting of this country cannot be allowed to continue,” Osinbajo declares.
But the PDP challenged Osinbajo, a professor of Law, to back up allegations of corruption against the party with proof.
The party spoke through its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday night.
“…Osinbajo should stop bandying figures. He should call their names. If he cannot call their names, then, he should keep quiet.
“As a professor of Law, you have not invited people, questioned them and yet, whenever he faces a camera, he begins to bandy figures. Why are they consistently looking back?
“Tell Nigerians, in almost three years, what you have done. The professor of Law knows what to do…if he believes that certain people have corrupted themselves. Releasing figures is not the issue. As far as we are concerned, in the PDP, unless you come up with specific names, he’s just bandying figures,” said Ologbondiyan.
In a statement by its spokesman, the opposition party also replied Tinubu.
“While we congratulate the Lagos governor emeritus on his birthday, the PDP considers it needful, to forewarn him to study the current ambience of Nigerian politics as it relates to the failures of the Buhari presidency and the fact that the citizens have since rejected this presidency and the APC, so that Asiwaju will not find himself swimming against the tide,” the PDP said.
Besides, the PDP admonished Tinubu not to allow himself to be used a second time, noting that the APC leader bears a big part of the blame “for the enthronement of this incompetent, divisive, nepotistic and inherently corrupt administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, which has brought the nation to its knees in three years.”
The opposition party said Tinubu’s comment rather than doing any damage to it, ended up indicting the President Buhari administration, saying that it watched with amusement as the APC leader struggled with words to appease President Buhari and give him assurances that he could win the 2019 presidential election, in spite of the failure of the present administration.
“It was a direct admittance of failure and indictment on President Buhari’s administration, when Asiwaju pointedly told the president that the ship of the nation, under his (Buhari’s) watch, still needs to be rescued, almost three years down the line.
“It is tragic that Asiwaju had to tutor his visitor, who had no policy direction since his election in 2015, by engaging in a revision of the programmes and policies of the PDP, such as the leasing system, the mortgage and pension schemes which boosted the economy and directly impacted on the lives of Nigerians.
“More pathetic is the fact that the APC leader presented the PDP programmes as if he was introducing novel ideas in the economy. This clearly stood with our position that the APC government is incompetent and lacking in ideas of how to move the nation forward,” PDP said.