By Akanimo Sampson
Nigeria’s leading opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says history will not be kind to President Muhammadu Buhari, for allegedly running a heavily corrupt oil trade and subsidy regime, through which over N14 trillion had been frittered by officials of his administration.
According to the PDP, the Buhari All Progressives Congress (APC) administration is seeking to put the burden of high costs on innocent and already impoverished citizens.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement says, ‘’it is clear that the APC administration is completely anti-people as displayed in its refusal to heed to the cries of suffering Nigerians, who have rejected the fuel price increase, and there is no way history can be kind to any President who subjected Nigerians to the economic anguish and pains they have been suffering in the last five years.’’
But, Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, in a statement on Sunday said history will be kind to President Buhari, claiming that the APC administration has worked hard to meet many expectations.
Shehu notes that to stop the mismanagement of taxpayer money, eliminate corruption associated with subsidies on petroleum products, power, fertilizer among others the government took the decision to implement long-delayed reforms, withdraw and allow the market to determine their prices.
While claiming that subsidy removal in the sectors had long been foreseen by successive administrations, Shehu adds that there had been blueprint upon blueprint, timeline upon timeline but courage to take bold decisions was not there.
“There is nothing new in the fact that the country is today fighting multiple challenges along with COVID-19, including low earnings, near-collapse of the oil market, floods, threats of terrorism and banditry but the challenges notwithstanding, a good government must take decisions for the people’s good.
“As President Buhari takes these difficult decisions, both popular and unpopular and as a leader because he is demonstrating the right courage to take such decisions as they become necessary in view of present circumstances.
“History will be kind to President Buhari because in addition to his amazing ability to command votes, he will be remembered as the President who made real contributions to economic and overall national development by eliminating the evils of corruption embedded in subsidies.
“In any democracy, the most important certificate in governance is acceptance by the people and, with the support of ordinary Nigerians, President Buhari has shown a rare determination to carry out the bold initiatives as these ones driven by nothing other than the greatest good for the greatest number of people.”
The presidency said in carrying out the reforms, the President needs the support and understanding of all citizens-inclusive of the opposition parties, the labour movement and civil society groups.
The statement adds that Buhari is pushing development goals not politics and that history will judge him in favourable terms rather than his critics in the new media and the opposition.
Apparently not persuaded, the PDP is cautioning the Buhari Presidency and the APC not to continue to test the elasticity of the will of the Nigerian people.
The opposition is alleging that the Buhari administration is pushing Nigerians to the wall with its ‘’arrogant display of insensitivity and total disregard’’ to the demands by the citizens to effect an immediate downward review in the pump price of fuel.
The party describes the attempt by the Presidency to justify the ‘’wicked increase in the pump price of fuel from N87 per liter under the PDP to N160 as provocative, confrontational and totally unacceptable’’ to Nigerians.
‘’Our party holds that the defence of such a humongous hike, which has worsened the hardship being suffered by Nigerians under the Buhari administration, is in bad taste and should be rescinded immediately.
‘’The PDP totally rejects this attempt to hinge the increase in fuel price on presumed removal of oil subsidy when it has failed to account for the proceeds of oil sales in the last five years, even in the face of confession by the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, in April this year, that the APC administration had been running an over-bloated and sleazy oil subsidy regime’’, Ologbondiyan said.
Continuing, the PDP spokesman said the Buhari administration had failed to account for the confession by the NNPC that it was engaged in secret siphoning of oil money through a clamed subsidizing of fuel for certain West Africa countries.
‘’Prior to his emergence as the President, General Muhammadu Buhari (as he was then known) had declared fuel subsidy a fraud. Five years after, the government, which he heads, is watching over a subsidy regime that is brimming with corruption.
‘’Our party insists that Nigerians should not be made to bear the brunt of the huge corruption in the Buhari administration which has wrecked every aspect of our national economy.
‘’It is incredulous and shameful for this administration to predicate the reckless increase in the cost of fuel on a faulty comparison with costs in other countries of the world, whereas the daily standard of living, the purchasing power and living wage of the average Nigerian in the last five years cannot be compared with what obtains in those countries.
Such comparison is therefore not only absurd but also completely illogical. Our party had at the wake of this increase cautioned the Buhari Presidency and the APC not to misinterpret the patience and law-abiding nature of Nigerians as a sign of weakness on this issue’’, PDP says.