By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA—Governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have taken strong exception to comments credited to Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, which described the communique they issued last week in Umuahia, Abia State, as a work of fiction by those who truly believe black is white and one plus one equals three.”
The governors had in their meeting hosted by Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, recently, chided President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, accusing it of subjecting millions of Nigerians into untold hardship, misery and poverty.
However, the Presidential aide called on the governors to keep their peace, saying “we cannot forget that under the PDP, the nation had an army full of phantom soldiers whose pay went to PDP politicians’ pockets, while our under-resourced real soldiers died in the fight against terrorists and our international allies refused to supply Nigeria kit and military aid.
In a statement signed by Cyril Maduabum, Director General, PDP Governors’ Forum, the governors said: “We are moved to respond to the infantile, ignorant, pedestrian, low quality, confused and rambling response of Garba Shehu, spokesman of the Presidency, to the fact-filled patriotic, well thought out chronicle of the dire living conditions of Nigerians by the PDP governors in their communiqué of March 23, 2022, for the need to set the records straight.
“Garba Shehu described the communiqué as a fantasy, delusional and fictional. He even derided Nigerian armed forces as ‘phantom soldiers’. Perhaps he was dazed by the sheer assemblage of facts, figures and evidence on the existential threat Nigeria is facing as a result of the APC misrule, with respect to the economy, security, stealing of Nigeria’s crude, etc,as contained in the communiqué.
“”The PDP governors communiqué made a comparative sketch of Nigeria of 2015 under PDP and Nigeria of 2022 under APC. The communiqué reeled out the fact that in almost all sectors, things have gotten worse by over 1000 per cent. This is reflected in prices of basic foodstuffs, unemployment rate, electricity prices, kerosene, diesel, fuel, aviation fuel and air ticket prices which have all gone through the roof. It reeled out figures on poverty, inflation, exchange rate, debt accumulation and corruption.
“”Indeed, all aspects of life in Nigeria are being systematically destroyed by the APC administration. Life has become short, brutish and valueless in Buhari’s Nigeria as insecurity ravages the land. But this is not the problem of Garba shehu, who is enveloped in the Presidential Villa, totally oblivious of the suffering and agony Nigerians are facing.
“”The most disturbing aspect of misrule of the APC as chronicled in the communiqué is the petroleum sector.
“”The stealing of Nigeria’s crude oil and the connivance of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in shortchanging other tiers of government, namely, states and local governments is simply mind bogging, if not outright criminal.
“”Nigeria now produces 1.1million barrels of crude oil per day. It has capacity to produce 2.5million per day. It cannot even meet its Organization of Petroleum Exportation Countries, OPEC quota of 1.8million per day.
“”NNPC is a law unto itself. Nobody can call them to order to desist from the part of lawlessness and unconstitutional acts it has chosen to dwell in. Of course, President Buhari is the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
“”Under his watch, the Nigeria’s oil and gas sector is deteriorating. In an accountable government, he should have resigned his position as Minister of Petroleum, as a result of the cataclysmic failures in the sector.
“”It is even shocking that Garba Shehu admits that funds from NNPC are now directly used to fund social and health programmes, road construction etc, in an unconstitutional overreach.
“”NNPC can spend federal government’s share of the federation account as it pleases. It cannot spend money belonging to other tiers of government without their approval. NNPC cheats states and local governments. NNPC recklessly squanders money belonging to other tiers of government and has the audacity and impudence to pay zero amount of money into the federation account.
“”Garba Shehu conveniently ignored the facts in the PDP Governors communique that exposed the deduction of N788bn for NNPC’s own chosen projects without recourse to the federation account; the deduction of N8.3billion monthly for rehabilitation of refineries in Nigeria that do not work; the scandal called petroleum subsidy that gulps trillions of naira yearly without accountability and value for money.
“”Between 2012 and 2021, N7.6trn has been withheld by NNPC from the federal account. Yet, Garba Shehu kept mum on these scandalous disclosures.
“”What did Garba Shehu say about 18 federation revenue agencies that have refused to remit funds to the Federation Account in breach of the Constitution? Nothing! What an impunity? What a robbery? What a reckless and whimsical approach to governance!
“”The presumption is that we can talk as much as we want, since power resides in the Presidency, we can do nothing. But there will be a day for accounting.
There will be a day of reckoning. When that day comes, arrogance of power will not avail the perpetrator of these serial acts of theft of Nigeria’s patrimony.
“”Garba Shehu accused PDP governors of influencing ethnic and religious tensions. How does pointing out the deteriorating state of affairs in Nigeria inflame ethnic and religious tensions?
“”The Buhari Presidency by all objective accounts is the worst in Nigeria’s history in managing our diversity. Under APC’s seven years rule, Nigerians no longer trust one another, ethnic and religious differences are not properly managed. All our fault lines are exposed and exacerbated.