The director-general of the Progressive Governors Forum, Salihu Lukman, has faulted the claim by the former chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, that the two biggest parties in Nigeria – Peoples Democratic Party and All Progressives Congress – have failed the people.
Professor Jega had said during an interview on the BBC Hausa Service on August 2, 2021 that both PDP and APC had failed the nation, and advised Nigerians not to entrust either of them with their mandate again.
But Lukman said there is no basis for lumping APC with the PDP in such assessment, saying while PDP may be rightly deemed to have failed the nation, the APC, going by its outstanding records of achievements, has achieved what no other party has achieved for Nigeria in a long while.
In an opinion article entitled ‘Nigerian Politics and Fallacy of PDP-APC Semblance’, the PGF DG said neither Jega’s sweeping assessment of both parties, not the PDP’s response to it, in which it claimed that the opposition party achieved “significant milestones” while it held power was “evidence-based.”
The spokesman of the PDP had while responding to Professor Jega’s claims has accused the former INEC boss of being ignorant of the significant milestones the party (PDP) recorded during its reign, adding that it was unfortunate that “… a professor of Political Science could portray an ignorance of the manifest contrasts between the robust fortunes of our nation under the PDP and the wasteland she has become under the APC.”
Lukman dismissed PDP’s claim to achievement of “significant milestones,” saying, rather, that the PDP’s record of 16 years in government is largely about litany of corruption and debilitating insecurity challenges.
He said: “With respect to the problem of corruption, series of reports of investigation are there, which is not about anybody’s opinion. For instance, recall the House of Representatives investigation on petroleum subsidy in 2012. Under the Chairmanship of Hon. Faruk Lawan, the Committee reported that ‘contrary to official figure of subsidy payment of N1.3 trillion, the Accountant-General of the Federation put forward a figure of N1.6 Trillion, the CBN N1.7 trillion, while the Committee established subsidy payment of N2.587 Trillion as at December 2011, amounting to more than 900 per cent over the appropriated sum of N245 billion.
“‘This figure of N2.587 Trillion is based on the CBN figure of N844.944 billion paid to NNPC, in addition to another figure of N847.942 billion reflected as withdrawals by NNPC from the excess crude naira account, as well as the sum of N894.201 billion paid as subsidy to Marketers.
“‘The figure of N847.942 billion quoted above strongly suggests that NNPC might have been withdrawing from two sources especially when double withdrawals were also reflected both in 2009 and 2010.’
“The report also indicted the Accountant-General of the Federation because of payments in 2009, in equal instalments of N999 million for 128 times, totaling N127.872 billion.
“Also recall the claims and counterclaims of missing oil revenues in October 2013 when Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as CBN Governor alleged that $49.8 billion from the sales of crude oil between January 2012 – July 2013 was missing from NNPC accounts.
“Following series of audits and reconciliation meetings involving NNPC, CBN and Ministry of Finance, the former CBN Governor reported the missing amount to be $20 billion while the former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala reported $10.8 billion.
“On February 20, 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan suspended Mallam Sanusi from office over allegations of financial misconduct. After the suspension of Mallam Sanusi as CBN Governor, PricewaterHouseCoopers (PwC) confirmed that about $20 billion was missing.
“In 2012, there was the case of Police Pension Task Force, which was investigated by the Senate Joint Committee on Public Service and Establishment and State and Local Government Administration.
“Some of the revelations include withdrawal of N24 billion for payment of pension that required about N3.5 billion — the Chairman of the Pension Review Task Team, Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, informed the Senate Committee of two accounts in Lagos where police pension funds were lodged, each amounting to N21 and N24 billion.
“Alhaji Maina reported daily withdrawals of various sums of money from these accounts ranging from N200 to N300 million. A total sum of N273.9 billion was reported by the Senate Committee to have been looted in 6 years from the police pension fund.
“Other corruption cases under PDP (1999 – 2015) include the case of $180 million Halliburton; $1.1 billion Malabo Oil; Princess Stella Oduak N255 million Aviation Ministry bulletproof cars; N10 billion jet scam involving the Petroleum Minister (2011 – 2015), Mrs. Deziani Alison Madueke; and House of Representatives Capital Market probe; and N360 billion service-wide scam.
“There was also the case of $2.1 billion arms deal involving Col. (Rtd) Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser under the Jonathan’s PDP administration. The breakdown showed that N1.5 billion was paid to Alhaji Bashir Yuguda, which was reportedly disbursed in respective sums to the following PDP chieftains – N600 million to PDP 2015 election campaign Contact and Mobilization chairmen (Chief Bode George, Amb. Yerima Abdullahi, Mr. Peter Odili, Alh. Attahiru Bafarawa, Chief Jim Nwobodo and Col. (Rtd) Ahmadu Ali); N300 million to BAM properties linked to Alhaji Bello Haliru, former PDP National Chairman; N200 million to Alhaji Bello Sarkin Yaki, former PDP Kebbi State 2015 governorship candidate; N100 million to Alh. Mahmud Shinkafi, former PDP Zamfara State Governor; and N100 million to Dalhatu Limited linked to Alh. Attahiru Bafarawa.
“Other disbursements from the $2.1 billion arms deal were N750 million to Reliance Referral Hospital Limited for special prayers; N380 million to support re-election of PDP members of House of Representatives; N550 million to Thisday Newspaper allegedly as compensation for attacks on the newspaper’s offices in Kaduna and Abuja in 2012; N120 million to Nduka Obaigbena allegedly as compensation for copies of various newspapers seized in June 2014; N170 million for the purchase of four-bedroom duplex; N260 million paid to Chief Tony Anenih; N345 million paid to Sen. Iyorchia Ayu; and N90 million for Dasuki’s son’s house.”
Lukman said even in terms of internal administration, PDP’s identifiable legacy is corruption, as evidenced in its National Secretariat project which he argued was fraught with corruption at every stage.
Another major legacy of the PDP’s 16-year tenure was the problem of insecurity, especially Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, Lukman contended.
He also mentioned the problems of vandalism of oil installations and kidnapping in the South-South and parts of South-East, as well as cases of cattle rustling in North-West and North-Central. Though he conceded that vandalism of oil installations and kidnapping by Niger-Delta militants in South-South were brought under control, Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East was politicized by former president Jonathan’s administration.
Lukman said unlike PDP leaders, however, APC leaders are not in denial of the existence of challenges, but that despite the challenges, APC federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari is making efforts to move the country forward.
By way of achievements, he listed the APC government’s National Social Investment Programme, which National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), which he said is far more than what any government in the past has done.
“It is founded on four pillars of N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), Home Grown School Feeding and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
“With the goal of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, millions of poor Nigerians are benefiting from these initiatives.
“For instance, GEEP has disbursed N36.9 billion in interest-free loans of between N50,000 to N350,000 to more than 2.3 million Nigerians. Under the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, 9.9 million primary 1 – 3 pupils in 54,952 public primary schools in 35 states have benefited. Additional 107,000 cooks have been engaged.
“In the case of Conditional Cash Transfer more than three million poor and vulnerable households have been registered on the National Social Register, out of which more than one million families are currently being paid N5,000 monthly,” he said.
He also spoke of the APC government’s achievement in infrastructure development.
“When President Muhammadu Buhari administration assumed office in 2015, the total budget for Federal Roads by the outgoing PDP government of former President Goodluck Jonathan was 18 billion naira, which is only about 25% of the Lagos State roads budget for that year.
“The persistent skeletal funding translated to abandoned or slow-moving road projects across the country.
“APC administration’s first priorities were to increase the amount of funding available for road projects, while also ensuring the resumption of work on abandoned projects. In 2016, the roads budget went up to 260 billion naira, for which about 200 billion naira was released,” he said, arguing that APC has devoted more resources to construction of road and transport infrastructure than any other administration since 1999, resulting in roads, bridges, highways, rail lines and stations, and air and seaport upgrades.
In agriculture, he cited some initiatives of the APC-led government of President Buhari to include the National Food Security Council (NFSC), Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP), National Livestock Transformation Plan, Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), and the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI).
“The achievements cited in these three sectors are just to substantiate the point that based on records of performance in government, APC can’t be in the same category with PDP,” he said.
Lukman also cited the Petroleum Industry Act assented to by President Buhari on Monday, August 16, 2021, an initiative started under the PDP government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo more than two decades ago, but which was “shrouded in endless national debates and stalemate but was eventually passed by the two Chambers of the National Assembly under APC leadership with a six-month transition for the emergence of new institutional framework for the operations of oil and gas industry in the country.”
He concluded: “The contours of the difference between the PDP and APC should be defined by the records of their experiences managing governments.
“The commitment to move Nigerian politics forward should be constructed based on honest recognition of the realities, which the facts of performances of political parties when entrusted to manage governments represents.”