By Akanimo Sampson
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of lying again on food, security and economy, and his party, All Progressives Congress (APC) of allegedly diverting around N500 million of a public interventionist agency to fund the mobilisation of crowd to their Presidential campaign flag-off in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, on Friday.
Buhari said at the Uyo rally that he has delivered on his campaign promises in spite of doubts by the opposition, claiming that he has specifically delivered in the area of security, economy and fighting of corruption in line with his promise to Nigerians.
Buhari said though the menace of Boko Haram remains a challenge in some parts of the country, the insecurity posed by the group will eventually be eradicated, pointing out that his administration has ensured food security and encouraged Nigerian farmers to achieve food security.
But the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation (PPCO) has described the APC rally as a mockery of President Buhari, claiming that the cold response by the crowd showed how much Nigerians now begrudge him over his failures in governance.
The PDP is accusing the Buhari Presidency and his party of secretly drawing over N478 million from the coffers of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to rent a crowd and offset bills in President’s expensive re-election campaign rally in Uyo.
Spokesman of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, said they are also accusing President Buhari of directly appointing serving ministers and heads of government agencies as members of his campaign council ‘’so as to continue to use them as conduit pipes for the diversion of public funds to finance his 2019 campaign’’.
According to Ologbondiyan, ‘’our party is also aware of the protests by some eminent Nigerians,
including foremost businessmen, who were named as members of the APC Campaign Council without their consent, in a desperate bid to showcase an impression that they are supporting Mr. President’s re-election bid.
‘’The N478 million NDDC fund which was originally budgeted for development projects in the Niger Delta was diverted to renting and transportation of crowd from other parts of the country to the rally to create an impression of popularity for President Buhari in the region.
‘’Further information at our party’s disposal, shows that the said N478 million is part of the wholesome sum of N1.2 billion allegedly siphoned in tranches from the NDDC treasury by the cabal at the Buhari Presidency and APC leaders, who have been stealing money from various government agencies to finance President Buhari’s campaign. Our party also has it on good authority that this ignoble scheme of siphoning NDDC development fund to finance his campaign was the main reason President Buhari foisted an unpopular leadership at the management of the NDDC despite the protests by critical stakeholders in all the states of the Niger Delta.’’
PPCO says they are aware of the dissention by some APC leaders over President Buhari’s unilateral listing of individuals into his campaign council as announced by his media aide, without recourse to the selection process of the APC leadership.
‘’This further shows the dictatorial tendencies of the Buhari Presidency and his arrogant disdain for constituted authority’’, PDP said, claiming that unlike their Presidential campaign council, which has credible Nigerians as members, most of Buhari’s zonal coordinators are persons allegedly facing corruption cases.
‘’This casts a very long shadow on President Buhari’s integrity and further confirms that his fight against corruption is a sham. Nigerians are still awaiting his explanation on the seething revelation of corrupt acquisition of Etisalat Nigeria andKeystone Bank PLC by his family members under the cover of his presidency; an issue that Nigerians are not willing to let go until he clears his name.
‘’It was a pitiable sight as an embarrassed President Buhari could only slur, failed to articulate any clear reason for seeking re-election and had to cut short his presentation when he realized that the rented crowd, which refused to carry APC brooms, was not paying attention to him.
‘’More embarrassing was that, apparently miffed by Mr. President’s attempt at yet another false performance claims, the crowd started leaving the venue of the rally at the time he was being handed his party’s flag by his factional National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, a development that led to a hurried closure of the event.
‘’Nigerians were alarmed when Mr. President claimed that the nation was secure under his rule, when there are killings and daily bloodletting in various parts of our country; when insurgents who had been pushed to the fringes of the North East by the PDP administration, leading to the conduct of elections in all the local governments in the country, have under the Buhari administration spread to other states of the north.
‘’While Mr. President was making his claims, insurgents had taken Baga; there are killings going on in Zamfara and our soldiers and policemen are being killed by terrorists, due to the neglect of his administration. Our citizens were further startled when President Buhari claimed that he has achieved food security when in actual fact there is hunger and starvation everywhere. This statement not only confirms the Buhari Presidency’s proclivity for false claim but also shows that Mr. President is completely insensitive to the plight of Nigerians.
‘’Buhari further embarrassed his office on his claims of commitment towards the war against corruption when he was surrounded at the podium, by individuals who are facing corruption allegations, including the Director General of his Campaign, Rotimi Amaechi, Oshiomhole, his South South Zonal Director, Godswill Akpabio and a host of others.
‘’Our First Lady, Aisha Buhari, who was on the side of President Buhari throughout his 2015
campaign conspicuously shunned Mr. President’s 2019 re-election flag off apparently in fulfillment of her stance not to support him for a second term if he failed in his first tenure’’, PDP said.
The PPCO has therefore counseled President Buhari to use his alleged failed campaign flag-off to know that no amount of crowd renting, vote-buying and intimidation of opposition can change the resolve of Nigerians to vote him out of office, come February 2019.
Meanwhile, the party has condemned in strong terms the alleged invasion of the residence of their Presidential Campaign’s Director of Civil Societies, Senator Dino Melaye in Abuja on Friday, and accordingly rejects the Gestapo-like attack on Melaye residence and demands that the invading security official vacate the premises immediately.
According to the PDP, ‘’Melaye had a few days ago alerted of a plot by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to forcefully arrest him and inject him with poisonous substances due to his outspokenness against the misrule, corruption and infractions of the Buhari administration
‘’It is therefore devious of the Nigeria Police, which had distanced itself from the plot, to turn round to invade Senator Melaye’s residence held hostage and beat up his domestic aides. This invasion is part of the larger machination by the Buhari Presidency to use state apparatus of power, particularly the police under IGP Idris to harass, intimidate and clamp down on opposition members in a bid to create fear and subjugate the opposition ahead of the 2019 general elections.’’
The party recalls the series of attacks and harassment on PDP leaders, including the airport attack on its Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, by security officials and notes that such is a clear recipe for anarchy and a political crisis that is capable of destabilising the country.
PDP has therefore cautioned the Buhari Presidency to desist from such provocative acts as such cannot bend the resolve by Nigerians to replace him with Atiku Abubakar, as their next President, come February 16, 2018.