By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Henry Umoru
All Progressives Congress, APC presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari yesterday put forward a covenant with Nigerians spelling his blueprint to confront corruption, insecurity and infrastructure decay.
Buhari, who vowed to lead by example in all areas, pledged to declare his assets and liabilities publicly and encourage all his aides to do so. He also promised to stop what he described as the weekly contract bazaar by the Federal Executive Council by inaugurating the National Council on Procurement, the statutory body for contract awards.
President Goodluck Jonathan, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP immediately faulted Buhari saying that he, Jonathan was in a better position to fight corruption on the ground that Buhari was surrounded by corrupt persons.
President Jonathan said that Buhari’s legacy in government put him as the last person to fight corruption on the ground that he has no respect for the rule of law, further asserting that his military administration jailed people indiscriminately.
The APC presidential candidate said his covenant was derived from the manifesto of his party and his on the ground experience during his recent travels across the country. He also pledged in his covenant to ensure that no inch of Nigerian land is ever taken by terrorists vowing to ensure that all victims of kidnappings including the Chibok girls are quickly recovered.
The 11-point covenant spread through various areas including Corruption and Governance; Access to Justice and Respect for Fundamental Human Rights; Insurgency and Insecurity; Niger Delta; Diversity; Health and Education. Other elements of the candidate’s agenda are Management of the Economy for Shared Prosperity and Sports and Culture.
Following a review of the present situation in each of the enumerated areas, Buhari followed with a pledge on how he would confront the situation.
On corruption and governance, he said:
“No matter how vast our resources, if they are not efficiently utilized, they will only benefit a privileged few, leaving the majority in poverty. I believe if Nigeria does not kill corruption; corruption will kill Nigeria.”
He thus pledged, to “Publicly declare my assets and liabilities and encourage my political appointees to also publicly declare their assets and liabilities.”
”Affirm that our strategy for tackling corruption will not only focus on punishment. Rather, it will also provide incentives for disclosure and transparency.
”Show personal leadership in the war against corruption and also hold all the people who work with me to account.
”Inaugurate the National Council on Procurement as stipulated in the Procurement Act so that the Federal Executive Council, which has been turned to a weekly session of contract bazaar, will concentrate on its principal function of policy making.
”Review and implement audit recommendations by Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
”Work with the National Assembly towards the immediate enactment of a Whistle Blower Act.
”Work with the National Assembly to strengthen ICPC and EFCC by guaranteeing institutional autonomy including financial and prosecutorial independence and security of tenure of officials.
”Make the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) an autonomous and operational agency.
”Encourage proactive disclosure of information by government institutions in the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.
”Ensure all MDAs regularly comply with their accountability responsibilities to Nigerians through the National Assembly.
”Work with the leadership of the National Assembly to cut down the cost of governance.
”Present a national anti-corruption Strategy.
Following the avowals, Vanguard sought a response from President Jonathan, who responded that he was in a better position to fight corruption than Buhari.
however, President Goodluck Jonathan, speaking through his campaign spokesman, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, cannot fight corruption because he is not only surrounded by corrupt men but also unable to give what he does not have.
He said: “more than any other President in the history of Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan has fought corruption and has successfully plugged all the loopholes that allow corrupt persons to operate freely and with impunity in our country.
“His reforms in the agricultural sector with special reference to the new system for the procurement of fertiliser and his reforms in NNPC and the whole area of oil subsidies prove this. Millions of dollars have been saved in these areas alone as a consequence of Mr. President’s new and innovative initiatives.
“His focus is not just on arresting people without any credible evidence and parading them before television cameras in handcuffs. He believes in fighting corruption in a responsible, humane and credible manner with special emphasis on civil liberties, human rights and the rule of law.
“Unlike others that came before him, he believes that the fight against corruption should not be selective and neither does he believe in using the security agencies to intimidate or persecute innocent people or his perceived enemies. This was not the case up until he became President, and everyone knows this.
“His government did not fight corruption but was, in fact, the biggest manifestation of corruption and abuse of power in the history of Nigeria. He jailed innocent people and sent many to their graves for no just cause. He also applied retroactive legislation to kill people.
“Buhari says he now wants to fight corruption but the truth is that this is a contradiction in terms, and it cannot be so simply because he is surrounded by some of the most corrupt, dishonest, incompetent, irresponsible and perverse souls in Nigeria. Anyone that doubts this just needs to consider the names of some of those that are leading his party.
“His promise to fight corruption must be taken with a pinch of salt and can best be described by Shakespeare’s famous words when he said ‘it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’.”
On how he would confront insurgency and insecurity, Buhari promised to rise to the occasion said as a father he felt the pains of all victims of violence and thus pledged that under his watch to:
”Ensure that under my watch, no force, external or internal, will occupy even an inch of Nigerian soil. I will give all it takes to ensure that our girls kidnapped from Chibok are rescued and reunited with their families.
”Deliver a Marshal Plan on insurgency, terrorism, ethnic and religious violence, kidnapping, rural banditry and ensure that never again will Nigerian children be killed or kidnapped at will.’
”Boost the morale of our fighting forces and the generality of Nigerians by leading from the front as the Commander-in-Chief and not hide in the comfort and security of Aso Rock.
”Give especial attention to the welfare of our armed forces and all other security personnel and their families.”