Following the release of Transparency International (TI) corruption index which sees Nigeria plunging further behind in ranking, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that the All Progressives Congress (APC) government is swimming in corruption as the phenomenon has become worse than ever before.
National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, made the observation at the opening of the meeting of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party at its national secretariat in Abuja yesterday, saying that the APC no longer has the moral right to challenge PDP.
He alleged that government is using anti-graft agencies against only the opposition.
Beyond corruption, the party boss observed that hunger and poverty had skyrocketed and he, therefore, urged party leaders to speak out and save the country.
He said: “Transparency International, an international organisation, has given a verdict on this nation that corruption has multiplied to an unimaginable level.
“The government of APC is so corrupt that Transparency International has given verdict and that is the true situation of our country.
“They talk about corruption but their anti-corruption agencies are set only against the opposition. Meanwhile, the APC government is swimming in corruption. We are aware. At the appropriate time, we will give details.”
Secondus added: “Corruption, poverty, hunger is worse now than ever before. Who are they to challenge the PDP? They don’t have the moral right to challenge us because corruption is now worse than ever before
“Propaganda is not going to help. The facts will speak for itself. So, stop deceiving the people of Nigeria. APC government is more corrupt than ever before in the history of our nation. It’s worse now than ever.
“So, what are you hiding? Is it the money you are paying out without appropriation, the subsidy in billions that came to Nigeria from LNG, one billion US dollars? Is it the corruption in NNPC, is it Mainagate? Corruption is everywhere.
“At the appropriate time we will come out to show Nigerians who is corrupt and who is not corrupt.”
The party boss praised the National Assembly for passing a bill rearranging the order of election, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign it into law.
While wondering why anyone would be bothered by the change, he said the law was made by the nation’s lawmakers empowered to make laws in the interest of the country.
Secondus also alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was planning to rig the 2019 election, citing the underage registration in some states.
He vowed that the PDP will resist rigging in 2019 with all its strength.
He announced that the party is ready to commence the biometric online registration of members across the country.
Similarly, he revealed that the party had instituted a new reward system whereby unless a member delivers his ward, he may not get recognition in the party.
Earlier in his address, chairman of the BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin, commended members for their steadfastness despite many challenges that had befallen the party.
He praised former Senate President David Mark for heading a committee which had successfully reconciled aggrieved members of the party’s BoT.
Among party leaders present at the meet are former chairman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, Ahmed Makarfi; Umaru Tsauri, David Mark, Ayim Pius Ayim, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Ibrahim Mantu, Ibrahim Shema, Inna Ciroma, Sule Lamido, Emeka Ihedioha, Kema Chikwe, Biodun Olujimi, Tom Ikimi, Tanimu Turaki, Vincent Oguluafor, Abiola Oyedokun, Ben Obi and Fidelia Njeze.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said that the latest report by Transparency International (TI) showing that corruption has worsened under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has vindicated its stand that the current All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government was inherently and overtly corrupt.
The party said, by this new TI report, the African Union (AU) must have now realized its error in naming Buhari as the African Union (AU) anti-corruption champion, and should immediately withdraw the conferment.
In a statement, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, said the TI report has exposed the fact that those parading daily as champions of anti-corruption are rather superintending over the worst kind of official sleaze and hypocrisy in the history of Nigeria.
The party said the APC administration has been deceiving Nigerians with a ‘holier than thou posturing’ and painting others black when it is swimming in forms of corruption that are eminently festered by official concealment by the Presidency.
According to the statement, “When the PDP first alerted that the APC and its incompetent Federal Government were swimming in an ocean of concealed corruption, many did not know to what extent.
“It is shocking that under our ‘saints’, Nigeria has moved significantly from the 136th it ranked in 2016 to 146th in 2017, with President Buhari presiding on our nation.
“This is a government that has been providing cover for its corrupt officials while operating heavily on propaganda, persecution of opposition members with fabricated charges and toiling to sway the people with false performance indices.
“This is a government that offered protection to former APC governors who were accused of stealing money meant for the development of their states to fund the 2015 APC presidential campaign, and even rewarded them with ministerial appointments.
“We challenge the APC and the Presidency to speak out on this TI report. What have they to say when the world is now aware that they are complicit in humongous sleazes including the leaked official memo showing underhand oil contracts to the tune of N9trillion ($25billion) at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources which are under purview of President Buhari as Petroleum minister?
“What has the APC government to say when the world is aware that it is complicit in shady oil subsidy deals amounting to trillions of naira by its cabal who has also been fingered to be behind the illegal lifting and diversion of crude worth N1.1trillion to service APC interests?
“The world is now aware of the diversion of billions of naira meant for fight against insurgency and rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) by the presidency cabal; the concealment of theft, by the cabal, of billions of naira at the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) among other heavy sleazes around the Presidency.
“As we speak, the APC administration has increased taxes, levies and tariffs without a transparent remitting regime while funds said to have been recovered in the anti-graft war have not been adequately accounted for.
“Instead, the government has been peddling false figures and bogus claims to hoodwink Nigerians while its cabal continues to fritter away funds meant for the good of the people,” the statement concluded.
Similary, for the past two and a half years, former President Goodluck Jonathan has maintained that his administration fought corruption like no other government before it, which is why in 2014, Nigeria made her best ever improvement on the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, moving from 144 the previous year, to 136, an 8 point improvement. Transparency had taken note of the total elimination of the corruption in the fertilizer procurement scheme via the e-wallet initiative of the Jonathan administration which cut out the middle man and thus saved the nation over ¦ 200 billion.
Transparency International also took cognizance of the introduction of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) which weeded out 50,000 ghost workers from the federal civil service between 2011 and 2015, saving the Federal Government over $1 billion annually.
But perhaps most significant in the progress made in the anti corruption war under former President Jonathan was the political will that the then Nigerian leader had to fight the scourge.
It was noted that Dr. Jonathan speedily investigated and fired his ministers and aides who were accused of corruption or conflict of interests. That administration also dismissed the alleged and very notorious pension thief, Abdulrasheed Maina, from service.
Having made such significant progress in improving Nigeria’s anti-corruption rating, it is very disappointing that in the latest Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International today, Nigeria has relapsed deeper into corruption and has moved 12 steps backwards from 136 to 148.
We consequently advise that timely efforts should be made to stem the free fall of Nigeria into the abyss of corruption. Let us retrace our steps and refrain from showy media trials while little or nothing is done on the legal front.
Let us also respect the judiciary and not hound or intimidate them in an attempt to cow them into giving favourable judgments against perceived political opponents. Let us call a spade a spade and conduct a true anti corruption war rather than an anti opposition war.
The days of hand cuffs for the opposition and hand outs for the cronies of the government must be put behind us. Allegations like the $25 billion NNPC contracts awarded without due process or the dubious ¦ 1.1 billion budgeted to clean the office of the National Security Adviser must be investigated and not swept under the table.
Nigeria belongs to all of us and we cannot watch it sink into the abyss without raising flags.
This is a patriotic duty and we call on all Nigerians to rally together to confront the monster of corruption.
Finally, this latest evidence from Transparency International has made a mockery of the African Union’s gesture of making President Muhammadu Buhari it’s anti corruption champion. By this action, the AU now appears to be supporting corruption by making a man under whom corruption has increased its anti corruption icon. It does not help that in recent years, Nigeria has refused to obey valid court judgments in Nigeria and beyond Nigeria.
It is to the great embarrassment of Nigeria that we who used to be the pillar of the ECOWAS sub region are now routinely cited for flouting judgments of the ECOWAS court. That ought not to be. That ought not to be at all. Reno Omokri Number One Bestselling author of Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years, Chibok, 2015 and the Conspiracies.
Strike: OPS Warns FG, Labour Against Socio-Economic Disruption
The Organised Private Sector of Nigeria (OPSN) has called on the Federal Government and the organised labour to take all necessary steps to avert the disruption of socio-economic activities in the country.
This call was coming on the heels of the intended plans by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to embark on an indefinite strike, following a stalemate between the Federal Government and the organised labour on the removal of fuel subsidy and minimum wage for Nigerian workers.
The call was contained in a statement made available to newsmen by the Director General of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Segun Ajayi-Kadir, yesterday.
According to him, the position of OPSN on the impending protest/strike by the labour unions is that of deep concern, if not anxiety.
OPSN is comprised of five business membership organisations (BMOs) namely, MAN; Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA); Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA); Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) and Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI).
Ajayi-Kadir stated: “OPSN is reiterating its call on the Federal Government and the labour unions to work sedulously to avert the looming disruption of socio-economic activities in the country.
“The economic indicators are not good and simply put, the economy cannot afford a nationwide strike at this time.
“We have keenly watched the back and forth consultations between the government on the one hand and NLC and TUC on the other. It is evident that the series of consultations have not yielded positive results and the latter has resolved, in one way or the other, to go ahead with the protest/strike.
“We are worried that adequate consideration is not given to the dire situation of the economy and the devastating/disruptive impact that a nationwide strike will have on the country at this time.
“The government and labour need to understand that our economy is being de-marketed and the livelihood of the average Nigerian is being diminished by these incessant bickering.
“While recognizing the right of the labour union to pursue the welfare of its members, we continue to implore the government to employ its best endeavours to re-engage the leadership of the unions and find an amicable ground to avert the imminent disruption in business activities that will attend the protest and nationwide strike.
“We opine that adequate consideration should be given to the grim state of the economy and the possible unintended consequences of social unrest that may result from the protests.
“Meanwhile, it is important to begin to have a conversation around how the labour unions and the government can resolve their issues without jeopardizing the livelihood of the average Nigerian and truncating our business projection and activities.
“There should be some innovation around how the conversation between the government and labour will not always end up in holding the economy hostage. The unintended consequence on the fortune of the average business and people of Nigeria is unwarranted and becoming too high.
“Government should demonstrate good faith in keeping to its promises during the negotiations with labour and abstain from making promises they cannot or do not intend to keep.
“On the other hand, labour should do a realistic assessment of its demands, within the context of prevailing economic realities and possibilities, while going the extra mile to indicate how its demands could be met.”
Probe Missing $15bn, N200bn Oil Revenues, SERAP Tells Tinubu
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to set up a presidential panel of enquiry to promptly probe the grim allegations that over US$15 billion of oil revenues, and N200 billion budgeted to repair the refineries are missing and unaccounted for between 2020 and 2021, as documented by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
SERAP urged the President to “name and shame anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing and unaccounted for public funds and to ensure their effective prosecution as well as the full recovery of any proceeds of crime.”
SERAP also urged Tinubu “to fully implement all the recommendations by NEITI in its 2021 report, and to use any recovered proceeds of crime.”
In the letter dated 23 September 2023 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said there was a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these serious allegations, adding that taking these important measures would end the impunity of perpetrators.
SERAP said, “As President and Minister of Petroleum Resources, your office ought to be concerned about these damning revelations, by getting to the bottom of the allegations and ensuring that suspected perpetrators are promptly brought to justice, and any missing public funds fully recovered.”
The letter read in part: “Any failure to investigate these grave allegations, bring suspected perpetrators to justice and recover any missing public funds would have serious resource allocation and exacerbate the country’s debt burden.
“It would also create cynicism, suspicion, and eventually citizens’ distrust about the ability of your government to combat high-level official corruption, as well as deter foreign investment and limit growth and development.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“The findings by NEITI suggest a grave violation of the public trust and the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], national anticorruption laws, and the country’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.
“The allegations of corruption documented by NEITI undermine economic development of the country, trap the majority of Nigerians in poverty and deprive them of opportunities.
“Your government has a constitutional duty to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of the country’s wealth and resources.
“According to the 2021 report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), government agencies including the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NNPC) and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPDC) failed to remit $13.591 million and $8.251 billion to the public treasury.
“The NNPC and NPDC failed to remit over 70% of these public funds. NEITI wants both the NNPC and NPDC to be investigated, and for the missing public funds to be fully recovered.
“The report also shows that in 2021, the State Owned Enterprises (SOE) and its subsidiaries (the NNPC Group) reportedly spent US$6.931billion on behalf of the Federal Government but without appropriation by the National Assembly. The money may be missing.
“The NNPC also reportedly obtained a loan of $3 billion in 2012 purportedly to settle subsidy payments due to petroleum product marketers but there is no disclosure of the details of the loan, subsidy and the beneficiaries of the payments.
“The report also shows that N9.73 billion was paid to the NNPC as pipeline transportation revenue earned from Joint Venture operations but the money was neither remitted to the Federation nor properly accounted for. The NPDC in 2021 also failed to remit $7.61 million realized from the sale of crude oil.
“The report documents that about N200 billion was spent on refineries rehabilitation between 2020 and 2021 but “none of the refineries was operational in 2021 despite the spending.’ NEITI wants the spending to be investigated, as the money may be missing.
“Section 13 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] imposes clear responsibility on your government to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of Chapter 2 of the constitution. Section 15(5) imposes the responsibility on your government to ‘abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power’ in the country.
“Under Section 16(1) of the Constitution, your government has a responsibility to ‘secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.
“Section 16(2) further provides that, ‘the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good.
“Similarly, articles 5 and 9 of the UN Convention against Corruption also impose legal obligations on your government to ensure proper management of public affairs and public funds, and to promote sound and transparent administration of public affairs.
“The UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party obligate your government to effectively prevent and investigate the plundering of the country’s wealth and natural resources and hold public officials and non-state actors to account for any violations.
“Specifically, article 26 of the UN convention requires your government to ensure ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions’ including criminal and non-criminal sanctions, in cases of grand corruption.
“Article 26 complements the more general requirement of article 30, paragraph 1, that sanctions must take into account the gravity of the corruption allegations.
“Nigeria is also a participating state of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which aims to foster greater governmental accountability for the use of natural resource wealth through the creation of a set of international norms on revenue transparency.
“EITI also aims to tackle corruption, poverty and conflict associated with natural resource wealth. Nigeria has the obligations to implement the EITI Standard, which sets out the transparency norms with which participating States including Nigeria must comply.
Global Index Ranks US Top Debtor At $20.27trn, Nigeria $27bn
The Global Index (TGI) has released its ranking of countries’ external debts categorised in trillions and billions of Dollars.
In the trillion Dollar category, according to the debt figures posted on its verified X handle @TheGlobal_Index on Saturday, the United States topped the chart of most indebted nations with $20.27trillion, followed by the UK, and France with $8.72trillion, and $6.35trillion, respectively.
In that same trillion category, China, Switzerland, and Singapore were the least with $2.02trillion, $2trillion, and $1.55trillion, respectively.
The ranking shows USA: $20.27trillion; UK: $8.72trillion; France: $6.35trillion; Germany: $5.67trillion; Netherlands: $4.34trillion; Luxembourg: $4.30trillion; Japan: $4.25trillion; and Australia: $3.15trillion.
Others in the trillion category include, Ireland: $3trillion; Italy: $2.5trillion; Spain: $2.33trillion; Canada: $2.12 trillion; China: $2.02trillion; Switzerland: $2trillion; and Singapore: $1.55trillion.
The Global Index also rated other countries in the billion Dollar category.
They include Brazil, Norway, and India ranking first, second, and third with $700billion; $651billion; and $555billion; respectively.
In the same billion Dollar category, Nigeria, Iran and North Korea were the least with $27billion; $8billion; and $5billion; respectively.
The full ranking shows Brazil: $700billion; Norway: $651billion;India: $555billion; Russia: $500billion; South Korea: $457billion; Mexico: $456billion; Turkey: $455billion; Portugal: $401billion; Indonesia: $400billion; Argentina: $280billion; UAE: $240billion; Saudi Arabia: $205billion; and South Africa: $180billion.
The rest are, Qatar: $170billion; Colombia: $135billion; Israel: $135billion; Ukraine: $120billion; Pakistan: $110billion; Vietnam: $100billion; Philippines: $82billion; Bangladesh: $50billion; Kenya: $30billion; Nigeria: $27billion; Iran: $8billion; and North Korea: $5billion.
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