Gentlemen of the press, we have once again called you up to address a number of very important issues constituting a threat to our democracy, the general health of our nation and our welfare as citizens under the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.
Last Thursday, our dear President, President Muhammadu Buhari returned from his much-publicised visit to the United States of America. A visit which has 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 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.
This is in addition to the fact that 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.
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?
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?
May we remind 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.
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 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.
Recall 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 publicize 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.
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.
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 organized 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 longue.
While we note that this development has been widely condemned by Nigerians, we ask if the former President erred in conceding defeat. Is the Federal Government by any means encouraging a sit-tight attitude by government officials?
Moreover, we have 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 Mrs. 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 Mrs. 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.
Finally, we state in clear terms 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.
So far, bad change that INEC has now lost its independence and the respect it commanded among electoral stakeholders for fact of nepotism in appointment of its Chairman; so far, bad change that the National Assembly, the very citadel of our democracy has fallen under siege by a government which seeks to appropriate its leadership and erode its constitutional independence.
So far, bad change that the government has reneged on many of its promises to the people and now seeks to hoodwink them with lies, propaganda and governance orchestrations. So far, bad change that the people now have to live with the reality that the government had no intention of providing monthly N5, 000 stipend, allowances to the discharged but unemployed Youth Corps members, free meals for school children, 100 million jobs, additional 4 million new homes, and bringing the naira to the same value with the dollar among other promises for which they were voted for.
As a responsible political party that has sustained democracy in the last 16 years, we are in good position to understand the growing frustration and agitation among the people. However, we appreciate the sense of calm by the citizens especially bearing in mind that this confusion called the APC will end in the next four years.
Chief Olisa Metuh
National Publicity Secretary