[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ai Mohammed, APC National Publicity Secretary, is one of President Buhari’s ministerial nominees. When he appeared for screening before the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio made a wry observation. He said: “If I know (Lai Mohammed) very well, he may have one or two propaganda to drop before he leaves here.” His Senate colleagues burst into laughter because they understood what he meant.
Lai Mohammed is a master propagandist. He is well-known to be economical with the truth. During the election season, he cried wolf every other day, claiming to unearth new “fantabulous” PDP plans to rig the election. One of the most outrageous was his allegation that PDP used disappearing ink on the ballot papers of APC supporters in Ekiti. He also alleged PDP imported one Gyora Berger from Israel, with the mandate to jam all the card-readers in the North-West and the North-East.
Our distinguished Senators failed to ask Mohammed about these tall-tales for which he is known and loved. They failed to determine if we are to expect more of the same from him as Honourable Minister, or whether he intends to tamp it down a little.
The APC is now Nigeria’s self-styled anti-corruption party. Five months after the elections, the only recognised public policy of the new Buhari administration is anti-corruption. The government’s economic policy is anti-corruption. Its social policy is anti-corruption. Its foreign policy is anti-corruption. Buhari plans to revive our ailing economy with anti-corruption. He plans to fix our broken educational system with anti-corruption. He also plans to fix our health and social services with anti-corruption.
Hear him: “The monies we realise from anti-corruption campaign will be adequately used to improve education in the country.” “The money saved will finance jobs, health-care and the provision of social safety net for the needy, weak and vulnerable of our land.” When can we expect these dividends of anti-corruption to start competing with our proceeds from oil?
Fabrication of data
The APC has consistently exploited the gullibility of Nigerians. Recognising the low level of education in the country, the party has gone all out to promote its anti-corruption policy with lies. It went to town with the CBN governor’s bombast, first that $50 billion was missing from the nation’s coffers; and later that $20 billion was missing. Any Nigerian with a modicum understanding of economics knows it is impossible for such huge sums to be missing in an economy the size of Nigeria’s.
Professor Soludo declared that, in the five years of Jonathan’s administration, no less than 30 trillion naira had been stolen. The APC again went to town with this, not minding that the total annual federal budget under Jonathan was a little over 4.5 trillion naira. In short, more money has been allegedly stolen under Goodluck Jonathan than there was money to steal.
This fabrication of data did not stop once APC came to power. The APC claimed it met an empty treasury. However, Dr. Abubakar Sulaiman, Deputy Chairman National Planning Commission debunked this claim by revealing that Jonathan left behind $30 billion. There was also some $2 billion left in the Excess Crude Account and the Sovereign Wealth Fund; amounts that would have been more had the governors not insisted some of it should be shared.
Buhari says: “Jonathan’s ministers stole 150 billion dollars.” How exactly did Mr. President come by this outlandish figure. These figures are just plucked out of thin air. APC chieftains say one million barrels of oil was stolen everyday under Jonathan. That cannot be because it is virtually half of Nigeria’s daily oil-production.
Oshiomhole says a senior official of the Obama administration revealed that a Jonathan minister stole $6 billion dollars. How can one single individual possibly steal that much? This claim has since been denied by the Americans. Oshiomhole also claims a consultancy fee of 140 billion naira was paid for the Second Niger Bridge when the total cost of the bridge is only 108 billion. APC chieftains just keep coming up with outrageous figures, in order to keep burnishing their bogus anti-corruption credentials.
During the election, APC ignored the parlous state of the economy and went to town, promising Nigerians heaven on earth. It promised to pay a stipend of 5,000 naira monthly to the 25 million poorest Nigerians. This would come to 125 billion every month and 1.5 trillion every year. The party must have known it was impossible to do this with a 4.5 trillion annual budget, least of all at a time when oil is now selling for less than $50 a barrel. Nevertheless, it used this promise to deceive the gullible.
APC promised to provide free education; free daily meals for millions of Nigerian public school children; free tertiary education; free healthcare and free houses. All this have turned out to be fictitious. Buhari promised to create 740,000 jobs within a year in the 36 states of the federation, as well as one million jobs for Igbo youths by revamping the huge coal deposits in Enugu State for electricity generation. However, in five months, his administration has created no new jobs. Instead, it has lost many by its go-slow and do-nothing stance.
Reneging on promises
Once the election was “won,” Buhari declared on TV Continental that, unlike the Quran and the Bible, the APC position during the election is subject to change.
Suddenly, the APC found it necessary to deny the two key documents on which it had based its presidential campaign: “My Covenant with Nigerians,” and “One Hundred Things Buhari Will Do in 100 Days.” These documents bore the official APC logo, were promoted on the APC website and were used extensively on the campaign trail by APC officials. But once the election was over, the APC reneged on the promises made in them.
Garba Shehu said: “I did not fund or authorise any of those. I can equally bet my last kobo that candidate Buhari did not see or authorise those publications.” Lai Mohammed swore that: “Buhari never promised to do anything in 100 days, that’s the honest truth.” However, the 100 days document was the handiwork of the policy and research directorate of the APC presidential campaign, headed by former Governor Kayode Fayemi.
Buhari himself introduced the Covenant document in the first person. He said: “This covenant is to outline my agenda for Nigeria and provide a bird’s eye-view of how we intend to bring about the change that our country needs and deserves. The covenant is derived from the manifesto of my party, the All Progressives Congress. It however represents my pledge to you all when I become your president.” But once he became president, Buhari now claims he had nothing to do with the document.
In a document titled, “I Pledge to Nigeria,” Buhari declared: “I pledge to publicly declare my assets and liabilities, (and) encourage all my appointees to publicly declare their assets and as a pre-condition for appointment.” However, after the election, Femi Adesina, the president’s special adviser, denied the president ever made such a promise.
He said: “You need to get his words right, go and check all that the president said during the campaign, in no place would you see it attributed to him as a person. But then there is a document by his party, the All Progressives Congress, saying he would declare publicly, so we need to set that right, it’s a declaration by his party.”
When the president finally succumbed and declared his assets publicly, he failed to disclose their value. The president had led Nigerians to believe he had barely one million naira to his name. He claimed to be so cash-strapped, he had to borrow 27.5 million naira to pay for his APC presidential nomination papers. But then 30 million naira suddenly appeared in his bank account in his assets declaration.
We were told he has only two houses; one in Daura; the other in Kaduna. But then his assets declaration show he not only has a house in Abuja, he has four other houses as well. It was also disclosed that he has an undeveloped land in Port Harcourt and an undisclosed number of shares in banks. The president also has farms, a ranch and livestock. Before his election, Buhari had only 150 cows: after his election, these had jumped to 270.
Lying is corruption
What is obviously lost to the APC is that there is a definite contradiction between fighting corruption and telling lies. Corruption cannot be fought with deception. It is a classic principle of jurisprudence that “he who comes into equity must come with clean hands.” But APC clearly does not understand this at all. It is remarkable that the very party that fought an election by taking the moral high ground of being anti-corruption is the one that has shown the most blatant inclination to twist, bend, distort and obfuscate the truth at every turn.
By its actions, the APC is a party of lies and liars. The party claims to be a vehicle of change, nevertheless, it presented a 72 year-old as its presidential candidate, a man who had been in power 30 years previously. Buhari himself accepted the mantle of progressive change, nevertheless he nominated Audu Ogbeh as minister, a man who was minister some 30 years previously.
For APC, change means recycling old PDP politicians; avoiding the young; and relegating women into obscurity. Change means ensuring the principal organs of government: the executive, legislature and the judiciary, are now all monopolised by the North. It means the key staffers of Aso Rock are now virtually all Northerners. It means the INEC Chairman is now from the North, the same region as the president.
Change for the APC is declaring Rotimi Amaechi innocent until proven guilty; while declaring Diezani Allison-Madueke guilty until proven innocent. Change means the president can overlook the South-East in appointments.
Clearly, this is not the change Nigerians were led to expect. This is not the kind of change APC promised Nigerians while seeking our votes. What the party has done is to betray the trust of Nigerians. To put it bluntly, Nigerians were deceived into putting the APC in power. This makes it all the more anomalous that the same APC claims to be the party of anti-corruption. Someone needs to tell APC chieftains that telling lies is corruption.
Femi Aribisala is a scholar and international affairs expert. He is currently an iconoclastic church pastor in Lagos. He is also a syndicated essayist for a handful publications in Nigeria. He tweets from @FemiAribisala.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.