President Muhammadu Buhari Sunday raised the alarm that both the forthcoming general election and democracy itself were under serious threat by activities of unnamed individuals, whom he alleged had channeled funds towards vote buying at the polls, appealing to Nigerians to give him yet another chance.
But reacting swiftly, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the president has failed his integrity test and has no moral rectitude to pontificate on corruption, having entangled himself and soiled his administration in corruption.
In fact, the PDP said, the president’s statement coming hours after the mammoth crowd that received its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in Kano, a stronghold of Buhari, shows that he is jittery and fears defeat.
The party added that if there is any person whose activities of corruption have become a threat to the coming election, it is the president, who is alleged to be financing his campaign with looted funds and surrounded himself with politicians indicted for corruption.
On his part, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, yesterday urged eligible Nigerians to come out en-masse on Saturday and vote out “out-dated leaders” in the country.
Buhari, who raised the alarm in a statement, said the only hope of progress for Nigeria was the fight against corruption, insinuating that any policy that does not have the war against corruption as its cardinal objective, will ultimately fail.
Buhari claimed forces opposed to the fight against corruption are making the war against corruption difficult, alleging that they deploy the corrupt resources at their disposal to complicate the fight in their desperate search for self-preservation and protection of both political and economic interests.
He said whereas he had not betrayed the trust vested in him thus far to confront corruption, insecurity, and economic challenges, the most important of the three had been the fight against corruption.
The president claimed progress could not be made unless there is a decisive war waged against corruption, pointing out that it is only through the fight against corruption that economic growth could be guaranteed, infrastructure provided and education sustained.
He said: “On February 16th, Nigeria will hold a general election. Four years ago, the country experienced its first democratic transfer of power to the opposition since 1999. The vote in a few days will be no less significant.
“As president, I have tried to judiciously exercise the trust vested in me to combat the problems of corruption, insecurity and an inequitable economy. All are important. But amongst them, one stands above the others as both a cause and aggravator of the rest. It is, of course, corruption.
“A policy programme that does not have fighting corruption at its core is destined to fail. The battle against graft must be the base on which we secure the country, build our economy, provide decent infrastructure and educate the next generation.
“This is the challenge of our generation: the variable on which our success as a nation shall be determined. But the vested interests at play can make this fight difficult. By way of their looting, the corrupt have powerful resources at their disposal. And they will use them. For when you fight corruption, you can be sure it will fight back.
“It even threatens to undermine February’s poll and – by extension – our democracy. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has raised concerns over laundered money being funneled into vote buying.
“This is the problem of corruption writ large. It illustrates how it lurks in all and every crevice of public life, manipulating due process in pursuit of self-preservation and perpetuation; protecting personal political and economic interests at the expense of the common good.”
Buhari further claimed that those opposed to his administration’s fight against corruption were opponents of its mission, reasoning that corruption erodes common trust and promotes inequality among people.
According to him, the more the federal government intensifies the fight against corruption, the more resistant the scourge becomes, adding that whereas the government has shut the door against corruption, there are yet individuals warming up to reopen it.
He also said through the government’s anti-graft drive, huge sums of money had been repatriated, which he said had been deployed to infrastructure development, pointing out that more of such stolen funds are still in the process of recovery from foreign countries.
He said: “Corruption corrodes the trust on which the idea of community is founded, because one rule for the few and another for everyone else is unacceptable to anyone working honestly.
“But as we have intensified our war on corruption, so we have found that corruption innovates to resist the law. This is not the sole domain of those Nigerians, but the international corruption industry: the unsavoury fellow-traveller of globalisation.
“Once the enablers are let in – as they have been in the past – the greed of those they collude with grows. We have closed the door on them, but unfortunately there still remain individuals who are willing to open the windows.
“Concrete progress has been made, but there is still much to do. We have repatriated hundreds of millions of dollars stowed away in foreign banks. These funds have been transparently deployed on infrastructural projects and used to directly empower the poorest in society.
“More is still to come from our international partners in France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Yet the hundreds of billions sifted out of the country for the best part of this century promise more.”
Buhari, who said high profile convictions had been secured, said lawyers raise objections to hinder judicial process, suggesting the need to revisit existing legal framework with a view to facilitating convictions.
Apparently giving account of his stewardship, Buhari said many ghost workers had been eliminated from government payroll and thus saving the nation whooping $550 million, adding that another $370 million had been recovered through the whistle blower policy.
The president, who stated that whereas the fight against corruption was a difficult task, it could yet be won, concluding his message with an appeal to Nigerians to give him yet another four years and avoid returning the country to the path of corruption which he said Nigeria had left.
“A Yoruba proverb states that only the patient one can milk a lion. Likewise, victory over corruption is difficult, but not impossible. We must not flounder in our resolve. I know many Nigerians would like to see faster action. So do I; but so too must we follow due process and exercise restraint, ensuring allegation never takes the place of evidence; for that is not the Nigeria we should wish to build.’’
He said his administration has changed the way the nation tackles corruption, saying the choice before voters is whether to continue forward on the testing path against corruption or do revert to the past, resigned to the falsehood that it is just the-way-things-are-done.
Your Presidency Reeks of Corruption, PDP Tells Buhari
But reacting to the president’s statement, the major opposition party said last night that Buhari has failed his integrity test and has no moral rectitude to pontificate on corruption, having entangled himself and soiled his administration in corruption.
It said that if there is any person whose activities of corruption have become a threat to the general election, it is the president, who is financing his campaign with looted funds, while surrounding himself with politicians indicted for corruption.
‘’The PDP, out of respect for the Office of the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, had severally refrained from calling out President Buhari on his various indictments for corruption even during his era as a military ruler,’’ PDP stated in a statement signed by its spokesman, Ologbondiyan.
It said: ‘’A clear reading of Mr. President’s statement today shows that he is not yet aware that Nigerians have decoded his mastery of concealments of corruption in his presidency and are no longer interested in his failed self-acclaimed fight against corruption.
‘’President Buhari presides over the most corrupt and incompetent administration in the history of our nation, for which Nigerians are very eager to go to the polls on Saturday to vote him out of office.’’
PDP further argued that if the President were to be aware, he would have discovered that his ‘’entire surrounding reeks of moral, institutional and integrity corruption.’’
It said clinical examples can be drawn from his campaign council, saying Nigerians are aware that not a few members of this council have been indicted on malfeasance bordering on corruption
PDP asked, ‘’Is it not strange, therefore, that President Buhari who wants Nigerians to perceive his administration as fighting corruption, will cast a net into the ocean and bring out only corrupt people to run his campaign?’’
Saraki Asks Nigerians to Vote Out Out-dated Leaders
With the presidential/National Assembly election less than one week away, the Senate President Saraki has urged eligible Nigerians to come out en-masse and vote out out-dated leaders in the country.
Saraki, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, said with what Nigerians had experienced since 2015, they must be prepared to choose competent leadership over out-dated leadership.
According to him, “We have all seen how the last four years have gone. It is time for Nigerians across the nation to choose economic growth over poverty; choose security over the growing and fast spreading insecurity; and choose competent leadership over leadership that is out-dated.
“If you have ever questioned if Nigeria can be better, coming out to vote and bringing your friends and relatives who have PVCs out to vote next Saturday will be your answer.
“It is not enough to tweet about this government or share WhatsApp broadcasts, the time has come for all Nigerians to take their future in their hands and vote for visionary leaders, Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi, and the PDP slate of candidates, who are promising a better Nigeria and are ready to make Nigeria work again.”
He called on Nigerians who have collected their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) across the nation to ensure that they come out to vote in massive numbers on February 16, 2019, adding that with a high voter turn-out, the results of the election cannot be manipulated.
The Senate president also called on all young Nigerians of voting age to see the coming elections as test of the strength of their numbers, adding that with 51 per cent of the voters on the register being youths, they make up the most crucial voting bloc.
“To the young people of our nation, I want you to know that you cannot afford to just sit on the side-line any longer. All across the world, young people like you are deciding who will lead their nations.
“The youth of Nigeria have an opportunity this time around to become the deciding factor.
“I have read a lot of comments about young people saying that they won’t vote because their votes do not matter and that people want to rig the election. Here’s my answer: If you vote, they can’t rig! “The more people that come out to vote, the less likely it is for those that want to manipulate the results to do so — it’s a simple mathematics. It is the numbers of registered voters who failed to come out and vote that the riggers seek to manipulate in inflating votes for a candidate or group of candidates.”
Saraki urged them to take this election seriously, saying together they can make history by saving Nigeria’s future.