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The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday, faulted what it described as a massive campaign to stop the recovery of an estimated N13.972 trillion allegedly squandered by the immediate past administration.

The N13.972trn  was the summation of funds allegedly unaccounted for, withheld or allegedly stolen mostly from the oil sector. The party said in a statement, yesterday, that the campaign to stop the recovery of the funds would be a total disservice to probity and public decency.

The APC which described as mind-boggling, the massive looting of the nation’s treasury by public officials during the Jonathan administration, vowed that nothing but the total recovery of the funds will be acceptable to patriotic Nigerians.

The APC reaction followed commentaries at the weekend that trailed the assertion by the National Peace Committee for caution in the war against graft. Besides, a member of the committee, Bishop Matthew Kukah was also quoted last week as calling on the administration not to focus on a probe of the Jonathan administration.

In a statement issued in Lagos, yesterday, by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said anyone who attempts, either by deeds or words, to sabotage the recovery efforts is not a patriot and deserves nothing but public opprobrium. Narrating some of the funds allegedly stolen or unaccounted for during the Jonathan administration, the APC said:

*3.8 trillion Naira out of the 8.1 trillion Naira earned from crude oil (2012-2015) withheld by NNPC

*2.1 billion US dollars (N413.7 billion) from Excess Crude Account unaccounted for

*Department of Petroleum Resources’ unremitted 109.7 billion Naira royalty from oil firms

*6 billion US dollars (N1.182 trillion) allegedly looted by some ministers of the last administration

*160 billion barrels of crude worth 13.9 billion US dollars (N2.7383) lost between 2009 and 2012

*15 million US dollars (N2.955 trillion) from botched arms deal yet to be returned to Nigeria

*13 billion US dollars (N2.561 trillion) in NLNG dividends mostly unaccounted for

*30 billion Naira rice waiver

*183 billion naira  unaccounted for at the NDDC

Tip of the iceberg

Remarkably, the APC said the above listed ‘missing’ funds constituted just a tip of the iceberg since they are mostly from a few sectors of the economy, mostly the oil sector, and were discovered even before the forensic audit now being undertaken in some key areas.

Saying that the present administration cannot turn a blind eye to such, the APC said:  “It is absolutely gratifying that Nigerians are vehemently opposed to the few who would rather have the government of the day turn a blind eye to the looted funds and, in their words, carry on with the process of governance.

“Truly, what sort of governance can go on if the billions of Naira in a few hands are not recovered? In the first instance, the government needs every kobo of the funds it can muster to bring about the change it has promised Nigerians. Secondly, leaving such hair-raising funds in the hands of the few looters is dangerous, because they can use the funds to destabilize any government. In fact, no one will be surprised if the looters use their dirty funds to sponsor public demonstrations against the government’s determination to recover the funds.

“Thirdly, allowing those who privatized the commonwealth to get away is offering a thumbs-up for looting. No responsible government will do that,” APC said.

The party said that already, the looters have embarked on a relentless and an increasingly-bold campaign to discredit the government of the day and sabotage the funds’ recovery process, using newspaper columnists, ‘talking heads’ and otherwise respectable opinion leaders.

“They and their paid hirelings have tried to employ sophistry to muddle the waters, but Nigerians are much wiser, and will not succumb to the dirty antics of the looters’ megaphones,” it said.

APC said it is necessary to remind Nigerians of the kind of massive looting of the treasury that took place in the past few years, so they can better appreciate the seriousness of the issue at stake. It, therefore, listed some instances of the looting as follows:  “The level of looting that went on in other sectors is better imagined, hence the need for all Nigerians to rally around the Buhari Administration to recover the loots, bring the looters to justice and to put in place measures to prevent such looting in the future,” it said.

It’s all lies — PDP

The APC’s assertion was immediately rebuffed by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which described the APC claim as reckless, irresponsible and highly provocative. The PDP said APC’s display of imaginary figures was a desperate effort by the ruling party to achieve a heinous agenda against the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

The PDP also yesterday, appealed to Nigerians and the international community to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to guard against what the party claimed as the seeming determination of the government to derail the country’s democracy. Citing what it claimed was an attempt to stifle democratic institutions, the opposition party said that Buhari was showing himself not to be a born again democrat as he had earlier claimed.

In its response yesterday, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, described the claims by the APC as a desperate attempt by the APC to get public approval.

The PDP said: “In trying to escalate their stock-in-trade of lies, wild allegations and falsehood, the APC failed to understand that their baseless fabrications are capable of throwing an unsuspecting nation into chaos.

“The spate of fabrications by Lai Mohammed has become a sickening source of worry for well-meaning Nigerians, including those in his party.”

The PDP, therefore, called on President Buhari and the APC as a party, to call their spokesman to order before “he plunges the country into crisis with wild and unsubstantiated claims.”

The PDP said instead of engaging in unnecessary playing to the gallery, the APC-led government should get serious with the fight against corruption by investigating and prosecuting corrupt persons, while moving on with the demands of governance, especially in fulfilling their numerous campaign promises for which they were voted into office at the centre.

The PDP in another statement accused the APC-led government of aiming to undermine the critical democratic institutions and notably, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC which it said had now been laid constitutionally prostrate on account of lack of a quorum.

Metuh said despite claims of being a converted democrat,n President Buhari has allowed, under his watch, an incessant violation of sections of the nation’s constitution, a development that has become a huge threat to democracy and the stability of the nation.

“For instance, how can this government explain the fact that a major institution of democracy like the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been deliberately debilitated to the extent that it can no longer perform its statutory responsibility for lack of quorum?

“Nigerians are aware that before his tenure expired on June 30, the former INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega wrote to President Buhari, intimating him of the fact that the tenure of majority of the national commissioners will expire before August, yet the President never acted, resulting in the present crisis in the commission, where more than 80% out of the statutory 13 members remain vacant, even as 11 states of the federation are also without Resident Electoral Commissioners.

“We note that this anomaly is in addition to the uncertainty surrounding the controversial appointment of an Acting Chairman of INEC in the person of a national commissioner whose tenure has since expired, not minding that there is no provision for an acting chairman of INEC in our constitution.

“This development has completely enervated the commission from carrying out its functions as stipulated in part 1 of 3rd schedule of the 1999 constitution as amended, thereby putting our electoral system under severe threat.

“We ask, if not for a possibility of an ulterior motive to inject a constitutional crisis and undermine the nation’s democracy, why should President Buhari wait to be urged before he upholds his responsibility of forwarding replacements to the Senate for confirmation so as to enable the commission effectively carry out its constitutional responsibilities to the nation? ”

“Could this be a ploy by the APC-led government to use a decapitated INEC to conduct the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa to pave way for their planned ‘capture’ of the two PDP states?

“Is the weakening of INEC not part of the plot to use the commission to put the PDP in precarious position in various electoral tribunals to the advantage of the APC?

The PDP also faulted the administration’s failure to constitute a cabinet and what it cited as the repeated attacks on the “revered national

leaders in the National Peace Committee, which has as members, former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, respected clerics; Archbishop John

Onaiyekan and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kuka, retired justices of superior records as well as others highly respected patriotic Nigerians, for daring to counsel Buhari’s government on some observed undemocratic tendencies and processes.

“The crass attacks are more astonishing, considering the much appreciated role these great Nigerians played in ensuring a peaceful and violence free 2015 general elections.

“This is especially as we have no reason to believe that such weighty attacks from the President’s party can come without his approval, more so as the APC spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who authored the statements was not part of the meeting between the President and the Peace Committee.

Noting that the party is not against the anti-graft war, the party called on its former members now in the APC who were groomed in democratic ethos while in the PDP to nudge their new party towards good manners.

“We call on some well-meaning Nigerians who have found themselves in the APC, especially, those who at one time or the other, were pupils of the teachings and visions of the founding fathers of the

PDP, to rise above the shallowness of their temporary enclave and join in this major defence of democratic ethos”.

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