During the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) convention which recently held at the Eagle Square, Abuja, Goodluck Jonathan was quoted as boasting that his anti-corruption record was greater than that of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Also speaking through his official Facebook page which was signed on his behalf by one of his aides, Reno Omokri, Jonathan said he fought corruption to the extent that Nigeria’s ranking on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index improved.
The ex-President said this in reaction to an allegation by the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu who had said that Jonathan further opened loopholes that allowed for corruption rather than plug them off.
But on his Facebook page, Jonathan wrote:
“It may surprise Mr. Okechukwu and his boss to know that the last time Nigeria made progress on Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index was in 2014 under former President Jonathan when we moved eight places from number 144 to number 136 under Goodluck Jonathan.
“That year marked the most improvement Nigeria has ever made since Transparency International began publishing the annual Corruption Perception Index in 1995.
“Transparency International took note of the Jonathan administration’s e-wallet system that cut out the corruption in Nigeria’s fertiliser procurement system, the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System which weeded out 50,000 ghost workers from the federal civil service, the cashless policy and the fact that the Jonathan government promptly fired two ministers (Prof. Barth Nnaji and Stella Oduah) mentioned in corruption scandals.”
According to the ex-President, ever since his exit, Nigeria’s corruption perception in the outside world had not improved. He alleged that the Buhari administration had only succeeded in deceiving Nigerians rather than fight corruption holistically.
“Ever since 2014, Nigeria has not improved in Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index ranking and has remained 136 in 2015 and is still 136 on the latest CPI ranking released in 2017.
“In the most recent CPI Transparency International report and I quote ‘some other large African countries have failed to improve their scores on the index. These include South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania and Kenya.’
“If it were true that the Buhari administration was really fighting corruption, why hasn’t Nigeria made progress in the CPI? The answer is because you can deceive some gullible Nigerians but you cannot deceive Transparency International,” Jonathan said.
But the Presidency has swiftly reacted to the former President’s statements attributing the current downturn in the country to a ruined economy allegedly caused by a gross mismanagement of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Contrary to Jonathan’s claims, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu insists that the Buhari-led administration was handed an economy ravaged by years of mismanagement and corruption.
According to the presidential media aide, a cursory look at any sector would clearly indicate that the immediate past administration “presided over the most monumental and tragic economic mismanagement recorded in the country’s national history.”
Shehu argues that Nigeria would not be in the current predicament if the immediate past administration had fought corruption, sanitised the huge salary bill by eliminating payroll fraud, encouraged state governments to reform their spending, built savings or investments, and blocked leakages that allowed government revenues to be siphoned into private hands among others when the oil price was as high as $120 per barrel.
“The oil sector boomed under his tenure, with oil prices as high as $120 and peace in the Nigeria Delta. Nigeria earned unprecedented dollar revenues. Sadly, that is where the story turns sour.
“There is nothing to show for the revenues earned, no major capital project was completed, neither power generation, road development, rail or agriculture benefitted from the windfall earnings.
“Rather the administration presided over the diversion of oil revenues on a such a massive scale, that even without the protection now accorded to whistle blowers, the then Central Bank governor blew not only a whistle but a trumpet. He was hurriedly shown the door,” Shehu said.
The presidency noted that the acquisition of private jets, luxury yachts and the accumulation of expensive property portfolios worldwide by public officers and their cohorts continued unabated under Jonathan. The statement further reads:
“Indeed the president once celebrated having the largest number of private jets, whilst our youth languished without jobs, our fields stood idle and our factories began the layoff of workers.
“Government simply reticulated oil revenue through personal spending by corrupt leaders, wasteful expenses and salaries. This was done rather than investing in what would grow the economy.
“Economies grow due to capital investment in assets like seaports, airports, power plants, railways, roads and housing. Nigeria cannot record a single major infrastructural project in the last 10 years.
“Such was the looting that even the goose that was laying the golden egg was being systematically starved. The direct contractual costs of oil produced, in the form of cash calls, remained unpaid.
“We would not be suffering now if we had no cash reserves but we had power, or a rail system, or good roads, or good housing. But we don’t have money and we don’t have the projects either.
“Now that the oil has fallen below those levels, it is very difficult to do what is needed but they must be done to save Nigeria. There is no other way if we want to be honest.
“If PDP were still in power they would have continued deceiving people, by borrowing to fund stealing and wastage and the problem would have simply been postponed for future generations to face.
“One of former President Jonathon’s specific boasts is that dollar under him was N180 compared to today. With such a line of argument, it is clear why we are where we are.
“With oil prices as high as $120 the average inflow of dollars each month was high, making it easy to support cheap dollars. However with oil price plummeting as low as $28, the fundamental laws of supply and demand dictated that the currency would need to adjust, since oil was the sole export.
“It is instructive to note that virtually every major oil exporter has witnessed currency adjustments with the fall in oil price.”
Pointing out some of the achievements of the Buhari administration so far, the presidency said the current government had taken a long-term strategic view of supporting a stable naira on both the supply and demand sides.
“Buhari has driven import substitution to reduce demand for dollars to buy things we can produce thereby creating thousands of rural jobs in rice and other staples.
“In addition, there is a credible plan to diversify our revenue sources away from oil, with focus on export crops as well as solid minerals, with the release of $100m fund to develop solid mineral extraction.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has a positive and prosperous vision for Nigeria. A nation in which the natural talent and hard work of the people is being supported by an enabling environment of infrastructural development and policy reforms that will develop a firm future for our nation.”