By Faiza Busari and Hamidah Busari
Since it held a non-elective convention on August 12, 2017, Nigerians who had doubts that the PDP is studded with talented, pathological and professional mischief makers, manipulators, agents of deceit and confusion had their doubts totally erased.
This was because the utterances by party big wigs at the event showed that the achievements which they claimed that PDP made within its 16-year reign were false. Their statements also drove home the fact that it still remained a party of intrigues and manipulations and that Nigerians were victims of PDP machinations which held them hostage and captives throughout the period the party was in power.
The officials did not stop their gimmicks at the convention. The numerous interviews they granted to electronic and print media after the event showed that they have mastered the art of deceiving gullible Nigerians by giving them the impression that the party has learnt its lessons and is now ready to take over Aso Rock Villa in 2019 when the next Presidential election will hold. Party officials who granted the interviews brandished bandied fictitious figures and inaccurate pronouncements in the bid to justify the false claims they made to impress Nigerians.
Reno Omokri, a PDP agent and one time Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan, is one character who has become notorious in masterminding and perpetuating the art of deceit. He has almost unhindered access to several media platforms. Little wonder he is on the watch list of the security agencies going by recent reports that a man who looked like him was apprehended at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Reno in a recent publication claimed that “a fall in the price of oil should not lead to a collapse of the Nigerian economy.” This assertion is not only hypocritical but laughable because President Buhari took over power in 2015 when the impact of the fall in oil price had hit economies around the globe.
It is a known fact that Nigeria is a mono-economy with its budget mainly based on the price of crude oil at the international market. The import of the development is that the fall in oil price adversely affected the level of income generated by the nation and same was the situation for other major oil producing nations like Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iraq.
However, it is kudos to President Buhari who knew ahead of time that it would be suicidal to entirely rely on revenue from oil to generate funds to bankroll the developmental programs of government. This informed his decision to tow the path of economic diversification with focus on the development of agriculture, solid minerals, science and technology, manufacturing industries and ICT sectors.
For people like Reno who seems not to understand the basic law of demand and supply as well as the implication of a fall in the price of crude oil, it was not out of place for PDP government which inherited $60bn in foreign reserve to slash the amount to $40bn in five years through wasteful spending. For him and his masters it was not necessary to save for the rainy day.
It will not be surprising if Reno contests the facts that have been presented but he will do a better job if he is able to provide evidence to show how much revenue was earned when PDP held sway, major capital project completed, level of power generated, infrastructure developed and maintained including rail transport, how much was invested in agriculture and benefits thereof. The challenges he has is that he is fond of chasing the chasing the shadow instead of dealing with the substance. He takes delight in attacking personalities instead of addressing issues.
If the PDP completed the Abuja Kaduna rail line project as Reno claimed in his publication, how come it was not commissioned by the then President Jonathan. It is unfortunate that Reno had become so desperate that he wants to re-write history in other to score cheap political point. If not, why did he say that “President Buhari was forced to admit that the project was conceived, built and completed by the Jonathan administration” when the President had actually said that “this project was conceived by a previous administrations, started by the last government and I am pleased to complete and inaugurate it”.
On the claim that Northerners do not value education, it may interest Reno to know that the home state of the President alone has the highest number of 16 tertiary institutions in Nigeria, while the North is known to have produced leaders such as Ahmadu Bello, Tafawa Balewa, Aminu Kano, Yakubu Gowon, Maitama Sule to mention but a few. This also confirms that fallacy is the name of the game.
It is disturbing that Reno trivializes the high level of corruption that laced PDP government when Nigerians are still grappling with the shock that greeted the revelation by a former CBN Governor that the NNPC failed to pay about $20 billion oil revenue into government coffers between 2012 and 2013.
It is on record that the PDP government stoutly denied knowledge of the dirty deal and instead of instituting an investigation, suspended former CBN governor. The whole saga became more ridiculous when President Jonathan said in response to questions on the development that “if anyone steals $50 billion or $20 billion anywhere, America will know, they will tell you where it is because it is their money”.
On the report of the 2014 National Conference which Reno claimed that the present administration had dumped, it is just that Nigeria is a unique country, otherwise people like Reno and his cohorts would have been languishing in jail for wasting public funds because it was clear that the PDP government never wanted to implement the report after spending billions of Naira on the meeting.
Reno should also be told that using only the rating of Transparency International to judge the success of anti-corruption campaign of the present administration is not right when it is obvious that he is pretending not to know that the UN report in July 2017 showed that for first time in 16 years, Nigeria did not make the list of 10 most corrupt countries in the world.
His total disregard for the modest achievements of President Buhari in the area of security leaves no one in doubt about why PDP government treated issues concerning the lives and property of Nigerians with kid gloves. It is most uncharitable that Reno views the giant strides made in the war against terrorism as nothing. No wonder it took his boss two days to acknowledge that the Baga massacre ever happened even when the Secretary General of the U.N. and other world leaders had not only condemned the killings but sent their condolences. Same was the case with Chibok girls. It took the PDP government 19 days to admit and condemn the abduction of the 276 girls. It has also been established that the $2.1bn meant to purchase arms to fight terror was squandered through the office of the National Security Adviser. The case is still on.
Saying that the introduction of Bank Verification Number (BVN) and the Treasury Single Account (TSA) were ploys by the PDP government to fight corruption was another false claim by Reno because the PDP government which introduced both schemes could not implement them due lack of political will caused by high level of corruption. It will be recalled that former President Jonathan recently said on a national TV that he could not implement TSA and BVN due to pressure from the party.
From all intents and purposes, the achievements recorded in the two years of President Buhari can be felt and touched and it may please Reno to take note of the whistle Blower policy, policy on tax holiday for 27 pioneer companies, collateral Registry act, voluntary Assets and income Declaration scheme, Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP), the anchor borrowers programme of the CBN and the social investment program amongst others.
Perhaps the best advice for Reno is for him to desist from unnecessary criticism and belly aching in order to embrace the change mantra. Since he parades himself as a Pastor, it will be in tune with his religious ethics if he is always on the side of truth. He should desist from publishing articles that could cause the disintegration of Nigeria. Pastors are known to be promoters of peaceful coexistence and this behooves that he should be a staunch member of the vanguard that preaches peace and not violence.
Nigeria is bigger than any political party and it will be better for Reno to support the administration of President Buhari in its efforts to achieve the growth and development of the nation which will translate into improved living standards and better welfare for all. He should also realize that Nigerians do not have any other country than Nigeria and that peaceful coexistence is the way to go.
*Faiz and Hamidah Busari are public affairs commentators based in Abuja