The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Sunday listed what it calls “new instances of the insane looting of the treasury by some officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration”.
The party maintained that the corruption mess that characterized the administration was so pervasive that until it is cleaned, Nigeria will not be able to actualize its potentials.
A press statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the cases are heart-rendering which needs the attention of all Nigerians.
“First is a mind-shattering $2.2 billion arms scandal perpetuated under the Jonathan regime.
“Another revelation is a $6.9 million fraud by the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to President Jonathan, Gordon Obuah, committed under the guise of buying three mobile stages for the President.
“Also a 2.5 billion naira scam involving the rent of house boats” was mentioned by the ruling party.
The party further noted that “while those charged with handling of these cases are finalizing the details of bringing the suspects to justice, the APC’s immediate concern is the attempt by the PDP to make a cover up.
“It is clear to all Nigerians that the debilitating impact of 16 years of PDP’s misrule cannot be reversed in just 3 months. It is an obvious truth that it is always easier to destroy than to construct, but nothing will stand in the way of the Buhari Administration’s commitment to improving the quality of life of Nigerians and making our country to function again,” the statement read.
President Goodluck Jonathan has pleaded with state governors who have the green wall project across their states to take the project very seriously.
He said this while flagging off the great green wall project initiated by the African Union to deal with the problems of desertification on the African continent.
The President said that apart from the fight against desertification, the great green wall would in the next 25 years provide the luxurious green that would be of economic value to the people.
Before the flag off of the great Green Wall Project, Dr Jonathan commissioned the new Sir Ahmadu Bello International Airport in Birnin Kebbi, built by the Kebbi State Government at the cost of 14billion naira.
He commended the foresight of Governor Saidu Dakingari, who converted what used to be an airstrip into an international airport.
President Jonathan and Governor Dakingari, joined by the Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka and other dignitaries, described the airport as another milestone in the transformation going on in the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, on Monday said Nigeria needs $14 billion to implement its infrastructure development master plan.
According to the Minister, Nigeria needs Private Public Partnership – PPP – to effectively drive the plans, as budgetary allocations alone cannot achieve the goals.
Iweala noted that the government was looking to make Nigeria a hub for such projects across West Africa.
The minister, who was at a public private partnership capacity building training organised by the African Development Bank in Abuja, said some challenges had made PPP projects unsuccessful in the past.
She highlighted legal complications and expected rates of returns as some of the major problems hindering progress.
The 2014 budget presented by the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in December and is yet to be passed into law has continued to be a source of concern for analysts and economists owing to disparities which they insist will not benefit the populace.
One of such analysts, the Editor in Chief of Financial Standard, Bola Onanuga, on Saturday, said the increase in the recurrent expenditure of the 2014 budget is as a result of corruption in government.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Saturday breakfast programme, Sunrise, he said “the major reason why the recurrent expenditure is increasing is corruption.” He also attributed the increase to lack of focus as well as selfishness on the part of the government.
“We are a very selfish people” hence “most times we look more at the current situation rather than the future.”
The capital expenditure which accounts for development projects and infrastructure often takes the back burner in budget “because the large population of civil servants that are extremely very corrupt must be taken care of,” he said.
Commenting on Nigeria’s export profile, he expressed hope that the nation would regain sure footing in exportation of goods. He said that Nigeria is currently among the major exporters of cassava having lost its position in cocoa export to other countries. He however stated that there are efforts by the government to rectify that.
He commended the Goodluck Jonathan administration for encouraging the private sector and called on Nigerians to exercise patience. “In any economy that must be transformed, there must be patience,” he said, adding that “what the GEJ government is pursuing economically is working but not politically.”
“It might be a very little improvement (but) there has been a lot of improvement in the economy,” he said citing the rise in private companies which increases employment rate.
He complained that the progress in the agricultural sector is slow as there is not enough engagement at the state and local levels of government. He also faulted the citizenry for not being creative and for being over-dependent on the government in terms of job creation.
Also speaking on the programme, a Policy Analyst, Galtima Liman, said he is not given to euphoria as the budget doesn’t define the cause of development while the real aggregate issues have not been tackled.
70 percent of the 2014 budget which accounts for what the government intends to spend on recurrent expenditure is a contradiction of what the Finance Minister said the budget will focus on according to Liman. The minister had said that the 2014 budget focused on job creation and inclusive growth but Liman countered saying “if you are spending a lot more on recurrent, how are you going to have enough to spend on projects?”
Although the oil and gas sector fetches the nation most of its revenue, the sector isn’t contributing optimally as a result of leakages in the system (vandalism), Liman said adding that there’s a huge deficit in the system because the nation isn’t making as much revenue as it should.
He also argued that the 70 percent recurrent expenditure which is used to settle salaries as well as expenses of legislative and executive arms of government is being spent on less than 1 percent of the population.
He also applauded the private sector for filling the loopholes created by government.
An Energy Expert, Joshua Mukan, on Tuesday gave President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration a thumbs-up for its efforts towards delivering stable power supply for the citizens.
While giving his assessment of the energy sector on Sunrise Daily, Mukan said: “I think the government is doing pretty good within the time frame they came into power.” In his opinion, the investments and expenditures made toward the sector within the past three years show that “this government has really tried to take (away) the problems of our power sector, uprooting it from the bottom.”
For Nigerians to have access to constant electricity supply, all three energy sub-sectors – power generation, power transmission and power distribution – will have to function efficiently.
“No matter how efficient the power generation sub-sector does, if it is not transmitted very well, or distributed very well, the customer is dissatisfied.”
Mr Mukan, who commented on the efforts of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) despite the dilapidated state of the existing infrastructure prior to the commencement of the power sector reform, stated that the “PHCN did its own best” which failed to yield desired results.
Following the official handover of the power sector to private investors, Mukan warned that it may take time before the impact would be felt by end-users. “The amount of investments that have come in right now, for the power industry, believe me, my understanding is that it may take a little bit of time to materialise.”
He said the government had invested heavily in thermal plants which should not take much time to come on-stream compared to the hydro-electric power plants. He added that it may take a maximum of one year for thermal plants to begin operation.
He stressed the need for the government to invest in other power options, particularly gas.
“Nigeria is now to be one of the biggest world petroleum producing countries and one would imagine that gas should not be a problem in this country. But unfortunately, one of the greatest problems we have to our thermal plants is the availability of gas,” he said.
He highlighted ‘lines of failures’ between gas production and distribution to the thermal plants including vandalism or explosion at a rig.
The Former Director, Voice of Nigeria, Gabriel Omohinmi, on Friday gave kudos to the social media for breaking the major news stories which dominated the media in the year 2013 but faulted the traditional news media for not performing up to expectation.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Omohinmi expressed disappointment in the performance of the traditional news media (print, television and radio) despite the enabling atmosphere Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has created for practitioners. “We’ve actually not had problems with this present administration,” he said and added that “they have been very fair. They have allowed the Press to express themselves.”
According to the seasoned journalist, “the Nigerian media has not done well. We are not doing well. The traditional media is not performing the duties (that is) expected of them” because major stories in 2013 including the controversial letter exchange between former president Olusegun Obasanjo and President Jonathan, were broken by online based media.
This new trend is an indication that “people no longer trust media-men,” he said, adding that, “credibility is the basis of journalism practice.”
In the case of the call for Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah’s sack, Omohinmi said that journalists attached to the Presidency and the House of Representatives have not done their jobs as they should have obtained and published copies of the committees investigating the matter.
He also faulted the Minister for asking a journalist, Simon Ateba, to go back to school, after questioning her about House of Representatives’ call for her sack or resignation.
“Was it the duty of the minister for aviation to do that? Where are the reporters at the National Assembly? Why is it that they’ve not been able to get a copy of the report?”
He further mentioned that cases of journalists having romantic relationships with public officers in the beat they cover, must stop as it is unprofessional.
“We must demand more from our reporters. They are not doing what is expected.”
Editorial policies of news organisations should be the guiding principle for journalists who are posted on assignments but “majority of them are out to see how much money they can make.” “Every media organisation is expected to have its own code of ethics that guides its own employees,” he said.
Omohinmi stated that the government owned media can perform much better than what they are doing now but the problem lies within the journalists and appointed officials who carry out “self-censorship” in favour of top government officers.
“I was in Voice of Nigeria, there was no time any minister will come and say this is what you take in our news.
“I remember during the MKO Abiola saga and Uche Chukwumerije was busy issuing out statements and I told them I was the news editor, I said No, I can’t carry this and I stood by it.
“My director of news came and said I was suspended and I said all well and good, I’m ready to go… I was suspended for one week but finally they brought me back and said what I did was quite professional.”
He advised that media organisations should establish their credibility in order to avoid external interference in their operations. “Do what is expected of you. Be credible and let the audience know that, is your only source,” he said.