TEXT OF THE STATE OF THE NATION PRESS CONFERENCE HELD on 29 JUNE, 2016 COMRADE DEBO ADENIRAN, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF THE COALITION AGAINST CORRUPT LEADERS, CACOL
ONE YEAR THE ASCENSION OF PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI AND THE ALL PROGRESSIVE CONGRESS (APC) TO POWER: MATTERS ARISING
On behalf of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, I welcome you to this Press Conference called to address the state of the nation one year after the ascension to power of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressive Congress (APC) to power haven emerged victorious in the 2015 general elections. We thank you for honouring our invitation and appreciate your consistent reportage of our activities as one of the foremost anti-corruption organization in the country.
This Press conference will analyze the state of nation politically, economically and socio-culturally at the present time and proffer recommendations to address the multifarious challenges that confront us a nation and people.
THE NIGERIA POLITICAL SITUATION: JUST THE DIFERENCE BETWEEN SIX AND HALF-A-DOZEN!
One year after the ascension present regime to power, it is apparent that the hope President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC-led the Federal level gave to majority of Nigerians prior to the victory of the party at the last general elections held in May, 2015 has been betrayed.
Politically, it has become obvious that fundamentally, political control still remain within the tenacious grip of a ruling class that have maintained and displayed the same ineptitude, maladministration, corruption, impunity and insensitiveness for decades resulting to the painful situation of existence of majority of Nigerians.
The hardships that Nigerians are going through continues to be compounded by the political decision to maintain the kowtowing to the neo-liberal dictates of the IMF/World Bank which is manifesting in the lack of access to basic needs required for humane living and existence.
The present APC led Federal government is not a radical departure from hitherto existing governments that favoured only the elite and the extremely wealthy ruling class. Yet, this is a government that rode on the mantra of ÇHANGE to get elected. We ask, whither the change?
The difference between the hitherto regime and the present one is like comparing a half-full and a half-empty cup. The political scenario continues to be riddled with intrigues, deceits and abhorrence of democratic norms and popular participation.
Insecurity of lives and properties continue to thrive; from the exhuming of the Biafra agenda and the violence it engendered to the killings by Fulani herdsmen, from undying insurgence of Boko Haram to emergence of the pipeline-bombing Niger Delta Avengers, the country remain in serious quagmire. Kidnappings, abductions, ritual killings, conscriptions, rape and other violent crimes are still rife. And all these are as a result of the absence of formidable political will to confront the security challenges of the country, reminiscent of the immediate past regime.
The 8th National Assembly under Bukola Saraki’s leadership: An Assembly with a ‘rotten’ head and an ‘infected’ body
From the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly, NASS, in June 2015 and the emergency of its leadership, the NASS have acted in ways that are very antithetical to the doctrine of democracy and good governance. This began manifesting when it was discovered that the rules of the Assembly were forged to facilitate the emergence of the present leadership, a development which up till now remain unresolved and is in the Court of law for adjudication.
From ‘budget paddings’ and unnecessary delay in passage of the budget which led to blame trading between the Executive and the NASS to the travails of the Senate President, Mr. Bukola Saraki over corruption charges, from the 108 Land Cruiser SUVs distributed amongst the members of the Nigerian Senate to their humongous salaries and allowances, from sexual misdemeanour to the implication of the Senate President in the Panama Paper Leak and the present ‘face-off’ between the Executive and NASS over forged rules, the journey of the 8th Assembly has been topsy-turvy in a very unprecedented manner.
To paraphrase Prof. Niyi Osundare, who described members of NASS as ‘lawless lawmakers’, ‘beyond shame’ and ‘allergic to honour’, the Senate is full of “scoundrels, cut-throats, venal warriors. Criminal spawns of our triumphant Kleptocracy, they steal our votes, purloin our prospects in their noble service to our ‘New Democracy’”.
To demonstrate its self-serving ends, the NASS in spite of the hallowing and excruciating conditions of living of the vast majority had the effrontery to ask for Life Pensions and Immunity for its Presiding Officers in a putrid stench that oozed out of the Retreat of Members of the National Assembly, NASS, on Constitutional Review recently held in Lagos.
We say an emphatic NO to life pensions for legislators. The proposal for Life pensions has however thrown up a situation that calls for introspection on the rationale behind the State paying of life pensions to any category of elected officials at all. Elected officials are ELECTED to SERVE, such responsibility or duty is not a CAREER or a PROFESSION! Elected persons are expected to work for their earnings prior to being elected and after serving their tenures; they deserve only to be paid for the period that they are incumbent.
We therefore call for the halting of the payment of life pensions to elected public officials across board henceforth as this is illegitimate and usurping!
One of the most reckless and ironically ridiculous move by NASS is the refusal to carry out their constitutional duty of screening the Ambassadorial nominees of the President and the declaration of war against the Executive following the charging of the Senate President and his Deputy for forgery of the NASS rules and ethics; a serious criminal offence against the state. We wonder what they were elected to do if they abandon the primary purpose why they are elected which is to legislate and to perform oversight functions. Their attitude is sabotaging and tantamount to carrying out a coup against the Federal government of Nigeria.
It is time the NASS is cleansed of the dishonourable and incurably corrupt elements in the Hallowed Chambers to save Nigeria the humiliation its reputation is suffering as a country within the comity of Nations.
Prior becoming the Senate President, a position which he assumed via very controversial means; Mr. Saraki was known for running publicly-owned businesses bankrupt and someone with a poor reputation such as his, isn’t fit to be called or be elected as a Senator not even to talk of becoming the Senate President.
With such a background and considering that he oscillates between sitting in the criminal suspects’ box in the Code of Conduct Tribunal as a criminal suspect and in the High Court for forgery charges while also sitting as President of the Senate in the hallowed Chambers of the National Assembly as the President of the Senate doubling as the Chairman of the National Assembly, the situation becomes an aberration and makes Saraki a misfit to occupy a seat in the Nigerian Senate in the first place and unfit to continue to occupy the exalted position of the Senate Presidency.
It is absurd for someone who sits high at the throne of the law making guild in Nigeria to discredit himself so much in the eyes of the public and thereby tarnishing the image of the country. Nigerians must mobilize from their constituencies to ‘decapitate’ the NASS via the instrumentality of impeachment and subject the body to thorough cleansing in order for the country to progress developmentally, both economically and politically.
NIGERIAN ECONOMY: AN ECONOMY MOVING STEEPLY INTO RECESSION
Coming to terms with the reality of the present times, it is very glaring that our country, Nigeria, is at a dangerous precipice with the present economic repression characterized by the increased sufferings and excruciating pains of the ordinary poor, working and toiling people who constitute the majority.
The skyrocketing increases in the cost of the very basic needs of life; from food to water, fuel to health services, dwindling income to rapidly increasing unemployment and under-employment rate etc. all stem from the progressively receding economy that stare us as a people in the face so boldly.
The economy of the country prior to the present steep recession had been rudderless or directionless and this is in spite of the fact that the indicators were there for the handlers of the Nigerian economy to see before it assumed the recent dimensions.
And because there seems to be no direction, because the economy seems to be at best on autopilot, and at worst under the spell of a powerful magician, the problems emanating from the cesspool of the past keep rearing their ugly monstrous heads, becoming ever more resilient as they expand in scope and scale.
Overwhelmed by the scale of the rot it inherited on assumption of power, and clearly fazed by the enormity of the task at hand, the present ‘change’ regime keeps reminding us at the slightest hint of any difficulty that the humongous maladministration and impunity of the recent past is the cause of our present problems. This worn out lazy excuse has become so monotonous and routine, that each time they speak now; they sound like broken records/audio CDs.
While the government have busied itself with flying excuses around; from past sharp and corrupt practices to fall in the price of international price of crude oil to the freefall of the naira against the dollar etc. the economy has moved from being directionless straight towards recession or a ‘melt-down’.
Let it be said that we know where we are coming from, we know where the rain started beating us, and we know when the rain became a raging storm; but isn’t that why we voted out that sorry excuse for a government? Was that not why we agreed and chorused ‘enough is enough’? Isn’t that the reason we sent that most parasitic of governments parking from power and Aso Rock? Was that not why we embraced the amorphous and ill-defined change?
As a country, it is time to move beyond excuses and expression of frustrations; the government needs to eschew lamentations and come up with pragmatic and practical ways out of the present precipitous economic recession as the situation call for extraordinary measures. Lamenting and agonizing over the past will not automatically translate into inclusive economic growth and national development, without a clearly articulated, debated and shared economic and human development plan of action.
The Minister for Finance and Economic Development seem to be overwhelmed with present the economic situation in the country. These times require the very best hands; for the period is indeed a very challenging one, as such a change in the Ministry is imperative as the economy is too central to all other aspects of our national life to be left in the hands of the mediocre. We thus call for the removal of Mrs Kemi Adeosun as Minister of Finance with the obvious reality that she is overwhelmed and this stems from her innate incompetence.
The Treasury Single Account, TSA and the failure of Government to fulfill its contractual agreements with SystemSpecs
The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, based on our conviction that the Treasury Single Account, TSA is an initiative that can plug the several holes which corrupt public officials have utilized to perpetrate and perpetuate their incorrigible sharp practices have followed the processes that have been involved in the implementation of the initiative, from the point of its adoption by the Federal government till date.
CACOL thus find it disheartening and disappointing to read that the government has not paid for the services rendered by SystemSpecs, the providers of the technological backbone (Remita) for TSA as reported in an advertorial (Why We Have Continued Provide Support for the TSA – SystemSpec) placed in ThePunch Newspapers of 28 June, 2016 (page 26).
It is seriously astounding to discover that in spite of the fact that the country has continued to enjoy the seamless services of the leading software house, government has failed to fulfil its contractual agreements with SystemSpecs. For a government that claim to have zero tolerance for corruption, the present situation represents an antithesis to the philosophy of anti-corruption and must be condemned.
In the first six months of its operation, the Federal government was been able to save about 2.2 trillion naira (which by now has increased to over 3 trillion naira) through the TSA initiative, an amount that is about half the budget for 2015; this huge sum of money would have ended up in private pockets without trace. Why then would anyone want to kill the TSA or undermine the idea if it has been so beneficial to the country? It is our opinion that most of those opposed to the TSA initiative are those who were beneficiaries of the leakages that the TSA has been able to block.
CACOL holds the belief that the controversies over TSA are unwarranted; just like the whole anti-corruption war is coming under attacks, the TSA is facing a similar fate, it is corruption fighting back. We believe it is not really the contractor or the contract awardee that is at the bottom of these controversies but the recalcitrant attitude of those that want the old ways of corruption to be sustained.
We are convinced that tampering with Treasury Single Account (TSA) initiative will be tantamount to unplugging the holes of corruption that has already been plugged by the very effective strategy that has helped the country to check fraud and promote accountability. Also, failure to fulfill contractual agreements by a government that is championing anti-corruption will be contradictory and betrays the integrity that is supposed to a core value of the present government. Consequently we call on the Federal Government to fulfill its contractual agreements with SystemSpecs.
THE POWER SECTOR: TIME FOR THE MINISTER OF ‘DARKNESS’ MR. BABATUNDE FASHOLA TO BE SACKED!
Topping the list as far as we are concerned in terms of abysmal performance that requires radical change in the present Federal Cabinet is the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. It is our view that the ministry has been the main one that has most misrepresented the campaign promises of APC and the change Nigerians expected. All the actions and policies of the Ministry have compounded the sufferings of Nigerians in multi-folds; from lack of power supply to the illogical hike in electricity tariffs, from continually decaying infrastructure to death traps as roads with a Housing sector that is ‘non-existent’ or in absolute comatose.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing keeps standing logic on its heads by asking the already impoverished Nigerians to bear the brunt of his failure by asking Nigerians to pay for darkness and for services not rendered even up to the effrontery of hiking the tariff of electricity against a background of a country in perpetual darkness.
The Minister has made history by achieving the lowest, ZERO, mega watts for more than 18 hours in history of power generation in Nigeria; he has nothing to offer than damage, we call on Mr. President to ask him to honourably resign or he should be sacked! The Minister is obviously overwhelmed as the tasks before him seem very daunting to him.
THE CLAIM AND THE CLING TO IMMUNITY, THE ATTEMPT TO USE BLACKMAIL AS DEFENCE BY THE EKITI STATE GOVERNOR, AYODELE FAYOSE IS PREPOSTEROUS.
The claim and cling to immunity by the governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose over the freezing of his bank accounts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC is fallacious, null, void and ultra vires. CACOL views the governor’s position as frivolous, shameless, insensitive and immoral.
The recent revelations emanating from the freezing of the personal account of Fayose; a “sitting” governor shows that there is the likelihood that other leaders are being “shielded” by the immunity clause. Apparently, some so-called leaders have perfected the act of running riot with our commonwealth knowing fully well that before the end of their tenures all records showing their misdemeanors would have been “taken care” of. This is the same reason why the Senate is pushing for immunity for their leaders also so as to “enjoy” the untouchable status, while pilfering, maladministration, impunity and sharp practices thrive!
It is rather embarrassing that the immunity clause have consistently been racked and shown to our faces, because it is enshrined in our constitution for Presidents and their Vice and Governors and their Vice all in an effort to justify the “sanctity” of our democratic arrangement. This is why we have found ourselves in a situation where people of seriously questionable characters that get elected into public offices, emboldened by the cover of the immunity clause act with impunity.
The attempt to hide under the immunity clause is a shameless one; it is a bid to escape or pervert justice which be made futile by all right thinking Nigerians and the relevant agencies. EFCC in particular should as a matter of urgency fast track the work on the Fayose case and extend the current investigative skills to other “sitting” and “immune” leaders since for all we know, Fayose’s “secret personal dealings” might be a tip of the iceberg!
The Fayose saga has shown, that, with all hands on deck, Nigeria can battle corruption and win, the saga is an illustration of this reality, thus we call on the EFCC and the all other agencies not relent in their efforts as the ongoing anti-corruption drive gains momentum. All the arguments and explanations of Fayose and his pathetic supporters piles up to naught in the realm of dialectics and law!
ON THE ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE
CACOL commends the Federal Government and the anti-corruption agencies for the feats achieved so far. The anti-corruption drive of the present government remain its main highpoint and must increase in momentum based on the fact that corruption is fighting back, viciously, deploying every crooked means available.
As corruption fights back, the logical response is to; lawfully remove all the encumbrances on the path of the anti-corruption drive which corruption criminals cleverly use to wriggle through the labyrinths of the existing judicial system to escape justice, amend our laws and the creation the Special courts for corruption cases.
The President Mohammadu Buhari-led administration recently released the figures of funds and assets recovered from the looters of the country’s resources without revealing the names of the people that are involved in the crime as requested by many Nigerians. This is rather unfortunate as stealing is a crime against the state and should not be covered up, it does not augur well for the anti-corruption drive and makes the recovery process opaque and lacking in accountability. We therefore call for the names of the looters that returned loots to be made public!
The Brigadier General Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) saga that is presently in the front-burner of public discourse following the revelation that the General own two plush and palatial Mansions in Dubai must be thoroughly investigated and if any wrong-doing is legally established, the General must be made to face the full wrath of the law.
That the General claimed in his explanation that he used his life savings to purchase the properties and he declared the properties in his the assets declaration he did at the Code Conduct Bureau (CCB) is not tenable at all, it only raises more questions.
For instance, looking at the value of the Mansions, if all his earnings since he started working were put together in a lump, can it buy the said properties in Dubai? If it cannot, the General’s story falls flat on its face and this indicts the CCB itself, given that it should have investigated the value of the properties and ascertains the source via which the General could afford such extremely expensive Mansions.
The attitude of Military in the defense they have put up so far has been suspicious and even increases the imperativeness of thoroughly investigating the Buratai case. The case will serve as a litmus test for the much touted anti-corruption war of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government which has been described as been ‘skewed’ in some quarters!
LAGOS OPEN PARLIAMENT
We want to use this opportunity to inform the Media that preliminary processes of our programme tagged ‘Lagos Open Parliament LOP” has commenced with the administration of questionnaires on the state of infrastructures, service provisioning etc.
The LOP surveys government performance in Lagos state by getting feedback directly from Lagosians with the goal of promoting and enhancing good governance. This years’ LOP is tagged ‘LOP3’, it will survey and process data gotten from survey to assess the last one year of governance in Lagos state under Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s leadership. We shall keep you updated; including inviting you to the Exploratory, Validation and Public Presentation conferences as soon as the dates and other details are harmonized.
We thank you once again for your prompt attendance.
Executive Chairman, CACOL
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