A national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Tinubu, has lamented the manner in which the Federal Government handled the alleged missing $11 billion (N1.7 trillion).
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Lamido Sanusi, had, in a recent letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, alleged that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, did not remit about $49 billion (N7.8 billion) to the government’s coffers. Mr. Lamido later recanted, saying only $11 billion was not returned. He explained that CBN did not capture the figures of the allocations to the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, and Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR.
Mr. Tinubu said in its poor handling of the controversy, the government had portrayed itself as a “robber government,” that deserved to be swept out of power with the APC’s broom.
He said the country had regrettably degenerated to the extent that losing such a huge amount had become a sign of fiscal rectitude.
In a New Year message to Nigerians, Mr. Tinubu argued that in an atmosphere of good governance, the money should not be missing and if it happened to, senior officials of the government should by now be under criminal investigation by the police.
“Under this administration, the matter is swept aside as if a minor thing, like a broken tea cup on the floor. If this government can treat a missing $11 billion like a minor accounting infraction, much more than a teacup needs to be swept away. This robber government needs to feel the broom and the sweep of change as well,” Mr. Tinubu said.
Mr. Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, also criticised President Goodluck Jonathan over his recent statement on the nation’s security challenges, which Mr. Tinubu stated showed no urgency or initiative.
He recalled that the president told Nigerians during a church service on Christmas Day that Nigeria was not like Syria and other war-ravaged lands and as such they ought to be happy because things could be worse.
“In the face of the nation’s greatest security challenge since the Civil War, this is the presidential policy: to lay low and measure your failure relative to the failure of other nations,” Mr. Tinubu said. “As long as other nations suffer conditions worse than ours, we should accept our fate and commend government for allowing only one of our legs to be amputated and not both. Jonathan’s hands-off and laissez faire approach to civil insurrect does not commend itself to national greatness or wise statecraft.”
Mr. Tinubu said President Jonathan was promoting a lazy and dangerous policy.
“This nation will not improve simply by being content that we are not as bad as other nations. That is not way of improvement. It is the excuse of a leader grown too comfortable with failure,” he said.
Describing the Jonathan administration as a “strange government that resides in Abuja,” Mr. Tinubu expressed worry that it applauded itself for economic growth when the majority of people suffered caustic poverty.
“The growth they commend is restricted to them and their cronies. The rest of the nation stagnates,” he said. “Children’s bellies swell not from feast but from near famine. Schools close. Businesses are shuttered. Jobs evaporate. The streets fill with the frustration of the unemployed and hopeless. Homes, stores and factories are dark. There is no light.”
He noted that officials of the Jonathan administration believed they had taken Nigeria to the Promised Land and as such, intended to keep things as they were now.
The former governor also alleged that the Jonathan administration believed the economy should be permanently structured in such a way that the vast majority of Nigerians squirmed under the boot of poverty while government officials relaxed in the nectar of luxury.
“This is an unfair, crooked deal. We reject it and, as the drumbeat of change marches closer, it will drown out their lame excuses to make way for a fairer economy,” he stressed.
A year of decision
Stating that the advent of a new year was a time for people and nations to resolve themselves to a greater future, the APC leader said 2014 would present Nigerians a stark choice whether to remain were they were or to root for change.
According to him, his party was floated as a vehicle to generate and accelerate the process of change towards the most beneficial end for the greatest number of Nigerians.
“Nigerians must enter the New Year determined to succeed although much around us signals failure. As a nation, we are destined to be better than we now are. Today, we slump in a low place but that is only for now,” he said. “Our nation is crippled but not broken, confused but not lost. Given into the hands of enlightened progressive leadership, this nation can become a fertile land of prosperity, of law, of peace and dignity for us all.”
He said the coming year would be one of decision; for change or against it.
“Shall we continue as we now are? If so, failure will be our sole destination and darkness our only compass. As for me, I reject this end as well as the means that lead to it. We have gone far enough down the unlit road. We want no further part of it,” he said.
The promise of the APC
Mr. Tinubu said the APC offered Nigerians the choice to return the country to her best path, adding, “We realise the Nigerian public has been stung so many times by false promises that the people will not give their trust quickly. Given our political history, this is only wise and prudent.”
He said the APC, in the New Year, would show the people the vast difference between it and the PDP.
“They are a conservative and elite network of under-the-table deals and backroom governance. We are its open and progressive alternative. We mean the people well and do not work to keep them in the dark. We will show the comparative differences in several ways.”
He explained that the party would demonstrate its commitment to democracy by exercising internal democracy and transparency on its deliberations and also communicate to the people at the grassroots level as well as the national level.
“You will see and hear from APC members and leaders at the local, state and national levels. We will create venues and platforms that you may communicate your concerns to us as well. We will highlight the ideological and substantive policy differences between the progressive us and the elitist them. Where the PDP has imposed trickle-down economics reminiscent of a 1980’s Reagan-Thatcher-IMF road show, we seek an economy of genuine and broadly shared growth where the laboring wage earner and small businessperson benefits proportionally to the powerful financier and big corporate power.”