How PDP ruined Nigeria

For 16 years, PDP, a congregation of men and women with little faith in our nation has raped and ravaged the land with impunity. For six years, President Jonathan has assaulted our sensibilities by celebrating and decorating some of those responsible for our tragedy. Unfortunately for the president, many of his critics now openly talk of “show me your friend, I will tell you who you are” without necessarily trying to be spiteful. After all, except President Jonathan who remains unconvinced, many concerned Nigerians and friends of Nigeria have identified corruption as the bane of our society. The immediate past president of Nigerian Bar Association, Okey Wali not too long ago announced to the hearing of the president that “corruption is the number one problem of the country, whether by embezzlement of public funds, appointments in public and private sector or by selective justice”. Sanusi Lamido, the former CBN governor in a BBC programme long before he was finally sacked over his allegation of missing $20 billion from the NNPC account, had accused the government of President Jonathan of lacking the political will to fight corruption claiming that “of the 164 fraud cases arising from his own war against banking sector frauds, only one was successfully prosecuted”.

Walter Carrington, the American former ambassador to Nigeria also recently reminded us that “corruption is the most terrible monster that confronts Nigeria, and that “virtually all the problems associated with governance would be removed if we can summon the courage to tackle corruption and banish it from our activities.”

The current mindless stealing and sharing of our national patrimony started at the onset of the Fourth Republic. Cash-strapped PDP elected politicians who publicly admitted selling personal properties to fight the 1999 election and their fronts created artificial scarcity in the supply chain of fuel. This led to long queues at filling stations. The new Obasanjo administration responded by awarding contracts for the refurbishments of our four refineries to PDP members as against those who built the refineries. The PDP beneficiaries bungled the exercise after collecting payments. Obasanjo, a captive of those who had sponsored his election could not sanction those involved in the rip-off.  He then went on set up the Petroleum Products Pricing Committee (PPPRA) with a mandate to “liberalise the downstream sector of the petroleum industry, privatise the refineries, deregulate and liberalise the imports of petroleum products and, generally, make the products available at reasonable prices”. The Bill for the establishment of PPPRA was debated and signed into law without delay because PDP members had vested interest.

As against making our refineries work, PPPRA became fixated with importation of refined petroleum products.  In place of existing NNPC storage facilities, PPPRA opted for the use of storage facilities of members of Depot Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA). With the coming of President Jonathan who does not believe stealing is corruption, it was done with impunity. With Ahmadu Alli, former PDP chairman as PPPRA chairman and Diezani Alison-Madueke as minister for petroleum, a reckless decision to increase the number of approved importers from about a dozen to over 128 as a form of party patronage was taken. A subsequent House probe of the fuel subsidy regime revealed a theft of about N1.7 trillion. The probe also led to the pruning down of the number of fuel importers from unwieldy 128 in 2011, to 39 in 2012 and reduction from 60.25 million litres  which PPPRA fraudulently claimed Nigerians consumed daily in 2011 to 39.66million  litres in 2012.  Some of those indicted by the probe are not only walking around freely, they move around with police escorts while others openly mobilize for the president’s re-election.

No less scandalous was PDP’s handling of the power sector. The Obasanjo administration inherited about 2800MW in 1999. By 2002, Olusegun Agagu the then minister for power claimed the government had achieved a peak of 4200MW. The projection as at the time Obasanjo left in 2007 was 20,000MW by 2015. Again cash-strapped PDP men after the 2007 election frustrated the Obasanjo scheme. It was not until two years later, following the sharing of the N5.2 billion rural electrification contract by leading members of the Lower House that Jonathan was able to return to the derailed Obasanjo’s plan. To date close to $50 billion has been sunk into the power sector.

But last week, Chinedu Nebo, the minister for power who had back in 2013 lamented  that “the situation where only 25 percent of Nigerians have access to electricity is a nightmare caused by human beings used by evil forces”, disclosed during a Channels Television programme that with the completion of Mambila and Zungeru  projects and the employment of over 1000 engineers, the sector hit 4500MW in December 2014 which unfortunately could not be sustained because of what he attributed to gas line attack.

Rice importation has been another source of drain on our foreign reserve by PDP. With the emergence of PDP government in 1999, government officials fronting for politicians in collusion with foreign importers turned Nigeria to world biggest importer of rice spending according to the minister of agriculture, “N1billion naira a day or N366 billion  a year”. The President assured Nigerians his transformation agenda would put an end to rice importation by 2015. During the recent AgriFest 2015 Celebration of Nigeria Agriculture held at Eagles Square Abuja, he sold to Nigerians his minister of agriculture’s propaganda when he said “High quality Nigerian rice is now competing favourably with imported rice in the markets. I eat Nigerian rice and I can tell you, it is better than imported rice”. The truth is that like the cassava bread, the president and his men are probably the only people who have access to the Nigerian rice. A government that talks of self-sufficiency in 2015 also approved waivers to favoured importers like Dangote, Vaswani, Stallion, some churches as well as some churches and hotels. Dikko Abdulahi, Comptroller General of Customs claimed that in the first eight months of 2013, of the N603 billion lost to waivers, rice accounted for N105 billion.

PDP has failed the nation. PPPRA, with staff strength of 249, and an unwieldy 22-man strong board, earning scandalously whopping salaries and allowances of N57.9 billion per annum cannot manage our refineries. It cannot import fuel. It cannot manage storage facilities. We remain the only OPEC member that imports fuel for domestic consumption.  After 16 years of PDP, we depend on rice from India and Thailand to feed ourselves.  On the inherited national patrimony such as properties in highbrow areas of Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Port Harcourt and Abuja which belong to our children, PDP and the government it runs in their wisdom decided to share them among themselves in the name of monetization. How can a transient government monetize what does not belong to it?

Besides the baleful legacies of those who say they are not fighting corruption because they don’t want to do what Buhari did 31 years ago as a head of a military junta, or men without character haranguing him over his secondary school certificate or wishing him dead before winning the election, they are haunted by their past . Whereas Buhari as an effective 20 months leader of our nation insisted Nigeria will not eat grain until they produced their own grains and in one year, our problem became how to store our locally produced grains. We did not spend billions paying crooks in the name of phantom subsidy; we sold refined petroleum from our refineries and earned foreign exchange. Our exchange rate was about N1 to $2.

My PVC battle

So far, I have spent three days for the elusive PVC. From my LG headquarters which is some journey from my house, I was directed back to a school near the University of Lagos estate.  INEC workers had closed by the time I got there. I took my position early on the queue the following morning. When it was my turn, I was directed back to where I registered four years ago for the code number of the registration centre. I drove back to the open field and discovered there were no INEC signs or directives.   I went to my estate chairman who provided the code since we registered and voted in the same place in 2011. Relieved, I went to join the queue. Again when it was my turn, the young lady showed me my name and picture on the EVR form but announced my PVC was one of those yet to be brought back from Abuja.  She gave me a week. I reported dutifully there Tuesday. We wrote our names. I was number 182. As I took my leave at 10 ‘O’clock to send this piece to my editor, there was no sign of any INEC official. Prof Attahiru Jega recently spoke only of outstanding PVC for newly registered voters; he should please take note of the plight of old voters.

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