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The presidency on Saturday advised the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to stop playing down achievements so far recorded by President Muhammadu Buhari.
This is contained in a statement in Abuja by the president’s Senior Special Assistant, Media, Malam Garba Shehu.
Shehu said the PDP should rather bury its head in shame for subjecting Nigeria to the “worst economic plunder through corruption’’ in its recent history.
Shehu was reacting to the statement issued by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, that “the economy is going down’’ under the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.
“It is ridiculous for any sane government to artificially rebase the economy and claim to transform Nigeria into the largest economy in Africa as the PDP administration did.’’
He also said that the defeated former ruling party was artificially manipulating statistics to create the illusion of impressive economic performance record.
He said if PDP’s claim of economic successes in terms of GDP, employment generation, poverty alleviation and others were genuine, Nigerians would not have voted the party out of power.
He said if the former ruling party was doing well, the opposition parties would have found it difficult to defeat it.
The president’s aide said the PDP assumed performance was nothing more than window dressing, and a detachment from reality.
“Nigerians no longer face exploitation at filling stations because the government is taking punitive measures against marketers that punish poor Nigerians.’’
He said queues had disappeared at the filling stations and the Naira was enjoying favourable exchange rate.
According to him, the present administration has successfully blocked leakages and other avenues for corruption.
He said the administration had also frustrated efforts by corrupt elements to divert public funds to private pockets.
“Once the formal trial for corruption begins, the PDP might no longer have the moral legs to stand on.
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Security agencies are now probing how the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan allegedly withdrew $6.9million (N1.460b) from a secret account of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) to buy three 12 meter (40 feet) mobile stages for use at public events.
The cash was said to be part of the unremitted funds into the Federation Account by NNPC.
The purported purchase, according to investigation, did not pass through due process and was known only to Dr. Jonathan, his then Chief Security Officer, Mr. O.J. Obuah and former Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Obuah, it was gathered, raised a memo to his boss for the purchase and the release of the money to that effect.
Jonathan allegedly gave his approval and authorized the former minister to disburse the fund.
Shedding light on how the deal was struck on October 17, 2011 through a curious memo from Obuah, a source familiar with the development said preliminary investigation suggested that there was no record of purchase of the said stages.
It was learnt that the $6.9million was paid into a company’s account after NNPC directed that the money be taken from one of its accounts in New York CITIBANK with sort code CITIUS 33, and Routing number 021000089.
The affected company, J. Marine Logistics Limited, Abuja, was purportedly registered by Obuah.
The source said: “Between himself, his Chief Security Officer and the former Petroleum Minister, former President Goodluck Jonathan spent in just one shot deal a whopping $6.9 million dollars to buy three 40-feet mobile stages for use at public speaking events.”
Federal government investigators and security agencies, sources added, believe this is just one of the tons of alleged corrupt practices frequently engaged in and condoned under the last president.
“Besides the fact that the sum for the stages was incredibly inflated, according to mobile stage industry experts, government investigators say there is no evidence yet that any stage was purchased at all,” one source said, citing several documents.
One of the documents says: “At the centre of the fraudulent financial ring was the former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. O.J. Obuah who initiated a memo to the former president on October 17, 2011 asking for the purchase of three mobile stages.
“He said in that memo to the former president that this is regarding “my earlier discussion with Your Excellency on the security implication of your public appearances and your subsequent directive on the need to procure a secured presidential platform.”
“And on the same day without any financial advice or purchase order reviews, the former president minuted his approval of the request to buy the three stages to the then Minister for Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.
“In his minute, the president said ‘we have discussed this, please deal.”
“Right after that okay from the president, on the same October 17, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Administrative Matters, Matt Aikhionbere did another letter on the strength of the president’s approval requesting the Petroleum Minister to take action on the request to purchase the stages for $6.9m.
“By the next month, an NNPC payment voucher number 3840336 was already in place revealing that the money was released. NNPC directed that the money be taken from one of its accounts in New York CITIBANK with sort code CITIUS 33, and Routing number 021000089.
“It was first routed from the US bank to an NNPC account in Zenith Bank account number 5000026593, Maitama branch in Abuja, from where the money was sent to a private account. The sum of $6.9m was then credited to a Sterling Bank account of one J. Marine Logistics Limited, Abuja, a company investigators say was registered by Obuah.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “The $6.9miilion in question was promptly paid on November 29, 2011 into a private account belonging to the former CSO.
“The former president approved the procurement of the mobile platforms without due process and bye-passing the Procurement Act neither was there an appropriation in the 2011 budget for such facility.
“Neither the minister of Finance nor the Director-General of the Budget Office was aware of the deal.
“There are no records of this purchase which was carried out late 2011.”
The preliminary findings also indicated that the cost of the stages might have been inflated.
The source said: “According to the investigators, the cost of mobile stages depends on size and designs; only outlandish rock star musicians in Europe and the US spend hundreds of thousands on their huge stages way bigger than the 40-feet stages.
“Even then, those musicians and super stars would not pay over $2m per stage, according to industry sources.
“The process of procurement of the three mobile stages was not known to extant Nigerian laws and due process regulations, nor were the offices of the Auditor-General and the Accountant-General in the know.”
It was learnt that the deal was one of the issues for which the ex-CSO was grilled quizzed by the Department of State Security(DSS) during his recent arrest and detention.
One of the officials handling the investigation added: “ The CSO himself according to investigators has not been able to show proof of the purchase and his memo irked his bosses at the SSS that he took the initiative to request for the stages, an action which officials say was way above his pay grade.
“It is not the duty or responsibility of the CSO to make the determination on that purchase. He was meant to have informed the service, which will then review the situation and act accordingly.
“What has happened here is that the former president and the former minister with the collusion of the CSO decided to use public funds for other purposes since no one has found the stages as we speak.”
“This is just one of the several instances where the Jonathan administration used secret NNPC accounts to fund questionable projects and for alleged personal financial aggrandizements.”
It was gathered that some of these embarrassing issues were part of the matters raised by Jonathan with the National Peace Committee headed by the former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar.
The committee later facilitated a secret parley between President Muhammadu Buhari and ex-President Jonathan.
But at the session, Buhari insisted that the law must take its course with anyone found guilty of corruption.
At the June 29th meeting of the National Economic Council at the State House, the council had raised questions over the non- remittance of the finances generated by the NNPC into the Federation Account.
A Nigerian was among 10 members of Boko Haram executed by firing squad on Saturday in Chad, after being found guilty of killing 38 people in the country.
The Nigerian, Mahamat Mustapha, also known as Bana Fanaye, according to Chadian authorities, masterminded the June 15 suicide attacks that struck a school and a police building in N’Djamena, killing 38 people and injuring 101.
“They were executed this morning (Saturday) on a shooting ground north of N’Djamena,” a judicial source told Agence France-Presse. The report was confirmed by a security source who asked not to be identified.
The 10 were condemned to death on Friday in the country’s first trial of presumed members of the Islamist group. The hearings opened on Wednesday.
The defendants were accused of criminal conspiracy, killings, “wilful destruction with explosives, fraud, illegal possessions of arms and ammunition, as well as using psychotropic substances.”
Following Mustapha’s capture in June, Chad’s top prosecutor, Alghassim Kassim, said the suspect was the “ringleader of a network smuggling weapons and munitions between Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad”.
Governor Fayose of Ekiti State has appointed a 72-year old farmer and illiterate, Mr Olatunde Afolayan (alias Baba Sebiotimo) as the caretaker chairman of Moba Local Government, pending the conduct of local government elections before the end of the year..In his remark at the occassion,Governor Fayose was quoted as saying,whether you are a professor or puruntu (illiterate) does not matter. A governor of uncommon style will always get uncommon victories. I will therefore keep on with my uncommon ways of doing things. That is the reason victories will continue to give them uncommon 16 - 0. There is no difference between the votes of professors and those of the illiterates.
It was joy in the household of the General Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly and former Vice Presidential Candidate of the CPC Pastor Tunde Bakare as his daughter wedded in London as seen in these pictures
The President of the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Mr. Yerima Shettima, has criticised President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointments, saying they are not nationalistic in outlook.
Shettima said that President Buhari had not reciprocated the trust reposed in him by all Nigerians, with almost all of his appointees coming from the northern part of the country.
He said, “I am from the North and I will not keep quiet because President Buhari’s appointments are in favour of the northern region. The government we run in this country should not be about ethnicity. All appointments must reflect our geopolitical zones. We must do away with suspicion. But how can that be when the President’s appointees are all from one part of the country?
“No fight against corruption will be successful in this country if suspicion arises. Let’s not be deceived; are there not people who are honest in the South-East or South-West? Are there not good people in the South-South who can work with the President?”
According to the AYCF president, Buhari needs to show that he is the father of the nation and that must be reflected in his appointments.
Shettima stated that he was speaking against the President’s action because he felt it was the right thing to do.
He also noted that if he could speak against former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, he would also speak against any inappropriate step taken by Buhari.
Acting that way, Shettima said, would give him the moral ground to speak against any leader of the country, especially if such a person was not from the North.
In his view, even though Buhari is perceived as being incorruptible, he cannot afford to pick the team of people who will work for him only from the North.
However, a former National Publicity Secretary of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Mr. Anthony Sani, said that Nigerians should exercise patience till the President had made all his appointments.
“As we assess the President, it is important to note that many appointments have yet to be made. What is more, there are many dividing lines in the polity. And until most of the appointments have been made, it would be too early for a fair and realistic assessment of distribution of access to national resources by way of appointments,” Sani stated.