Saturday, September 24

‘Call for Buhari’s resignation, ploy to reinstitute corruption’

‘Call for Buhari’s resignation, ploy to reinstitute corruption’

Osita Okechukwu is the Director General, Voice of Nigeria (VON) and a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview with JOHNCHUKS ONUANYIM, the VON DG faulted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s call on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign, among other issues. Excerpts…

Why is APC against the PDP’s call for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari?

They want us to forget yesterday, they want us to forget the gross corruption that they masterminded that led the majority of Nigerians into hungry in the last 16 years, that made our youths to be unemployed, that led to the decayed infrastructures, because if they are able to push us to forget that they put us in a horrible condition where we have found ourselves, then they would be presented again to be voted for to bring back corruption. Forget! Forget! Forget! Forget what we did and don’t mind us.

That’s what they want, but Nigerians are not fools. They cannot forget the locust years; we can’t forget the squandermania; we can’t forget the empty promises; we can’t forget May 13, 2010, when they promised us that they have awarded contracts to the tune of $53 billion for the construction of three greenfield refineries; one in Bayelsa, one in Lagos and another in Kogi. Nigerians cannot easily forget. Yesterday is today’s architecture.

PDP members have argued that when they came into power in 1999, there was nothing in the government coffers but former President Olusegun Obasanjo was able to reposition the economy for growth. Do you agree?

It is still on record that Obasanjo did not complete any federal road even the one that passed through Abeokuta. It is also not yet completed up till date. Jonathan did not complete any federal road, even the one that passed through Niger Delta, called East-West Road. It is on record.

The two railway contracts that they gave were riddled with corruption. The Lagos-Kano railway line of 1,300 and something kilometres was for $8.6 billion. The Abuja- Kaduna rail line was awarded for about $1.6 billion.

The Chinese they gave the contracts awarded Lasar, the capital of Beijing of 4,000 kilometres of modern rail line at $4.2 billion, while we awarded 1,300 kilometres for $8.3 billion. Was that a good contract arrangement for people to talk about.

Don’t you think the country would have been better off if the PDP had won the 2015 presidential election?

We are planning to fix the country and we are fixing it. We don’t have to do it like PDP going to public coffer and start sharing money. Buhari doesn’t want to share money. We want to obey the rule of law. It would not be like the PDP way any more.

The rue of law is the backbone of democracy and democracy everywhere is incremental. Whatever PDP is saying, they are saying because they want to bring back corruption.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan recently reeled out his achievements saying that Nigeria was the biggest economy in Africa by the time he left office. Would you disagree?

Nigeria as the biggest economy, this is what the students of political economy would look at to study the 16 years of the economic nexus of the PDP regime that drove more Nigerians into economic poverty and produced the richest African. The para- dox has to be studied.

On one hand they produced the richest African and on the other hand most Nigerians went into poverty. So, it has to be studied. Does it have a pass mark?

How could you convince Nigerians that Buhari should not to resign despite the recession?

Number one is transparency. A transparent culture, that is what PDP is fighting. Buhari is laying a transparent culture. This is the first time in the last 17 years when the budget of the NNPC, CBN, FIRS and one other agency that had not been presented to the National Assembly was presented. If you look at this, it is a great achievement.

Under Obasanjo, he never allowed the NNPC or the CBN or the FIRS budget to go to the National Assembly. Late President Umar Yar’Adua did not allow that and Jonathan did not allow that. Nigerians must take note that it is a key achievement of this regime.

It is the road to a transparent accounting process so that if you have N10,000, you know that it is prudently accounted for. So far, nobody has heard that the NSA is sharing money to people. It is an achievement. Look at the Tenders Journal, why is it bulky now? It is bulky because Buhari said that every Ministry, Department and Agency must follow the procurement Act. They must do advertorial and other requirements before you can open the tender paper.

This also is a major achievement. For me it is better that Nigerians are criticising Buhari today instead of criticising him in 2019. That is the position that we have taken. Let us slow and steadily build a foundation of transparency and accountability. That is what Buhari is doing.

Are you saying that if Nigerians should open the books of the APC government, they would not find corruption anywhere?

Please, Nigerians should do so. It is left for them to do and that is why we are challenging people. We are saying that two years ago, you can’t probe Osita Okechukwu in the Voice of Nigeria, but today you can probe me.

That is our position because when you raise the benchmark of fighting corruption, whether you like it or not you should also be aware that that benchmark is not selective. It is for everybody.

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