Ministers, who served under former President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, tackled President Muhammadu Buhari on his on-going probe of his immediate predecessor. They asked the president to stop unwarranted attacks on Jonathan and show due respect to him and his administration.
The Presidency, in its reaction, however, took a swipe at the former ministers, saying they should reflect on the kind of government they handed over to the present government.
This happened on a day the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) listed new cases of looting under the Jonathan administration. The party said the corruption mess that characterized the Administration was so pervasive that until it was cleaned, Nigeria will not be able to actualize her potential.
The former officials in a joint statement released in Abuja, yesterday, and signed by former National Planning Minister, Dr Abubakar O. Suleiman, pointed out that while Buhari and his party, the APC had the right to chart their path, they considered the vilification of the Jonathan’s administration as ill-intentioned, unduly partisan and in bad faith.
They maintained that it was wrong for the Buhari administration to cast aspersion on Jonathan and the ministers who worked under him, deliberately discrediting the monumental achievements and the innovative measures it adopted to tackle corruption in the country.
They said it was also wrong for the new administration to portray each and every member of the Jonathan administration as corrupt and irresponsible.
The former ministers, who boasted that they served Nigeria diligently and to the best of their ability, pointed out that the results of their sweat was what Nigerians now enjoy under the Buhari administration and should be so applauded rather than being vilified.
They insisted that contrary to the claim by the APC, Jonathan did not encourage corruption. He rather devised means and measures to stamp out corruption within the context of the rule of law.
While calling on Buhari to carry out the probe of whoever he wants to probe, the ministers advised that such inquiry must, however, follow due process and respect for human rights.
Stop ridiculing Jonathan
The statement said: “We, the ministers who served under the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration, have watched with increasing alarm and concern the concerted effort by the Buhari administration and members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to condemn, ridicule and undermine the efforts of that administration, in addition to impugning the integrity of its individual members.
“While we concede that every administration has the right to chart its own path as it deems fit, we nevertheless consider the vilification of the Jonathan administration, to be ill-intentioned, unduly partisan, and in bad faith.
“The effort that has been made to portray each and every member of the Jonathan administration as corrupt and irresponsible, in an orchestrated and vicious trial by media, has created a lynch mentality that discredits our honest contributions to the growth and development of our beloved nation.
“We are proud to have served Nigeria and we boldly affirm that we did so diligently and to the best of our abilities. The improvements that have been noticed today in the power sector, in national security, and in social services and other sectors did not occur overnight. They are products of solid foundations laid by the same Jonathan administration.
“Contrary to what the APC and its agents would rather have the public believe, the Jonathan administration did not encourage corruption, rather it fought corruption vigorously, within the context of the rule of law and due process.
“For the benefit of those who may have forgotten so soon, it was the Jonathan administration that got rid of the fraud in fertilizer subsidies, which had plagued the country for decades. This helped to unleash a revolution in agricultural production and productivity.
“It was also the Jonathan administration that supported the institutional development of strong systems and mechanisms to curb corruption in the public service and plug revenue leakages.
“These included the development of the Government Integrated Financial Management Platform, The Single Treasury Account (TSA), and the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Management Systems (IPPIS), in addition to the biometric registration of civil servants and pensioners which saved the country over N100 billion paid to ghost workers and ghost pensioners.
“To ensure greater transparency and integrity in the oil and gas sector, the Jonathan administration ordered investigations and put mechanisms in place to check the theft of Nigeria’s crude oil. “It was also under the Jonathan administration that a Nigerian Content policy was introduced, which opened up that sector to Nigerians in a manner that was not previously the case.
“It was also the Jonathan administration that mobilized and secured the support of our neighbouring countries to ensure a robust multinational response to the menace of terrorism and insurgency, resulting in notable advancements in the fight against terror. “President Jonathan personally initiated the collaboration that led to these advancements and ensured that Nigeria provided the needed financial support for the Multinational Joint Task Force.
“It was the Jonathan administration that repaired and rehabilitated over 25, 000 kilometres of our nation’s roads. Nigeria also became a profitable and preferred investment-friendly destination. It was under President Jonathan, for example, that Nigeria’s electric power sector became more competitive and attractive to local and foreign investments.
“The same administration promoted the rule of law, free speech, fundamental human rights, and a robust freedom of information regime. Women’s rights to participate in public life and the Federal Character principle as well as other Constitutional principles were also respected. In every respect, our administration promoted inclusive governance and encouraged all stakeholders including the private sector to play key roles in the transformation of Nigeria.
“It should also not be forgotten that the Jonathan administration strengthened electoral institutions and created a peaceful environment for democracy to thrive. On this score, it is sad and ironic that the chief beneficiaries of that same legacy are the most vociferous today in condemning President Jonathan and his team.
“In addition, the Buhari administration should be fair enough to acknowledge the good works of the Jonathan administration. No administration can be either completely bad or completely good. President Jonathan’s achievements in moving this country to greater heights deserve to be duly acknowledged. We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to build on these achievements.
“We also urge him to press on with the anti-corruption fight, but in a fair and non-partisan manner, in line with due process, and not as a political witch-hunt.
“The various lies and fabrications being peddled by some self-appointed spokespersons of the administration may entertain the unwary, but such sensationalism may achieve the unintended effect of de-marketing our country within the international community.
“All such persons playing to the gallery for whatever gains should be called to order. The name-calling of members of the Jonathan administration and the trial by news media should also stop.
“We encourage President Buhari to continue with the probes, but this must be in strict accordance with his oath of office to treat all Nigerians equally and with the fear of God.
“We have reserved our comment until now, in the fervent hope that once the euphoria that may have inspired the various attacks on the past administration wears off, reason will prevail. But we are constrained to speak up in defence of the legacy of the Jonathan administration, and shall do so again, for as long as those who are determined to rubbish that legacy are unrelenting in their usual deployment of blackmail, persecution, and similar tactics,” they said.
What are Jonathan’s ministers afraid of?
For asking President Buhari to be sincere enough and publish the reports the former administration handed over to him, the Presidency has taken a swipe at the former ministers under the immediate past President Jonathan, saying they should reflect on the
kind of government they handed over to the present.
According to the Presidency, the former ministers should allow the President the peace he required to handle the reconstruction of the economy and the nation in a manner that most serves Nigeria’s best interests, adding that President Buhari does not need these types of distraction presented by the so-called association of former ministers.
In a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the Presidency asked the country’s latest trade union formation, the Association of Ex-Jonathan Ministers to do a bit of self-reflection on the sort of government they handed to President Muhammadu Buhari back in May to determine for themselves if it would have been right for any incoming government, not just this one, “to ignore the issue of the brazen theft of public assets, perhaps the first of its kind we have ever seen in this country”.
The Statement said: “In this regard, that there is no witch hunt or malice against anyone in the pursuit of the county’s stolen assets still stands. This war against corruption knows no friend or foe.
“There is no intention to deny anyone of their good name where they are entitled to it and that President Buhari reserves the highest regards for the country’s former leaders including Dr Jonathan Goodluck who he continues to praise for the way and manner in which he accepted defeat in the last election.
“That singular action remains a feat that has earned the former president and Nigeria as a country befitting commendations all over the world, the latest coming from Mr Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations who visited a week ago.
“For the purpose of emphasis, the issue of fighting corruption by President Buhari is non negotiable. It is sine qua non to the overall reconstruction of the economy and social systems which suffered destruction and severe denigration under the last administration. President Buhari will not be deterred or blackmailed into retreat and surrender.
“No one in the PDP can accuse President Buhari of undermining the economy when all they handed over to him, at best, was a tottering economy hobbled by corruption and the absence of due process.
“Things have become worsened by the continuing fall of oil prices, which is expected to fall even further with the imminent full return of Iran to the market. All he has been doing while around is to put things together, organizing to defeat Boko Haram, paying outstanding salaries, cleaning up the mess left behind, improving security and restoring our relationships with neighbours and the world.
“So what are the former ministers afraid of in these things? Have they become a new trade union?
“Let this collection of ex-VIPs allow the President the peace he needs to handle the reconstruction of the economy and the nation in a manner that most serves Nigeria’s best interests. President Buhari does not need these distractions presented by the so-called association of former ministers.”
APC lists new cases of looting
Meanwhile, the APC in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said: “Those who would rather give comfort to the looters by dismissing the media exposure of looting cases as mere hell-raising should realize that no sane person can be silent in the face of what is unfolding as the worst cases of brazen stealing of public funds in Nigeria’s history.
“On August. 16, 2015, we listed some instances of the breath-taking looting of the treasury by some officials of the immediate past Administration. Today, we bring three more heart-rendering cases to the attention of Nigerians. We will not relent until closure has been brought to this issue,” it said, listing the new cases as:
– A mind-shattering 2.2 billion-US-dollar arms scandal.
– A 6.9 million-dollar fraud the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to President Jonathan, committed under the guise of buying three mobile stages for the President.
– A 2.5 billion-Naira scam involving the rent of house boats.
“While those charged with handling these cases are finalizing the details of bringing the suspects to justice, our immediate concern is the attempt by the PDP, under whose umbrella the looting took place, to blame the Buhari Administration for the mess and then infer that things have been worse in Nigeria in the past three months under the APC-led federal government than in the 16 years under the PDP. This is totally provocative, shameless and uncharitable.
“They say we are yet to fulfil our campaign promises to Nigeria, but they have forgotten that if only the PDP/Jonathan Administration had not stolen Nigeria blind, there would have been more than enough money to give school children in Nigeria not just one but three meals a day and even pay N5,000 to 50 million most vulnerable Nigerians, not just the 25 million we promised in our manifesto,” APC said.
Despite the almost daily discovery of cases of corruption under the Jonathan Administration, the party assured Nigerians of better days ahead, as all its campaign promises will be kept because of the commitment and determination of President Buhari not only to clean the Augean Stable but also to ensure purposeful governance for the benefit of all Nigerians.
“It is clear to all Nigerians that the debilitating impact of 16 years of PDP’s misrule cannot be reversed in just three months. It is an obvious truth that it is always easier to destroy than to construct, but nothing will stand in the way of the Buhari Administration’s commitment to improving the quality of life of Nigerians and making our country to function again,” it said.
It said that a major clog in the wheel of faster progress for the new Nigeria under President Buhari has been the discovery that the pot housing the commonwealth has been licked dry by the looters of yesterday, hence the need to work meticulously to recover the looted funds and facilitate the delivery of good governance that will manifest in abundant jobs, strong economy and improved welfare and security for Nigerians.
APC said while the PDP, ever steeped in the pursuit of lies, presents the recently released data on job creation and economic growth as ‘clear signals’ that President Muhammadu Buhari is failing Nigerians, the disgraced party mischievously omitted the fact that those numbers are basically a manifestation of the disastrous final days of President Jonathan’s failed economic policies.
‘’The PDP omitted the fact that these numbers measure job creation and economic growth for the second quarter of 2015, which covers April to June 2015, a period in which President Jonathan was in office for 2 months while President Buhari was only just settling in to discover even more of the mess left for him to clear. No one in his or her right mind will hold someone more accountable for actions in just one month and exonerate another who was in the same office for two months.
‘’Since the PDP has become insular to global events, the APC will also like to educate the party that every country in the world is struggling to adjust to the effects of a global downturn at the moment. Only very few countries, if any, are growing as fast as they did, in say two years ago. From China, India, Russia, South Africa, to Ghana, Malaysia and Brazil, every country is feeling the effects of a sustained slowdown in global growth.
‘’The APC will also like to categorically say that it supports the policies of the CBN in its quest to ensure greater transparency in the Forex market and eliminate currency substitution in our economy. The CBN’s policy to stop cash deposits of foreign currency is in line with global best practices and has led to a drastic reduction in the BDC exchange rate for the Dollar, the party said.
It commended Nigerians for showing absolute understanding and faith in the leadership of President Buhari to change the way that Nigeria has been misruled in the last 16 years, and assured that, in the days ahead, the painstaking efforts of the President will manifest even more than Nigerians have already witnessed.