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Cover Your Face in Shame, ACN Blasts PDP, FG

Written By Joseph Y. Musa on Monday, April 22, 2013 | 4/22/2013 08:34:00 am

As the issue of corruption takes the centre stage in the political parties’ debate ahead of the 2015
general election in the country, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has referred to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a cesspool of corruption, lacking the courage to fight the malaise.

The party said the PDP-led federal government should cover its face in shame.
The altercation between ACN and PDP came just as the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) said it welcomed the return of manifesto debate  in our national political discourse as a good development ahead of the 2015 general election.

In a statement issued yesterday by ACN National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said a new report submitted to the United States Congress by the US Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, had confirmed mass corruption at all levels of the Nigerian government.

''What Nigerians have always believed has been confirmed from other lands. According to media reports today (Sunday April 21), a new report submitted to the US Congress by Kerry has confirmed mass corruption at all levels of the Nigerian government,” it said.

PDP's National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metu, had over the weekend picked holes in the APC's manifesto where it pledged among other issues to address corruption succinctly including subjecting past leaders to probe.
Metu said  PDP was not afraid of the probe of the activities of its leaders since 1999 but asked the opposition to prove itself by taming the regime of corruption in the few states it controls as a demonstration of its fidelity to the anti corruption cause.

However,  while responding to a scathing criticism by the PDP over the anti-corruption posturing of the All Progressives Congress (APC), ACN which is a key member of the new opposition platform, said rather than join issues with the opposition, both PDP and the federal government should cover their faces in shame for failing to curb corruption.

The party said both the PDP and the government it controls at the centre had lost control on the fight against corruption in the land.

ACN said the Nigerian corruption report tabled at the US Congress should serve as a sign of global scorn against the failings of the PDP-led federal government.
In a related development, CNPP has welcomed the raging  manifesto war between APC and PDP, saying it is a good omen for our national political discourse.

The National Publicity Secretary of CNPP, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, said in a statement issued yesterday that the misgovernance being witnessed in the  Fourth Republic could be easily traced to the inchoate policy of 'food is ready and share the money',  which fuels insecurity and divides the country.

"Manifesto war is healthy in liberal democracy for it presents the electorate with alternative view points to choose from. For in the last 13 years, Nigerians were bombarded with the divisive factor of tribe or religion and issues were not canvassed. Thus the 2011 presidential election was dominated by hot contest of zoning or no zoning not what candidates could offer.

"All we can say is let the music of 'Manifesto War' play on, play on and play on for it clearly separates the wheat from the chaff and in no small measure will assist our people to make their choice as we approach the 2015 general election," he said.
Okechukwu  commended the APC not only for presenting a manifesto that attracted the intense and rabid attention of the PDP but for making the war against corruption one of its key  agenda.

While assessing the  manifestoes of the PDP and APC, Okechukwu said  clear differences existed on the  ideological spectrum, adding that while the PDP was centre of the right, the APC was centre of the left.

According to him, the PDP ideological slant bestowed much more thrust on the private sector participation in the economy;  while APC puts much more thrust on public sector investment in the economy.

"Accordingly, we are at a loss, where to locate the very poor imitation or the bland parody between the two manifestoes, as posited by the PDP. Especially when APC unequivocally stated in chapter 1 of its Manifesto that, ‘APC in government shall muster the political will to wage strident War Against Corruption; otherwise our post-oil-economy will be disastrous. It is our considered view that none of our cardinal programmes will succeed if the current level of corruption and looting going on in the land is allowed to continue.

"Whereas, we agree with the PDP that, ‘Our government established the EFCC and the ICPC, equipped them with canine and molars to crush the backbone of corruption. As relative as their successes are, no record will ever deny their impact in quest for transparent polity’.

"However, the truth is that the PDP neither in print nor in practice never made war against corruption one of its cardinal programs and records show that from ex-president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s days to date, its anti-graft war has been selective.

"Otherwise how come that Transparency International has in the last decade enlisted Nigeria in its hall of infamy?  Or what can we say of the US Department of State 2012 Country Report on Nigeria, which chronicled  that, ’The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government and the security forces.’

"Among scams mentioned by the US Report were N1.067 trillion ($6.8 billion) fuel subsidy Scam, N32.8 billion {$210m} Police Pension Fund,  N41 billion ($260m) Bankole-Nafada scam and the blatant refusal of government to honour the Freedom of Information Act, by releasing President Goodluck Jonathan’s asset declaration requested by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

"In sum, we expect the manifesto war to enrich and deepen our democracy; for the PDP now has a challenger –APC -with equal national spread, impregnable structures in every polling booth, wards, local governments, states and members in all the faith and tribes,” Okechukwu said.

Reacting to the criticisms, the Presidency described the opposition political leaders as lacking in positive political antecedents or moral recommendation to find fault with the social and economic policies of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, who took a swipe at opposition leaders yesterday during a press conference in Lagos, said opposition leaders were fond of using “every platform to denigrate this nation and its government, confuse innocent members of the public and deceptively present themselves as possessing what it takes to move Nigeria forward.”

Also reacting to remarks made by the ACN leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, at the party’s convention in Lagos last week, he said the antecedents of the ACN leader as governor of Lagos State did not portray him as a friend of workers and masses neither did it show him as having better managerial ability, which he hopes to give the Nigerian people.

According to him, “the Bola Tinubu, who spoke about poor budget implementation at the federal level never attained 60 per cent budget implementation while he presided over the affairs of Lagos between 1999 and 2003.

“Contrast this with the remarkable budget implementation record of the present administration in the last two years. The records are there for all to see. Tinubu, who spoke about meagre wages for public servants in Nigeria was known to have ignored calls of Lagos civil servants for a N7,500 monthly wage and when he eventually buckled to the pressure of Labour leaders, he wickedly sacked the major arrow head of the struggle in the person of Mr. Ayodele Akele, who was never re-instated."

“The present National chairman of the ACN, Chief Bisi Akande, as governor of Osun State during the same period denied workers of a N5,500 minimum wage and eventually laid off about 9,000 workers during his four-year reign. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who was then Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President and now Governor of Edo State, led workers on protest march in Osun State during the period but Akande remained adamant. Where then is the credential of these people to talk about job creation, promotion of workers interest and democratic etiquette?”

The presidential spokesman, who picked holes in the merger of opposition political parties, noted that none of the parties had what it took to move the nation forward.

“These sets of politicians who want to desperately supplant the Jonathan’s administration are promoting an incongruous alliance of political weaklings and dysfunctional Lilliputians out primarily to foster their ego and psyche being repeatedly frustrated political power mongers; forgetting that one million giant ants can never muster the required strength to lift a concrete pole not to talk of a nationally entrenched pillar and structurally established institution like the PDP.

“It is worthy of note that the major plank of this motley assembly, the ACN, is notorious for outsourcing its presidential standard bearer from the ranks of the same PDP they gleefully vilify.

“In 2003, their choice was Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who now knows them better. In 2011, it was a protégé of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who fitted the slot although he was later betrayed and sacrificed on the altar of self-interest,” he said.

Okupe said none of the states being currently governed by the opposition ACN has given a good account of themselves as being insinuated by the opposition
“As I speak with you, Ekiti and Osun States, which are being governed by these opposition political parties are embroiled in one form of industrial crisis or the other as a result of the insensitive, cruel and anti-workers policies of their present governors.

“Local government workers and teachers went on strike in Ekiti and lost a number of their members to sack and other forms victimisation. In Osun, tertiary institutions are at present under lock and key. School fees have tripled in institutions of higher learning owned by Ekiti, Lagos, Osun and Oyo States. Yet, Tinubu spoke of the present government as heartless and mean that put the interest of small elite above the interest of the common working man and woman who are the backbone of this nation,” he said.

While asserting that President Jonathan would not be distracted from pursuing his transformation agenda, Okupe assured Nigerians that the various programmes on power, infrastructure, agriculture and job creation would be pursued even more vigorously in the coming months.

He also reacted to the decision of two nominated members of the Amnesty Implementation Committee, Mallam Shehu Sanni and Alhaji Datti Ahmed, to reject their membership, saying it was an unfortunate development which, however, would not affect the functioning of the panel.

Okupe said the two were included in the committee because of their earlier personal initiatives to help resolve the crisis, and that they should have seen their inclusion in the committee as an honour to serve the government and their country, as people in several other countries see such calls to service.

The President’s Adviser, however, described the newly-formed APC, which comprises opposition political parties, as being made up of PDP renegades, a “moribund and lack lustre” ANPP, and the ACN, and “a one-man owned and controlled party with no form of any internal democratic credential whatsoever and totally devoid of any form of modern liberalism.”
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