Fresh $2.5Billion Arms Scandal Reveals Stench Under Buhari…PDP

Fresh $2.5Billion Arms Scandal Reveals Stench Under Buhari…PDP

…Says Terror War is a Racket to Fleece Nigeria ..Buhari Administration Has Reduced Corruption in Public Service…Presidency The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has described as national embarrassment the fresh revelation of $2.5 billion arms scandal allegedly involving the immediate past service chiefs, carpeting the government that it makes a mockery of its anti-corruption stance. The

…Says Terror War is a Racket to Fleece Nigeria

..Buhari Administration Has Reduced Corruption in Public Service…Presidency

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has described as national embarrassment the fresh revelation of $2.5 billion arms scandal allegedly involving the immediate past service chiefs, carpeting the government that it makes a mockery of its anti-corruption stance.

The PDP says the revelation of another $2.5bn arms purchase scandal in which officials of the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration were named is another ugly testament of the stench of corruption oozing out from the Buhari Presidency and the APC, as a party.

The global anti-corruption body, Transparency International (TI) had in January rated the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari which came to power in 2015 wielding an anti-corruption mantra,  very low

PDP alerts that with this fresh $2.5 billion arms scandal, reportedly involving the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Babagana Monguno, who had earlier revealed that $1 billion also for arms cannot be traced, an alarming $3.5 billion (N1.3 trillion) meant for purchase of weapons to secure our country under the Buhari administration has been looted.

The party stressed that the exposed contract scam in the $2.5 billion scandal as well as the outright disappearance of the $1billion as earlier revealed by the NSA, “show the level of corruption and unscrupulousness among APC leaders and their agents, who are stealing funds meant for arms while our citizens are daily marauded, pillaged and murdered by terrorists, bandits and kidnappers”.

“In fact, the unending exposure of sleaze in the security architecture of the Buhari-led administration has further heightened apprehensions in the public space that the security situation has been turned into a huge racket for corrupt enrichment of sneaky APC leaders and the cabal in the Buhari Presidency.

“It is more distressing that instead of standing on the side of the people to demand for a clean-up of the system and recovery of the stolen funds, the APC, as a party, is rather desperate to justify acts of corruption, because its leaders and officials of its government are involved”. The party said.

A statement by the national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan says, “Our party demands that the Buhari Presidency should come clean and offer explanations on both the $2.5 billion and $1 billion.

“Furthermore, the PDP restates its call to the National Assembly to conduct a joint open inquest into the funds and other monies drawn purportedly for the security of our nation under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch”.

Account for Loans

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP), ha earlier urged President Buhari to “provide spending details of the overdrafts and loans obtained from the Central Bank Nigeria, CBN, by the federal government since May 29, 2015. This is against the backdrop of calls by the PDP for explanations on the payment of N2.5 billion to a member of the President’s family

The account, according to SERAP, should include the total overdrafts, the projects on which the overdrafts have been spent; repayment of all overdrafts to date, as well as to clarify whether the $25bn (N9.7trn) overdraft reportedly obtained from the CBN is within the five-percent limit of the actual revenue of the government for 2020.

The organization is also urging the President to “provide details of spending of overdrafts and loans obtained from the CBN by successive governments between 1999 and 2015.”

In the Freedom of Information request dated 6 March, 2021 and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Ensuring transparency and accountability in the spending of CBN overdrafts and loans would promote prudence in debt management, reduce any risks of corruption and mismanagement, and help the government to avoid the pitfalls of excessive debt.”

SERAP said: “Disclosing details of CBN overdrafts and repayments would enable Nigerians to hold the government to account for its fiscal management and ensure that public funds are not diverted, thereby improving the ability of your government to effectively respond to the COVID-19 crisis. This means that the government would not have to choose between saving lives or making debt payments.”

Payments to Poor Nigerians

SERAP) had in January urged Ms Sadia Umar-Farouk, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development to “publish details of proposed payments of N729bn to 24.3 million poor Nigerians for six months, including the mechanisms and logistics for the payments, list of beneficiaries, and how they have been selected, projected payments per state, and whether the payments will be made in cash or through Bank Verification Numbers or other means.”

SERAP also urged her to “explain the rationale for paying N5,000 to 24.3 million poor Nigerians, which translates to five-percent of the country’s budget of N13.6 trillion for 2021, and to clarify if this proposed spending is part of the N5.6 trillion budget deficit.”

Ms Sadia Umar-Farouk had disclosed that the Federal Government would pay about 24.3 million poor Nigerians N5,000 each for a period of six months to “provide help those impoverished by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In the Freedom of Information request dated 23 January 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Publishing the details of beneficiaries and selection criteria, as well as the payment plan for six months would promote transparency and accountability, and remove the risks of mismanagement and diversion of public funds.”

SERAP said: “Transparency and accountability in the programme would improve public trust, and allow Nigerians to track and monitor its implementation, and to assess if the programme is justified, as well as to hold authorities to account in cases of diversion, mismanagement and corruption.”

SERAP also urged Ms Umar-Farouk to: “invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to jointly track and monitor the payments.”

Low TI Rating

Last January, Nigeria got its worst rating on the Transparency International corruption perception index since 2015.

According to  the 2020 TI  index, Nigeria  scored 25 out of 100 points — with zero signifying the worst performing countries and 100, the best-ranked.

It also dropped to 149 out of the 180 countries surveyed, making it the second most corrupt country in West Africa.

The 2020 rating is one point below that of 2019 when the country scored 26 points, and two points below its ranking in 2018 and 2017 when it got 27 points.

It is also the worst ranking the country has got in five years.  It scored 26 points in 2015  and 28 points in 2016.

Nigeria was also rated among the worst-performing countries in West Africa, only second to Guinea-Bissau which was ranked 165.

According to the report, the Sub-Saharan Africa remains the lowest-performing region on the CPI, “showing little improvement from previous years and underscoring a need for urgent action”.

It said the region’s average is 32/100, which is still better than Nigeria’s 25 points.

Seychelles emerged best in Sub-Saharan Africa with 66 points, followed by Botswana (60) and Cape Verde (58).

At the bottom of the index are Sudan (16), Somalia (12) and South Sudan (12).

Persistent Corruption

TI said the 2020 corruption perception index (CPI) reveals that persistent corruption is “undermining health care systems and contributing to democratic backsliding amid the COVID-19 pandemic”.

“Countries that perform well on the index invest more in health care, are better able to provide universal health coverage and are less likely to violate democratic norms and institutions or the rule of law,” it said.

Delia Ferreira Rubio, the chairperson of TI, said COVID-19 is not only a health and economic crisis but also a “corruption crisis”.

“The past year has tested governments like no other in memory, and those with higher levels of corruption have been less able to meet the challenge. But even those at the top of the CPI must urgently address their role in perpetuating corruption at home and abroad,” she added.

To reduce corruption, the organisation said  governments must: strengthen oversight institutions, ensure open and transparent contracting to combat wrongdoing, defend democracy and promote civic space as well as publish relevant data and guarantee access to information.

The Nigerian Presidency however faulted the 2020 Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

In a statement issued by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, he said the CPI report was not an “accurate portrayal” of the facts on the ground.

Shehu noted that the administration of President Buhari deserves credit for “diminishing” corruption the public service.

The President’s spokesman disclosed that the Government’s Technical Unit on Governance Research (TUGAR) will provide more detailed information on the sources of the TI data soon.

He also alleged that the characters behind the TI in Nigeria oppose the Buhari administration.

Buhari Deserves Garland

“The Buhari administration deserves credit for diminishing corruption in the public service and will continue to vigorously support prevention, enforcement, public education and enlightenment activities of anti-corruption agencies,” Shehu said.

“We are currently analyzing the sources of data used in arriving at the latest Transparency International (TI) report on Corruption Perceptions Index in Nigeria since by their own admission, they don’t gather their own data.

“This report is not an accurate portrayal of the facts on ground.

“In the coming days, the Government’s Technical Unit on Governance Research (TUGAR) will be providing more detailed information on the sources of the TI data.

“While this is being awaited, the examination carried out on their 2019 report showed that 60 percent of their data was collected from businesses and other entities with issues bordering on transparency and the ease of doing business at the ports.

“Although this is a government ready to learn from mistakes and make corrections, the economy of this country, in its fullness, is bigger than the sea ports we have.

“We are also not unaware of the characters behind the TI in Nigeria whose opposition to the Buhari administration is not hidden.

Indices & Statistics

“We have repeatedly challenged TI to provide indices and statistics of its own to justify its sensational and baseless rating on Nigeria and the fight against corruption. We expect them to come clean and desist from further rehashing of old tales.

“A Naira denominated review that excludes recoveries in Dollars, Pounds, Euro shows that a sum of N1.2tn was recovered by EFCC between 2009 — 2019. N939bn of that total was recovered between 2015 – 2019 with less than N300bn recovered in the first six years.

Public Service Gains

“Additionally, preventative instruments deployed by this administration such as Treasury Single Account (TSA), Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) coverage expansion and the removal of 54,000 ghost workers from federal civil service saving us N200bn annually serve as evidence that perception is not reality.

“Reality is based on verifiable facts and data. And any evidence-based analysis would prove that whether it is by prevention or punitive measures in recoveries and prosecution, this administration would be rising fast up these rankings rather than standing still.

“Organizations should be factual in their analysis and be prepared to rely on inputs outside of sensational media reports and age-old narratives which have not been updated to reflect today’s reality in Nigeria concerning its globally-respected war on corruption.

“In the existential fight against this multi-pronged malice and manifestations of corruption, President Muhammadu Buhari has avowed that he would take-no-prisoners, guided by respect for the rule of law.

“We invite Nigerians to stand with an administration that has done so much on asset recovery, prosecution, legislation, political will and leadership by example in the fight against corruption.

“Equally, we urge our friends in the media, development partners and the civil society organizations to continue to support efforts to strengthen accountability, transparency, ethical values and integrity in Nigeria’s public sector.

“President Buhari has put his hand to the plough and will not relent in working with those passionate about the welfare, stability and prosperity of future generations to come in Nigeria.”

In July 2020, Buhari suspended the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, amid allegations of corruption. Magu was the administration’s face of anti-corruption war.

After Magu’s suspension, Buhari admitted that some of his political appointees had abused his trust.

“On the issue of corruption, all past and present cases will be fully investigated. This is why we put the commission (of investigation) in place. There has been abuse of trust by people trusted by the previous administration and this administration,” the President said at the time.

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