By Dirisu Yakubu
Opposition politics, especially in fledgling democracies often face a herculean task in the quest to garner sufficient votes to form governments at the centre.
The party in power on the hand has little to contend with, given the avalanche of resources at its disposal with which it implements programmes and policies aimed at winning the confidence of the people at all times.
It is therefore not surprising that an almost legitimate clash of interests exist between the opposition and government.
However, the major opposition party in the land, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took the game to the court of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC), tasking both to clear the air on a litany of issues bordering on corruption and abuse of office. Addressing a press conference at its headquarters, the PDP asked President Buhari to justify what it called the selective form of his administration’s fight against corruption.
According to the party, the Commander-in-Chief must break his silence on allegations of grafts allegedly perpetrated at the nation’s cash cow, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) under his watch.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan put it succinctly when he said, “The PDP challenges President Buhari to explain why his anti-corruption fight has not been extended to investigate the corruption from the leaked memo detailing alleged underhand oil contracts to the tune of N9 trillion ($25billion dollars) at the NNPC and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, which are under the direct supervision President Buhari as Minister of Petroleum Resources. Why has investigation into this scam been suppressed?
“The PDP challenges President Buhari to explain to Nigerians whose interest he is protecting by refusing to allow an independent inquest into the alleged corruption in the handling of the N1.4 trillion oil subsidy regime allegedly involving officials at the Presidency, particularly those benefiting from alleged N58 hidden tax per liter which Nigerians have continued to bear since the fuel price increased from PDP subsidized cost of N87 to presumably unsubsidized cost of N145.”
Not done, the PDP further tasked President Buhari and the “APC to explain whose interests they are protecting by suppressing investigation into the alleged use of 18 unregistered companies to lift and divert N1.1 trillion worth of crude oil in 2017. Who are the owners of these companies?
It resurrected the alleged mismanagement of the funds meant for the rehabilitation of victims of insurgency which ravaged parts of the North-East for years.
“The PDP challenges the Buhari Presidency and the APC to explain to the world why his anti-corruption fight has not been extended to the internationally reported diversion and alleged stealing of N18 billion out of the N48 billion approved by the National Assembly for the rehabilitation of millions of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and rebuilding of six northeast states ravaged by insurgency in the 2017 budget.
“Can the Buhari Presidency and APC claim to be unaware of the damning report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a public document which detailed how officials were using bulk of the resources meant for the IDPs on contracts that were found to have immensely benefitted officials of the APC Government including the sacked Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal?
“Can the Presidency and the APC claim to be unaware of the motion by Senator Baba Kaka Garba from Borno Central, who exposed how persons, known to have connections with the APC, fraudulently cornered N1.2 billion from the Federal Government under the guise of supplying items to IDPs?” it had further asked.
Perhaps, the biggest of the posers was the one which has got many Nigerians wondering if President Buhari would react to in the next few days. A man seemingly trusted by the first citizen to head public property recovery panel is today enmeshed in scam bordering on criminality; same way a key cabinet Minister is today harvesting a barrage of flaks from across the country. While not directly flaying the President for complicity in the alleged conduct of the two government officials, the party condemned Buhari’s silence, likening same to playing the ostrich.
“It is a settled saying that birds of the same feathers flock together. The fact that President Buhari comfortably surrounds himself with persons indicted for corruption, sundry frauds, common scams as well as forgeries is very revealing on the phoniness of his administration’s fight against corruption.
“It is no longer news that one Okoi Obono-Obla, President Buhari’s Special Assistant on Prosecution and Chairman, Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property in Buhari’s anti-corruption team has been indicted for forging his WAEC certificate, yet his boss, Mr. Integrity has refused to investigate him.
“The same goes for Buhari’s Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who has been accused of dodging her compulsory national service and allegedly forging the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) Exemption Certificate. Despite her inability to deny the allegation, she is still the Minister of Finance,” it noted.
Convenient as it is to accuse the PDP of trying to unsettle the ruling party and President Buhari with barely six months to the 2019 general elections; the bogus allegations of grafts remain too significant to be ignored given President’s status as a man who detests corruption in all shapes and forms. Already, insinuations are rife that the certificates’ scandal may fizzle out in no distant time; yet it is the President’s prerogative to prove these pessimists wrong or right.