By Sen. John J. Akpan Udoedehe Phd.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has noted yet with concern the tales and ramblings issued by PDP as a press release; which to all discerning members of the public, it is full of sounds and fury, signifying nothing. It is our belief that Nigerians should be spared the trauma of a reminder of the disaster of PDP’s 16 YEARS OF MISADVENTURE in government. It should allow Nigerians forgive it for the numerous transgressions and agony it had put Nigerians through many years of misrule which their National Chairman had rightly publicly apologised to Nigerians.
We would ordinarily have allowed PDP to wallow in its usual illusion – since its descent from power in 2015 – that “Nigerians desire their return to power;” how laughable! We are constrained to set the records straight because it borders on the collective sensibilities of Nigerians who have consistently and resoundingly proven in two consecutive cycles of general elections as well as other off-cycle elections, their outright rejection of the contraption called PDP and their (Nigerians) preference and endorsement of APC as the Party of choice for the majority of Nigerians. Moreso, if falsehood is allowed to fester, it may don the garb of truth. Where lies the moral authority of PDP to even contemplate comparing themselves to APC after its wasteful years in governance; but alas! Instead of burying its heads in shame, and allow sleeping dogs lie, its rantings keep reminding us of the ignominious era where: crude oil was sold at an average of $100 per barrel for a consecutive period of 4 years, which gave an excess of at least $30 per barrel above the budget benchmark and MTEF, and raking in surplus revenues – windfall, if you like – for the country; yet what did Nigeria and Nigerians have to show for that period. Nothing at all!
Going by the cankerworm of revelations after the descent of PDP, the CBN’S VAULT was thrown open and virtually abandoning professionalism; where individuals drove in to cart away raw cash as political patronages and without recourse to paperwork and inflationary consequences. We need to remind all patriotic Nigerians, once again of the MISSING $20 BILLION DOLLARS from the coffers of Government as reported by the then country’s Number 1 banker (Sanusi Lamido Sanusi). Monies (Billions of Naira meant for arms importation) were reportedly discovered in private jets belonging to “allies of the then government” in far away South Africa, by the South African authorities, yet no questions were asked and no answers were given by the Nigerian government. There was indeed, reasonable grounds for a cover up. Over $16billion, as was the yet rotten revelation from public hearings, that was shared amongst friends in the name of power sector reforms by the PDP government, yet nothing to show for it. This much was established by the “Elumelu Committee’s report.”
Billions of dollars reportedly budgeted for the importation of arms to fight terrorism, particularly the Boko Haram, ended up in private accounts of politicians and their cronies which was infestation of the Dasukigate scandal. PDP wasted billions of dollars on marabouts, clergies and traditional rulers to purchase clout and support for its ill-fated political aspirations. Projects to the tune of billions of naira were completely abandoned after funds were budgeted accordingly, yet diverted to chase private ambitions. Might became right in all elections during the PDP era – even in the Governor’s Forum elections; 16 became greater than 19. Salaries of public servants were being owed serially and in most cases as was evident from the series of loans taken to pay salaries in the midst of the oil boom. How Sad!
PDP has decided to play to the gallery in an attempt to play deniability and take away the gaze of Nigerians from the remarkable strides which the APC-led Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is carrying out amidst very trying circumstances. Nigerians are aware that due to the monumental sleaze and leakages of our collective patrimony actively supervised by PDP, the current Administration of PMB inherited an empty treasury, coupled with the global decline in oil prices since 2014, which significantly trimmed the well-laid out plans of the APC Administration. This is elementary economics. When your expenditure outstrips the supply of goods in the economy, inflation will occur in the long run. Just as we were able to pull through, Covid-19 came calling with worldwide economic ramifications. Nigerians understand that this was beyond us. Be that as it may, PMB went to work immediately by putting in place building blocks for a virile and sustainable Nigeria; economically, agriculturally, in the ease of doing business initiatives, infrastructural renaissance, the power sector reforms, in anti-corruption, social investment programs, and of course in building strong institutions that will outlive the present Administration.
At the moment, these facts speak for themselves:
1. The Treasury Single Account (TSA) is in operation and has successfully curbed the excesses of government officials who may be prone to graft.
2. The government has successfully aligned the budget Cycle with the JAN-DEC budget window to allow for better delivery of benefits to Nigerians.
3. The ease of doing business initiatives as implemented by PEBEC has propelled Nigeria’s ranking (moving down 13th place) in the Ease of Doing Businesses Ranking as published by the World Bank Group in 2020. In simple terms, this means that Nigeria is the 131st attractive country for investment out of a survey of 190 countries as against 145th it was placed in 2018.
4. The 326km Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri railway (with stations) which has been abandoned for more than 30 years is in full operations with modern coaches.
5. The 156.5km Lagos-Ibadan double track standard rail line is now in operation. Evidence abound. A lot of other rail lines that are underway, with varying funding needs due to the PDP recklessness in times of abundance.
6. In the power sector, the APC-led Administration is battling the reversal of years of neglect despite the Billions of dollars sunk into the cesspool of corruption in the sector; the 3050 MW Mambilla Power Project, conceptualised over 30 years ago is now receiving concrete attention. Imagine if all these had been done in the years when excess revenues were at the disposal of PDP!
7. The Siemens Presidential Power Initiative of this Administration seeks to ramp up the nation’s entire Electricity Value-Chain (Generation, Transmission and Distribution) and add about 25,000 MW of electricity to Nigeria. This will be fundamental to the growth of the manufacturing sector.
8. The metering solutions and the solar home systems are initiatives that are people-centred which seeks off-grid solutions to our energy problems by providing power to the rural areas to trigger economic activities by stemming rural-urban migration. Similar interventions in some of popular markets, tertiary educational and medical facilities are fully functional while some are at advanced stages of completion.
9. The Social Intervention Programs of this Administration is massive and unprecedented. These include the 774,000 SPW program of NDE, supervised by the Federal Ministry of Labour which kicks off January 5th 2021, the N-power scheme that has accommodated over 500,000 beneficiaries thus far and another 1 million beneficiaries about to be engaged, the Trader-moni, Market-moni, and the Schools-feeding Programme are all targeted at the poor.
10. The various Stimulus packages encapsulated in the Economic Sustainability Plans of this Administration are designed to re-jig the economy which has been dulled by the consequences of the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic with its attendant bottoming out of oil prices and the concomitant loss of revenues for Nigeria, yet, despite this force majeure, this Administration is not owing salaries and is consistently bailing out states so that no Nigerian is owed salary irrespective of political leanings.
So, with the monumental interventions which President Muhammadu Buhari is carrying out, which has leap-frogged Nigeria to the largest economy in Africa and the 25th largest economy in the world (according to the IMF Report 2020), why would PDP be deluding itself that Nigerians want it back? Is it a case of selective amnesia or mere rabble-rousing? For the umpteenth time, APC states that it wishes not to be distracted from its focus of delivering on its promises to Nigerians amidst very difficult circumstances, while at the same time, righting the wrongs done by PDP against Nigeria and Nigerians.
▪︎ Akpan Udoedehe is National Secretary, Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), All Progressives Congress (APC)