The All Progressives Congress on Sunday alleged that about $56bn (N11.02tn) was looted during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan and that the Buhari government needed to recover the funds to fulfill the change promised by the APC.
In the breakdown by the ruling party, it said $6bn (1.2tn, at the rate of N197 to dollar) was stolen by some of Jonathan’s ministers and that 160 million barrels of crude worth $13.9bn (N2.74tn) were lost between 2009 and 2012 while $13bn (N2.56tn) in NLNG dividends was mostly unaccounted for.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this in a statement on Sunday.
Mohammed’s statement read in part, “Some instances of the looting are as follows: N3.8tn out of the N8.1tn earned from crude oil (2012-2015) withheld by NNPC; $2.1bn (N413.7bn) from Excess Crude Account unaccounted for; Department of Petroleum Resources’ unremitted N109.7bn royalty from oil firms.
“Others are: $6bn (1.2tn) allegedly looted by some ministers of the last administration; 160 million barrels of crude worth $13.9bn (N2.74tn) lost between 2009 and 2012; $15m (N2.96bn) from the botched arms deal yet to be returned to Nigeria; $13bn (N2.56tn) in NLNG dividends mostly unaccounted for; N30bn rice waiver; and N183bn unaccounted for at the NDDC.”
The APC consequently lashed out at those telling President Muhammadu Buhari not to waste time probing the Jonathan administration.
The statement seems to be in reaction to a statement by the National Peace Committee, which reportedly told Buhari that probing the past administration was not a substitute for governance.
The APC, however, said there was no way the Buhari government could effectively take off if it did not recover some of the trillions stolen under Jonathan and that the party’s promise of change was based on the assumption that it would recover some stolen funds.
The statement added, “It is absolutely gratifying that Nigerians are vehemently opposed to the few who would rather have the government of the day turn a blind eye to the looted funds and, in their words, carry on with the process of governance.
“Truly, what sort of governance can go on if the billions of naira in a few hands are not recovered? In the first instance, the government needs every kobo of the funds it can muster to bring about the change it has promised Nigerians.
“Secondly, leaving such hair-raising funds in the hands of the few looters is dangerous, because they can use the funds to destabilise any government. In fact, no one will be surprised if the looters use their dirty funds to sponsor public demonstrations against the government’s determination to recover the funds.
‘’Thirdly, allowing those who privatised the commonwealth to get away is offering a thumbs-up for looting. No responsible government will do that.”
The party said that those who stole had embarked on an increasingly-bold campaign to discredit the government of the day and sabotage the funds’ recovery process, using newspaper columnists, ‘talking heads’ and otherwise respectable opinion leaders.
The APC submitted that it was necessary to remind Nigerians of the “massive looting of the treasury” that took place in the past few years, so the citizens could better appreciate the seriousness of the issue at stake.
The party said the listed “missing” funds constituted just a tip of the iceberg, adding, ‘’The level of looting that went on in other sectors is better imagined, hence the need for all Nigerians to rally around the Buhari administration to recover the loots, bring the looters to justice and to put in place measures to prevent such looting in the future.”
But the Peoples Democratic Party, in its reaction on Sunday, said the figures released by the APC were imaginary.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, in a statement, described Mohammed’s statement as “reckless, irresponsible and highly provocative.”
Metuh said, “In trying to escalate their stock-in-trade of lies, wild allegations and falsehood, the APC failed to understand that their baseless fabrications are capable of throwing an unsuspecting nation into chaos.
“The spate of fabrications by Lai Mohammed has become a sickening source of worry for well-meaning Nigerians, including those in his party.”
The PDP spokesperson called on Buhari and the APC, as a party, to call their spokesman to order before he plunges the country into crisis with wild and unsubstantiated claims.
He said the APC-led government should get serious with the fight against corruption by investigating and prosecuting corrupt persons, rather than unnecessarily playing to the gallery.