The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has cautioned officials of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to stop using the deadly COVID-19 pandemic as gateway for corrupt profiteering and looting of the national treasury. In a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the Party, kola Ologbondiyan on Saturday, while the party lamented the financial opacity amidst allegations of diversion of billions of naira meant for palliatives to vulnerable citizens is already frustrating the commitment by Nigerians and other well-meaning groups in the overall effort to combat the spread of the scourge in our country.
The party is worried over the activities of certain officials who are using the COVID-19 pandemic to create and manipulate situations that circumvent financial documentation and accountability rules and pave way for the looting of our treasury and borrowed funds, while the people are left at the mercy of the plague. This is in addition to anxieties that such officials are hiding under the demands of COVID-19 pandemic to mop up our international reserves as well as driving our nation into a frenzied $6.9 billion foreign borrowing, with no clear-cut terms.
This is amidst allegations of plots by unscrupulous officials to manipulate the system and create channel for a slush fund that will be diverted to corrupt APC leaders and the cabal, while mortgaging the future of our nation’s generation yet unborn. Our party fears that there are attempts to hide under COVID-19 to empty our $3.4 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) saving, thereby leaving our nation dry.
While it is obvious that the Buhari administration seeks to use the challenges posed by the coronavirus disease as an excuse for its mismanagement of the economy, which it had wrecked before the outbreak of the pandemic, our party firmly rejects the attempt by rogues in government circles to use the scourge to ‘cash out’ our treasury and further destroy our economy.
This is especially as the APC administration is reputed to be a haven of corrupt individuals, scammers, treasury looters, certificate forgers, election riggers, blackmailers, purveyor of fake news and violators of rule of law and court orders. Our party invites Nigerians to note that, while a handful of Nigerians have not acknowledged receiving such funds and officials involved have not been able to account for the disbursement, humongous figures are already being bandied to have been spent.
The situation is pathetic and shows how low the social investment system, which the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, had earlier warned as being riddled with corruption, had degenerated. The PDP therefore wants the National Assembly to protect the people by immediately scaling up its oversight activities on the handling of the COVID-19 social intervention funding.
The legislators must ensure clauses that guarantee transparency and accountability, particularly in drawing from our treasury as well as in approving any further foreign loans for the Buhari administration, are enshrined in Act.
Furthermore, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) should set up special squads across the country to monitor the implementation of the palliatives and bring culprits to book. The safety and wellbeing of Nigerians must be paramount at this critical time.