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Former President Goodluck Jonathan has received knocks for praising his administration after admitting that he “failed to completely plug the loopholes in the fight against corruption”.
Jonathan, who spoke in Abuja at the convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said his administration “did well”. He explained that he “learnt that some people said that if the PDP had remained in power beyond 2015, the economy would have been worse”. “This couldn’t have been the case, because we had a sound economic team in place,” the former president said.
Jonathan said his administration provided focused leadership through institutional and sectoral reforms which impacted positively on the fundamentals for growth to the extent that inflation was at single digit and the economy was rebased to become the largest in Africa.
The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecutions, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, disagreed with former President Jonathan’s claim that his administration performed creditably.
Obono-Obla said the past administration was “scandalously corrupt” and that Jonathan had a false impression of his administration’s performance
Obono-Obla, who is also the chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, said the former president was speaking with both sides of the mouth.
He said: “Only a very honest man will say his mother’s soup pot is not good and Jonathan is not a very honest man, with due respect to him. If he were honest, how can he say that food prices stayed low? It is not true. It is not true that the Nigerian economy was very sound.
“He ran a voodoo economy, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. There was massive unemployment, massive inflation; there was shortage of petroleum products, there was oil subsidy which led to trillions of naira subsidy fraud.
“So, how can he say that the economy was sound, that it was well managed? The bumbling incompetence of his government is what has manifested in what we saw when we went into a recession shortly after we took over when we met an empty treasury.
“If he said his government didn’t block loopholes of corruption, that is an admission that his government was chronically scandalously corrupt and which is true, because we have not seen that kind of mindless looting of government resources and money which has manifested in his former minister looting what would amount to the budget of the entire northern states for about four years.
“He said the economy was sound when there were a lot of leakages through which billions of dollars were siphoned from the economy.”
Deputy National Chairman (South) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Segun Oni, cautioned the former president against “talking about what he did or failed to do as far as corruption is concerned”.
He urged him to apologise to Nigerians having failed to fight corruption as there were no results to show for his efforts.
“It is very unfortunate that a former President will say that. There is the saying that there is no mark for effort. The only mark you get is for results.
“It does’t matter how much a man tried; if he does not have a result to show, what he should just do is to keep quiet and that is what I will advise him to do as far as corruption is concerned.
“The results are very shameful. I think he should just be asking for forgiveness.”
Voice of Nigeria Director-General Osita Okechukwu also said the ex-president should apologise to Nigerians for betraying their trust and expanding the loopholes of corruption which plunged the nation into its current state.
Okechukwu said: “My own sincere assessment is that our dear ex-president, rather than plug loopholes of corruption; opened it wide. He should apologise to Nigerians who he betrayed for being less than transparent. I was outraged when I heard him proclaim that PDP will return to power in 2019 because of the hunger and poverty ravaging the country”.
“The Nigerian economy could have collapsed if President Buhari didn’t come to the rescue. Jonathan relied on voodoo economic records which rated the Nigerian economy higher than that of industrialised South Africa. An economy with 40,000 MW to Nigeria’s less than 4,000MW. ”
He added: “Jonathan and his cohorts assume that many of us will easily forget how on 13 May, 2010, his regime announced publicly with joy the award of $23 billion contract for the erection of three Greenfield refineries; one to be erected in Bayelsa, one in Kogi and one in Lagos.
“Today, we see neither the refineries nor the billions of dollars at a time Nigeria’s Excess Account hovered around $17 billion. The refineries could have saved Nigeria over $200 billion expended on importation of refined petroleum products till date.
“Jonathan should just keep quiet, especially now that the hunger and poverty he imposed on us are getting too harsh.
.”He propelled his preferred Minister Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke and other cronies to loot dry our dear countrymen. Example, latter day revelations are showing how $80 million was used by Mrs Madueke’s ally to purchase a luxury yacht, money which could have been utilised to build the best hospital in Yenogoa. Or is he not reminding us of the humongous foreign exchange used in buying choice estates locally and abroad?
“In sum, the biggest headache of Buhari administration is the huge local and foreign debt amassed by the PDP’s 16 years misrule.
“On bailout fund and Paris Club refund, Buhari has spent over N1 trillion on salary and pension arrears. He has also paid over $7 billion on obligations to International Oil Companies (IOC) with the little he got.”
Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) Prof Itse Sagay said Jonathan never fought corruption but deepened it.
“We are investigating nearly $470 billion stolen and all the villas around the world his cronies bought. We are looking at over $2 billion and endless amount that disappeared under the former National Security Adviser (NSA). We are investigating former Chief of Army Staff he appointed, who diverted whopping amount of public funds. His shameless statement just shows the level of self-deceit by the former president. It is unbelievable.
“This country is very lucky that the current administration took over the government from the hands of the party of plunderers, which could have ruined us all.
“If Jonathan had remained in office, we would all, by now, be carrying Ghana-must-go bags to go look for employment in other countries.”
Sagay added: “Of course, the inflation might have been reduced when he was in the saddle when his cronies emptied the treasury and blowing money all over the place, spending public funds on luxurious and irresponsible things. There was a lot of money they were throwing about, which did not belong to them. If they didn’t empty the treasury, maybe the inflation rate would have been better now. But, they finished the whole money in the nation’s coffers. What the Buhari administration is doing is digging us out of the big hole the PDP put us to.
“That is why there is inflation. Jonathan and his political party are the cause of the economic problem we found ourselves today. All this joblessness, misery, kidnapping and the despicable crimes being committed are as a result of lack of funds for ordinary human activities.
“In fact, the PDP and its members are a curse to this country. For them to ever dream that they would come back to power, that is the wildest and irresponsible dream anyone can contemplate.”
National Chairman of United Progressives Party (UPP) Chief Chekwas Okorie said: “I want to be charitable to Jonathan for admitting that he scored himself a failure in the area of the fight against corruption and above average in area of economic development.
“I must say that Jonathan failed on both sides. A government that lasted that long was supposed to provide development for the country. The economy did not improve under his government; rather than improving, his administration laid the foundation for our going into recession. Corruption thrived under Jonathan to an unimaginable level.
“He gave tacit support to corruption and when he began to say stealing was not corruption, one could see that he was not against corruption.”
Afenifere Publicity Secretary Yinka Odumakin said: “It is true that Jonathan did not fight corruption headlong just like other administrations had not fought corruption sincerely in the country. There is no administration that has met the yearning of the people, when it comes to the fight against corruption.
“This is because the foundation of the fight against corruption has not been properly laid. The foundation was laid with corruption, so it is not possible to fight corruption in a badly laid foundation that is supposed to fight corruption.”
The National Chairman of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Prof. Bankole Okuwa, described the ex-president “as a non-starter”, adding that it was most unfortunate that he became the president. “We don’t need someone like him and honestly his wife made him to fritter away over N2 billion; what an embarrassment. Jonathan and his wife should be in jail by now. If Buhari was not lenient with him, he should be in jail.
Former Deputy Senate Minority Leader, Senator Olrunnimbe Mamora said Jonathan’s statement was an admission of failure to act appropriately to curb corruption during his tenure.
Mamora said: “It is an admission of some measures of guilt in terms of approach in curbing corruption under his watch. He has admitted he didn’t do much as expected by the people. It is an admission of not doing much in line of expectation of the people.
“His admission that he failed to curb corruption under his watch is an indictment on his administration; and a stain that cannot be removed.”
Mamora noted corruption was one of the low points of Jonathan government; it is in the book of history that his administration was the most corrupt; he has only confirmed that a lot of untoward happened under him.
Lawyer and public affairs analyst Monday Ubani was surprised that Jonathan had at last admitted that there was corruption during his tenure.
He said Jonathan knew all along when he was in power that there was high level corruption in the country but he refused to admit. The magnitude of corruption under him has cost us development in this country in terms of infrastructural development. “His intransigence has retarded our progress”, he stated.
The second National Vice President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) said Jonathan should seek forgiveness from Nigerians.
“Even if he was forgiven, I doubt if Nigerians would allow his party (PDP) to return to power after looting the treasury,” he added.
Constitutional lawyer Wahab Shittu advised former President Jonathan to maintain a dignified silence.
He said: “The reality is that corruption thrived to unprecedented height during his tenure.Corruption not only became the elephant in the room, it was elevated to a fundamental Article of Faith with frightening consequences on the economy with the people worse hit in terms of living standards and negative image to our country.
“These days we are daily assaulted with unimaginable disclosures of massive looting of our commonwealth with accusing fingers being pointed at senior officials of his administration many of who said they acted on the basis of authorisation of the former president.
“Until the former president clears himself of these allegations he has no moral right to raise his voice in public commentary on the affairs of our country.
“The former president handed over a postrate economy with the country plunged into economic recession for which it is yet to recover. From mind boggling allegations of massive looting of our commonwealth to alleged divesion of resources meant for arms procurement to private pockets including massive corruption in the electricity sector and other sectors of the economy, the country took a turn for the worse, it was an era when the former president publicly pronounced that stealing did not amount to corruption.”