An aide to former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEF), Reno Omokri has said that under the present administration, corruption has become official.
Mr. Omokri stated this while appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
The media aide to GEJ while admitting that there were some mistakes made in the previous government, stated that things have become worse in the Buhari-led administration.
“When you compare this administration with former President Jonathan’s government or Yaradua’s government, yes, there was some corruption there it’s a human government but the difference between that government and this government is that under Jonathan there was corruption, in this administration, corruption is official,” Omokri opined.
Speaking on the recent arrest of Nigerian Instagram celebrity, Raymond Igbalode, popularly known as Hushpuppi, Mr. Omokri noted that the present administration is not giving the youths a good example to follow.
He argued that nothing was known about Hushpuppi’s criminality when the PDP was in power, adding that Hushpuppi is exhibiting what he sees current Nigerian leaders doing.
As debates rage following the arrest of Nigerian Instagram celebrity, Raymond Igbalode, popularly known as Hushpuppi, top political parties have continued to trade blames over the nation’s negative corruption profile.
Only recently, the All Progressives Congress said there were links between major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party and the US indicted fraudster, and added that those links should be investigated.
Discussions around this matter have continued in different quarters and were a major talking point on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics where Former Presidential Aide, Reno Omokri, and the government under which he served were again labeled as corrupt.
In a heated debate on the issue of corruption, Mr. Ayo Oyalowo who is an APC member and political economist stated that Mr. Omokri should not have a say when it comes to matters of corruption in Nigeria.
Reacting to claims by Omokri that under the Buhari-led administration corruption has become official, Mr. Oyalowo stated that “Reno is the least person that should be talking about corruption”.
Mr. Oyalowo further stated that under the Goodluck Jonathan era in which Reno served, the government treated corruption with kid gloves.
He said, “You cannot compare a government that romanticise corruption with a government taking alleged corruption cases to court”.
Defending the Buhari-led government which Reno Omokri said has allowed corruption to thrive, Mr Oyalowo explained that under the present administration, houses and money are being recovered from convicted fraudsters.
He further argues that the Buhari-led government has been transparent in all its dealings, including the exercise of giving money to the poorest of the poor in the nation.
“You can point to many people who benefited from the N-Power,” Mr. Oyalowo argued.
The political economist however noted that no one can solve Nigeria’s problems in five years, adding that in the fullness of time Nigerians will come to appreciate the change that the present administration has brought.
Reno Omokri an Aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, has countered claims by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, that the former President’s administration had shared about 150 billion Naira before the 2015 elections.
Professor Osinbajo made the allegations while speaking on issues of corruption and past failures of governments at the 7th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum in Abuja.
“Oil Prices were at an average of 110 dollars a barrel and only 99 billion Naira was spent on power, works and housing and in one day, 100 billion Naira was issued, and people essentially shared it and when we talk about our economy we talk about it as if it’s a normal thing, its abnormal,” the VP stated.
Omokri who spoke on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Tuesday, however, stressed that the comments were “completely false” as no such money was shared.
“The allegations that the Vice President has made are “completely false”. Saying that 143 billion was spent on capital expenditure in three years under Jonathan is a big lie,” he stressed.
Speaking further, he poked holes in the anti-corruption fight of the Buhari administration, saying that despite its claims of winning the war, corruption had manifested itself more in the current administration than any other.
“Every human institution has corruption but the Muhammadu Buhari administration has said that they are fighting corruption, if that is true, how come Nigeria made their best improvement in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index in 2014 under President Good Luck Jonathan when we moved eight places forward from 142 to 136 and then, how come Nigeria has made her worst ever performance in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index under President Muhammadu Buhari when this year we have moved 12 places backwards from 136 to148,” he questioned.
Making reference to some cases of corruption including the reinstatement and subsequent promotion of the former Chairman of the Presidential Pension Task Scheme, Abdulrasheed Maina and several others, Omokri said: “this administration is corrupt through and through” adding that the government indeed owes Nigerians a lot of explanations.
He, however, noted that in 2014 1.2 trillion Naira was spent on capital expenditure in 2014 under President Jonathan.
In a statement written earlier in response to the allegations, the former President’s aide clarified that “the money released was two billion Naira and it came from the Sovereign Wealth Fund set up by the Jonathan administration which the APC resisted and challenged in court.
He went further to say that: “even after Jonathan left office, it is still monies that he left behind that the Buhari administration is using.”
But despite the allegations, the Vice President in his address also admitted that corruption under the current administration has not been completely dealt with.
He, however, maintained that if the nation sticks to a policy on controlling excesses and corruption in public finance, Nigeria would make the kind of progress it deserves to make.
“I’m not saying the corruption under this administration has been completely dealt with, I mean, certainly not but where corruption has become systematic such as we have in our country today, you can’t deal with it in one fell swoop, it’s not possible,” he stated.
An aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Reno Omokri, has criticised the report by anti-corruption watchdog Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), accusing three former presidents of squandering trillions of naira on the power sector.
Launched in Lagos on Wednesday, the 65-page report entitled ‘From Darkness to Darkness: How Nigerians are Paying the Price for Corruption in the Electricity Sector’ accused former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan of squandering N11tn.
But Mr Omokri on Thursday condemned the report, which said that Professor Chinedu Nebo who was a minister of power under the Jonathan administration, is alleged to have corruptly funded the privatised power sector with over N200bn.
During a Skype interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Mr Omokri, said, “Now, it is ridiculous for SERAP to say that (amount of) money was spent. Under the Jonathan administration, not up to N400bn was budgeted for power because the power sector had been privatised.
“They (SERAP) need to understand, Jonathan signed the Freedom of Information Act in 2010. They should take advantage of that Act and the use it to get the facts from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies.”
Mr Omokri explained that had the Jonathan administration been interested in looting the power sector, it wouldn’t have contemplated privatisation.
He said, “Jonathan was the President that privatised Nigeria’s power sector. Now if you want to loot, if you want to steal money from a sector, you don’t privatise it. Privatisation means the government, the public sector, is letting go of the reins and handing it over to the private sector.
“Remember that on the 26th of August 2010, President Jonathan launched the road map to power sector reforms. This culminated in October of 2012 when the bids were opened. On 30th of September, the companies who bought these 11 power distribution companies received their keys from President Jonathan.”
Reacting to Mr Omokri’s criticism of the report – especially the claim that it was the result of intellectual laziness, the Executive Director of SERAP, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, who was a guest on Politics Today accused Mr Omokri of laziness as well.
“Mr Omokiri has just said the job that SERAP did was intellectually lazy. But I don’t think this report was released earlier than yesterday. Unless he would say that he was read the report, I would also say that it is intellectual laziness on the part of Mr Omokri to be condemning a report that he has not read,” he said.
On the claim by the former presidential aide that Jonathan privatised the power sector to make it better, the SERAP Executive Director said, “When you take a step that you want to improve a system and we are seeing that the system is getting worse then there is a problem.”
A Political Social Commentator, Mustapha Ahmed, has emphasized the expected role of Social Media in Nigerian politics and the elections in 2014 and 2015.
Ahmed who was a guest of Rubbin’ Minds on Channels Television, where he expressed his optimism that Nigerians are more aware of the power of the internet and would use it to their advantage as the country enters into a year of heavy political activities.
He said that Twitter was revolutionary in politics in Nigeria during the year 2013 and with so many ideas that people are pushing out every day; it will play an even greater role in the polity in 2014.
According to him, what President Goodluck Jonathan did on Facebook during his 2011 election campaign was a media stunt that worked for him but that people will not buy it this time, as the web has become more powerful, with the people more aware, that in 2011, not many people were part of the vibrancy of the social media. He particularly claimed that what was witnessed in 2011 would be considered minute compared to how massive the year 2014 would be.
He cited the rise in the number of people with access to mobile technology, especially with the number of smartphone users having exploded from 2011 to the present year; 2014.
He added that Nigerians are now aware that they can post election results from the comfort of their polling units from various platforms/apps on their mobile phones. He also cited the availability of affordable Android phones as a major factor that will make Nigerians of different classes to be involved in the politics of 2014/2015.
Speaking about his expectations from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Ahmed referred to the Anambra election as the “litmus test” for the commission, an election which they failed to conduct properly. He stressed that INEC has “to change something” for the commission to record successes in the New Year.
He cited the voter registration process as a key area of the electoral process that must be worked on to be more reliable as the 2014 governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states approach.
He however expressed his worry that despite the fact that Anambra is a small state, the election turned out to be a disappointment, yet Ekiti and Osun states would be more challenging for the INEC.
“They have to get their acts together and they have these two elections to prove to us that Anambra was just a blip”.
The state of insecurity in Borno and Yobe states also came to the fore, with Emergency Rule still in effect in both states, owing to the deadly activities of Boko Haram insurgents.
Ahmed admitted that with the current situation, election in the affected states would be highly difficult. He however stated that the time between January and the election is long enough for normalcy to return, considering the efforts of the Federal Government to stem the crisis.
Ahmed said “I want to believe that the President has put so much into curbing the crisis, and I hope he succeeds”. He also added: “You cannot disenfranchise the two states and call it a General Election, it doesn’t work that way.”
PDP vs. APC
While stating his lack of faith in the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Ahmed declared, “I believe that the ruling party, the PDP is slightly beyond redemption”.
According to him, although the PDP had been known for its many internal crisis, it had never been as bad as what was witnessed in 2013, with governors and federal lawmakers defecting to the opposition.
He added that sacrificing its National President, Bamanga Tukur would not sort their problems, as it is too late. He said that they could have nipped the trouble in the bud but they left it too late.
He however warned that it would be a mistake to think that all was well with the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, or to believe that the PDP crisis and many defections are all to their gain.
He noted that the new APC members are made up of power players from the PDP who are used to holding primaries for the selection of candidates. He feared that it would be a miracle if the APC was able to work that out without interests clashing.
Reminding that the founding parties of the APC are not a used to the politics of holding primary elections, he warned that finding candidates that would be acceptable to the majority would be a major challenge.
Although, he commended the party for what he termed as a smart decision, having delayed the registration of members, which he says would ensure that members do not claim seniority and there is no hierarchy within the party, he advised that they may have to go the way of conducting the primaries to satisfy everyone.
Ahmed predicted that some politicians would still go back to the PDP.
He also posited that it would be a loss to the opposition, APC, if President Jonathan does not run for a second term in 2015. He said: “If PDP gets GEJ not to contest, it will be trouble for the APC”, owing that majority of the APC’s arguments has been about the weakness of the Presidency not the PDP.
He however stated that the President’s body language shows that he wants to run for a second term. He also predicted that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, would join other PDP defectors to declare for the APC.
Social Media has played a major role amongst youths all over the world. While some use the medium to share beautiful moments with friends, family and business associates, many have also used the same means to create hubs for social uprising and shaping the policies of their governments.
This edition of Channels Beam takes a look at how social media has affected governance in Nigeria and the impact it has had on the citizens.
Nigerian citizens who called from different parts of the world during the programme also called on the federal government to see social media as a feedback mechanism tool that will aid them in making decisions that will affect the masses positively.