Ship Of Nigeria Adrift-PDP Chairman
…Says 741 Killed In 4 Months
The national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, today, said the ship of the Nigerian State is adrift and requires help.
This was as he declared that the security architecture of the country has collapsed under the All Progressives Congress (APC), adding that about 741 people were killed by bandits and terrorists between last January and May.
Secondus made the declaration while addressing a world press conference at the party’s national secretariat, Abuja, noting that the PDP leadership, after series of meetings within the last one week, came to the conclusion that the ship of state is adrift and requires help.
He said the PDP leadership is worried by what he described as “the escalation of killings, arson, bloodletting, and kidnappings of Nigerians, including our men and women in uniforms, across the nation.
“Between January and now, no fewer than 741 Nigerians have been murdered by bandits and terrorists; dozens of police formations and security checkpoints, have been attacked, leaving scores dead,” he said.
The PDP chairman said: “Nigeria has become an expansive field of mass kidnapping and murder under the watch of the APC-led Federal Government.”
He listed cases of serious security breaches within the period to include an attack on a correctional facility in Owerri, Imo State, which led to the release of 1,844 inmates; the kidnap of 110 Dapchi school girls and kidnap of 344 students from Government Science School in Kankara, Katsina State.
Others, Secondus said are the kidnap of 42 travellers between Kotangora and Minna, Niger State; abduction of 27 students in Niger State and the kidnap of about 300 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara State.
He mentioned the abduction, in March, of about 30 students of Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna, who are still being held in captivity; and the abduction of the students of the Greenfield University, who he said are intermittently slain without any response from government.
“As the wise saying goes, the goat does not suffer parturition in tethers while the elders are at home. Thus, the leadership of the PDP come to you today with a very heavy heart regarding the state of our union.
“It is very clear that Nigeria is on the precipice with arms-bearing non-state actors menacingly overrunning our state and its institutions and daily eroding our sovereignty.
“These perilous situations have manifested through terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, arson, and inexplicable murderous rampage across our nation.
“Government’s monopoly over legitimate coercive powers has been compromised and torpedoed, with criminal gangs let loose across our nation.
“It is unimaginable that terrorists, who had been pushed out to the fringes by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, leading to the successful elections of 2015, have since boldly reasserted themselves and are now taking territories in five local governments of Niger State, which is only two hours from Abuja.
“It is also important to note that the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, who, by his position, is armed with credible intelligence, raised the alarm that terrorists and bandits were making inroads into the towns in Kaduna state.
“Also, noteworthy is the alarm raised by the Governor of Nasarawa State, Engineer Sule Abdullhahi, that the Boko Haram were occupying territories in his state.
“A strategic and intelligent interpretation of these is that Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is surrounded. Presently, the nation has witnessed an upsurge of kidnapping in the FCT, further giving vent to the assertions of the governors,” the PDP national chairman alleged.
Secondus further alleged that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has been completely rudderless its handling of the economy.
“We remember that prior to the emergence of this administration, Nigeria’s debt profile stood at less than $9.4 billion, (N1.8 trillion), having benefitted from the efforts of a previous PDP administration led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo for a debt relief of over $18 billion.
“Presently, Nigeria’s debt burden has since risen to N32.9 trillion. It is curious that the only economic management tool known by this government is just mind-boggling borrowing. This includes borrowing for recurrent expenditure as well as for consumption,” he said.
The PDP chairman also said the incompetence of the Federal Government manifested in an alleged absence of a clear policy for the economy and thus fast leading the country into the woods of insolvency.
“It is also very clear that despite the whimsical closure and reopening of borders, the supposed consumption of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) alone has increased from about 30 million litres in 2015 to over 60 million litres even when the production capacity of the economy has seriously diminished.
“Many companies and businesses have dumped Nigeria for neighbouring countries because of an apparent inclement operational environment.
“Therefore, your guess is as good as ours as to whether the subsidy is for us, the citizens, or for the pockets of privileged few in government,” Secondus stated.
He expressed worries over the disparity in the exchange rate which he said now stands at nearly N500 to a US Dollar, noting that the situation is contrary to the promise by the APC to match a dollar to one naira.
“Inflation has been on the rise. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the consumer price index, which measures inflation increased, stood at 18.17 per cent (year-on-year) in March 2021.
“We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the world; and, while one of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals is to end extreme poverty by 2050, the APC has continued to lead the nation in the opposite direction.
“With over 86.9 million citizens living in extreme poverty, Nigeria overtook India as the poverty capital of the world in 2018, according to the Washington-based Brookings Institution. Nigeria’s corruption rating has been consistently worse under the APC-led administration.
“These and more clearly shows that the APC-led government has left the economy more than 100 per cent worse than they met it,” the PDP chairman added.
Secondus also accused the APC government of mismanaging the country’s diversity, adding that it refused to engage the people in constructive approach to nation-building.
Admitting that the PDP cannot lay claim to perfection, he said the party has always taken deliberate steps to engage Nigerians and take constructive approach to nation-building.
“In this vein, the PDP, on June 12, 2014 organised an all-party conference aimed at de-politicisation of the war against insurgency, which the [then] incumbent President and Commander-in-Chief, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, as well as General Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) attended.
“In January 14, 2015, a peace accord was encouraged and endorsed by all political parties, which led to a successful 2015 election.
“The PDP also initiated a standing National Peace Committee, which is still in existence. And of course, the PDP initiated and successfully hosted the 2014 National Conference to deescalate tension and chart a trajectory for the social, economic, and political stability and prosperity for our nation.
“Having done all these, we are worried that the APC government, in its character, formation, and modus operandi, has successfully mismanaged our diversity.
“It is clear that the core philosophy of the APC is to run a government of exclusion. They do not constructively engage Nigerians, except for erratic statements by Malam Garba Shehu, which further fans the embers of disaffection. Its sheer arrogance, coupled with an aloof president, is a disaster waiting to happen.
“Increasingly, Mr. President is absent from duty. The symbol of authority of the executive is simply not there, leading to various centres of power in the executive, which affect the economy, security and manifest in lack of coordination and synergy in government operation.
“The apparent nepotism in the appointment of the top echelon of the security forces, and the commanding heights of the institutions of government further fuel agitations across the country.
“In fact, winning elections has been reduced by the APC to more of sharing the spoils of war than running a government to the benefit of all citizens.
“This could be the only discernable reason for the president to appoint and still retains, as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that has access to the sensitive data of Nigerians, a self-confessed bigot, who had voluntarily expressed happiness at the killing of people of other faith.
“It is also curious that such an individual, like Isa Pantami, scaled through the vetting by Department of State Security (DSS) ahead of confirmation by the Senate.
“Granted that he [Pantami] may have changed in his views, is it possible that millions of youth radicalised by his preaching have also repented from extreme views and concomitant violent conducts?
“The PDP holds that our present circumstance is attributable to Dr. Isa Pantami and people who share and preach his views.
The very first step is for Pantami to be immediately relieved of his office and handed over for investigation, and if found wanting, he should be prosecuted,” he added.
To combat insecurity, the PDP national chairman demand for the immediate up-scaling of the personnel strength of the various security agencies and making of adequate provisions of kinetic instruments of war and law enforcement.
“Our armed forces should be adequately equipped and their welfare a top priority,” he said, adding: “Efforts should be made towards partnership with foreign governments and miscellaneous entities for the war efforts.
“The situation in our country is not normal and exceptional steps should be taken to restore it to normalcy. The PDP, as a body, is willing to give a helping hand in this direction.”
He also joined the call for the establishment of state police, as is the tradition in other federations in other parts of the world.
For effective policing, the PDP chairman called on all the state governors, the members of the National Assembly, the speakers of the state Houses of Assembly and relevant agencies of government, to arrange a summit for a one-stop shop regarding the creation, structure and management of state police.
“In spite of the concerns over state police, it is doubtful that 36 state police services can be easily overwhelmed, as is the case now with the unitary police.
“Besides, any challenges can be addressed through legislative framework to make abuse extremely difficult, if not impossible. We also call for the deployment of technology in the fight against terror, banditry, and other crimes.
“The PDP demands that all culprits should be brought to book. The apparent failure of intelligence to track attacks by bandits and follow up on them is a clear failure of the intelligence community.
“The Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), established many years ago by a PDP administration, is designed for this purpose and others.
“States where matters of national security challenges originate or exist should be invited to the National Security Council Meeting for deliberation and problem-solving interactions.
“We call for the creation of National Boarders Protection Force to secure our borders. This will include an integrated border protection system that will draw personnel and equipment from existing armed service and Immigration
“We cannot continue to watch while terrorist and bandits continue to levy war on our nation, through our porous borders.
“This borders force should be equipped with reconnaissance, intelligence gathering, prevention, and enforcement. It should therefore have air, sea, and land capability.
“There must be a synergy and cooperation among the armed services, strategically and operationally. There is no reason a theatre Commander should not have within his control the deployment of the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy in his operational area.
“All culprits, who have levied war on Nigeria, should be brought to book. It is unfathomable that several mass kidnappings have been successfully staged with the culprits not being held to account.
“It is a shameful irony that a few bandit leaders that have been taken out were killed by rival gangs and not our security agencies.
“If Sheik Gumi could detect and engage the bandits, we do not understand why our security agencies cannot track, arrest, and prosecute them.
“The administration of President Buhari should completely shed weight on arrogance, lack of respect for Nigerians and its pretences of being an island of integrity.
“He should begin to engage the citizens directly. He should address the nation on the various issues escalating tension in the land and pushing the nation farther to the tips of precipice.
“It is serious political malpractice, for Mr. President to stand aloof, say nothing, do nothing and simply wish that the problems will somehow go away.
“It is a great disservice to the Nigerian people for Mr. President to abandon his presidential duties to two media handlers who resort to issuing meaningless and annoying press statements in the name of an amorphous and questionable organisation called “The Presidency”.
“Enough of trivialising governance and trifling with the lives, livelihoods and wellbeing of the Nigerian people. Furthermore, Mr President needs to convince Nigerians that his government is not shielding or protecting terrorists,” he said.
On the economy, Secondus said the government should stop borrowing and urged the APC administration to “do away with nepotism and hire experts that will help creatively navigate the nation through the dire economic challenges they have led the nation into.
“We also believe that the management of the economy, including the management of Ways and Means (printing of currency) should be done in a more professional manner to avert a collapse of the economy.
“The country is bleeding economically and the operations of the NNPC must be investigated and oversighted by the parliament.
“The topsy-turvy situation where Mr. President, who is the Minister of Petroleum, approves oil wells only to reverse himself in a matter of weeks as demonstrated in the case of Addax and Kaztech/Slavic consortium (OMLs 123, 124, 126 and 137) and others like that should be investigated.”
Secondus also called for devolution of more powers to the state and local governments, noting that the Federal Government has, since 1966, been biting more than it can chew and that the country is crumbling under the weight of a behemoth Federal Government.
“Items like railway, aviation, power and police, among others, should be immediately devolve to trigger productivity and creative leadership that will enable the constituent parts to develop.
“Such new responsibilities should also come with consequential increment in the resources available to the states,” the PDP national chairman added.
Secondus said the PDP believe in the greatness of the country, but added that it can only succeed if the people, across all ethnic and religious divides, join the party “to rescue our nation from the current misrule by the APC.”