You Presided Over The Diversion Of Oil Revenues – Presidency
By ‘Dotun Akintomide
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has on Monday countered the claim that corruption in Nigeria was at its peak while he was in government, but rather, it became worse under the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The ensuing war of words began when the former president stated openly at the non-elective convention of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) held in Abuja on Saturday that his government had better economic policies than the current government of President Buhari.
Jonathan at the event stated further that his government put in place structures that reduced corruption to its barest minimum and that his government left behind a robust economy for the Buhari administration in 2015.
Reacting to the comment on behalf of the government, Buhari’s former spokesman, Osita Okechukwu, now Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), said that rather than plug the loopholes that allowed for corruption, former President Goodluck Jonathan opened them up further.
Okechukwu, speaking for the Buhari administration, also said that ex-President Jonathan and his party “railroaded” Nigerians into “abject poverty, food insecurity and deficit infrastructure” via “planlessness and squandermania”.
But the former president in a reaction to the comments by Okechukwu declared that the comments were fallacies, insisting that corruption has actually gone worse under the Buhari administration.
This, he said, has been proved with the poor rating Nigeria has been receiving from Transparency International since the APC government came to power.
Reno Omokri, former Special Assistant to President Jonathan on New Media signed the statement on behalf of the former president.
The statement reads in part: “Mr. Okechukwu should note that the premier global agency universally recognised to gauge corruption is Transparency International that release an annual Corruption Perception Index.
“It may surprise Mr. Okechukwu and his boss to know that the last time Nigeria made progress on Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index was in 2014 under former President Jonathan when we moved eight places from number 144 to number 136 under Goodluck Jonathan.
“That year marked the most improvement Nigeria has ever made since Transparency International began publishing the annual Corruption Perception Index in 1995.
“Transparency International took note of the Jonathan administration’s e-wallet system that cut out the corruption in Nigeria’s fertiliser procurement system, the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) which weeded out 50,000 ghost workers from the federal civil service, the cashless policy and the fact that the Jonathan government promptly fired two ministers (Professor Barth Nnaji and Stella Oduah) mentioned in corruption scandals.
“Ever since 2014, Nigeria has not improved in Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index ranking and has remained 136 in 2015 and are still 136 on the latest CPI ranking released in 2017.
“In the most recent CPI Transparency International said and I quote ‘some other large African countries have failed to improve their scores on the index. These include South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania and Kenya’.
“If it were true that the Buhari administration was really fighting corruption, why hasn’t Nigeria made progress in the CPI?
“The answer is because you can deceive some gullible Nigerians but you cannot deceive Transparency International.
“With a minister of transport that admitted to spending $500,000 on a one day dinner for Professor Wole Soyinka in your government, with a suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation who was caught red handed looting funds meant for IDPs and who has not been fired, arrested or prosecuted and with a padded budget scandal that spends borrowed monies on luxuries for favoured individuals, you can’t pull the wool over the eyes of Transparency International.
“And when Mr. Okechukwu talks about the economy faring better under this administration, one must wonder if he is also a drunkard like the president’s spokeswoman, Lauretta Onochie.
“I suggest he should go to Wuse Market, Abuja, or Mile 12 Market, Lagos or even Rimi Market Kano and say that. If he survives the experience then I will agree with him.
“The fact remains that under the Jonathan administration, CNN Money projected that our economy was the third fastest growing economy in the world with only China and Qatar ahead of us.
“Did President Jonathan ‘railroad’ CNN Money? Or did he also railroad the former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who said on October 12, 2016 as follows ‘Yes, we’ve been hearing about China and India for years …but it’s hard to believe what’s happening in Brazil, in Indonesia, in Nigeria too.’
“The fact remains that under Jonathan, Nigeria experienced unprecedented growth. I leave it to Nigerians to determine what they are experiencing today.”
Meanwhile, the presidency said on Monday that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was handed an economy ravaged by years of mismanagement and corruption.
Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, stated this in a statement in Abuja.
The presidential aide was reacting to statements credited to former President Goodluck Jonathan and Ahmed Makarfi, the Caretaker Chairman of the party, to the effect that “under the previous administration, there was money but now things are very hard.
“It is understandable that Dr. Jonathan kept his comments short, because a cursory look at any sector clearly indicated that he and his government presided over the most monumental and tragic economic mismanagement recorded in our national history.
“The oil sector boomed under his tenure, with oil prices as high as $120 and peace in the Nigeria Delta. Nigeria earned unprecedented dollar revenues. Sadly, that is where the story turns sour.
“There is nothing to show for the revenues earned; no major capital project was completed, neither power generation, road development, rail nor agriculture benefited from the windfall earnings.
“Rather, the administration presided over the diversion of oil revenues on such a massive scale that even without the protection now accorded to whistle blowers, the then central bank governor blew not only a whistle but a trumpet.
“He was hurriedly shown the door.”
Shehu added that the acquisition by public officers and their cohorts, of private jets, luxury yachts and the accumulation of expensive property portfolios world-wide continued unabated.
“Indeed the president once celebrated having the largest number of private jets, whilst our youths languished without jobs, our fields stood idle and our factories began the layoff of workers.
“Government simply reticulated oil revenue through personal spending by corrupt leaders, wasteful expenses and salaries.
“This was done rather than investing in what would grow the economy. Economies grow due to capital investment in assets like seaports, airports, power plants, railways, roads and housing.”
The presidential aide further lamented that Nigeria could not record a single major infrastructural project in the last 10 years, saying that “in short the money was mismanaged.
“Such was the looting that even the goose that was laying the golden egg was being systematically starved.
“The direct contractual costs of oil produced in the form of cash calls, remained unpaid.”
He, however, maintained that the President Buhari’s administration was left with the task of facing serious economic challenges from the oil majors, which included the demand for six billion dollars owed by Nigeria for oil that had already been sold or stolen.
He also highlighted that at the inception of the current administration, 21 states were unable to meet their salary bills and the spectre of workers arrears had commenced.
He said that the PDP solution was to “raid the Ecological Fund and selectively grant two billion dollars each to the PDP states.’’