By Reginald Okoli
Opposition is the nerve which propels democracy and good governance. A vibrant opposition spices governance, in the same measure, a weak opposition devalues itself and destroys the same values it seeks to entrench in government.
Nigeria’s opposition PDP has found itself in a quagmire in playing the opposition game. Each time its mouth parrots on any national issue, a confounding emptiness assails Nigerians. They exude shallow thoughts and most times, exhibits a poor grasp of the issues the party seeks to prick the ruling government to stand on its toes.
PDP’s officials, some of its prominent members and even the party’s national spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan have failed to impress Nigerians each time they comment on burning national issues. They manifest more as an assemblage of men and women in perpetual chase of shadows and very confused. They flaunt a portrait inseparably tied to deception and dishonesty.
Ever before, Nigerians have known PDP as a party versed in lies, deceit, manipulations, impositions, impunity, greediness and all manner of mendacities. It was the motivating reason Nigerians chased them out of power in 2015. But it seems, the party has learnt nothing from the experience.
Having stayed out of power and in the cooler for nearly four years now, it is expected that the party and its members should have repented from their odd tendencies, as it approaches the next general elections. But the expectations are again dashed by the party’s mercantile perception of leadership. And it erroneously believe such repulsive inclination applies to everyone.
It’s unfortunate that PDP has proven again and again that it is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Africans often say, you cannot bend a dry stick. PDP has remained in its pigsty and consolidating its treacherous and unconscionable acts with delight.
To make matters worse, it has blended desperation with helplessness. Instead of offering Nigerians virile opposition, their newest trademark is to hurl patently false and spurious accusations’ on President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointees or his cabinet members. They grab any issue and do not even care to dig beyond the veneer to unravel the hidden facts, but rush to the public with inexplicable excitements, spurring very disgraceful commentaries to their image.
They are battling hard to disprove President Buhari’s integrity and incorruptible stand, instead of confronting Mr. President on leadership and governance issues. Therefore, PDP goofs often and more embarrassingly than a Pastor caught desecrating the sacred altar.
Its latest gaffe is the commentary it ran on the recommendations of the House of Representatives ad hoc Committee on Emergency Management and Disaster Preparedness chaired by Hon. Isa Ali, which probed the use of funds accruing to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
The report frivolously alleged several financial malfeasances and concluded that Nigeria lost N33 billion “as a result of mismanagement or outright embezzlement of funds occasioned by the actions or inactions of the Managing Director of NEMA, Engr. Mustapha Yunusa Maihaja.”
The vindictive intent of the Reps ad hoc committee has never been in doubt from the outset. And this much has been revealed as reflected by such fluid conclusions and recommendations.
In the entirety of the House report, published on Thursday, November 8, 2018, the amount so baseless linked to the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who doubles as the statutory chairman of NEMA Governing Board is N5.8 billion. It was approved for emergency intervention of food security to the North-East population ravaged by insurgency. The House of Reps probe committee in its findings stated that;
“The money was paid to the following companies for supply of food items to the North East:- 1. Dangote Rice Ltd. = N936,196,800.00 2. Golden Agric Input Ltd. = N1,384,554,236.26 3. BUA Rice Ltd. = N1,322,273,520.00 4. WACOT Ltd. = N453,674,296.00 5. WACOT Ltd = N939,946,089.00 6. NEMA = N829,026,456.00 = N5,865,671,389.26.”
The findings of the probe committee never admitted at any point that the companies awarded the contracts for the supply of the food relief materials to insurgency victims in the Northeast never met this contractual obligation. What the probe feebly established was the claimed abuse of due process and loss of revenue to the federal government. It stated.
“Due process was not followed as taxes and interest accruable to government were not deducted and remitted to the FIRS on the sums released and paid into the accounts of the different corporate entities shown above, this created colossal loss of revenue to the Federal Government.”
It was apparent that the Reps Probe Committee was on a witch-hunting mission. Let it be conceded to the Probe Panel that due process in the award of the contracts may have been flouted. But the probe helplessly failed to intimate Nigerians whether the companies awarded the contracts failed to tender evidence of delivery of the contracts as requested by the panel.
It consequently leaped into denial of receipt of the food items by the six states in the Northeast designed for the emergency food intervention. It did not also disclose whether NEMA failed to adduce evidence of supplying the food relief materials to the benefitting states.
In the same manner, the committee also declined from publishing the submissions of the EFCC during the public hearing, even though it admitted the anti-graft agency appeared before the committee. Nothing is mentioned about the EFCC whether in the findings nor recommendations of the report. It clearly bespeaks of the selective style the committee handled the probe; it informs at first glance that it was desperate to nail some perceived political foes or tarnish the image of senior government officials.
Many Nigerians would disbelief that abuse of due process is necessarily synonymous with embezzlement of public funds. The laws also recognizes them separately. And the question is whether the nature of the emergency was strong enough to grant approval of relief funds in violation of due process?
These are the miniature details which PDP as an opposition party would paid attention. But it went sensational again, with propaganda laced in falsehood. It embellished the House Probe report to sound as if the Vice President embezzled N33 billion.
The PDP failed to differentiate the lacunas inherent in the report, obviously dripping with a pre-determined outcomes, to shout on rooftops how N33 billion was embezzled by Prof. Osinbajo. The party is not sensible enough to hold unto the many campaign issues begging for attention.
So, the PDP condescended or degenerated into partisanship asking Prof. Osinbajo flimsily; “What is his answer to the huge allegations in the public domain that bulk of the money meant for suffering Nigerians in the northeast was diverted to private pockets of key All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Presidency cabal to finance their wasteful lifestyle?”
Then, the PDP progressed into sermons on morality, as if the party itself has morals. If the truth is told, it does not make it less valuable. Every bit of issue should not be dressed in hyped lies and falsehood.
By now, the PDP ought to have radiated signs which should convince Nigerians that the party is reformed and rebranded, with its eyes fixed on new methods and perceptions of governance. The Reps Probe panel report has already dismissed itself and exonerated the Vice President by its unpardonable failings. Prof. Osinbajo does not need to drop a voice in his defence, because it has already crucified itself on Golgotha.
PDP should detach itself from smear and malicious campaigns. It is certainly, not the mark of a good opposition party. The indulgence into desperate lies is no panacea to their leadership emptiness.
At the rate they have assumed mastery of deceit, Nigerians should beware, as there is every possibility that PDP would one day tell Nigerians, their country Nigeria is in Asian continent or a Local government council in the Republic of Ghana. This is not how to repent.
Okoli is a public affairs commentator based in Abuja.